Can You Have Alcohol on a Low FODMAP Diet?
That’s a question I get a lot and the short answer is: yes! Alcohol can be part of the low FODMAP diet, as there are some low FODMAP alcoholic beverages. However, FODMAPs are not the only trigger when it comes to alcohol and gut symptoms. Let’s look at how alcohol can affect IBS symptoms and how we can consume it without triggering gut symptoms.
Alcohol and IBS
Although we need more research on this topic, some studies and anecdotal evidence tell us that about one-third of people with IBS feel alcohol is a trigger for their symptoms. Alcohol is a “gut irritant”, which can either slow or speed up motility and trigger constipation or diarrhea. As the holidays are approaching, you might be wondering not just about how all those holiday meals and desserts may be affecting your gut, but whether it’s ok to celebrate with alcoholic drinks.
5 Tips to Enjoy Alcohol with IBS
First of all, it’s good to know your tolerance. Ideally, you want to test how alcohol affects you by reintroducing it during a time when you feel your best in regards to your IBS, so you can notice whether it makes your gut symptoms worse. If you are being triggered by alcohol, it might be best to avoid it and go for a mocktail or sparkling water mixed with a low FODMAP juice.
On the other hand, if you find you tolerate it, these tips will come in handy in helping you not overdo it and keeping unwanted gut symptoms at bay.
1. Choose low-FODMAP alcohol options
If you consume alcohol at all, opt for red/white wine, beer, vodka, gin, and whiskey in moderate amounts. Avoid rum, sticky wines, cocktails with lots of fruit juices (most are high-FODMAP), apple cider, and eggnog (unless you make your own with low-FODMAP ingredients). Check the Monash FODMAP App for the most up-to-date list of alcoholic beverages. You can also try the Hot Toddy Recipe below.
2. Drink in moderation
It’s best to limit to one drink a day. What does “one drink” look like? Five ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor. Moreover, alcohol can lower our inhibitions and lead to overeating, which can be a recipe for digestive distress.
3. Drink with a meal
Food slows down the release of alcohol from the stomach and reduces the potential for digestive symptoms. If you can’t eat a proper meal, try to have at least an appetizer or a snack to avoid drinking on a completely empty stomach.
Have some water before, during, and after your drink. Alcohol has a diuretic effect and staying hydrated can reduce the negative effects of alcohol. Plus, it helps you avoid drinking too much. Sneaky idea: pour the water into a wine glass or make a fun “mocktail” like a virgin mojito.
5. Avoid carbonated drinks
Carbonated drinks could have a high-FODMAP sweetener (like high-fructose corn syrup). Most of all, the carbonation may trigger bloating as you are ingesting extra air. And the gas in the bubbles increases the rate of alcohol absorption in the blood.
In summary, alcohol is a known gut irritant and can be a trigger for people with IBS. However, some people can tolerate alcohol and can incorporate some low-FODMAP drinks into their lifestyle. Drinking in moderation, hydrating, and drinking with a meal can help you tolerate it better and avoid unwanted gut symptoms.
Low Fodmap Hot Toddy
3/4 cup water
1 oz whiskey
2 tsp maple syrup
2 tsp lemon juice
1 lemon slice
cinnamon stick (optional)
- First, heat up the water in a saucepan until simmering, then pour into a mug.
- Then, add whiskey, maple syrup & lemon juice, and mix until the syrup has dissolved.
- Taste and adjust with more syrup/lemon if needed. Garnish with the lemon slice and cinnamon stick.