The main concerns of the low FODMAP diet are lack of variety and inadequacy of vital nutrients – precisely why following it strictly is only recommended for up to 6 weeks. This situation can be harder to avoid for vegetarians, as many suitable nutrient dense foods are high in FODMAPs. But, with plenty of planning and becoming aware of what foods can be included, there is no reason you shouldn’t be able to meet all nutritional requirements on a vegetarian low FODMAP diet.
Worried about protein intake?
Many protein rich vegetarian foods are unfortunately high in FODMAPs (hello legumes!). We might be able to have them in moderation depending on our own symptoms, but a safe serving size would simply not be enough during the elimination phase.
Check the FODMAP Friendly app to determine serving sizes of legumes. Other suitable sources include firm tofu, eggs, lactose free milk & yogurt, low lactose cheese varieties, nuts / nut butter (check the app for low FODMAP options).
What about iron?
There are two different types of iron – haem and non-haem. We get haem iron from animal sources – this is the type our body can readily use. If we eat non-haem iron, which is the type we get from plant sources, our body has to convert it into the form it can use. Unfortunately, even though our bodies are great at a lot of things, this is not one of them.
We can get non-haem iron from foods like firm tofu, certain seeds, quinoa, eggs and green leafy vegetables.
One trick to have up our sleeve to assist this conversion is pairing the non-haem iron foods with foods high in vitamin C (think strawberries, kiwi fruit, citrus foods, tomatoes and capsicum).
Some other nutrients we might be concerned about include vitamin B12, zinc, omega 3 and calcium.
A few suggestions to ensure nutritional adequacy when eliminating certain foods:
- Add peanut butter, seeds, lactose free milk or calcium fortified milk to porridge (look for almond milks with >100mg/100ml calcium)
- Have milk or fortified alternatives in your coffee
- Add tofu to stir fries
- Have quinoa with main meals
- Have a range of nuts, seeds and oils in moderation (check the app for serving sizes)
- Have small amounts of legumes as individually tolerated (check the app for serving sizes)
As always, consult with a dietitian who can help identify any nutritional gaps in your diet and ensure you are following the diet correctly and get the best outcome.
Call us on 9845 7144 to book a consultation (phone appointments also available) with our gut health dietitian Jen.