Eating on the low FODMAP diet can be an extremely helpful tool to learn which foods trigger certain symptoms and which foods are tolerated well. However, it can feel like you are limited in the types of foods you can eat and can feel like you are missing out on both flavours and variety.
Getting variety in the diet is so important. There are so many different macro and micronutrients that are present in different foods in different levels. It is important for our general health and wellbeing that we obtain a variety of foods to ensure we are getting all of those important vitamins and minerals which helps reduce risk of disease and promote general health.
Nutrients you may be missing on the Low FODMAP Diet
One of the main nutrients you may be missing out on while on the low FODMAP diet is calcium. Present in most animal dairy products, calcium plays an important role in bone health, regulating muscular contractions and maintain a regular heartbeat. Individuals on the low FODMAP diet are often monitoring their levels of dairy intake as items such as lactose containing milks, yoghurt and creams are high in FODMAPs. So while avoiding these may prove beneficial for their IBS symptoms, they are missing out on key dairy sources.
To ensure adequate intake of calcium, there are other lower FODMAP options. Some naturally contain a good source of calcium while others may be fortified. These include:
- Lactose-free milk, soy milk, almond milk, rice milk
- Hard cheeses such as Colby, Swiss, tasty, mozzarella and others such as cottage cheese, feta, and goat’s cheese
- Greek and lactose free yoghurt
Iron is a key nutrient that plays a role in oxygen transport and DNA synthesis in the body. Iron deficiency is the most common deficiency in the world. There are two types of iron; haem and non-haem. Individuals on the low FODMAP diet are quite easily able to obtain haem sources of iron as these come from animal sources such as chicken, fish, beef, lamb, pork, veal, turkey and eggs. ***
Non-haem iron comes from non-animal sources such as leafy greens, legumes and fortified sources such as breads and cereals. For those on the low FODMAP diet, it may be tricky to obtain non-haem iron sources from low FODMAP foods. Some low FODMAP non-haem iron sources are:
- FODMAP friendly certified breads
- GF fortified cereals
- Firm tofu
- Nuts and seeds such as pumpkin and sesame
- Leafy greens like spinach
***Individuals on the low FODMAP diet need to ensure these animal sources do not contain any sauces or marinades that may contain FODMAPs.
Vitamin B12 plays critical roles in DNA synthesis and the nervous system. Similar to iron, it occurs naturally in
most animal foods and is fortified in others. Low FODMAP options include:
- Animal products such as beef, fish, chicken, veal, pork, turkey, eggs
- Fortified low FODMAP milks such as rice, soy or almond
- FODMAP friendly breads which are fortified
- Nutritional yeast
Fibre is critical for promoting regular bowel motions and is found in many fruit and vegetable foods, meaning that those on the low FODMAP diet can easily miss daily fibre sources. Low FODMAP fibre sources include:
- Fruits such as firm banana, kiwifruit, blueberries, strawberries, oranges
- Vegetables such as broccoli, Brussel sprouts, carrots, pumpkin, spinach, capsicum, cabbage, eggplant and green beans
- Legumes such as chickpeas, white beans and lentils (at low FODMAP doses)
- Grains such as oats, brown rice, FODMAP friendly certified breads, quinoa, and gluten free pastas made from brown rice
- Nuts and seeds such as almonds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, and peanuts
Fibre supplements can also be helpful for those on a low FODMAP diet. Examples include KFibre, psyllium husk and partially hydrolysed guar gum (PHGG).
Adding flavour to your meals
It can easily feel like being on the low FODMAP diet means you have to compromise in both flavour and enjoyment of your foods – but this isn’t the case! There are many ways to continue to enjoy your foods through both delicious flavour and texture while on the low FODMAP diet.
Herbs and spices
Traditionally when people think of how they can add flavour to their foods the go to choice is onion and garlic. However, for those doing low FODMAP this isn’t always a possibility. Other herbs and spices often get looked over when in reality they can add a lot of flavour into foods! Examples include:
- Onion and garlic infused olive oils – these are low FODMAP
- Herbs and spices such as paprika, basil, coriander, tarragon, turmeric, thyme, parsley, rosemary, cumin, oregano, ginger, cardamom, mint, saffron, fennel, nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon
Condiments and spreads
Other options to add flavour to low FODMAP meals include dips, condiments and spreads. While not all are low FODMAP, many are in certain doses or have low FODMAP alternatives. These include:
- Miso paste
- Condiments such as mustard, fish sauce, horseradish, tomato sauce, oyster sauce, tamari sauce, and tahini
- Spreads such as vegemite, peanut butter and hazelnut spread
It is easy to assume that flavour is the sole origin of enjoyment out of a meal and while this can often be the case, texture is an underrated part of the enjoyment of a meal as well! Texture can be obtained through a variety of low FODMAP options:
- Nuts such as almonds, peanuts, pine nuts and macadamias
- Seeds such as pumpkin, sunflower, sesame and poppy
Variety in any diet is essential for both enjoyment purposes as well as consuming a range of vitamins and minerals. For those on the low FODMAP diet, it can feel impossible to be able to consume a range of foods that are also yummy and provide flavour and enjoyment. However, just because you’re on the low FODMAP diet doesn’t mean you have to compromise! There are a range of options for those on the low FODMAP diet in order to promote variety in your diet as well as enjoy flavour-packed foods!
Written by Ella Hamilton, University Qualified Nutritionist
Edited by Rebecca Ponsford, Accredited Practising Dietitian