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Low FODMAP Restaurants: What You Can Eat

The low FODMAP diet can be a real challenge, even when you choose and prepare your own foods at home. But what about eating out? Are there any low fodmap restaurants out there?

Many restaurants label their gluten or dairy free menu choices now. However, they have not started labeling low FODMAP foods. But don’t worry, you can still figure out what is safe to eat!

In this article you will learn some tips and tricks for ordering food on a low fodmap diet.

Let’s get started.

What Are FODMAPs Again?

FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols (1). These are all just fancy names for different types of short-chain carbohydrates.

Ideally these things are digested and absorbed without any trouble. But sometimes it doesn’t go as planned. This might be because you don’t have the proper enzymes you need to digest a certain type of carbohydrate.

Bacteria break these substances down in your gut. This causes bloating and gas, and can even lead to IBS symptoms.

Learn more about fodmaps.

Plan in Advance

If at all possible, get some information about the restaurant before you go. Look at the online menu, and even call and ask the staff about whether they can cook for special diets. Try to call at a time when they are not super busy. They will be more able to take the time to help.

Start With Gluten and Dairy Free Options

Many restaurants mark gluten and dairy free choices on their menus. If you don’t see this, ask your server to steer you to these options. This is a common enough dietary choice today, and should not catch your server off guard. 

Safe Vegetables

You probably already have a list of vegetables that you can’t eat. I am going to tell you which ones are safe, and give you some menu ideas.

Here are some safe vegetables for a gluten-free pizza:

  • Bell peppers (up to ½ cup)
  • Spinach
  • Olives
  • Jalapenos

You can combine that with feta or mozzarella cheese, and most meat toppings, except sausage. You can even put up to a cup of pineapple on your pizza.

If you are eating Asian food, you can have bamboo shoots, bok choy, chinese cabbage, carrots, green or red chilis, choy sum, kohlrabi, ginger, daikon radish (up to ½ cup), lotus root (up to 1 cup) and oyster mushrooms.

Soy sauce, miso, oyster sauce and fish sauce are all safe condiments. See the “Safe Sauces, Condiments and Extras” section for more.

Here are some common side vegetables that are FODMAP safe:

  • Green beans
  • Carrots
  • Collard greens
  • Squash and pumpkin
  • Red or white potatoes
  • Okra

Ask for your side dishes without extra sauces or condiments added.

If you feel like a salad, you can have any type of lettuce, Swiss chard, kale, endive, pickled beets, cucumber (up to ½ cup), carrots, radicchio ( up to 2 cups), mung bean sprouts  or radishes.

You can also choose edamame (up to ½ cup), eggplant (1 cup or less), canned baby corn, cornichon, gherkins, bitter gourd, other types of gourd, jicama, parsnips, rutabaga, galangal, taro, plantain or tomatillo.

Safe Fruits

See “Ready For Dessert?” for a list of FODMAP safe fruits.

Safe Sauces, Condiments and Extras

Here are some low FODMAP condiments and flavorings:

  • Mustard
  • Regular mayonnaise
  • Soy sauce
  • Miso
  • Most vinegars (except balsamic)
  • Fish sauce (small amounts)
  • Horseradish
  • Chimichurri
  • Oyster sauce
  • Mint sauce
  • Habanero sauce
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Broth
  • Chutney without garlic and onion
  • Curry powder
  • Most fresh herbs
  • turmeric
  • Marmalade
  • tamarind

Condiments to avoid include ketchup, barbecue sauce, pesto (more than 1 tablespoon), sriracha (more than one teaspoon), jams and preserves with high fructose corn syrup, hummus, wasabi, and most cream and tomato-based pasta sauces.

Beans and Nuts

Avoid ordering dishes with beans and legumes, since they are high FODMAP almost across the board. 

You can eat mung bean sprouts, fermented bean curd (without garlic or onion) and fermented black beans (douchi). You can have ¼ cup of lentils.

Here are some nuts that are FODMAP safe:

  • Brazil nut
  • Chestnut
  • Macadamia
  • Peanut
  • Pecan
  • Pine nut
  • Tigernut
  • Walnut

Here is a list of FODMAP safe seeds:

  • Chia
  • Egusi
  • Hemp
  • Flax seed (1 tablespoon)
  • Poppyseed
  • Pumpkin seed
  • sesame seed
  • Sunflower seed
  • Urid Dahl

Starches

Rice, oats, quinoa, corn flour, sorghum, millet, teff, pounded yam and buckwheat are all safe to eat on a low FODMAP diet. 

Ready for Dessert? 

When choosing a dessert, first look for gluten and dairy free options. 

Then find out what sweetener is used in the dessert. These are the sweeteners that are safe on a low FODMAP diet:

  • Dark chocolate, 85% or more
  • White, brown or raw sugar
  • Maple syrup
  • Vanilla
  • Rice malt syrup
  • Stevia

Stay away from honey, coconut sugar, jaggery and demerara, agave, apple or barley syrup, Golden Syrup, molasses, sorghum syrup and coconut treacle.

Often fruits show up on the menu at dessert-time. You can safely eat any of these fruits:

  • 1 medium banana
  • Breadfruit
  • Coconut cream
  • Kumquats
  • Dragon fruit
  • Guava
  • Jackfruit
  • Lemon or lime juice (½ cup)
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Orange (1)
  • Papaya
  • Pineapple (1 cup)
  • Plantain
  • Prickly pear
  • Rhubarb
  • Tamarind
  • Lemon or lime zest

Drinks

Gluten-free beer and spirits like gin, vodka, whiskey and brandy are FODMAP free. Most wines are ok, except sweet dessert wines.

Avoid rum on a low FODMAP diet. Avoid anything made with fruit cordials, carob or coconut water. Fruity drinks are probably not a good idea.

Black tea and green tea are generally ok, but chai tea is not. Some herbal teas are ok and some are not. 

Peppermint, licorice and rooibos tea are FODMAP free.

Black coffee and espresso are fine. You can add up to 2 tablespoons of cream, or choose a lactose-free option like almond, cashew or macadamia milk.

It is best to avoid sodas since many of them contain fructose, which is a FODMAP sugar.

A Rescue Plan

First of all, if you do eat a small amount of a fodmap food, don’t panic! With fodmaps, the dose makes the poison. You can likely tolerate most of these foods in small quantities.

If you have a favorite digestive enzyme that works for you, bring it along to the restaurant and take it with your meal. A good choice for a fodmap-sensitive person will have a variety of different enzymes to break down different carbohydrates.

Here are some examples of enzymes for carbohydrate digestion:

  • Amylase
  • Phytase
  • Alpha-galactosidase
  • Lactase
  • Pectinase
  • Cellulase
  • Invertase
  • Diastase
  • Beta-glucanase
  • Macerase

Use an app like the Monash University FODMAP Diet app. This will help you check foods on the spot. 

Other Tips and Tricks

Garlic and onions are used as flavorings, but not mentioned in menus. If it is not obvious, ask!

Ditch the bun and order a lettuce-wrapped burger.

Get sauces and dressing on the side.

Bring your own salad dressing, or get oil and vinegar.

Avoid made-in-house condiments.

Pass on the bread, unless it is gluten free.

French fries often contain wheat or dairy derivatives, especially seasoned fries.

Stay away from breaded foods.

Eat a snack before you go so you aren’t super hungry. This will make it easier to pass up things like the bread bowl. 

Don’t stress over eating a small amount of FODMAP foods. It’s just one meal, and it will pass.

Final Thoughts

You can still eat in restaurants if you are on a low-FODMAP diet. It just takes a bit more planning and careful consideration of the menu.

If you know where you are going ahead of time, check the menu and look for dishes that you can eat. Call ahead and ask questions about what is in the food. 

Knowing what foods you can eat will help you to make choices if you didn’t get to check out your restaurant ahead of time.

Did you know that a FODMAP diet is only temporary? If you fix the underlying problem that caused your symptoms, you may be able to eat many of these foods again.

Would you like to explore the root cause of your symptoms? I’m happy to chat with you about how to do that. Just click on the button below to schedule a call.

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