Eating out on the low FODMAP diet
So you’ve just been invited to your friend’s birthday dinner at an amazing restaurant. For most people, this sounds fantastic, but if you’re FODMAP intolerant, this may sound like a nightmare. Even just thinking about it is stressful – feeling awkward ordering a “special meal”, unable to partake in the shared dishes, or accidentally consuming FODMAPs purely because the restaurant has no idea what the heck they are. This could result in an emergency bathroom disaster, tossing and turning in bed all night, and just feeling like sh*t the next day.
I get it, I’ve been there. But one thing I’ve learned is that these dinners are rarely as bad as I build them up to be and stressing about them only makes it worse (literally, stress is a big contributing factor to IBS).
Here are a few tips to make dining out a more enjoyable experience. I hope they help!
1. Plan ahead
- Study the menu before you go – check all the ingredients and choose something that won’t make you sick.
- Call the restaurant beforehand – unfortunately, FODMAP awareness is still pretty low. Dishes and sauces are often pre-prepared so it’s helpful to advise the kitchen beforehand so they know exactly what to avoid.
2. Prepare your stomach
- Eat as low FODMAP as possible in the lead-up – reducing your overall FODMAP consumption means less chance of FODMAP Stacking therefore less chance of reacting if you accidentally consume some.
- Just before you go, have some Iberogast (20 drops in warm water) or peppermint oil capsules, which will help with digestion!
3. Be disciplined
- Avoid temptation – don’t let hanger tempt you into eating the free bread (that's if you’re sensitive to fructans) or having some of your friends’ meals (no matter how good they look, be strong).
- Drink lots of water – sip on still water throughout your meal, avoid carbonated drinks.
4. You do you
- Order what you want – the reason your friends' fuss is because they care. Tell them how much you love your “special meal” and move on, they won’t judge.
- Speak up – if you're unsure about something or you think the restaurant has made a mistake, say something. Don't be embarrassed. It's not worth feeling sick, just to avoid an awkward question.