When you first start a low FODMAP diet, you may wonder, “Can I ever eat out at a restaurant again?” While the diet is certainly easier to follow when cooking at home, that does not mean you have to cook every single meal for the duration of elimination and reintroduction; that would be exhausting! Let’s dive into eating out low FODMAP and explore some low FODMAP restaurants!
UPDATE: The Fig app now shows you Low FODMAP options at popular chain restaurants!
Review the menu ahead of time
If you know that you are going to be eating out, one of the best things you can do is plan ahead! Read the menu ahead of time to determine if there are foods that you can safely include in your diet. If you are unsure, you can call the restaurant and ask what is in certain dishes or if they can accommodate substitutions or eliminations for specific menu items. You may be best served by calling during non-peak hours (try between 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.)!
When reading the menu, two of the most common high FODMAP ingredients that can be found in your food are garlic and onion. The tricky thing about garlic and onion is that the menu may not list them as ingredients in most dishes. It may also be hidden in the ingredients list by using phrases such as: “seasoned to perfection.” While this doesn’t guarantee there is garlic or onion in the seasoning, it still leaves us with a big question mark. This is when it is important to call the restaurant ahead of time to ask and to see if they can accommodate your dietary needs. If you’re already at the restaurant and didn’t call ahead, don’t be afraid to ask your server for clarification on the ingredients in a dish and if they can make any adjustments.
Choose a flexible restaurant
Try choosing a restaurant with a “scratch kitchen.” This means they make all of their dishes from scratch, so your meal can more easily be modified to fit your low FODMAP lifestyle. You may also have better luck if you choose a spot that is advertised as a “health food” restaurant. The facilities that can accommodate gluten free and dairy free are also more likely to be able to modify your meal to your needs.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by the diet, the restaurants and meal ideas below may give you a good place to start. Please note this is not an exhaustive list, just a few ideas to help you get the ball rolling!
Let’s say you didn’t get to choose the restaurant and you are attending an event for a friend or family member. Now what?
If you prefer to avoid the restaurant experience altogether, but also don’t want to have to cook all your meals, there are a few low FODMAP meal delivery services that could make your life a bit easier. Check out ModifyHealth (use promo code FIG50 for 50% off your order). They send chef-created low FODMAP meals directly to your door. Both are certified low FODMAP, which takes the guessing out of it!
Dining out on the low FODMAP diet can be a challenge if you don’t know where to start. Hopefully this guide will give you a good idea of how to make the low FODMAP diet work for you while still enjoying restaurant dining and social outings that involve food. If you are still feeling a bit overwhelmed, try working with a FODMAP-trained dietitian to receive a more personalized experience. As always, Fig is a great tool for finding quick and easy Low FODMAP food at home.