Just like you wouldn't travel without GPS, don't start the FODMAP Diet without a plan. Learn common challenges others have faced AND how to overcome them.
If you're a vegetarian or vegan who just learned about the FODMAP Diet (the diet that shows you how to manage IBS symptoms), you might be freaking out right about now.
Why? The FODMAP Diet requires that you eliminate most legumes, a huge variety of fruit and vegetables, not to mention wheat and certain nuts. So what's left for you if eating meat isn't really your style?
Never fear, veggie lovers, this post is your getting started guide. You'll learn:
What to do first
How to create delicious meals with variety so you don't die of boredom
The best (meatless) protein options
Watch the video get all the tasty details, or keep reading for the key points (and a bunch of great resources!)...
Getting Started with FODMAP as a Vegetarian or Vegan
What To Do First
Here's my general advice for approaching the FODMAP diet as a vegan or vegetarian: Instead of diving right in, spend a week or two learning the ins and outs of the diet. Get the Monash app (the most reliable, up-to-date reference) so you know the foods and serving sizes you should be eating.
>>> IF YOU DO JUST ONE THING: Go through the app and make a list of all the foods you CAN eat and then start building your meals around those.
Meal Planning Without Boredom
When you're coming up with meal ideas, focus on meals you can play around with. That way, you can have a handful of different meals made with the same core ingredients to create a FODMAP meal plan that works for you.
For example, if you eat quinoa or brown rice, you can combine that with your choice of low-FODMAP veggies like zucchini, tomatoes, salad greens, bell peppers, carrots, etc. You can roast, saute, or steam them.
Then you can add olives, cheese, nuts, seeds, sun-dried tomatoes, tempeh, avocado, canned lentils, canned chickpeas, hot sauce if that's your thing. Just check your serving sizes, and you'll discover more variety than you think!
>>> TIP: Small amounts of canned lentils and chickpeas, as well as red lentils, are low-FODMAP. Check the Monash app so you're sticking to the correct serving size (too large a serving and you cross over into the high-FODMAP range). You can eat these legumes more than once a day - just space them about 3 to 4 hours apart.
Use different herbs and spices to create different flavor profiles. For example, you can have a curry bowl one day and a Mexican-style bowl (avocado, ancho chile powder, cilantro) the next day.
Think about soups you can create with this method. Gluten free pasta and risotto are two more foods that can be prepared with different ingredients every time.
Your Top Protein Options:
You could probably guess this one: tofu and tempeh. Soft, firm and extra firm tofu are low-FODMAP.
Silken tofu is processed differently and retains some of the liquid from the pressed soybeans where those FODMAPs are found, so avoid the silken variety.
With tempeh you're in the clear. Although it's made from whole soybeans, the fermentation process reduces FODMAP content. Just be sure to check the ingredients if you're buying tempeh that's already seasoned. The best bet is to buy it plain and dress it up yourself. Tempeh contains even more protein than tofu.
Cooking tempeh and tofu:
Tempeh has great earthy flavor on it's own, but you can dress it up any way you like. I usually cut it into cubes and sear it in a pan with with a little stir fry sauce made with tamari, lime and sugar.
When it comes to tofu, try baking it. It gives it a satisfying texture, and you can do a big batch to use for several days. Here are some recipe ideas and cooking instructions for both:
Get to Know Tempeh
Recipe: Tempeh with Charred Peppers and Kale
-Omit onion; add more bell pepper or carrot if desired; add scallion tops
Calm Belly Kitchen: Brown Rice Noodle and Veggie Stir Fry
-Replace Shrimp with Tempeh
Remember This, Veggie Lovers!
Finally, remember that it's temporary. You do the elimination phase to confirm your FODMAP sensitivity. Then if it does improve your symptoms, you slowly bring back high-FODMAP foods. You'll learn your tolerance levels so you can have a lot more variety and flexibility in your diet.
More FODMAP Diet Plan Resources for Vegetarians and Vegans
A very helpful resource for vegan menu planning I found through Kate Scarlata's website: http://blog.katescarlata.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Vegan-Menu-Planning-Low-FODMAP.pdf
I do have one vegan recipe on my website, and I love it. It's great as leftovers too: https://calmbellykitchen.com/blog/vegan-nut-loaf-low-fodmap-gluten-free
More meal and recipe ideas:
If you’re ready to dive into the FODMAP Diet and want some support…
Then check out Calm Belly Club, our online, members-only community. You get access to both of our comprehensive FODMAP Diet programs, including a vegetarian-friendly Quickstart Meal Guide.
The FODMAP diet is sometimes called a journey, yet the end goal of this "journey" is a vague and shadowy place.
It's a lot easier to explain things that are black and white, like taking FODMAPs away. But since life AFTER the FODMAP Diet looks different for everyone, it's a lot less clear cut.
You wouldn't start off on a journey without a destination (or at the very least, a certain transformation) in mind. So today we're looking at the big picture of the FODMAP Diet, or the true end goal.
Knowing what you get in the end makes it a whole lot easier to work hard and persevere.
Hint: the end goal is NOT to give up all high FODMAP foods forever.
Watch the video to go deep on this topic, or read the key points below!
The FODMAP diet is not a lifetime diet.
You shouldn't stay on it indefinitely because:
It's nutritionally restrictive
It's socially restrictive
And (most importantly) it's not necessary
So what's the end goal?
To put it simply, it's to have control over your symptoms, NOT to eat as few FODMAPs as possible.
Less FODMAP = less symptoms isn't the whole story.
If you're taking away food with no specific purpose, you're causing yourself more work and more deprivation.
The goal of the elimination phase is to:
Confirm you're sensitive to FODMAPs
Hit the reset button on your body
Learn what other factors play a role in your digestive symptoms
Once you've done that it's time to move to the next phase which to test your personal tolerance to specific FODMAP categories. From there you take all the awesome knowledge you've gained and create a lifetime eating style.
Still not convinced? At this point you've taken away all FODMAPs and felt better but until you test each category, you don't really know why you felt better - wouldn't that be great to know!?
What does a lifetime eating style look like?
You're confident about your food choices because they're based on real knowledge about your body
You don't feel "sick" or like you have to police every bite because you have some flexibility - For example, there's no need to avoid every possible instance of garlic in your chicken broth
The FODMAP Diet is a learning process. That’s great news, because it means you don’t need to worry about success or failure, only learning what you want to know or not.
Once you’ve learned the information you’re seeking about FODMAPs and your unique body, you can create new eating habits, new routines…in other words YOUR new normal.
The end goal, then, is to eat and make food choices based on knowledge about your body. It’s a pretty great goal to strive for, don’t you think?
Have a bloated stomach? Find out what causes bloating, and learn ten ways to get rid of bloating, besides the FODMAP Diet.
Learn 4 strategies to help IBS-D (when diarrhea is your main symptom). These tips go in order from adjustments to the low FODMAP diet to exploring new options like the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. You'll also learn the specific type of fiber that's most helpful for IBS-D. Click through to get the strategies!
When it comes to managing IBS symptoms, smart eating is your first line of defense. Doing the low-FODMAP Diet is an amazing way to learn what foods trigger your symptoms AND what portion sizes keep your belly calm.
But sometimes supporting strategies are needed, which is why I'm doing a 3-part series on Calm Belly TV to help you deal with the 3 major symptoms of IBS:
Fun topics, right!? Okay, they may not be fun, but there's a lot you can do to deal with these symptoms besides just watching your intake of high-FODMAP foods. That's what I'll be covering in the series.
[Want to learn more about the FODMAP Diet and why it's so effective for IBS? Check out this blog post!]
Check out the rest of this series:
Want to get even more support from people who know what you're going through? Click here and request to join the Calm Belly Kitchen Crew, our private Facebook group!
Now onto Part 1 of the series:
3 Ways to Deal with IBS Constipation (and 1 thing not to do)
Watch the video to go deep on this topic, or keep reading to get the main points.
Just the key points:
First thing's first: Calm Belly Kitchen is an educational resource and doesn't replace personalized medical advice. Check with a doctor before starting any new dietary treatment or supplement.
Let's recap: A low-FODMAP diet can help decrease constipation a lot, but additional treatments and strategies are often needed.
Why? FODMAPs are one of the major causes of IBS symptoms, but many other factors play a role in your digestion:
- The food you eat (fiber, fat, etc)
- Your hormones
- Bowel motility (how fast food goes through your system)
- Life stress
In my experience and in my work with clients, I've seen that learning your personal trigger foods makes a huge difference. Still most people need supporting strategies to deal with constipation.
3 Strategies to Manage IBS Constipation with Diet
1) The food you DO eat is important, so include a variety of fiber:
Insoluble fiber: Adds bulk, pushes stool through the bowels; found in fruit and vegetable skins and whole grains
Soluble fiber: Softens stool; found in fruit, veg, legumes, nuts and seeds (flax and chia are especially good for constipation)
Resistant starch: Feeds the good bacteria in your gut with prebiotic fiber; found in under-ripe bananas, cooked and cooled potatoes, and legumes (canned, rinsed lentils and chickpeas are great low-FODMAP options)
>>> Water: Acts as a stool softener; important if you're taking soluble fiber products such as Metamucil
2) Fiber supplements
Metamucil and similar products contain soluble and insoluble fiber
Ground psyllium contains soluble and insoluble fiber
Heather's Acacia Fiber contains only soluble fiber, which is thought to promote optimal bowel motility >>> works for both constipation AND diarrhea
3) Magnesium Citrate
Helps relax bowel spasms so it does not cause a sense of urgency unless you take a very large does
Has a gentle osmotic effect...so it pulls water into the bowel, softening stool so it's easier to pass
Recommended not to exceed 900 mg/day
Experiment to find a dosage that works for you
One Thing NOT To Do To Manage Constipation
Stimulant Laxatives (such as ExLax)
Only use for a limited time and exactly as directed
Stimulant laxatives are addictive because they reduce your natural bowel contractions and train your body to be dependent on their irritant effect
Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration
Ultimate Guide to Making Your Favorite Recipes Low-FODMAP
I love a good makeover (any What Not To Wear fans in here?), but even more than the fashion and style stuff, I love a recipe makeover.
Want proof? Here you go…
Yup, for over 3 years I wrote a monthly column for Clean Eating magazine where I revamped classic recipes to make them healthy and (obviously) clean. I loved this gig. But just because a recipe’s healthy doesn’t mean it’s IBS-friendly.
Lucky for you, making over your favorite foods into FODMAP recipes is NOT as hard as it seems. And you don’t need any ninja-chef skills to do it.
Psst >>> If you want to start the FODMAP Diet but feel overwhelmed, I created a FREE email course to ease you into it and give you the tools you need to succeed.
Why Recipe Makeovers?
It’s absolutely essential that you learn to make some of your favorite dishes low-FODMAP. Why? Because one of the biggest reasons people stumble in the first phase of the FODMAP Diet - the Elimination Phase - is the fear and sadness over giving up the food they love.
(I know this from experience - I wasted months before I finally did the Elimination Phase because giving up food was too sad.)
In this post, I’m laying out the best tips, tricks, strategies and substitutions I know to develop crave-able, drool-worthy FODMAP recipes. It's the foundation of the Calm Belly Kitchen Cookbook. And it’s how I got myself through the FODMAP Diet with zero deprivation.
This epic list of makeover strategies starts with simple swaps and progresses to mini recipes and creative flavor tactics.
Before you dive in, watch the video to see some of my personal favorite recipe makeover strategies and substitutions (If you love Italian and Mexican food, it's a must-see.). Then read the post with YOUR favorite recipes in mind.
If you remember one thing, make it this: Eating great food that you love is so do-able on the FODMAP Diet, and you’re not being sentenced to food prison without parole.
1) Replace Onion With Leek Tops: The green part is low-FODMAP, while the white part is high. Leeks have more flavor than onions, and you won’t cry when you cut them. Scallion tops are great too. The picture below show what part of the scallion or leek to use. Watch this video to learn how to wash leeks!
2) Replace Garlic With Garlic-Infused Oil: FODMAPs are water soluble, which means they soak out into liquids, but NOT fats. That’s why garlic oil is low-FODMAP. For the boldest flavor, add it at the end of the cooking process.
3) Build Flavor With Anchovies: At the start of the cooking process (when you’d normally sauté onion or garlic), sauté 1 tbsp anchovy paste or 2 to 3 oil-packed anchovies on medium heat in some olive oil.
4) Use Miso: Do the same thing as above with 1 to 2 tbsp of miso paste (especially good in soups and stews)
>>> This blog post has even more ways to replace onion and garlic and add big flavor to your recipes: The Ultimate Guide to Flavor Without Onion and Garlic
5) Add Bacon: It's the time-honored method for making any recipe irresistible.
6) Replace Mushrooms With Eggplant: The texture is similar, and it’s great sautéed, roasted or grilled.
7) Buy Chile Powders With 1 Ingredient: Some products called “chile powder” are blends that often include onion and garlic, which are high-FODMAP. Instead make sure yours only contains chiles. Ancho chile powder is mild and incredibly flavorful.
8) Substitute lactose-free milk anywhere you’d use regular milk: This is real cow’s milk treated with an enzyme to remove the lactose so it works just like regular milk in recipes.
9) Swap Your Veggies: Replace onion and celery with diced or grated carrot, celery root, leek, and/or red bell pepper (works great in recipes that call for the “holy trinity” of onion/celery/carrot)
10) Replace Ketchup: Many commercial ketchups contains high-fructose corn syrup and occasionally honey (both high-FODMAP)...but you've got options.
Instead of ketchup, toss your oven fries with lemon zest, chopped parsley and garlic-infused oil - delish!
Do as the English do and dip fries in mayo (get fancy and mix in Dijon mustard, hot sauce, parsley, or lemon zest)
11) For Mexican Food
Use canned lentils to make refried beans - here’s my recipe!
Replace onion-y garlic-y salsa with my EASY CBK Salsa that you can make in the food processor
Replace flour tortillas with corn tortillas
Replace onion with carrots, leeks and/or red bell peppers in casseroles and soups. Rice Casserole
12) Replace Chicken Broth: The store-bought stuff is SO convenient, but have you ever tasted it straight? Not all that flavorful. Instead, use water and add some of these flavor boosting ingredients:
Dried herbs and spices
Lemon juice and soy sauce (a killer combo)
> But wait! Massels brand is onion/garlic-free.
13) For Marinades: Omit the onion and/or garlic - it will still do the job! Try this easy favorite of mine:
3 green scallion tops
Handful parsley leaves and stems (about 1/2 packed cup)
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp hot sauce (optional) - here’s my fave low-FODMAP brand
1/2 tsp fish sauce
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp orange juice
2 tbsp rice or red wine vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
Put all ingredients through vinegar in food processor and blitz. With processor on, slowly pour oil through feed tube. This marinade is great with just about anything, especially chicken and fish.
14) Make Your Own Spice Blends - Most store-bought blends contain onion and/or garlic powder. You can play with the amounts or add other spices you like. I promise, you can’t mess this up. Here’s a simple blend to start with (great for chicken and pork):
Mild Mexican Spice Blend
1 tsp ancho chile powder
1 tsp cumin
1⁄2 tsp coriander
1⁄2 tsp dried oregano
For Italian Recipes
15) Make Your Own Tomato Sauce:
Sauté chopped leek tops (the green part) in olive oil
Add dried herbs and/or chile flakes
Add ½ cup red wine and reduce (optional)
Then add 1 can tomato sauce and 1 can diced tomatoes
Simmer until slightly thickened
Turn off heat and add fresh basil and garlic-infused oil to taste
Tip: A low-FODMAP serving of canned tomatoes is 1/2 cup.
16) Replace Pasta With Polenta or Risotto: There are some great gluten-free pastas out there too! My favorites are Jovial and Trader Joe’s brand.
Three of my favorite topping ideas:
Mozzarella, prosciutto, roasted eggplant, goat cheese
Mozzarella, ground turkey, sautéed spinach, feta
Mozzarella, parmesan, sliced scallops, topped with arugula when it comes out of the oven (great with béchamel sauce)
18) Replace Cream Sauce With Low-FODMAP Béchamel: Here’s my easy recipe, and you can scale it up:
Low-FODMAP Béchamel Recipe
Heat 1 tbsp butter or oil in a small saucepan on medium-low
Add 1 tbsp gluten-free flour blend (must be free of gums, such as this one) or rice flour and stir until combined, about 1 minute
Add 1 cup lactose-free milk and raise heat to medium high
Whisk constantly, breaking up any flour clumps until milk comes to a simmer and sauce thickens
Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper plus any herbs and spices you want
Use it for:
Cream soups like chowder
Cream sauces like Alfredo
Any recipe that calls for béchamel
19) Replace Creamy Dressings: It’s crazy-easy to make your own with lactose-free plain yogurt or kefir - the amounts are flexible, you can’t mess this up. Here’s an example:
Blue Cheese Dressing Recipe
Tip: Make it a Ranch dressing by swapping the blue cheese for parmesan and adding fresh chives and/or scallions.
3⁄4 cup lactose-free yogurt
3 tbsp lactose-free milk, plus more as needed
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
1⁄4 tsp sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1⁄3 cup (about 1 1⁄2 oz) crumbled blue cheese
2 scallion tops, finely chopped
Stir together all ingredients. Add extra milk if you want a thinner consistency.
20) Learn the Cheese Trick!
Plenty of cheeses are low-FODMAP, but not every possible variety has been tested by Monash yet. Here’s how to tell if a cheese is low in lactose:
1) Check the ingredients: If added sugars or high-FOMDAP ingredients like honey or garlic (this is common in cheese products or flavored cheeses, not so much in natural cheese). If it’s got ingredients added, this trick doesn’t apply.
Natural cheese DOES include things like: milk (or pasteurized milk), salt, cultures, enzymes, and possibly preservatives or natural colors.
2) Look at the Nutrition Facts. Go to the “sugars” line (lactose, the FODMAP you want to avoid is a sugar). If it contains 0 grams sugar, the cheese is either lactose-free or so very low in lactose that only an extremely sensitive person would have issues (in the US, if the sugar totals < 0.5 gram, manufacturers can round down to zero)
And that's a wrap! 20 cool, creative, delicious ways to makeover your favorite recipes. You don't have to give up everything yummy to do the FODMAP Diet, so don't let fear of missing out on great food hold you back from a calm belly.
What recipes are you going to makeover? Have questions? Leave a comment and let me help!
This post contains affiliate links.
How FODMAP Changes Your Life - Client Success Story!
The whole point of the FODMAP diet (the proven diet for managing IBS) is to give up food and feel better, right? Wrong.
Nope, the point of the FODMAP diet isn’t just having a calm belly. It’s about having the freedom to do anything you want:
- You hike through Yellowstone for a week
- You watch the Mets play the Yankees and stay for extra innings
- You go to your best friend’s destination wedding with zero diet stress
I know most of you don’t need to spend a week in a national park to feel freedom from food (But if that’s you, it’s totally do-able!). Most of you just want to go to a fun friend meal (preferably Mexican) without anxiety.
That’s what my client Kate wanted. She knew just eliminating every possible IBS trigger wasn’t going to solve her problem - being able to eat and enjoy social meals. Read her Behind the Belly Story!
Before Kate came to me, she eliminated FODMAPs and felt amazing, totally symptom free. But she knew she was in food prison (living on rice and rotisserie chicken and seriously missing her favorite Mexican food) and that had to end fast.
As a crazy-busy high school math teacher taking on extra classes, she had zero time to become a FODMAP expert.
Kate Sneed did 1-on-1 coaching with me starting in January. She lives in Denver, CO and in our first session this Denver Broncos super fan realized she’d signed on to work with a New England Patriots fan. Luckily, we hit it off anyway and got straight to business!
Kate’s “Screw this!” moment happened at a tailgate party when some tasty chips and salsa sent her belly into a tailspin and she had to do the mad port-a-potty dash.
She had no clue if it was A) the onions, B) the garlic, C) the tomatoes, or D) something else going on in her gut that triggered this awkward moment. She knew she needed to learn more about her body before she’d be free to eat without fear.
Key results Kate was looking for:
- Learn which FODMAPs set off her IBS instead of just guessing
- Be able to go to a meal with friends without anxiety about what to eat
- Get a lot more food variety back into her life because packing the same lunch everyday was making the snacks in the teacher’s break room way too tempting
Kate not only tested all the FODMAP groups, she also satisfied her food cravings for pulled pork and homemade brownies by trying the new recipes I gave her. She even had a great time on a girls’ wine tasting weekend without any major symptoms.
Let’s hear the scoop from Kate!
Julie: Where were you in the FODMAP diet process when you started working with me?
Kate: I had been doing elimination for a little over a month. I was not having any symptoms and ready to figure out what was causing issues a month earlier.
Julie: What made you decide to work with a FODMAP coach?
Kate: Your blog and website provided me with so much information when I was researching FODMAPs. Also that it didn’t matter that you were not in my town!
Julie: What are one or two surprising things you learned?
Kate: That honey is not my trigger but that onion and garlic could have such a nasty effect on people- who knew! Also that sugar can be stored in so many different types and that my body can react differently to each one!
Julie: Did coaching make the FODMAP Diet easier? Tell us how.
Kate: So much easier- I was overwhelmed by how to reintroduce and the portion size and how to increase the amount of something, etc. The weekly plans made it so easy to just pick up a certain food at the store and know how much of it to try and what to do based on what happened! I didn’t have the time to spend hours researching or figuring it out from different books or websites.
Julie: Now that you're done with coaching, how is your life different?
Kate: I feel so much more confident about eating out or with friends. I know what to expect- before I had no idea what meal would set me off and what wouldn’t- it was an experiment every time. Now I know if I decide to eat something at a meal that is a trigger that I will have a reaction and I can make the choice instead of waiting to find out!
Kate got the results she wanted from her time together with me and you can too!
When I followed up with Kate a few months after working together, this is what she said:
“Things have been great! I am so happy I did this!”