It’s a Friday night, you’ve been good all week, made smart IBS choices and refused every trigger food imaginable.
But tonight it’s the end of the working week, and all you really want is a gentle drink and nice hearty pizza delivered direct to your door.
You might think suffering with IBS means this is an impossible notion – it’s a catalogue of gut-busting (literally) ingredients. If it’s not the cheese, it’s the wheat. If it’s not the wheat it’s the high fat processed meat strewn atop the masterpiece.
But I have a pleasant surprise for you…. You can order a pizza when you have IBS. It’s just a bit of a more arduous process that simply closing your eyes and choosing your favourite.
The dough base
We all know wheat is a particular troublesome food, causing all kinds of flare-ups across many IBS sufferers. But finding a gluten-free dough is now getting easier and easier, and you can find them as an option in any good pizza delivery menu. Pizza Hut’s gluten-free base is superb and doesn’t scrimp on wholesomeness.
You can also opt for sourdough, which is becoming increasingly popular in pizza places. These are particularly good wheat substitutes if you have problems with grains or gluten as sourdough uses wild bacteria and yeast to rise the bread.
The pizza sauce
Pizza sauce, and sauces in general, are usually laden in sugar, something which can irritate the gut walls in the abdomen. Plus, as they’re just an accessory to the pizza, you don’t realise you’re eating it, which means you then are likely to eat more of it…. Which is never good.Classic tomato sauces are always a better bet than other high-sugar sauces, such as BBQ and Sweet Chilli. They also taste a damned sight better – but that’s just my opinion. Try Domino’s Own Tomato Sauce for a gluten-free vegetarian-friendly luxurious sauce.
Even pesto sauces should be handled lightly as pizza places tend to incorporate lots of creamy cheese into them. Tasty, sure. But regrettable, wholly.
Worst offenders for IBS sufferers are creamy cheeses, so these are the kinds which tend to taste so good on a pizza, like mozzarella and feta, which are mainly pasteurised milk or full of whey. A nightmare for IBS sufferers who have a great hatred for lactose.
Instead, opt for no cheese. I’m serious – you won’t miss it if you get the veggies right. But if you can’t, and I mean really can’t face a pizza without heaps of cheese, try going for harder cheese toppings such as cheddar or grated parmesan. The harder a cheese, the less amount of lactose in the curds, and the easier it is to digest.
You can also try lactose-free cheese, such as soy cheese or rice cheese but, as most pizza services don’t provide this as an option, it might be best to order the pizza cheese-free and add in these once you open up the box.
Oh yes. The meat.
The best bit.
This is where making a wise decision in line with your IBS becomes that much harder. The best tasting meats which are pizza staples, such as pepperoni and bacon bits should be avoided like the plague. These deli-type high-fat cured meats will prove too much for your gut and, as the meat takes up a large portion of the pizza, you’ll struggle to stop once you’ve begun. SO JUST DON’T ORDER THEM!
Instead, go for less fat-dense meats like chicken or ham, or try fish if you’re feeling extra daring. These will be best digested if they’re unprocessed and thinly sliced and are accompanied by the right amount of cooked vegetables.
Pizzas become a great haven for cooked veggies and, if you’re doing the ‘Make Your Own’ versions, you can stack your pizza high with them and feel no IBS regret at all.
Avoid vegetables which are usually dripping in oil before they end up garnishing your pizza, such as onions or mushrooms. Try other clean veggies like tomatoes or olives which don’t necessarily have to be fried.
Alternatively, as the pizza guy to not fry your vegetables, and just pop them on there raw. A raw red onion tastes great on a pizza, full of flavour and contains loads of good stuff – such as fibre, high amounts of antioxidants, as well as great levels of quercetin and allicin which has been shown to reduce inflammation in the gut. The health benefits of a red onion also surpass a white onion by a country mile, and taste a whole lot better for it!
Spice or no spice?
Avoid spices wherever possible, as these contain a specific type of nerve fibre which reacts in the gut. So clever pizza eaters would avoid spicy veg such as chilli peppers or jalapenos, and would steer clear of spicy meats and sauces, such as Tandoori Chicken and hot sauce.