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Dining Out on a Low FODMAP Diet: Dietitian Tips for Stress-Free Meals

dining out on a low FODMAP diet

If you're one of the millions managing irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or other gastrointestinal issues, dining out can often feel like a daunting task. The good news is that with a bit of preparation and knowledge, you can enjoy restaurant meals without compromising your dietary needs. Follow these step-by-step instructions and handy tips to navigate restaurant menus with confidence and ease.

Step 1: Preparation is Key

Preparation is the cornerstone of successful dining out on a low FODMAP diet. Here's what you can do:

  • Research the restaurant's menu online before your visit to identify low FODMAP options. Look for dishes that are naturally low in FODMAPs or can be easily modified to meet your dietary needs. Many restaurants now provide detailed information about their dishes, including ingredients and allergens, making it easier to plan your meal.

  • Call the restaurant ahead of time to discuss your dietary needs and ensure they can accommodate them. Inform the staff about your specific dietary restrictions, including any ingredients you need to avoid. This allows the restaurant to prepare for your visit and ensures a smoother dining experience for you.

  • If uncertain about ingredients, ask for sauces or dressings to be served separately or omitted entirely. Some sauces and dressings may contain high FODMAP ingredients like garlic and onion. By requesting these items on the side or omitting them altogether, you can enjoy your meal without worrying about triggering digestive symptoms.

Step 2: Communicate Your Needs

Clear communication is essential when dining out on a low FODMAP diet. Here's how to communicate your needs effectively:

  • Inform your server of your dietary restrictions upon arrival at the restaurant. Be polite but assertive about your dietary needs, and don't hesitate to ask questions if you're unsure about a particular dish.

  • Be specific about the ingredients you need to avoid, such as garlic, onion, and high FODMAP sauces. Many restaurants are willing to accommodate dietary restrictions, but they can only do so if they're aware of them.

  • Ask questions about how dishes are prepared and inquire about any modifications that can be made to accommodate your needs. For example, you may request that certain ingredients be omitted from a dish or substituted with low FODMAP alternatives.

Step 3: Choosing Your Meal

Now comes the fun part—choosing your meal! Here's a breakdown of low FODMAP options available at various types of restaurants:

Italian Cuisine:

Italian cuisine offers plenty of low FODMAP choices, including:

  • Gluten-free pizza or pasta with a tomato-based sauce. Choose toppings like grilled chicken, shrimp, or vegetables, and avoid high FODMAP ingredients like garlic and onion.

  • Risotto made with low FODMAP vegetables like zucchini, carrots, and bell peppers. Request that the dish be prepared without onion or garlic.

Asian Cuisines:

Asian cuisines such as Thai and Japanese can also be low FODMAP-friendly. Here are some options to consider:

  • Plain rice or rice noodles served with grilled meat, fish, or tofu. Avoid dishes with garlic or onion-based sauces, and opt for simple seasonings like soy sauce or ginger.

  • Sushi and sashimi made with low FODMAP ingredients like salmon, tuna, and cucumber. Skip the soy sauce if you're sensitive to wheat, and enjoy wasabi and pickled ginger in moderation.

Greek Cuisine:

Greek cuisine offers a plethora of delicious options for those following a low FODMAP diet. Here are some dishes to try:

  • Grilled fish or chicken served with a side of Greek salad. Ask for the salad to be made without onion, and enjoy the tangy flavours of feta cheese, olives, and tomatoes.

  • Grilled vegetables like eggplant, zucchini, and bell peppers served with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of fresh herbs. Avoid dishes with garlic-based sauces or dips, and opt for plain yoghurt or tzatziki made with lactose-free yoghurt if available.

Bar Pubs:

Even bar pubs can cater to your low FODMAP needs with the right choices. Here are some options to consider:

  • Grilled meat or fish served with a side of steamed vegetables or a garden salad. Request that the dish be made without onion or garlic, and ask for sauces and dressings to be served on the side.

  • Gluten-free pizza or pasta with a tomato-based sauce and your choice of toppings. Avoid creamy sauces and dishes with high FODMAP ingredients like onion and garlic, and opt for gluten-free crusts if available.

Brunch Options:

Brunch enthusiasts need not worry—there are plenty of low FODMAP options to enjoy. Here are some dishes to try:

  • Eggs prepared any way you like, such as scrambled, poached, or boiled. Pair them with a side of bacon or smoked salmon, and enjoy with gluten-free toast made from rice or corn flour.

  • Oatmeal or porridge made with lactose-free milk and topped with low-FODMAP fruits like strawberries, blueberries, or bananas. Skip the honey and opt for a drizzle of maple syrup or a sprinkle of cinnamon for sweetness.

Step 4: Experiment and Enjoy

Dining out on a low FODMAP diet doesn't have to be a chore—it can be a delightful experience! Here are some additional tips to help you make the most of your dining experience:

  • Use this opportunity to explore new flavours and cuisines while staying true to your dietary needs. Many restaurants now offer gluten-free and low FODMAP options, making it easier than ever to find delicious meals that won't trigger digestive symptoms.

  • Be mindful of portion sizes and avoid overindulging in high FODMAP ingredients. While many low FODMAP options are available at restaurants, it's still important to practice portion control and listen to your body's cues.

  • Carry low FODMAP snacks with you for backup in case of limited options or unexpected delays. Pack snacks like rice cakes, lactose-free yoghurt, or low-FODMAP granola bars to keep hunger at bay while you're out and about.

In conclusion, dining out on a low FODMAP diet is entirely possible with the right preparation and know-how. By following these steps and tips, you can confidently navigate restaurant menus while maintaining your dietary needs and enjoying delicious meals without worry.

Happy dining!

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