Sharon Rosenrauch, founder of The FODMAP Friendly Vegan, is an incredibly talented writer who shares recipes and information for anyone wanting to lead a healthier life. With a few intolerances herself, Sharon is an expert on digestive issues and has published her own eBook which is my go-to for low FODMAP recipes. I hope you enjoy reading her interview as much as I did!
What sparked your interest in health and wellness?
I grew up in a relatively healthy household, as my Dad has genetically high cholesterol (despite having a very clean diet) … he’s an ex-athlete so clean eating has always been important to him. Also, at a relatively young age I was diagnosed with lactose intolerance, coeliac, and much later fructose intolerance … not fun! I started investigating the role of gut health in precipitating a range of mental illnesses, and became fascinated by this. As a result, I went on to study psychology at university, with a large emphasis on health psychology, and then do a Masters in Nutrition.
How did you turn your love of food and health into successful pages on social media?
That was never my intention. After being prescribed to follow the low FODMAP diet because of severe IBS symptoms and an inability to properly absorb the nutrients from the food I was consuming, I found there was basically zero resources out there for vegans or vegetarians with digestive issues, which just seems bizarre to me given most of what we eat is fibre and likely to cause bloating if not adequately monitored! I had the knowledge (albeit not the time!) but thought to myself “stuff this, I’ll provide my own resources”. People need to know food is not something to be feared, despite suffering digestive issues.
What does a typical day look like for you?
In terms of food? I eat ALL THE TIME. My friends make fun of me. I’ll have about 6 meals a day – breakfast is usually a smoothie with some low FODMAP fruit, vegan yoghurt, almond milk and some healthy fats. Snacks are low FODMAP nuts, seeds, fruit, some of my raw treats or dehydrated crackers, veggie sticks and vegan dips, or vegan mousse. Lunch is LOTS of steamed veggies, tempeh or low FODMAP beans, fermented veg, seaweed, grains or small amounts of root veggies. Dinner is similar to lunch but generally larger as I tend to do most of my exercise in the afternoon (working full time). Supper is generally nana ice cream or something sweet to crave that damn sweet tooth of mine!
In terms of lifestyle, I’ll wake up early, get ready for work (I plan the medical and health sciences curriculum for university students so start early). I’ll work up until about 4pm, then go to yoga, Pilates or light weight training (important for women). I also love going for walks along the lovely lake I’m lucky to live close to with a friend. That’s where we do our ranting! I’ll come home, prepare dinner and lunch for the next day, do some study and business work (including consults), then fall asleep with something trashy or a good book. Gilmore Girls is my obsession! Weekends you’ll find me at the markets, yoga, beach with my friends or in my kitchen!
What’s it like to live on the Gold Coast, Australia for healthy, low FODMAP, vegan food?
Great, I can’t complain because we are very blessed on the Gold Coast to enjoy beautiful weather, and a very healthy lifestyle. I’m quite spoilt for choice when it comes to vegan cafes and food retailers. Byron Bay is quite close too and there are PLENTY of options there. I do still take my low FODMAP snacks with me in case we’re on the road and there’s nothing on the way (service stations are very limited with food options … regardless of whether you’re vegan or on a low FODMAP diet). A good idea is to keep a container of low FODMAP nuts, seeds and maybe some fruit handy. Just make sure the fruit isn’t watery (I’ve had plenty of cut up rockmelon disasters in my bag to testify this is NOT a good idea!)
Where do you get your inspiration from to come up with so many delicious recipes?
I just experiment. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I do have favourite foodies who I borrow ideas from but often I’ll mix a little bit of a recipe, I saw here, with a little bit of a recipe I saw there, with a new ingredient I’ve been wanting to try etc. I try to keep my recipes relatively simple .. but I can get carried away!
You have a few degrees under your belt. Can you please talk us through them and how they affect your business on a daily basis?
I’d like to think I distinguish myself in the market by not being “just another blogger” with zero experience, giving potentially dangerous advice to a very sensitive, and often vulnerable, population. I don’t like to promote myself and you’ll notice my website doesn’t have any photos of me … I want it to be driven by the content I produce. My undergraduate degrees in psychology allow me to better understand the psychological aspects that come with food consumption, fear and resistance to change, while my post-graduate studies in nutrition mean I understand the biochemical aspect of food and why it causes the reactions it does in sensitive people. I try to tailor my recipes based on the knowledge I’ve acquired through years of study in the field of digestive health. I am also a qualified yoga instructor and personal trainer. The benefits of exercise for digestion are just as important as proper diet … not to mention the mental benefits that come with having a regular yoga practise! I have years of experience as a researcher too … so I like to stay current as things are constantly changing.
What do you love the most about what you do?
The feedback I receive when I’ve helped someone who was just about to give up…. Hands down! I’ve been there. I know what it feels like.
What’s the hardest part of being involved in the health and wellness industry?
The lack of regulation when it comes to unqualified people giving their “own experiences” of what helped them. Everyone is different and has a very unique microflora. Inexperienced people giving nutritional advice is similar to them giving out medical advice … it can have a huge effect on someone’s health and is one of my pet hates!
Where do you see The FODMAP Friendly Vegan in 5 years?
Who knows?! Definitely there is another book in the works … stay tuned.
What would your perfect three course meal consist of?
Ahh too many options – but anything with olives, sweet potato, purple carrots (obviously), seaweed, and frozen banana … I’d be one happy chappy!
What are your favourite things to eat when you are super busy?
Nuts and seeds – they are filling, and nutritional powerhouses, containing healthy fats, protein, and fat-soluble vitamins. People are horrified when they hear how much fat I consume on a daily basis, but this is due to remnants of all the misinformation we’ve been fed for years about following a low-fat diet.