Can You Go Low FODMAP If You Are A Vegetarian?
A low FODMAP diet restricts the intake of foods that are staples for vegetarians, such as certain grains, legumes, lactose-containing dairy, vegetables, and fruits.
You may wonder whether, as a vegetarian, you can eat enough and get all the nutrients you need when starting a low FODMAP diet.
The answer is “yes”! You certainly can. With some planning and expert guidance, you can eat a balanced low FODMAP diet without eating meat, poultry, or fish.
Tip # 1 – Keep it short
First of all, don’t stay in the elimination phase for too long. The low FODMAP diet has 3 steps. The first one, when you reduce or eliminate FODMAPs, should be no longer than 2-6 weeks. You should then move on to reintroducing FODMAPs so you can figure out which ones trigger your symptoms.
You will then be able to bring back many more plant-based foods without experiencing IBS symptoms.
Tips #2 – Know your protein
According to vegetarian nutrition experts, vegetarians (and vegans) should aim to eat a little more protein than omnivores. Their goal should be to get about 1 g of protein/kg body weight (instead of the general recommendation of 0.8 g/kg).
In addition to eggs, dairy is an important source of high-quality protein for vegetarians. When on a low FODMAP diet, you can eat lactose-free dairy products like milk and yogurt, and several types of cheese. The low FODMAP diet is not dairy-free and these foods will help you get enough calcium in your diet.
And don’t forget that you don’t need to give up all the beans. There are several low FODMAP options for vegetarians, such as canned lentils, kidney beans, chickpeas (and more!).
Not only will they add variety to your diet and make it less boring, but they are an important source of fiber and many important nutrients.
Finally, many low-FODMAP grains such as quinoa millet, and oats are also high in protein and can contribute to your overall protein and nutrient intake. Nuts and seeds can also contribute, although in a smaller way.
Tip # 3 – Learn about soy
Soy foods can be an important source of protein and micronutrients on a plant-based diet. But not all soy is equal when it comes to FODMAPs. Some soy products like soy milk and silken tofu are not low FODMAP as they retain the FODMAP portion during processing.
On the other hand, you can enjoy others such as edamame, firm tofu, and tempeh in generous portions.
Tip#4 – Be mindful of portion sizes
You should think of FODMAPs less as a black-and-white issue and more as a scale. Some foods can become high in FODMAPs when you increase the portion size.
This is true for many vegetarian staples like legumes, nuts and seeds, wheat, and some vegetables and fruits. For the most up-to-date list of foods with their low, moderate, and high FODMAP portion sizes, you should consult the Monash University FODMAP Diet App.
Tip#5 – Get support
Eating a well-balanced vegetarian diet can be challenging for anyone. Even more for someone who is restricting FODMAPs. It’s ideal to work with a registered dietitian trained on the low FODMAP diet to help you avoid unnecessary restrictions and pinpoint your triggers.
After all, we know that people who work with an expert dietitian get better results and restrict less overall.
If you are vegetarian or vegan, I can help you navigate the low FODMAP diet and make sure you eat a balanced and nutritious diet while you are figuring out what is triggering your IBS symptoms.