Navigating the Supermarket for Low FODMAP Foods
Do you feel overwhelmed trying to find low FODMAP foods at the grocery store? The big box grocery stores can present a challenge for anyone following a low FODMAP diet – there are so many foods which means so many labels!
Please use our low FODMAP Supermarket Shopping Lists curated by a Monash Trained RDN, the article on How to Read Food Labels for the Low FODMAP Diet with Confidence and this article to help navigate your next grocery store visit.
It is extremely important to be well prepared with a variety of low FODMAP products to help you achieve success on the low FODMAP diet and there is no better way to be in control than to have these safe foods in your own kitchen. It may be a good idea to give yourself a little extra time the first few times you visit the grocery store.
Healthy Food First
As a RDN and whole food promoter I always recommend shopping the perimeter of the grocery store first, to ensure your diet is rich in fresh, nutrient dense foods. Not only is this a good approach to better nutrition, but it is also the easiest way to locate safe, simple low FODMAP foods.
The Produce Aisle
Let’s start in the produce aisle to ensure we are getting plenty of plant based fibers and a rainbow of colors in our diet. It may be a good idea to look at your Monash low FODMAP app and choose a few green light fruits that have a respectable safe portion size such as strawberries, grapes, and cantaloupe.
Now let’s move on to the fresh vegetables, again refer to the green light vegetables. A few of my go to vegetables include carrots (no FODMAPs detected), lettuce (any variety), red and yellow peppers, and broccoli.
Please note, some vegetables are only safe in very small portions such as 1/4 of a stalk of celery, therefore it would be wise to only buy only a single stalk or two. Potatoes are a great low FODMAP stable with no FODMAPs detected, but watch how many sweet potatoes you pick up since they have a smaller, safe portion size due to the polyol content. The tip of the green onion is safe and this makes a nice onion alternative.
Pro Tip – Scallions
Save the green onion bulb and place it in a jar of water in front of a light source so it can grow new green tips. Fresh fruit and vegetables do not last for much longer than a week so be mindful with the quantity your purchase. Learn more here.
Now let’s take a peek at the dairy section. As you probably know cow’s milk, regular yogurt, and kefir are all high FODMAP. (Read: Lactose, Dairy and the Low FODMAP Diet) Peruse this area closely for lactose free products and milk alternatives, such as, lactose free milk (ie. Lactaid), Green Valley Creamery Lactose Free -Yogurt, Sour Cream, and Cottage cheese, Lactaid Cottage Cheese, almond milk, and Ripple Dairy Free Milk.
Please note that small amounts of regular cottage cheese and sour cream are low in FODMAPs, however, it may be worth the lactose free swap if you plan on eating a normal size serving.
True, strained Greek yogurts are low FODMAP as long as whey concentrate, chicory root, inulin, high FODMAP fruit flavors, or honey are not on the ingredient list.
Please see this article over at our RDN friend Joanna Baker’s website to learn more about low FODMAP Greek yogurts. Remember, cheese is low FODMAP if it contains 1 gram of lactose or less, there are often many safe cheese options.
For you carnivores let’s move over to the meat department. Just a reminder all animal proteins including chicken, pork, fish, seafood, beef, lamb, etc contain NO FODMAPS since they are proteins.
All fresh meat is safe in terms of FODMAPs. Beware of seasoned meats since they often contain garlic and onions (these can also be lurking in the natural flavors). Processed meats such as bacon, sausage, and deli meats may also contain high FODMAP ingredients – garlic and onion are common additives, if honey is added the quantity is likely to fall within the green serving size on the Monash app. Celery powder used as a nitrite alternative and beet powder used for color are not of concern. It would be advised to ask to see the ingredients of fresh deli meat if purchasing from the counter.
Quick note for vegetarians, firm tofu (not silken) and some tempehs are easy low FODMAP protein sources and often found near the fresh produce. Watch out for the vegetarian versions of hot dogs, deli meats, vegetable burgers, bacon, etc since many contain textured soy protein plus garlic and onions – unfortunately I have been unable to find many low FODMAP options for meat analogs.
It is now time to hit the inside aisles, here lie many processed foods and long ingredient lists. Again, the shopping lists we created come in handy here and can save you time.
Grains & Cereals
First, let’s talk grains. Choosing whole intact foods such as rice, quinoa, polenta, buckwheat, and rolled oats, these are the healthiest low FODMAP option and also budget friendly. It can get a little tricky when purchasing rice pilafs and other grain blends found in a box since many contain high FODMAP ingredients, I have not yet found a safe rice pilaf.
Keep it simple in this department! There are several low FODMAP cold cereals and granola available at your local grocers. Aim for corn, rice, and oat based cereals since wheat is only safe in small portions and easy to exceed. Choose a cereal without a sweetener or one sweetened with sugar, dextrose, maple syrup, rice syrup, cane sugar, or another low FODMAP sweetener
Molasses, honey, and agave syrup are only allowed in small portions, the added sugar on the food label should be equal to or less than the green serving size of these sweeteners. Granolas often contain high FODMAP dried fruits, chicory root, and inulin so beware, keep portions at 1/4 cup per serving if you find a low FODMAP option. Remember, instant oats are low only at 1/4 cup, many of the individual oatmeal packets exceed this portion size.
What About Breads and Wraps?
Corn tortillas are a great staple item and Monash states you can enjoy three at one serving. If there is a gluten free bread section I would begin there since many low FODMAP breads can be found, however it is imperative to read the label and avoid those containing honey, fruit juice concentrates- apple is common, prune or other fruit purees, inulin, chicory root, and soy flour.
Just to be clear, the low FODMAP diet is not a gluten free diet, a few select wheat products have been tested by Monash and many have small safe portions. The challenge here is how to interpret some of the breads tested by Monash and know the equivalent bread at your grocer. Sourdough bread can be low FODMAP option that is well accepted by many.
Please read this article to learn more about sourdough bread. Udi’s has low FODMAP bread, hot dog buns, hamburger buns and bagels, which are nice to keep in the freezer to have on hand. Gluten free breads can be found in the bread aisle, designated gluten free section, or freezer. Many gluten free wraps and tortillas use soy flour and coconut flours which are high FODMAP.
The freezer section is often a budget, friendly way to stock up on low FODMAP staples. Frozen low FODMAP fruit include blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, pineapple, and dragon fruit. When looking for low FODMAP vegetables avoid those containing sauces since they often use high FODMAP ingredients.
Frozen broccoli, carrots, and bell peppers are easy to add to stir fries or soups. There are several safe frozen potato products such as hash browns, french fries, and sweet potato fries – avoid the seasoned varieties and double check ingredients since garlic and onion are sometimes added. While white potatoes have no FODMAPs detected, one must watch portions of sweet potato fries, it is easy to exceed 1/2 cup of this yummy side.
Unfortunately, I have been unable to locate any safe frozen meals, burritos, or pizza. There may be a safe gluten free pizza crust or pie crust in some stores. If you have a sweet tooth most grocers have a lactose free ice cream option – vanilla is almost always a safe option. Some grocers have dairy free ice cream, watch out for inulin, chicory root, wheat flour, plus high FODMAP fruit flavors.
Pro Tip: Fresh vs Frozen Fruits & Vegetables
Consider buying low FODMAP fruits and vegetables from the freezer section if you are want them to last longer or are concerned with food waste. Read all about Fresh vs Frozen Fruits and Vegetables here.
Canned goods can also be a great place to find budget friendly, low FODMAP goods. Select canned low FODMAP vegetables such as sliced carrots and green beans without seasoning or onion. Many of the pickled vegetables contain either garlic or onion. Canned, low FODMAP fruit are nice to have on hand, but watch out for those sitting in concentrated juices. Many of the canned fruits in syrups just use sugar which is safe.
Many of the jarred olives, roasted red peppers, and pepperoncini are safe, however, read the ingredients since garlic may be hiding in the olives or floating in the marinating oils. Most pickles contain garlic and the natural flavors often listed may contain garlic or onion, so these are probably best to avoid. It is almost impossible to find a safe low FODMAP soup since garlic and onion are almost always the base of any soup, stew, or chili – highly recommend making your own.
On occasion I have been able to locate some safe chicken and beef broths, this requires a little time to review all the labels, and from my experience these labels can change so double check from time to time. Be sure to check out my shopping lists for some specific brands.
Canned tomato products such as sauces, pastes, and diced tomatoes can be used to make homemade marinara or pizza sauces, avoid those containing garlic or onion. There are a few sensitive formula pasta sauces on the market that are low FODMAP. Unfortunately, the majority of marinades, sauces (BBQ, steak, stir fry sauces, etc), and salad dressings are high FODMAP. Some companies such as FODY Foods sell only low FODMAP products and these products are slowly moving onto some grocery store shelves.
Snack Attack! Chips! Popcorn! Rice Cakes!
The snack aisles contain many low FODMAP goodies. Let’s shuffle down to the chip and cracker aisles where you will find a variety of potato and tortilla chips, choose plain, unsalted varieties since many BBQ and seasoned chips contain high FODMAP ingredients.
Popcorn is one of my favorite options, not only is it a whole grain but the safe serving size is 7 cups! It is best to stick with the salt and butter flavored options. Popcorn and rice cakes are nice options especially paired with peanut butter and 1/3 ripe banana slices or some other yummy low FODMAP toppings. There are more and more rice, sweet potato, and flax crackers popping up everyday.
Remember gluten free does not always equal low FODMAP, sometimes soy flour, amaranth flour, bean flour, coconut flour, plus garlic and onion are added to crackers. Be sure to check out the Monash app for safe portions of some common wheat containing snacks such as pretzels and saltine crackers.
Low FODMAP Bars & Cookies
Bars have become rather popular and can come in handy for up FODMAPers when away from the home. When searching for a bar watch out for wheat starch, honey (since we cannot discern the amount and if is clover or not), fruit juice purees and concentrates, inulin, chicory root, cashews, pistachios, sugar alcohols, fructose, and other high FODMAP fruit ingredients.
I often recommend starting off with 1/2 bar at first to test tolerance since FODMAP stacking is common in bars. For those with a sweet tooth zoning in on the gluten free cookies may be a place to start since there are several safe options, but watch out for fruit juice concentrates.
Soft Drinks & Fruit Juices
Now let’s talk about soft drinks and other beverages. The majority of sodas contain high fructose corn syrup making them high FODMAP. More and more often, soda companies are switching to either sugar or stevia as the sweetener, making them a suitable choices.
Sugar sweetened beverages are often safe, however for health reasons it is probably a good idea to practice moderation. Sugar free beverages vary, while sucralose, aspartame, and stevia are considered low FODMAP, many of these beverages contain sugar alcohols, fructose, and fruit juice concentrates.
There are a few low FODMAP fruit juice options, please refer to the Monash app. Double check the label since many juices contain blends with high FODMAP fruit juices such as apple juice.
Flavored carbonated waters are all the rage now and presumably low FODMAP, many contain natural flavors (which may contain some high FODMAP fruits, however with the recent updates of very small portions of the majority of the foods now considered safe) and the fact that they are not contributing any carbohydrates or sugars, many can be considered low FODMAP.
One sparkling water company informed me that chicory root may be used in the “natural flavors”, however this could not be confirmed. Natural flavors are proprietary blends that often kept confidential to keep product products unique. Beware that carbonated beverages may trigger IBS symptoms.
While there are several safe teas such as green, weakly brewed black, and peppermint (may reduce IBS symptoms) watch out for roasted chicory, carob, and chamomile which are often found in many of the herbal teas. Coffee itself is low FODMAP (possibly a GI irritant for some, therefore limited intake is encouraged) many of the instant flavored coffees contain non-fat milk, whey, and lactose.
Nut Butters & Jam, Baking Mixes
Other great staples include peanut butter and jam made with sugar and low FODMAP fruits (pectin is fine) and low FODMAP nuts and seeds for quick snacks.
For those who enjoy baking gluten free all purpose flour (double check ingredients since some contain bean flours), gluten free pancake and waffle mixes, gluten free cake and brownie mixes, dark chocolate chips, garlic infused olive oil, and maple syrup (not the imitation version made with high fructose corn syrup) are must haves.
Stay Stocked and Stoked!
The grocery store can be a haven for low FODMAP goods. Shopping becomes easier with time, especially when you have some favorite low FODMAP staples to reach for. Staying well stocked on low FODMAP foods can help improve your success on this diet. Hopefully this article helps you on your next shopping adventure.