Food/Diet | IBD
Feeling nurtured from a good meal is truly a treat for people with IBD. Eating out or constantly scanning ingredients on packaged products can be overwhelming. And sometimes we don’t have the physical energy to go shopping, bring home groceries and prepare an entire meal. We all know those moments where we wish – can’t someone just make food for me that doesn’t hurt my gut?! Epicured aims to answer that call (and more) through its meal delivery program.
Epicured’s tagline is “food designed for digestive wellness”. I had the opportunity to try some of their meals and experience a variety of dishes that I thought could work for me and my Crohn’s Disease.
The first thing that stands out about Epicured is that their website is user-friendly. When searching for dishes, it’s easy to mark off dietary restrictions including a filter called “Extra Sensitive for IBD & IBS Symptoms” (Mount Sinai Hospital endorsed). Fantastic! It was a breath of fresh air to know that there’s a company finally acknowledging the needs of millions of Americans. This, however, is a tricky claim since everyone’s diet is so individual. It is not like being gluten-free where the clear answer is to avoid gluten. Overall the Epicured dishes are seed-heavy and that is a no-no for many of us with IBD or Diverticulitis. It would be great if their filters include this as well as a filter for another common irritant, nightshades.
Ingredients and Nutrition Panel Facts are spelled out on Epicured’s site when you select a dish or snack. This helps you understand what you’re ordering. Pro tip: it is very important to scroll all the way down to read the ingredients when you click on a dish, because if you read only the top descriptor you will miss viewing what’s fully in it. When the box of goodies arrived, I liked the sleek design of their packaging. Their ingredients were listed out clearly on the front of the packages. Again, an easy reminder of what’s in your food.
Ok but now for the important part, what does the food taste like? Does it make me run to the bathroom or chill in a state of pain-free bliss? Is it yummy? The answer here is that it’s hit-or-miss. Some dishes work well and are tasty and others need to be seriously improved.
The Dragon Fruit Smoothie was refreshing and light. Even though it is made from coconut milk and vanilla hemp milk which are traditionally fattening, it was relatively low in fat. It filled me up despite a small size and I felt good until lunch.
The Carrot Ginger Soup was really creamy and had a great flavor while being dairy-free. It felt nurturing. However, the sprinkle of sesame seeds was unnecessary.
The Lemon Coconut Energy bites had a nice flavor, slightly savory from added turmeric but also rich from coconut oil. I appreciate the higher quality oil as opposed to standard vegetable oils that can be gut irritants. But the energy bites don’t have enough binder and crumbled quickly while I ate them. It also had chia seeds (I missed this when I read the ingredients online) which is not great for me.
The Grilled Steak had a decent presentation yet looked thick and slightly grey in color when it arrived. Unfortunately it was completely gamey and nearly impossible to chew. As you know, chewing is a huge piece of digestion. If it’s hard to eat it’s going to be hard to go down. I had to throw the steak out after 2 attempts at taking bites. It was a big disappointment and I was perhaps too hopeful that reheating a steak would work. The accompanying mashed sweet potatoes in this dish were bland. Similarly, the Bare Turkey Burger dish was overdone and bland.
Overall – Epicured is providing a valuable service in meal delivery and they need to improve dish prep so that it maintains good quality when it’s ready to eat. When ordering, stick to dishes that have simple ingredients and are naturally smoother in texture or easy to reheat without compromising on the texture. The upside is that none of the dishes I ate made my IBD feel worse. I didn’t have bloating or discomfort. And that’s a win for many of us.
Laura Rubin is from Brooklyn, NY. After being diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease as a child in 1999 she set on a life-long path of incorporating natural remedies into her routine and eating a gut friendly diet. She has given lectures on the importance of the microbiome and is an herbalist, making a variety of products including tinctures, salves, elixirs and tea blends.