Ep.37 – what CAN you eat on a low-FODMAP diet?
7 Feb, 2024

Episode Intro

Why is it so hard to know what to eat with IBS? Especially when there is actually a lot of information about the low FODMAP diet and other diets online. That's exactly what I'm going to cover in this episode of The Inside Knowledge. I'd like to give you a bit of inspiration for cooking some new things, getting back to enjoying eating again, but also avoiding the dreaded bloat. You'll learn which foods are low FODMAP and how to build a tasty meal. Some flavour tricks to make your IBS diet the best it can be and why getting out of a restricted diet is best for IBS.

Podcast transcript

Hello! Welcome to episode 37 of The Inside Knowledge with me, Anna Mapson.

I’m a registered nutritional therapist, and I work with people who’ve got IBS. And, I will tell you, there is no one diet that works for everybody with IBS.

IBS itself is pretty varied. Some people have recurrent loose stools, and some people have ongoing constipation. They’re both considered IBS, and yet they’re both very different sorts of conditions, symptoms, and need different sorts of diets.

Today, though, I just want to focus on what you can eat if you’re following a low FODMAP diet.

What is the low FODMAP diet?

If you want to catch up on the low FODMAP diet, what it includes, and how to do it, Listen to episode 17 and episode 18 where I break it down and explain to you exactly what it is.

But in summary, it’s a diet where you reduce fermentable fibres in order to control symptoms like bloating, gas, pain, loose, frequent stools. These are all often helped when you go on a low FODMAP diet. Now the problem with it is it’s not very intuitive. It’s not easy to follow the diet unless you have a bit of help.

The FODMAP diet is hard to follow at first

And that’s because with a lot of the foods, the portion size is what determines whether it’s high or low FODMAP. Not whether you can eat the food or not.

So for some people it’s easier to follow, say, a dairy free or a gluten free diet because you can just read the labels. If it’s got any dairy in it, you don’t eat it. That’s clear cut. But with the low FODMAP diet, it’s not so clear. But today I want to focus in on what you can eat freely and give you a few ideas for some meals.

Not everyone with IBS needs low FODMAP

Now, this is not to say that everybody who has IBS should go on a low FODMAP diet. It’s not suitable for everybody, particularly if you’ve had any disordered eating history.

There might be other conditions and things that make it not appropriate for you. But if you’re someone who’s got IBS and you have been on the low FODMAP diet for a little while and you want to start introducing a few new foods to your diet, then this episode hopefully will help you. So let’s get into it.

Low FODMAP meals you can eat

Now I’m going to start with the main meal of your day. Maybe that’s your lunch or your dinner, just trying to think about what you can eat more freely.

Focus on protein

Starting off with protein. Protein is low FODMAP. It doesn’t always mean all protein will be suitable for people with IBS because some very high fat foods can also trigger digestive symptoms.

Listen to episode 23 to hear more about how fat affects your digestion. But you’re starting with some lean meat. This could be chicken, turkey, salmon, or any kind of fish, prawns, eggs. And then other vegetarian sources would be like tofu, tempeh.

These are good, although I find increasingly a lot of my IBS clients can’t tolerate tofu very well, particularly not in large amounts. So we need to think about some alternatives as well.

Vegetarian protein on the low FODMAP diet

There is, low FODMAP meat alternatives if you’re someone who doesn’t mind the texture of meat but just chooses not to eat it. There are veggie sausages, veggie burgers, those kind of things. I have got a (free) guide to UK based alternative meat products and whether they are high or low FODMAP and which FODMAP is used.

So a lot of vegetarian protein sources contain soya or some of them are higher FODMAP and they are based on pea protein for example. Now, that’s just something you can go and look up, you can download. I’ll put a link in the show notes if you are interested in finding out my low FODMAP vegetarian guide.

Protein helps maintain energy levels

So you want to start off with protein. You want to try and get a good sized portion of protein at your main meal. And ideally, eating it two to three times throughout the day.

Because we want to make sure we’ve got enough protein for maintenance. As well as if you have got any other goals like if you’re exercising. If you’re recovering from any illnesses. Any of those things might increase your protein requirements.

Low FODMAP carbohydrates

We need some carbs as well. So you can choose variety of different grains which are all low FODMAP. Particularly oats, rice, rice noodles, quinoa. You can choose these and mix and match.

Low FODMAP pasta options

A lot of gluten free pastas will also be low FODMAP, although do check the ingredients because some of them have got quite high fibres added from gluten free sources. But they wouldn’t all be low FODMAP. Particularly a good one is brown rice pasta, and actually people find the taste and texture of this quite nice.

It’s not like some of the gloopy gluten free products that are corn based. So, you’ve got your protein, you’ve got some kind of carbohydrate, either from potatoes, rice, pasta, whatever.

Low FODMAP vegetables

And then I’m going to go through some vegetables which are all low FODMAP and can be eaten pretty freely. We’ve got the green leafy things which, most people know and realise are low FODMAP but these are things like rocket, lettuce, kale, spinach.

So you can have some kind of cooked greens and you can add a little bit of flavouring to that like soy sauce or butter or something to make it a little bit more tasty.

And then there’s also a whole host of other vegetables like if you like plain boiled vegetables on the side, you can have things like carrots, green beans, parsnips, although they’re probably better roasted.

Is broccoli low FODMAP?

And then things like broccoli. Now, broccoli is slightly tricky with the low FODMAP diet. You can mostly have the heads of the broccoli, but not too much of the stalks. And that’s where it gets confusing for people.

But if you just have the top, the fluffy part of the broccoli, that is also okay to eat once a day. And you should be fine and keeping it a low FODMAP portion.

Low FODMAP meals

So, one meal idea would be to just have plain separate foods.

Separate foods on a plate!

This is often what I advise if you’re eating out. It just keeps everything separate. It’s easier to stay low FODMAP. So you have your meat or your fish, a baked potato or perhaps some like roasted potatoes or chips or something. And then some vegetables like carrots, green beans. Then even a little bit of salad if you like, like lettuce and rocket and that sort of thing on the side. That’s a kind of basic plain-ish meal.

Stir fry can work low FODMAP

Then you can also do a stir fry, so you can have your rice as your carbs. Then in terms of the stir fry. You can add in bamboo shoots, kale, carrots, and flavouring it with things like, ginger, soy sauce, a little bit of chili if you like chili. But not too much because that can upset an IBS tummy.

But you can also include those kind of, Asian greens, so things like bok choy. A little bit of white cabbage you can grate in, and it just creates a really tasty, very varied source of vegetables. So stir fries I am very big on for adding variety to your IBS diet.

Pasta CAN be eaten on the low FODMAP diet

Another meal that’s fairly easy to do is to have gluten free pasta with tinned tomatoes. Now, I know fresh tomatoes are high FODMAP and should be avoided, particularly cherry tomatoes. But you can actually have a tin of tomatoes shared between you and housemates or the rest of your family and that will be okay.

As long as you’re not eating a whole tin of tomatoes, you’ll be alright. So you could have some roasted vegetables, including things like aubergine, carrots, parsnips, roast them in a tray and then add them to your tin tomatoes.

Garlic flavoured oil can be included in the low FODMAP diet

Now you can’t have Garlic which is a key component of a lot of Italian cooking, but what you can do is add garlic flavoured oil. You just have a little pot of oil on the side, put some garlic cloves in it and pour it into your meal to use as cooking.

But you don’t actually consume any of the garlic. This is a good way to get the flavour.

Use onions substitutes for low FODMAP flavour

With onions, another key part of a pasta dish. You can use the green tops of spring onions or chives which also have an oniony type flavour.

Too much pasta can be an issue for people with IBS

With pasta, really key to remember that you still need a good source of protein and your pasta should still only really take up like half or a quarter of a plate and the rest of it’s all vegetables.

One of the things that people fall down with with pasta is that you have a whole plate of it and it’s quite stodgy and it’s quite carby and that can feel like it sits really heavy in your stomach, it takes a while to digest and then people say, Oh, I don’t get on with pasta. But maybe it’s the quantity of pasta in proportion to the protein source that you’re having and the vegetables.

So do try and have a sauce that’s got lots of vegetables in it, plus the protein.

And then you can always add extra vegetables onto the side, like a little bit of cooked broccoli or a bit of green beans that sit alongside your pasta sauce.

Sushi bowls are low FODMAP

Another meal that I really. I encourage you to try if you’re looking for healthy and low FODMAP meals is a sort of deconstructed sushi salmon bowl.

So this is some sushi rice. You cook that up and then you add to it a piece of salmon that you have grilled or fried. However you like to cook your salmon. And with it, you can add edamame beans. These are good quality protein source for vegetarians. They are low FODMAP up to about 70. No, up to 90 grams, which is quite a good portion.

Add some vegetables

That’s quite a lot. You can have them frozen, keep them in the freezer and then just quickly defrost them. In a pan of boiling water and add them to then this salmon bowl with this rice. Grate up a little bit of carrot if you like, you can chop up finely some small pieces of cucumber like diced cucumber. Chop up finely some lettuce or rocket and add that in and then drizzle it with flavours. You can add things like sesame seed oil, which is really delicious a little bit of sweet chili oil, Mayonnaise, you can really add anything that you like that is going to make it a bit more flavourful but obviously, you know, in the low FODMAP category.

Summer rolls are a great low FODMAP meal

Then lastly, another meal idea is to get some summer rolls, I think they’re called. So you take rice paper that is hard out of the water and you dip it into some hot water. It becomes really soft and then you roll up some protein. Like prawns or tofu or again it could be strips of meat. With some grated carrots lettuce, a tiny bit of red pepper and, and a sheet of nori seaweed.

So you’re going to put the rice paper down, put your sheet of seaweed on top of that, then put your protein and your vegetables in. Then you roll it up and that is again a really delicious quick lunch. You can take that with you if you eat out of the home on it just it can be ready in a couple of minutes.

Including small amounts of high FODMAP foods

Now you heard me say there that you can have a small piece of red pepper and that is the next thing I want to come on to is that you can have low FODMAP portions of vegetables that are higher FODMAP. But intersperse them throughout your week. So things like red pepper, you can have up to 40 grams, so why not add up to 40 grams at various points throughout the week.

Just giving you a little bit more variety, a bit of taste, and just different nutrients, which is so important if you are on a restricted diet for a long time. Other things like I mentioned cherry tomatoes, they turn to high FODMAP at around 4. But it’s fine if you want to put in 3 and dice them up and add them to your salad.

That’s still staying low FODMAP and you’re not messing up your diet if you just have low FODMAP portions now and again.

Small portions of beans & pulses

The other thing I encourage people to do is to have small portions of pulses like lentils, chickpeas, black beans. Normally up to about 40 grams of these are completely fine, so it’s a good way to add in a little bit of fibre but staying low FODMAP. Add them to your chillies, to your pasta, sprinkle them around into salads. Just try to mix and match as much as you can.

Low FODMAP fruit options

Let’s move on to fruit now. So what can you eat on a low FODMAP diet in terms of fruit?

Well, there are a range of different fruits that you can eat quite freely.  I suggest people have two to three portions of these fruits per day. That’s the goal It might take you a little while to build yourself up to that and that’s completely fine. But don’t be afraid to eat fruit on a low FODMAP diet.

They are a great source of nutrients, vitamin C. As well as key antioxidants that help your skin, your brain health, and just general immune functioning. Our overall health really rely on these antioxidants which help keep us healthy.

Tropical fruits you can eat on the low FODMAP diet

Some tropical fruits that are good for the low FODMAP diet include pineapple, papaya and passion fruit.

People are generally a bit surprised about pineapple because it is so sweet. You can get it from a tin, but frozen or fresh is generally higher in nutrients than tinned food.

Other fruits that are low FODMAP and that you can eat a lot of include kiwis, oranges, and small oranges like tangerines or mandarins.

And then berries, you can have blueberries and raspberries. Those are again like a portion, you wouldn’t want to eat a whole container of them, but up to around 70 grams would be absolutely fine.

Bananas are allowed

And then quite firm, greenish bananas. So when I say greenish bananas, I don’t mean green and hard and where they like stick to your teeth. But to the point where they’re not covered in brown bruises and like really have been sitting in your fruit bowl for three weeks. That is when the sugars increase and they would become high FODMAP.

Again, there’s nothing bad about those bananas. But if you’re trying to stick to a low FODMAP diet, they would be considered higher FODMAP once they get brown.

Rhubarb is low FODMAP

Other fruit that often gets really forgotten is rhubarb. And that is one of the examples that I wanted to give you. So you can make a really delicious rhubarb crumble that can be low FODMAP and just have small portions of it.

So, chop up your rhubarb. You’re going to put some sugar in with it because it is super sour. And, mostly we like puddings to be a bit sweet, add sugar to taste.

Making rhubarb crumble on the low FODMAP diet

Then in terms of the topping the crumble what you can use is oats and butter. And put some spices into it, cinnamon, and you can use a small amount of flour. So if you want to use like two tablespoons of a whole grain flour that will be fine.

Because think about it you’re making a whole crumble It doesn’t matter if you add a little bit of flour because you’re not going to be eating all of that in one go It will still be low FODMAP.

Frozen berries are helpful to keep handy

The other ways to eat fruit is to add it to your porridge. Really easy to have some frozen berries in the freezer, and add them to your porridge at the last stage as it helps the fruit defrost when it comes out the freezer.

In terms of dried fruits they’re nearly all high FODMAP and you can’t have very many things like raisins or prunes. These tend to increase people’s symptoms pretty quickly but you can have about 30 grams of dried dates. Which is not masses but it If you love eating dried fruits, you can have a little bit of that.

Cheese can add flavour to a low FODMAP meal

Another way to make a meal, so going back to dinners now, another way to make your meals a little bit more tasty is to grate some cheese on top of them. So people often think you have to be dairy free on the low FODMAP diet. You really don’t. You can have 40 grams of hard cheese per meal. And a good way to include dairy in your diet is just to choose lactose free cow’s milk.

That’s pretty freely available in most supermarkets now. And or you can choose an alternative milk. Now, I have done another episode on dairy and IBS. That’s episode 19. You can go back and listen to that for more details on alternative milks. And how much dairy you can have and how to include it. And How to stay healthy if you are completely dairy free, like how to eat your calcium, et cetera.

Grains on the low FODMAP diet

If we just go back to grains and like carbs as well, want to stress that there is some amount of bread that you can have. So if you’re someone who loves bread, listen up. You can have two slices of spelt sourdough. Now, sourdough is slightly easier to digest because some of the gluten and some of the fructan has been reduced by the microbes in the fermentation process.

So sourdough is slightly easier to digest, but a small amount of normal wheat bread would also be appropriate, like one slice of white wheat based bread is also considered low FODMAP. So you don’t have to rule out bread completely. You can have, for example, breakfast, two eggs and one slice of toast, and that is considered low FODMAP.

However, with, the wholemeal bread, if you’re going for like a really multi grain granary bread, that may be tipping slightly more into high FODMAP meal. But a small slice of wholegrain bread would also be okay.

Rice, you can eat freely, this is either brown or white rice, whichever you prefer. Quinoa is a really good source and it can be red, black, normal quinoa, like whatever again you prefer.

It’s a really good high protein grain compared to white rice though. So what I suggest is if you’re new to quinoa, maybe try mixing and matching with your rice. and switching things in and out. Now the other grains that you can have, pasta, you can’t have that much of it before it becomes high FODMAP, so ideally moving to gluten free pasta.

Rice noodles are great, like those vermicelli, thin clear noodles, or, pad thai type noodles. These are all great to have as a meal or a lunch.

Take confidence

I hope that has given you a few ideas of things that you can eat. We hear a lot about what to avoid, what to cut out. If you search IBS diet online there are hundreds of options of things that you should avoid. But there’s limited examples of meals that you can eat.

So I hope this has given you a little bit of confidence and if you want me to help you with your IBS diet then please get in touch.

In summary

Also if you would like to submit any questions I’m going to be doing a Q& A podcast in February where I literally just run through all questions I’ve got, so please start sending them in.

I would be happy to take yours. My email address is info@goodnessme-nutrition.com and I’ll put that in the show notes.

Please feel free to send me your questions. And like I said, if you want to work with me, check out my website. I have a three month gut reset either in a group where I do group coaching or individually.

That’s it for this week. I will speak to you next week. Goodbye.




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