I hear from many of my clients that dining out is one of the things that holds them back from starting the low FODMAP diet. Don’t let that stop you! It is possible to have a delicious low FODMAP meal while not feeling like a high maintenance customer!
Dining out Low FODMAP
I’m a totally old school when it comes to dining out. I believe the majority of your meals should be prepared at home. That goes for people with IBS or without. Restaurant food is always flavoured with more salt, sugar and fat than we really need. Not to mention, portion sizes are large and restaurants seldomly serve an adequate quantity of vegetables. For someone on the low FODMAP diet, the menu is often riddled with an assortment of FODMAPs. But sometimes it is necessary and so enjoyable to eat out! Personally, it is one of my favourite things to do. I love to savour a good meal out. Here are some tips for your next restaurant meal.
Before you go:
- Be selective – choose restaurants with low FODMAP options
- Preview the menu online
- Call the restaurant during off-peak hours to ask about food options that can be prepared without FODMAPs
- Dine during off-peak hours (if possible) so you have the opportunity to talk to your server about your needs
- If you are uncomfortable about talking about your dietary requests while among your dinner guests, speak with your server privately away from the table
- Choose low FODMAP foods during the day so you are better able to tolerate small amounts of FODMAPs while eating out
- Ask for traditional sourdough bread or gluten free options
- Ask for lactose free dairy
Placing your order:
- Be specific about your food restrictions
- Make a card with your restrictions to give to the chef
- Tell the server you have food intolerances and will get sick if you have a small amount of certain FODMAPs
- When your meal is served, ask again if your dish contains FODMAPs
- Don’t feel uncomfortable about making requests, this could save you from a full day of pain and discomfort
- If your order comes out wrong, ask for the dish to be remade
- Give a larger tip for attentive service
Low FODMAP Meal Options:
- Choose grilled meat or fish and request it with no onion or garlic seasoning
- Have steamed seafood like mussels, clams, shrimp, lobster or crab
- Choose steamed veggies and salads
- Have a baked potato, rice or quinoa
- If you choose fries, be mindful of the amount you eat and ask for them with no seasoning
- For salads, bring your own dressing or ask for oil and vinegar
- Have breakfast foods like eggs, ham, and fruit for breakfast, lunch or dinner
- Ask for rice noodles, not wheat noodles
- Have a lettuce wrap burger instead of with a bun
- Choose gluten free pizza crust and hold the tomato sauce or ask for a plain sauce with no garlic
With a few of my best strategies in hand, I hope that you feel confident to find a meal and then talk to your server about making a few changes. It is possible to enjoy a delicious low FODMAP meal with no stress, anxiety or fear of digestive upset.
Audrey is a Monash FODMAP-Trained Dietitian, author of The 28-Day Plan for IBS Relief: 100 Simple Low FODMAP Recipes to Soothe Symptoms of IBS, owner of IBS Nutrition, travel addict and soccer mom with three boys. She specializes in helping people with IBS and food intolerances. Her practice is in Edmonton, Alberta where she provides in-person support and virtual services across Canada. If you are looking for help with your symptoms, book an appointment today!