Vegetarian on a Low FODMAP Diet
Are you vegetarian and looking to trial a low FODMAP diet for IBS? With a few considerations, it is possible to follow a nutritionally-balanced low FODMAP vegetarian diet. Here are some tips:
Seek out expert help. Working with a FODMAP-trained registered dietitian can be beneficial for anyone following a low FODMAP diet, but it can be especially helpful if you are also following a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. One of the biggest problems people can face on the low FODMAP diet is the lack of diversity in their diet and lack of balanced meals. A trained dietitian can help you easily navigate the low FODMAP diet, avoid unnecessary food restrictions, and prevent potential nutrient deficiencies.
Focus on low FODMAP foods with key nutrients. With proper planning, it is possible to eat a nutritionally-balanced low FODMAP vegetarian diet. A few of the nutrients requiring extra attention when following a low FODMAP vegetarian diet include protein, iron, and calcium.
Legumes like beans, lentils, and soybeans are common sources of protein for many vegetarians. Many of these legumes are high in FODMAPs and limited on the low FODMAP diet. Fortunately, there are other low FODMAP vegetarian protein options* to choose from including:
- Firm tofu and tempeh
- Lactose-free milk and yogurt
- Low lactose cheeses like cheddar, feta, and Swiss
- Peanut butter
- Nuts like walnuts, pecans, and macadamias
- Seeds like chia, flax, hemp, pumpkin, and sunflower
- Whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, and polenta
Some forms of processing can help reduce the FODMAP content of some FODMAP-containing foods. For example, canned chickpeas and lentils have lower FODMAP levels than chickpeas and lentils that were cooked from scratch.
The plant-based form of iron (non-heme iron) is not absorbed as efficiently as iron from animal sources (heme iron). You can increase the absorption of plant-based iron by pairing it with a low FODMAP source of vitamin C like oranges, kiwifruit, strawberries, bell peppers, or tomatoes. Some low FODMAP vegetarian sources* of iron include:
- Firm tofu and tempeh
- Pumpkin seeds
- Canned lentils and chickpeas
Lactose-free milk products are low in FODMAPs and can help you meet your calcium needs. If dairy is not a part of your diet, include plant-based alternatives that are low in FODMAPs like fortified almond milk, firm tofu, and dark leafy greens like kale, spinach, and collard greens.
Some delicious low FODMAP vegetarian snacks and recipes include:
*Low FODMAP serving sizes for all of the foods mentioned may be found using the low FODMAP phone apps from Monash University and the FODMAP Friendly Food Program.