If you have IBS or digestive problems, you probably have heard that a low FODMAP diet will help.
However, the most common reason why people avoid the diet is that it just seems too complicated! It definitely can be intimidating to get started, especially if you go it alone.
In fact, the MOST difficult and challenging part of the diet is figuring out what to order at restaurants. Sure, a list of ‘yes and no’ foods is great, but it can be really tricky to translate that list into a choice from a menu!
I’ve seen so many clients deal with this that I’ve decided to make up a little cheat sheet. Bring this list with you so that you’re ready when it’s time to eat out or order takeout.
Corn tortillas or taco shells with meat (no onion or garlic), tomato, lettuce, and shredded cheese (limit amount)
Rice and/or tortilla chips on side
Cooked chicken breast with bacon and marinara sauce, topped with up to 1 oz (thumb-sized amount) cheese (ensure no garlic or onion in any marinade or sauce). Or fish without garlic or onion. Side of carrots, green beans, or broccoli (or broccolini) steamed or cooked in olive oil or butter (eat just the tops).
May also have gluten-free pasta on side. Pesto is OK if garlic-free.
OR: gluten-free pizza with garlic-free tomato sauce, chicken, hard cheese, tomatoes, olives, and bell pepper.
Rice with a prawn curry (check curry sauce made without garlic or onion).
No added garlic or onion in sauce. Avoid marinaded chicken (i.e. tandoori).
Ask for rice and a stir-fry of chicken, beef, tofu, or prawn made with broccoli.
Use only oil, soy, oyster, and/or fish sauce (no commercial sauces unless no garlic, onion, or sweeteners). Eat just the broccoli tops (not stems).
Rice with stir fry of protein choice (i.e. prawn, chicken, pork, or tofu) with veg. Lemongrass, ginger, sweet basil, bell peppers (capsicum), bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, and green beans are safe.
Ensure sauce with no garlic, onion, or sweeteners. Oyster, fish, and soy sauce are OK.
Sashimi with rice (i.e. chirashi bowl) or nigiri sushi. Nori/seaweed paper and soy sauce are safe.
Jacket potato (baked white potato) with tuna mayonnaise salad and side garden salad (i.e. lettuce, tomato, cucumber).
OR: Roast dinner with meat/poultry roast, white roast potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and peas. No yorkshire pudding or gravy.
Omelette with spinach, bell peppers, and 1 oz (i.e. thumb size amount) cheese.
Ensure no milk, onion, flour, or added spices. 1/8 avocado (2 small slices) OR up to 2 Tbsp cream cheese on top. On side: 1/2 cup cantaloupe, honeydew, or grapes.
Salad nicoise (check no garlic or artichokes).
Kofta/meatballs made without garlic or onion OR grilled kebabs (check not marinaded with garlic). Greek salad with cucumber, tomato, onion, olives, oil (no red onion). Rice.
Steak (with garlic-free sauce and marinade), white potato with butter (or fries/chips without added garlic/onion flavor) and carrots, green beans, or broccoli (or broccolini) either steamed or cooked in butter or oil (eat tops only, not stems)
Salad with greens (lettuce, kale, and/or spinach), chicken or beef (check no garlic marinade), 1 oz (thumb-size amount) cheese, 1 tbsp nuts or seeds (not cashew or pistachio), olives, and veg (cucumber, tomato, bell pepper, and/or carrots).
Hold the dressing, or use a small of oil and vinegar (no added garlic).
Here are a few extra tips for when you decide to eat out:
- Call ahead and look at menu online if possible.
- Discuss with wait staff that you need to avoid added sweeteners, garlic, onion, and wheat (i.e. you may ask for gluten-free).
- Watch out for sneaky sources like:
- Minced/ground meat (i.e. burgers) with added garlic and onion flavoring
- Cream sauces
- Condiments and sauces with added FODMAPs like flour, sweeteners, onion, and garlic
- Broths (often made with garlic and onion)
Finally, I’d love to hear from you – what is your go-to restaurant or café meal? I love hearing new ideas from you!
Also, don’t forget to join me over at my free Facebook community – RecoveryfromIBS.com!
There, you can get support for improving your IBS, plus a FREE one-week low FODMAP meal plan that will have you feeling better inside of a week!
Erin Skinner, MS, RD, IFNCP, CPT