With the holidays in full swing, you might find yourself drinking more alcohol than you normally would. But if you’re following the low-FODMAP diet, finding low-FODMAP alcohol can be a challenge. However, with some thoughtful choices and a bit of creativity, you can still enjoy a drink while sticking to the low-FODMAP diet.
In this blog post, we’ll explore which low-FODMAP alcoholic drinks are available and offer some tips to help you navigate your way through the cocktail menu.
How Does Alcohol Affect the Gut?
Before diving into which types of alcohol are low-FODMAP, it’s important to understand the effect alcohol can have on the gut regardless of whether it contains FODMAPs.
There are many ways that excessive alcohol consumption can negatively affect gut health. They include:
- Disrupting the balance of your gut microbiota.
- Causing inflammation along the digestive tract.
- Causing the development of gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining).
- Weakening the gut barrier and causing it to become more “leaky.”
- Preventing the absorption of certain nutrients.
Most of these effects have been seen with chronic, excessive alcohol consumption, so if you only drink on occasion, you likely don’t have to worry.
How Much Alcohol Can I Have?
When it comes to alcohol, IBS folks need to consider that even if a drink contains low FODMAP alcohol, having too many drinks in one sitting could still lead to gut symptoms. This is because excessive alcohol consumption can irritate the gastrointestinal tract, leading to worse abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloating, and general digestive discomfort.
Where we often see this excessive alcohol consumption is at social events and restaurants. If you want to learn more about what to eat at restaurants when you’re on the low FODMAP diet, visit my blog Low FODMAP Eating Out.
So, how many drinks is too much? Tolerance varies between individuals, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), moderate alcohol consumption is one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
A standard drink is:
- 12 ounces of 5% ABV (alcohol by volume) beer.
- 5 ounces of 12% ABV wine.
- 1.5 ounces of 40% ABV liquor.
The guidelines also note that drinking less is better for health than drinking more. So, even if you find a low-FODMAP alcohol that you enjoy, it’s worth exploring drinking less for overall health benefits.
Is Beer Low-FODMAP?
I know what you’re thinking – how could beer possibly be okay on a low-FODMAP diet? Beer is typically made with wheat, rye, and barley. These grains contain a FODMAP called fructans. However, thanks to the fermentation process that is needed to make beer, many of these fructans get broken down, reducing the overall FODMAP content.
What does this mean for you? According to the Monash FODMAP app, one serving (375 millilitres or 12 ounces) of beer is considered low FODMAP. Therefore, if you’re on the elimination phase of the low-FODMAP diet, you can still enjoy beer in moderation. Be mindful of beers that use fruit as part of the production process – these could contain high-FODMAP ingredients.
One other thing to keep in mind: beer is carbonated, which can worsen gas and bloating. If you find that beer bothers you, it might not be the FODMAPs – it could simply be the bubbles.
Is Wine Low-FODMAP?
Just as beer is fermented, so too is wine. That means that many of the FODMAPs present in wine are broken down during the fermentation process.
Low FODMAP wine is available, provided you consume it in the correct portion size. In general, white wine, sparkling wine, red wine, and rosé wine are all low-FODMAP if you consume the standard portion size of 150 millilitres or 5 ounces.
However, be mindful of dessert wines like sherry and ice wine, as these can have a higher fructose content, which makes them high-FODMAP.
Is Hard Liquor Low-FODMAP?
Most distilled spirits are low in FODMAPs. These include:
These spirits are low-FODMAP at a serving size of 1 shot glass (1.5 ounces). If you’re drinking hard liquor, it’s best to stick to one drink.
Also, be mindful of what you mix with your low-FODMAP alcohol. While many distilled spirits are low in FODMAPs, mixing them with high-FODMAP ingredients makes the entire drink high-FODMAP.
And what about rum? Rum contains high amounts of fructose, so it should be avoided if you’re on the elimination phase of the low-FODMAP diet or if you know you’re sensitive to fructose.
Low FODMAP Cocktails
If you want to enjoy low-FODMAP alcohol, you might be wondering if you can still enjoy cocktails. You can, but you need to be mindful of the ingredients being used to craft your drink. Here are some simple and delicious low-FODMAP cocktails.
Minty Mojito: 1.5 oz white rum, fresh mint leaves, lime juice, and soda water.
Whiskey Sour: 1.5 oz whiskey, freshly squeezed lemon juice, splash of water, a touch of maple syrup for sweetness.
Cucumber Basil Smash: 1.5 oz gin, fresh cucumber slices, fresh basil leaves, splash of lime juice.
Raspberry Fizz: 1.5 oz vodka, fresh raspberries, splash of lime juice, soda water.
Rosemary Citrus Highball: 1.5 oz gin, fresh rosemary sprigs, splash of grapefruit juice, soda water.
Tips for Choosing Low FODMAP Alcohol
Here are some general tips for choosing low-FODMAP alcoholic drinks.
1. Clear Spirits are Your Friends
Opt for clear spirits like vodka, gin, and white rum. These spirits are generally low in FODMAPs and can be the base for a variety of cocktails.
2. Mind the Mixers
Mixers can be tricky, as many commercially available options contain high-FODMAP ingredients. Choose mixers like soda water and freshly squeezed citrus juices.
3. Experiment with Infusions
Enhance your drinks with low-FODMAP infusions. Consider adding fresh herbs, such as mint or rosemary, or fruits like strawberries and blueberries for flavour without the FODMAP overload.
4. Read Labels
When in doubt, read labels. Some spirits and mixers may contain hidden FODMAPs or high-fructose corn syrup. Try choosing products with minimal additives.
5. Sip Slowly and Mindfully
Enjoy your drinks slowly to savour the flavours and prevent drinking too much. This also allows you to monitor how your body reacts to different drinks.
6. Stay Hydrated
Alcohol can dehydrate you, so be sure to alternate alcoholic drinks with water to stay hydrated.
Choosing low-FODMAP alcohol doesn’t mean sacrificing your social life or favourite drinks. With a bit of knowledge and mindful selection, you can navigate the world of low FODMAP alcohol like a pro.
Remember, individual tolerance may vary, so it’s always a good idea to consult with a healthcare provider like a registered dietitian who specializes in IBS to tailor your choices to your specific needs.
If you’re looking for ways to mindfully navigate events where alcohol is involved, a registered dietitian can help. Keren has helped countless people get control over their IBS and gut symptoms. Click here to book a complimentary 15-minute call to see if you’d be a good fit for working together.