“There is a huge part of the population that could benefit from the low-FODMAP diet,” and “the amount of people searching for low-FODMAP diet on Google is increasing as more people hear about the diet and are curious what it is all about,” said Ketan Vakil, who founded Gourmend to address challenges he faces due to his FODMAP sensitivity.
Unfortunately, he noted, most of the educational material available barely goes beyond explaining that FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols, which are all short chain carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine and can cause discomfort and other health issues.
“It really is a confusing diet and elimination process to identify which FODMAPs and foods are triggers. It can feel overwhelming,” he said. “But once you get it, it is not.”
By creating Gourmend, which offers and in-depth 8,000 word, 11-section guide to the low-FODMAP diet, Vakil says he hopes to help others understand and benefit from the diet, and also offer them alternatives to common ingredients that can cause reactions.
“I co-wrote [the guide] with a dietitian and it is based on super scientifically accurate sources – great journals – as a way to counter the false information out there and to provide something that was really useful, but not in a commercial way,” he says of the free online resource.
Vakil said he also hopes that as people discover his guide, they will discover and try the low-FODMAP alternatives to common ingredients and foods that he offers, including a low-FODMAP garlic chive powder, garlic scape powder and organic chicken broth.
“The biggest two ingredients that people struggle with losing [on the low-FODMAP diet] are onion and garlic,” which not only bring a lot of flavor to foods but also are “in almost every packaged food –whether it is high end or low end – that you find in the supermarket,” making it nearly impossible for compliant dieters to benefit from the convenience of packaged foods, he explained.
As such, when creating the first products in what he plans to be a robust line of low-FODMAP foods, Vakil said he “wanted to focus on some basic ingredients that were really common in hundreds and hundreds of recipes, like garlic powder and broth, and create really awesome products that taste the same or similar enough without resorting to weird flavorings and preservatives.”
The result is a are freeze-dried, all natural and ethically sourced powdered garlic scape and garlic chives, which offer a flavorful punch but are still safe because they use only the green parts of the plants – and not the FODMAP-rich white parts, he explained. He also offers an onion and garlic free chicken broth, that he assures is flavorful and versatile.
Each product is available online and is certified by Monash University – giving compliant low-FODMAP dieters assurance that the products are safe, Vakil added.
Beyond being certified by Monash University, Vakil said he has partnered with the organization to raise awareness of the diet through guest blog posts, educational materials and speaking events.
Gourmend also is raising awareness for the diet and its products by targeting people who search for low-FODMAP and reaching out to private communities on Facebook of upwards of 20,000 to 100,000 people who are FODMAP sensitive.
In addition, when people join Gourmend’s mailing list, the company does more than send promos for its products – it also offers an eight-part welcome series that educations them about low-FODMAP lifestyles and shows them how to cook without common triggers, like onions.
While Vakil builds his community, he also is building Gourmend’s product pipeline by exploring different spice combinations and extensions on the broth line, all of which will be made from “the most responsible and clean label ingredients without preservatives or funny lab creative stuff on the back end.”
With that high bar set, he adds that Gourmend is focused on staples that will allow people sensitive to low-FODMAPs to cook and eat with confidence rather than compromise.