Lemon – Low FODMAP


The words of the song the Lemon Tree, the words are undeniable “Lemon tree very pretty, and the lemon flower is sweet, but the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat.” Many people with gastro-oesophageal reflux (GORD) and IBS avoid all citrus fruit due to reporting of them making symptoms of reflux worse. Yet, citrus fruits are allowed on the low FODMAP diet. I actually love lemon, the flavour is sharp and strong but has to be handled carefully in recipes to prevent is tasting like a popular cold remedy.

One point to mention here is that the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidance on reflux does not specify a reduction of citrus fruit consumption as part of lifestyle GORD treatment. The reduction of coffee, chocolate, alcohol and fatty foods are the main focus of dietary lifestyle factors. Although the date of the review of this lifestyle advice is 2004 – so somewhat old data, but this is fine if no new developments have come to light. It is also worth noting that the measure of acidity, pH, is very low for stomach acid (2-3), for lemon Juice, it is 2, so not much different than the pH of gastric juices anyway. But people do report problems, so we do treat everyone as an individual and they can be reduced to a tolerable level, when needed.

Reduction of acidic foods also can reduce the amount of vitamin C in the diet, as ascorbic acid is found in higher levels in citrus fruits. Vitamin C full deficiency is rare in the UK, although arguably becoming more common due to fad diets, such as complete carnivore diets. Our bodies cannot make it, unlike other animals. Not much data is available on low vitamin C intake and GORD, but the effects of deficiency include damage to skin and likely the GI tract, which has a fast turnover of cells, not that helpful for those who have sensitive guts. The requirement for vitamin C might be increased in people who have diarrhoea – although caution is advised as vitamin C supplements above 3g/day (three times the amount of a standard over the counter supplement) will increase symptoms of abdominal pain and diarrhoea. As ever, it is better to get your nutrition from food, so once your symptoms have reduced, re-introduce those low FODMAP foods you have stopped eating, try them again, you might find that you can eat them after all.

Lemon butter drops

These little biscuits are only a mouthful – just a bite – but are a divine melt in the mouth treat. Especially nice for this time of year, Spring and Easter, (when Easter does arrive in April).


100g butter

200g rice flour

1/2g zanthan gum

Grated rind of 2 unwaxed lemons

1 egg

50g of gluten free self-raising flour plus extra for rolling out.

Filling (lemon curd)

4 wax free lemons – juice and rind

350g castor sugar

200g butter

1 1/2 tablespoons of corn flour

4 eggs


Add the butter and sugar and cream (mix) together well.

Then add the grated lemon rind and egg, mix well

Add the flour and bring together into a dough, if it doesn’t bind together add a little more flour till it does.

Roll thinly and cut out small rounds (I made 40 with the mix)

Cook for 10 minutes at gas mark 6.


Make the curd

Whisk together 4 eggs

Juice and grate the lemons and weigh out the other ingredients

Warm the eggs whilst adding the other ingredients and cook till thickened

Cool and add to the jars

(This is based on a Delia Smith recipe but with additional cornflour to make the curd thick enough to sandwich between the biscuits.)

Recipe makes enough for 20 small sandwich biscuits and enough curd to add to a litre and a half volume – more than enough to add to sterilized jam jars and they will keep for a few weeks.It does go a long way so you don’t need to use much for a sweet and sharp lemon flavour.

Food, mood and improvement in gut motility? Low FODMAP, wheat free, dairy free, egg free.

So it begins, the Low FODMAP adventure – a tale of gut calming peace. Ready for the story? It began by eating out, but now I am happy to be home, then I can choose myself what to cook for my hubby and myself. Yesterday the weather had been appalling, back in the Pennines again and guess what? It’s raining again, not the raging downpours that happened over the summer, but a depressing drizzle – the drenching sort with no passion, it is so fine it may as well not be happening. But obviously it is, as my returning husband can contest, after going for a run he was soaked to the skin. Food and mood, now that’s interesting – shall we cook something to lift it? (Your mood that is!) Serotonin is a happiness chemical, it is made from tryptophan (an amino acid – building blocks of protein,) by your body and this chemical can lift your mood. It is also suggested that serotonin in the large intestine can help with constipation by increasing the speed the gut moves – some people with IBS-C are deficient, apparently. This seems to be one of the reasons why a low dose of antidepressants can be beneficial for IBS, it increases the amount of serotonin in the gut, thus increasing motility. Can this be done with food, I wonder? Food is better than taking pills, but we don’t have any evidence that food high in tryptophan can increase the levels of serotonin or improve a slow digestive system, so no point in taking this amino acid or foods high in tryptophan to try, until we do. See your doctor if you want to try a drug to help. It’s an interesting hypothesis though – don’t you think? I wonder if anyone will consider trialling it?


2 Mackerel

brown rice (120g)

2 tablespoons of pine nuts

1 sprig of mint

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Salt to taste

1.5 pieces of celery

Spray oil

Serves 3 people

Place the rice in a pan and cover with water, add a small pinch of salt, bring to the boil and cook till soft – this will take at least 40 minutes, watch the pan to ensure it doesn’t boil dry – boil a kettle and add more hot water to the pan if needed.

Wash and prepare the mackerel and grill for 10 minutes on both sides till cooked.

Put both the pine nuts and chopped hazelnuts on a tray and put in an oven to toast, watch this closely as it can easily burn.

Chop mint and squeeze lemon.

Add Lemon, mint and nuts to the rice and mix well.

Place the celery in a dish and spray with oil and cook in the oven for 15 minutes until cooked.

Serve and eat!!

Brown rice contains B vitamins, omega-3 oil is in the mackerel and both contain tryptophan – all nutrients suggested to improve your mood, but the main thing here is that this meal is low in FODMAPs, tasty and hot – what other reasons do you need to tuck in?