Eating out on a low FODMAP diet can seem daunting, but with the right strategies and tips, you can confidently enjoy meals outside the house.
The low FODMAP diet is designed to minimize the intake of certain carbohydrates that can trigger digestive symptoms like gas, bloating, and abdominal pain. However, navigating the menu at a restaurant can be daunting, especially if you’re not familiar with the ingredients in the dishes.
Eating out on Low Fodmap
In this article, we’ll provide you with tips and strategies for low FODMAP eating out. Whether you’re at a fast-food restaurant, a fine dining restaurant, or just grabbing a bite on the go, you can follow these guidelines to ensure you can stick to the low FODMAP diet even when you don’t have control over the menu.
Low FODMAP eating out can feel impossible, but with a few tips and tricks, you can make it work!
How to Eat out on Low Fodmap Diet
One of the best things you can do when eating out is to do some research before you head to the restaurant. Here are some ways you can plan ahead to make low FODMAP eating out less stressful.
Before You Arrive at the Restaurant
Check out the menu online
Luckily, it’s now easier than ever to check out a restaurant’s menu online before you go. Take a look at the menu and make a note of any options that look like they’ll work for you. Once you arrive at the restaurant, you can confirm with the serving staff that the meal doesn’t include any high FODMAP ingredients.
If you cannot find menu information online, try calling the restaurant beforehand to see whether they can accommodate low FODMAP options. Restaurants appreciate being told in advance that they may need to make substitutions to suit your dietary needs, and this can provide peace of mind that you’ll be able to eat at the restaurant.
Consider restaurants that offer gluten-free options
While gluten isn’t technically the problem on a low FODMAP diet, gluten-free options are also wheat-free. Since wheat is a significant source of FODMAPs, choosing gluten-free options can be an easy switch to ensure your meal is low FODMAP. Try choosing restaurants that offer a good range of gluten-free options.
Consider dining during off-peak hours
If possible, try to dine during times when the restaurant is not as busy. This will make it easier to chat with the server about your dietary needs and will ensure the kitchen has enough time to prepare your food.
Bring a printed list of foods you need to avoid
Communication is key, and having a list of foods you need to avoid can be extremely helpful for the restaurant staff. Try to bring a printed list of the foods you need to avoid so that your server can provide it to the chef and ensure that no high FODMAP ingredients are added to your meal.
Keep the rest of your meals low FODMAP
FODMAPs tend to have a “bucket” effect. Everyone has a different-sized “bucket,” and it’s only once your FODMAP intake passes a certain threshold that symptoms appear. By keeping the rest of your day low FODMAP, you’ll ensure that your FODMAP “bucket” is almost empty when you go out to eat. That way, even if you eat some FODMAPs with your restaurant meal, they will be less likely to cause symptoms.
At the Restaurant
Once you’re at the restaurant, try to choose meals that can be easily adapted to be low FODMAP. Here are some types of meals that are usually safe to order or can be easily adapted to be low FODMAP.
Grilled or roasted chicken, beef, pork, or fish
Grilled proteins are often safe options for low FODMAP eating out. Be sure to ask whether the meat has been marinated or seasoned with high FODMAP ingredients like onion and garlic. If it has, ask if they can prepare the protein without these ingredients. Pair with a side of steamed vegetables and a carbohydrate like rice, quinoa, or potatoes for a complete meal.
Salads are typically easy to tailor to your dietary requirements. Many dressings contain garlic, so ask if they can dress the salad with lemon juice or vinegar and olive oil instead (or bring your own dressing to use!). When ordering a salad, look out for high FODMAP ingredients like croutons and dried fruit.
Choose a gluten-free pizza base with plain tomato paste. Top the pizza with low FODMAP ingredients and request that they do not add any high FODMAP ingredients like onion or garlic to the toppings or sauce.
Many types of sushi are naturally low FODMAP. If you order rolls with avocado, limit your serving size, as avocado is high FODMAP in serving sizes of ¼ avocado or higher. You may also want to limit any rolls that contain tempura, as tempura is made with wheat flour, which is high FODMAP. The small amount of wheat found in soy sauce usually isn’t a problem for someone following the low FODMAP diet.
Many restaurants will offer a gluten-free option for their pasta dishes. Be sure to check whether the seasonings and sauce have high FODMAP ingredients like onion, garlic, and cream, and ask if these ingredients can be omitted.
Keep your non-FODMAP IBS triggers in mind
While it’s possible to choose low FODMAP options when dining out, it’s important to remember that FODMAPs are not the only cause of symptoms for people with IBS. Some of the other triggers for IBS symptoms include:
- High-fat meals
- Spicy food
Try to be mindful of these other IBS triggers to ensure you’re not inadvertently eating non-FODMAP foods that could cause symptoms.
FODMAP Dietician can help
Low FODMAP eating out can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re struggling to understand your IBS triggers, working with a registered dietician, like Keren Reiser, who is trained on using a low FODMAP diet for IBS by Monash University, can help.