When 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.