Top tips for eating out on the low FODMAP diet
by FoodMaestro | 14 July 2016
By: Hannah Hunter, a HCPC registered dietitian trained in FODMAPs at King's College London
With a little bit of planning and a few key things to remember, eating out is not only possible but can also be enjoyable!
Awareness of FODMAPs continues to grow but eating out remains one if the biggest challenges when following the diet. Whilst many restaurants are now very good at signposting wheat free and dairy free options (and have a legal requirement to declare these allergens), many of these dishes will commonly contain other high FODMAP ingredients such as onion and garlic.
We have put our top tips below to give you the best chance of success.
1. Do some homework beforehand
Many restaurants now publish their menus online so you can have a look through them and see if any options appear to be suitable. They often do not show a full list of ingredients, but this is a good starting point. It can also be useful to contact restaurants beforehand, either via email or over the phone to discuss accommodating your needs.
- Do they have gluten free versions of pasta, pizza and breads?
- If so, what are the ingredients in these?
- Do sauces and marinades contain onion or garlic?
- Can dishes be amended if necessary?
2. Discuss with staff on arrival
Planning ahead is one thing, but talking to waiting staff and if necessary kitchen staff on the day can be even more important. Go through what you can and can’t have and do not be afraid to appear fussy. It is in their interests for you to both enjoy and tolerate the food that is served. Sometimes it is easier to focus on foods that you can have in order to find suitable options, rather than giving a long list of things to avoid.
3. Choose simple options
To avoid onion and garlic, select a protein source (such as meat, fish, eggs, tofu) without any sauce or marinade. For instance, plain steak or chicken breast will be safe. Suitable accompanying options are rice, potato, quinoa or polenta, just make sure that there are no added seasonings containing onion or garlic. Select dishes with vegetables such as spinach, green beans, broccoli, or carrots over cauliflower, mushrooms, or leek. For a reminder of which vegetables are suitable, consult the FODMAP by FM app look up table:
4. Adapt menu items
If your preferred choice contains high FODMAP ingredients, ask about amending options to make it suitable. For instance, could a meat be served without marinade or sauce or could certain vegetables be swapped? Of course, this will not be possible for all options, such as pre-prepared dishes like soups and stews but generally most restaurants should be happy to substitute equivalent options easily.
5. Order something that isn’t on the menu
If you find that nothing on the menu is anywhere near suitable for you, as if they can make a dish specifically for you. Most restaurants will be able to do this for you and simply price it up accordingly. For instance, order a plain piece of fish or chicken breast with new potatoes, boiled vegetables or salad.
- If a restaurant is unable to cater for your specific dietary requirements, it might be better to dine elsewhere.
- It is often sensible to limit eating out when you are very new to the diet.
- Once you are past the initial stages of the diet, eating out becomes easier, especially once you have reintroduced foods.
- Remember that it is ok to deviate from your low FODMAP diet now and again, such as on special occasions or when you deserve a treat. Although you may experience symptoms, you will have control about when these occur and whilst they may be extremely bothersome, they are not dangerous.
For more ideas visit:
- Hannah’s blog post on avoiding FODMAPs when out and about
- Alana Scott from a little bit yummy, how to Eat Out on the Low FODMAP Diet
Articles by Dietitian Hanna Hunter: