Mindset

FODMAP Diet FAQs Part 1: Tips for Eating at Restaurants

FODMAP Diet FAQs Part 1: Tips for Eating at Restaurants

Get the facts about the low FODMAP diet. I'll answer 2 of the most frequently asked questions I get: "How can I eat in restaurants and will one dinner out ruin the elimination phase?" And, "Should I be eating a No-FODMAP or a Low-FODMAP diet?" Click through to read the answers to these key questions or watch the video I made with even more info!

Click here to save on Pinterest!

Trying to find information about the low FODMAP diet is frustrating, and you're not alone. Do a search and the results are pretty sparse. Not only that, but you might find outdated food lists or conflicting info.

To cleanse the confusion, I'm creating a series of 3 blog posts to answer the questions I get asked most often about the FODMAP diet. Each post will include a video, as well as the key points so you can either watch or read...whatever works for you!

In Part One, I'll be answering the following FAQs:

  • How do I eat at restaurants on the low FODMAP diet?

  • Should I be eating no-FODMAP or low-FODMAP during the elimination phase?

I sent these videos to my email crew in the Calm Belly Kitchen newsletter (Click here to join now--it's like getting an extra blog post every Friday!) throughout the month of February. The response I got from the community was great, so it seemed silly to keep the videos hidden away on YouTube.

Here are the other parts of the FODMAP FAQ series:

Part Two: Easy Workday Lunches

Part Three: How Long Until I'm Symptom-Free?

FAQ #1: I get overwhelmed when I'm at a restaurant and end up ordering the worst thing on the menu. Does one bad meal ruin everything?

A: It's so hard not to slip up, especially when you're at a good restaurant. Please don't beat yourself up! It's not easy to completely change the way you eat and cook, even if it is for a short time. The important thing to remember is that you really only need to do strict elimination for a few weeks. When you can clearly see an improvement in your symptoms, you can start testing FODMAP foods.

The goal of the elimination is to prove that reducing FODMAPs actually helps you. It's true that testing foods can take a long time (and it's good to be as methodical as possible to get the most knowledge out of it). But if you go out to eat and slip up, you haven't ruined things. You just get back on track and keep going.

If you are planning to eat out, here are some strategies to make it easier:

  • Scout out menus online. Choose a restaurant that uses a lot of simple, fresh ingredients and features some dishes that seem easy to modify.

  • Don't hesitate to call ahead and ask questions.

  • Steakhouses are great because they'll give you a nice piece of meat and cook it exactly the way you want it. They often have simple side dishes too. The same goes for "seafood grill"-type restaurants. Sushi is another great option.

  • Consider chain restaurants. They often have procedures in place to help people with food sensitivites. Some chains that I've heard great things about are Red Robin, P.F. Chang's, Outback Steakhouse, and Maggiano's Little Italy.

FAQ #2: During the elimination phase, should I be FODMAP-free or low-FODMAP? If I am FODMAP-free, what do I eat?

A: It can be really confusing, but the short answer is that you should be eating low-FODMAP during the elimination phase.

Technically, it's nearly impossible to eat no FODMAPs at all. Many foods that are made up of carbohydrates will contain some FODMAPs. But if those foods are "green light" on the Monash app, the FODMAP content is low enough that they shouldn't cause digestive symptoms.

Plain proteins and fats do not contain any FODMAPs because no carbohydrates are present. So that was a quick little scientific explanation!

As long as you're following the recommended low-FODMAP serving sizes of the green light foods during elimination, you are doing great. 

Got a question that you think I should answer in a future FAQ video? I plan to do more, so leave a comment below.

How Can I Get More Fiber on the Low-FODMAP Diet?

How can I get more fiber on the low fodmap diet. Bonus: Download the simple checklist and sample high fiber menu.

A reader recently asked me about getting enough fiber on the low-FODMAP diet. This was a big struggle for me when I first started, and I'm guessing a lot of you have the same question.

How do I Get Enough High Fiber Foods on the Low-FODMAP Diet? 

Before I knew about the FODMAPs, I looked for fiber anywhere I could get it. Since my worst IBS symptom was constipation, I was a fiber junkie. I always aimed, at the very least, to hit the recommended daily intake of 25 grams for women under 50.

That meant my diet was full of whole wheat bread and pasta, oats, beans and lentils. Plus all the really high-fiber fresh produce: apples, pears, peaches, plums, asparagus, cauliflower, sweet potatoes.

I was getting plenty of food high in fiber and nutrients, but I was also aggravating my IBS big time since most of those nutritious foods are also high in FODMAPs.

When I took the plunge and eliminated FODMAPs from my diet, I felt less gassy and bloated, but the constipation hung around. I hadn't taken the time to understand the challenges of the low-FODMAP diet, which often include a big reduction in fiber intake.

Over time, I did more research, asked more questions and figured out how to make the Low-FODMAP diet fit with my needs. 

First I'm sharing my personal plan for getting enough fiber rich foods in my diet and staying regular (which is the whole point, right?). Then I'll give more general info and tips about fiber on the low-FODMAP diet.

I've been really into designing pretty images lately, so I made a huge infographic to illustrate this post...Go ahead and PIN IT!

Click through to download a free checklist of this infographic and a sample low-FODMAP menu! When we eliminate wheat and certain high-fodmap fruits and vegetables, it can be a huge challenge to get enough fiber on the low-FODMAP diet. Fiber is key for keeping digestion regular, especially with IBS-C. Building your meals around these fiber rich foods can really help! Click through or head over to http://calmbellykitchen.com/blog/how-can-i-get-more-fiber-on-the-low-fodmap-diet & get the checklist!

My Low-FODMAP High-Fiber Strategy: Foods & Supplements I Consume Almost Every Day

This is what works for me personally. I've figured it out slowly through lots of trial and error. Remember that all our bodies are different, and most importantly be patient with yourself. You'll figure this out!

Note that all nutrition information is approximate and comes from calorieking.com or the manufacturer's food label!

  • 1 tbsp chia seeds (5 grams of fiber) added to various foods (hot cereal, yogurt, salads, grain bowls) throughout the day

  • 1 to 3 tsp ground flax seeds (2 g per tbsp) added to various foods (yogurt, salads, sprinkled on roasted veggies) throughout the day

  • 10 to 15 raspberries (2 g per 15 berries) 1 to 2 times per day

  • Quinoa flakes (2 g per dry 1/3 cup serving)

  • Brown Rice Farina or "cream of rice" (2 g per dry 1/4 cup serving)

  • Quinoa (2 g per 1/3 cup cooked), brown rice (1 g per 1/3 cup cooked) or whole sorghum grain (4 g per 1/3 cup cooked). I keep my portions relatively small (about 1/3 cup cooked per serving, or 60 to 80g), or I'll start to feel overly full, especially with sorghum.

  • Canned lentils, rinsed (4 g fiber per 46 g serving)

  • Zucchini (1.3 g per 1/2 cup cooked)

  • Spinach (3.5 g per 1/2 cup cooked)

  • Collard greens (2.5 g per 1/2 cup cooked)

  • Swiss Chard (2 g per 1/2 cup cooked)

  • Eggplant (1.3 g per 1/2 cup cooked)

  • Red bell peppers (2 g per cup raw, sliced)

  • Carrots (2 g per 1/2 cup raw)

  • Potatoes, red-skinned (3 g per 6 oz potato with skin)

  • Heather’s Tummy Fiber: Created for IBS, this soluble fiber supplement helps regulate bowels in the gentlest way possible. Many of my clients swear by it!

  • Magnesium Citrate: Magnesium citrate has mild laxative benefits, but it doesn't give me the cramping and discomfort that traditional laxatives do. I take this supplement by Solaray depending on my needs. Other types, such as magnesium glycinate and magnesium carbonate have different benefits.

Other high-fiber foods that regularly show up on my menu:

  • Annie Chun Brown Rice Noodles, both pad thai-style and thin vermicelli (4 g fiber per 2 oz serving)

  • Blue Diamond Artisan Nut Thins, sesame, chia or multi-seed flavor (3 g per 13 crackers). Almonds are the 2nd ingredient so test out your portion size if almonds upset your stomach. For reference a low-FODMAP serving of almonds is 12 g and a serving of these crackers is 30 g.

  • Orgran Essential Fiber Crispibread Gluten Free (2.3 g per 2 crackers). Made with brown rice flour and sorghum, these crackers are low-FODMAP (no spices or weird ingredients!) and relatively high in fiber. The only bummer is I can only find them online.

  • Blueberries (1.8 g per 1/2 cup)

  • Strawberries (2.8 g per 10 medium/140 g)

  • Almonds (2 g per 10 almonds)

  • Peanuts (2.3 g per 1/4 cup/1 oz)

  • Pecans (2 g per 10 pecan halves)

Okay, that list was kind of a snooze, so let's put it into practice. Here's an example of what I'd actually eat on a typical day incorporating those foods.

Sample Menu for a High-Fiber Low-FODMAP Day

BREAKFAST

1/3 cup (dry) quinoa flakes cooked with sea salt, topped with 2 tsp chia seeds, butter and 1 egg cooked over easy; 1/4 cup cooked spinach and a few pieces of roasted zucchini on the side. Fiber tally = 8 grams

SNACK

1 (heaping) tbsp whole psyllium husk mixed with flavored water. 1 Orgran Crispibread topped with Dijon mustard and 1/2 ounce sharp cheddar cheese. Fiber = 6 grams

LUNCH

Grain/Veg/Chicken Bowl: 30 g quinoa, 30 g lentils, 56 g (2 oz) grilled chicken breast, roasted zucchini, sauteed matchstick carrots, sauteed spinach, 20 g chopped avocado, 1 to 2 chopped piquillo peppers (fodmap content untested). Topped with 1/2 cup lactose-free yogurt and hot sauce. I'll change this up based on what I have in the refrigerator. Sometimes, I add 1 tsp of chia seeds. I always have spinach and various roasted veggies on hand. I love adding roasted grapes. I often eat about 2/3 of my bowl, and finish it a couple hours later. Fiber = 10 g

Right after lunch: Peppermint tea and 2 small squares of 70% dark chocolate. Fiber = 0 g

SNACK

Greek yogurt (about 90 g) with 10 to 15 raspberries, 1 1/2 tsp ground flax and cinnamon. (I might have this snack early before I work out or late, depending on when I eat breakfast and lunch. Note that Greek yogurt isn't low-FODMAP but contains less lactose than regular yogurt. If you like it, see how you react to it! Fiber = 3 g

DINNER

I'm a creature of habit when it comes to breakfast and lunch, but dinners vary. Here's a favorite meal with a good fiber tally: Gluten free spaghetti (2 oz) + tomato-caper sauce (canned no-salt diced tomatoes simmered with garlic oil, red chile flakes, capers and squeeze of lemon juice) + water-packed sardines (or chicken or shrimp) + greens (collards if I have them alread cooked, or spinach) + 1 tbsp toasted GF breadcrumbs + 20 g chopped avocado. Fiber = 7 g

After Dinner: I always have chocolate, usually 70% dark chocolate with sea salt, which is low-FODMAP. But I also have regular stuff like kit kats and Reese's peanut butter cups (no more than half a pack). Fiber = 0 g

Total Fiber = 34 grams--woohoo!

I hope that helps you visualize how I build my meals with healthy, high-fiber ingredients and put it all together. 

So are you tired from scrolling through this blog post yet? Haha. Like I said before, this is what works for me, but I hope you can use it as inspiration to experiment for yourself.  And we can probably all agree that sorting out our fiber needs is key when reducing FODMAP intake, especially when doing the elimination phase! 

This post contains affiliate links.

Low-FODMAP Refried Beans and Huevos Rancheros Recipe

Low-FODMAP Refried Beans and Huevos Rancheros Recipe

Huevos Rancheros and Low FODMAP Refried Beans

The glass-half-full people out there might call this blog post a bit "scattered." I'm calling it chock full 'o goodness.

So, I have two totally different but equally great things to share with you. First up is my recipe for Huevos Rancheros. Translation: I just wanted to eat Mexican food for breakfast. 

This recipe was inspired by my Low-FODMAP Salsa (and yes, you need to make the salsa too) , but it almost never came together. See, I think huevos rancheros absolutely require refried beans.

Since I know beans can leave me bloated for days, I rarely eat them, BUT I have had great luck with canned lentils. 

The Monash University Low-FODMAP app shows that a smallish serving of rinsed canned lentils (46 grams) is low in FODMAPs.

In a nice little lightbulb moment, I thought, Why not use them to make refried beans? If pinto beans and black beans taste good mashed up, why not lentils? The texture is a little different, but spread 'em on a tortilla, and you won't care. Keep scrolling for the recipe.

Low FODMAP refried beans made with canned lentils

End of Summer Cookout Tips!

Buckle up because we're about to switch gears. Does that metaphor actually work? We're switching to a higher gear, obviously. :-)

The end of summer always sneaks up on me. I'm usually busy enjoying the great weather in Chicago, and I don't want to remember that it's about to end. And since I was blissfully ignorant that Labor Day weekend was right around the corner, I didn't come up with a good cookout/grilling/potluck sort of recipe.

Instead, I made a video with my three best tips for a great end-of-summer cookout and a calm, happy belly. 

All the links and things I mention in the video are below. Watch it, and you'll get to see me being super-humble (by which I mean not at all humble) at the 0:28 mark.

As promised in the video, here's a shot of our first time doing beer can chicken. My hubby smoked it a little too, and the flavor was amazing. It's a lot easier to fit the chicken under the lid if you have an egg-shaped smoker or larger grill. Ours was slightly janky, but it worked!

Have a fun, healthy end-of-summer weekend!

Low-FODMAP Refried Beans

Makes 4 1/2 servings
1 serving = 1/4 cup (46 g)

INGREDIENTS

1/2 tbsp (7 g) butter
1 (15 oz) can brown lentils, rinsed and drained
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 to 3 tbsp low-FODMAP salsa plus some of the juice

INSTRUCTIONS

Melt butter in a small saucepan on medium heat. Add lentils and season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir it up, then mash with a potato masher or fork until you have a chunky-mash texture. Reduce heat to low and stir in salsa to thin the texture slightly, adding as much of the salsa juice as needed to reach a consistency you like. Remove from heat. Keeps in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.

Want to make it super easy and buy your salsa instead? Fody sells low-FODMAP certified salsa in medium and mild!

Huevos Rancheros (for each serving)

INGREDIENTS

2 small corn tortillas
1/4 cup (46 g) low-FODMAP refried beans
1/4 cup low-FODMAP salsa
1 egg
1/4 cup (1 oz) cheese (feta, cotija or cheddar)

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Heat a large skillet on medium and mist with cooking spray. Heat the tortillas until lightly browned, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate. 

2. Meanwhile, cook the egg to your liking (over easy is my favorite). Top tortillas with beans, salsa, egg and cheese. Serve immediately.