Eating out can be stressful when following the low fodmap diet

Low Fodmap for LifeWhen I first started following the low Fodmap diet back in 2011 eating became quite stressful as I was constantly fretting about whether I was eating food that was on the ‘safe’ list of low fodmap foods and ingredients. Combine this worry with keeping a detailed food diary, and it is fair to say that I was finding new levels of anxiety associated with eating and food. This also felt quite isolating as I found it very difficult to explain to friends, family and colleagues why I was on this complicated, restrictive “diet”. More about this later on a separate post!

While eating at home was difficult, when it came to eating out at a cafe or restaurant, my levels of anxiety around eating and food became increasingly difficult to hide and I needed to find ways to cope.

Over the past three years I have found some coping mechanisms that help me when I eat out:

1. Plan in advance. If it is possible, I google the cafe or restaurant, check out their menu and work out which would be the best low fodmap option.

2. Ask for help. If the menu does not have any options for you, it is OK to ask your friends or family to change the venue.

3. Take the lead. If I am planning to go out with friends, I will volunteer to find a restaurant. This way I can discreetly check out the menu and find one that works best.

4. Breathe. I can honestly say that I have burst into tears trying to find a suitable cafe or restaurant that has something I can eat. It can also be difficult when others are eating all the lovely foods that I cannot eat (think garlic bread, ice-cream, pasta etc). Now, I try to focus on my breathing if I feel my anxiety rising as this helps me to keep myself calm. I also tell myself that it isn’t the end of the world, I can always eat something when I get home.

5. Find some “go-to” meals and cuisines that work for you. My ‘go-to’ cuisine is Japanese as sashimi and many sushi options are low fodmap friendly (avoid seaweed salads as they have added fructose!). Other great meals choices are plain salads, grilled meats and vegetables – I can often find variations of these in many cafes and restaurants, even Subway! Gluten free pizza is also a good option if it is offered, I just ask for ‘no onion’.

I would really love to hear what other people have experienced and what works for you.

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5 thoughts on “Eating out can be stressful when following the low fodmap diet

  1. Sometimes I knowingly eat small amount of foods I should avoid, to be sociable, for sheer pleasure. The worst that happens is my gut reacts. It’s uncomfortable, but it’s not the end of the earth and I’m over it quickly. Sometimes I have no reaction at all, in fact with FODMAPS they say that after a time of abstinence, some foods may be tolerated so it doesn’t hurt to push the boundaries once in a while. I’ve just found your blog in the FODMAP tags.

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    • Everyone has a different experience don’t they? I also find that sometimes I can “get away” with it and other times I get hit sideways. It is interesting what you have said about some foods being tolerated after a time of abstinence. I have found the opposite in many cases – I am more sensitive than before (or at least it feels that way).

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      • Truth is, it’s a personal journey. I think being in control of my symptoms makes me more aware of reactions than I’ve ever been, but that doesn’t deter me from trying to maximize flavour and texture in my cooking without compromising flavour. One thing I have noticed is that eating the same thing for dinner one night and then leftovers for lunch the next day, can trigger a reaction, even if I have strictly adhered to the guidelines. Too much of a good thing?

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  2. I personally have been suffering from IBS for about 3 years now and have only just been diagnosed and recommended to be on a low FODMAP diet and I can say it is very hard to find food that will not trigger a reaction or give me constant uncomfortable stomach pains, I normally have a hit and miss with things some things that I would normally be able to eat may trigger reactions one day and then be fine the next. This truly is a journey and a life long one at that.

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