Whether you’re looking to dine out at a restaurant or grab fast food takeout, you might be wondering if you can while on a low FODMAP diet. Read on for tips from a registered dietitian on how you can avoid eating high FODMAP foods while eating outside of your home!
Even the most skilled low FODMAP eaters can struggle with navigating the fast food world and eating out at restaurants. There will be times when you’ll decide to eat out, but it can feel SO overwhelming when it comes time to look at a menu! You may feel like enjoying take-out food with friends or you may even run into an emergency situation where you need sustenance. Either way, knowing your options and being prepared can make food decisions a lot less stressful!
You know yourself best. If you have IBS, you might currently be in the strict elimination phase of the low FODMAP diet or perhaps you are following a modified version of the diet now that you know your FODMAP triggers. Knowing which FODMAPs and how much of those FODMAPs your body can tolerate will be super helpful in navigating restaurant menus and scoping for alternative options. Our beginners guide to the low FODMAP diet is a great start, but if you need more support in learning about your relationship with FODMAPs, expert advice from a registered dietitian is highly recommended.
Table of Contents
- Basic Pointers for Eating Out on a Low FODMAP Diet
- Low FODMAP Snacks for On-The-Go
- Low FODMAP Fast Food
- How to Build Your Own Low FODMAP Meal at Various Restaurants
- Coffee Shop Tips: Low FODMAP Options from Tim Hortons
Here are some basic pointers that can support you when eating out on a low FODMAP diet:
- Check out the online menu ahead of time, if available, and note your low FODMAP options.
- Restaurants with gluten-free and dairy-free items may provide more low FODMAP options.
- Use your low FODMAP apps, such as the Monash University app and Spoonful app! These can help remind you of ingredients that are safe for you.
- If you know you will be eating out, aim to have low FODMAP meals for all your other meals.
- Garlic and onion are used commonly for flavour; look out for these in sauces, dips, soups, salsas and marinades.
- Request sauces on the side so you can choose how much you eat and ask about what is used to season meats. Ask for simple salt & pepper on chicken or steak instead of blends like steak spice
- Select more modifiable meals or “build your own” items such as salads, sandwiches, wraps and bowls.
- Get in the habit of always packing one of your ‘safe food’ snacks with you wherever you go. Let’s not get hangry!
Low FODMAP snack ideas for on the go
- Low FODMAP Granola bars (Nature Valley Crunchy PB bar, FODY bars)
- Homemade trail mix (almonds, walnuts, peanuts, gluten-free pretzels, banana chips, dark chocolate pieces)
- Rice crackers or gluten-free crackers with a mini peanut butter package to dip
Let’s get started with some low FODMAP fast food hacks!
Hand-helds such as sandwiches or burgers are doable! Bring your own gluten-free bread or bun and request your meal without the bread. Some chains accommodate a lettuce bun as well. Select toppings free from onions and garlic. Simple salted french fries are a safe bet when it comes to FODMAPs. Request a side salad if fries have FODMAP-containing seasoning.
If you’re feeling pizza, many chains now offer a gluten-free crust (which is wheat-free)! But, always ask about what they use as an alternative. If a restaurant’s gluten-free pizza crust is made from cauliflower, this isn’t a low FODMAP option.
Also, avoid pizza sauces which likely contain onions & garlic, request hard cheeses (ex. cheddar) and select low FODMAP toppings (bell peppers, spinach, zucchini, broccoli, bacon, ham).
Examples: Pizza Hut, Pizza Nova, Pizza Pizza
Our favourite low FODMAP fast food selections:
- McDonalds: 100% beef patty with no bun and no sauces except mayo
- A&W: offers a lettuce wrap
- Burger King: 100% beef patty
- In-&-Out Burger: offers a lettuce wrap
- Wendy’s: 100% beef patty; baked potato with cheddar cheese makes a great side!
- Subway: gluten-free bread, turkey breast, select vegetable toppings (tomato, cucumber, lettuce), mayo
Build your own meal! Whether you are in the mood for Asian cuisine or Mexican flavours, stick with the basics. Sauces may contain onion, garlic, or artificial sweeteners, so it’s important to ask!
Here are some examples of build-it-yourself meals from various types of restaurants:
- Grilled tofu, beef, chicken, or seafood, with steamed rice or baked potato and low FODMAP steamed veggies (green beans, cooked carrots, broccoli florets)
- Pad Thai with chicken (rice noodles)
- Sushi or sashimi with soy sauce (small amounts of wheat in soy sauce is okay for low FODMAP). Many places do offer gluten-free soy sauce or tamari if you ask!
- Rice vermicelli bowl without onion, and fish sauce served on the side
- Corn tortillas with ground beef or chicken and sliced avocado on the side – choose fresh avocado in small amounts rather than guacamole, which contains garlic.
- Corn-based quesadilla without beans, and instead add chicken. Ask for plain tomatoes and cilantro on the side instead of salsa
Coffee Shop Tips: Low FODMAP Options from Tim Hortons
You’re not in Canada if there is no Tim’s around! Here are some things you can order at Canada’s favourite coffee shop
- Coffee and steeped tea are low FODMAP. Although lactose is a FODMAP, having a splash of milk or cream in your hot beverage is still considered low FODMAP (1-2 tablespoons respectively). Avoid lattes, as they contain much more lactose. Most Tim’s locations also carry almond milk now if you’d prefer this as an alternative
- Request breakfast wraps or sandwiches without the bread
- Bacon, pork sausage, hash browns, plain oatmeal, maple brown sugar oatmeal, and cheddar cheese are low FODMAP
- Garden salad without dressing
- Grilled Farmer’s breakfast wrap with pork sausage, regular mayo (instead of spicy), cheddar cheese, hash brown, no tortilla, no egg omelette
- Sandwiches with no bread
– Ham & swiss sandwich, regular mayo vs ranch
– Turkey sandwich, regular mayo vs chipotle
– Turkey bacon club sandwich, regular mayo vs honey mustard
Try asking for some extra hashbrowns to make a “hash bowl” with the ingredients from the no-bread sandwiches!
Remember, not all IBS symptoms are caused by FODMAPs. Consider non-FODMAP triggers, such as spicy foods, high fat foods and alcohol when eating out. If you need help better understanding your IBS triggers and the low FODMAP diet, it is highly recommended to work with a registered dietitian if you aren’t already!
Most restaurants do cook with high FODMAP foods, but you can find low FODMAP selections at fast food chains including A&W, In & Out Burger, and Subway. Vietnamese and Sushi restaurants are also a great place to find low FODMAP options. Learn more about the low FODMAP options at these restaurants.
Pizza is not low FODMAP because it contains wheat and often has onion and garlic in the sauce. However, some restaurants do offer gluten-free crusts which can significantly reduce FODMAP content. Learn more.
Potatoes are very low in FODMAPs, so french fries are generally low FODMAP. However, some fast food french fries list wheat and milk derivatives in their ingredients, such as McDonalds. The amount of FODMAPs is likely to be low, but it has not been formally tested.