Low FODMAP, Vegetarian & Vegan?
As the author of both a book on the low FODMAP diet and a book on vegetarianism, I get hit with the same question quite frequently: “Is it possible to not eat meat and go on a low FODMAP plan?”
The Answer Is: Absolutely!
Of course, stacking the restrictions of a low FODMAP diet on top of the limitations of a vegan or vegetarian diet can be challenging.
But with a little planning and some expert guidance, successfully completing a low FODMAP Elimination Phase is completely attainable for someone who eats no meat (vegetarian) or no animal products whatsoever (vegan).
Choosing the Right Ingredients
While both vegan and vegetarian diets can have many health benefits, they can also be problematic for people with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). The reason: Many of the staples of vegan and vegetarian diets are also high FODMAP foods. I’ve seen it numerous times in my nutrition counseling practice.
Client with a history of IBS symptoms gives up meat and finds herself with increasing digestive woes.
After the client keeps a food journal, we note that she is relying on several completely nutritious but high FODMAP items like hummus, apples, and whole wheat bread.
We trial a FODMAP elimination and find that the very foods she’s been eating in an effort to eat healthfully have actually been behind her digestive distress.
If you’re vegan or vegetarian and have been suffering from digestive problems, the first step is to see your doctor. If your doctor determines you have IBS, a low FODMAP diet may help you pinpoint the foods that are giving you problems.
There are already a lot of vegetables and fruits that have been tested and found to be low in FODMAPs in certain serving sizes.
Here are the most important things to know if you’re vegan or vegetarian and want to give low FODMAPs a try:
Break From Beans
The top challenge for most vegans and vegetarians going low FODMAP is that beans are, with a couple of exceptions, off limits. For plant-based eaters, beans are a valuable source of protein – a staple in the diets of many vegetarians. But there is some good news; you can eat some beans. One-fourth cup (42 g) of canned chickpeas and 1/2 cup (46 g) of canned lentils are low FODMAP approved.
Get Smart About Soy
Soy foods, ranging from edamame to soymilk to tofu to fake meat made with soy help many vegetarians and vegans get protein. However, not all soy foods are created equal when it comes to FODMAPs. Immature frozen soybeans, known as edamame, get the green light. You often see them in sushi restaurants. One cup is safe for FODMAPers. (Note that whole mature soybeans are high FODMAP). Depending on how soymilk is made, it may or may not be OK – I recommend skipping it for this reason, since it can be hard to know how your soy milk was processed. Tofu is another potentially confusing one. Silken or soft tofu is high in FODMAPs. Firm tofu, however is safe (one serving is 2/3 cup/170 g cubed). One 100-gram slice of plain tempeh is also OK, however larger servings contain high amounts of oligosaccharides and should be avoided. READ MORE HERE.
Keep it Short and Sweet.
Since your diet will be more limited than most, experts suggest that you stick with a low FODMAP trial for the minimum amount of time – two weeks – before you begin reintroductions and challenges.
Watch Out For Inulin and Chicory Root.
They are sneaky high FODMAP ingredients hiding in many milk-free dairy substitutes like vegan ice cream and coconut milk and even probiotic supplements. Always read ingredient labels to find out if these or any other off-limits additions are listed.
Don’t Go Nuts.
Not all nuts are OK for a low FODMAPs elimination. Here are the ones that are: Macadamia, Brazil, pecan, peanut, pine, and walnuts. It is, of course, important to watch your portion sizes. Certain seeds—like chia, sunflower, and pumpkin—are also acceptable on a low FODMAPs elimination, and can help you bump up your protein intake as well as your intake of some other nutrients like omega-3s and vitamin E.
Be Mindful About Servings.
If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, there’s a good chance you eat a lot of vegetables. And this is a wonderful choice for your health…unless you have IBS, and have been experiencing digestive troubles brought on by high FODMAP foods. Some veggies are OK to eat with abandon (we love you, carrots!). Others, however, are best left in moderation (excuse me while I cry over my two Brussels sprouts). Check the Monash app to stay up on the appropriate portions while you’re in the Elimination and Challenge Phases.
Check out our Vegetarian and Vegan Recipes!
Just use the filter on the RECIPES archive page to see just how many delicious and Low FODMAP meals you can enjoy! Keep checking back for more as we add recipes every week!
You might also be interested in our article on Plant-Based Nutrition & The Low FODMAP Diet.
What are your favorite plant-based low FODMAPs meals and treats?