When following a low FODMAP diet, one of the most challenging things is having so many foods on the ‘no’ list. We have focused a lot on vegetables and fruit, but what about protein sources? Are they something to watch out for?
I have noticed for many of the people coming through my door with symptoms of IBS, meat is assumed to be a big part of the problem; however in many cases, once they begin the low FODMAP diet, these problems seems to dissipate.
However, most animal-based protein sources are naturally low FODMAP. Beef, chicken, lamb, pork, turkey, kangaroo, fish… As they are, each of these are low FODMAP. The only way they become high FODMAP is if high FODMAP ingredients, such as onion and garlic, are added to them.
What if you're a vegetarian though? Or a vegan? Res assured, there are still great options for you. Easy to access low FODMAP protein sources here in Australia include tofu and tempeh. Whilst both of these are soy-based, they are considered low FODMAP. Some types of legumes are more well tolerated than others as well, for example canned brown lentils are usually tolerated quite well, whilst small amounts (<1/4 cup) of chickpeas may also be tolerated.
Nuts are all tolerated well enough, with the exception of pistachios, cashews, hazelnuts and almonds. One of the most common things I hear is ‘but they're all my favourites!’
Eggs are another suitable option for vegetarians, and can make eating out for breakfast, or a quick, healthy, low cost dinner much easier.
What about milk? And cheese? Well, the way most cheeses are processed, they actually contain very little lactose. Whilst in some cases, some people are very sensitive, it is also possible that you are either intolerant to dairy itself, don’t digest fat well, or maybe even be amine (a compound found in cheese, particularly the old, stinky types) intolerant.
Lactose-free milk is a great option, as is lactose-free yoghurt. Alternatively, plant based milks such as soy milk (made from soy protein, not whole beans), almond milk (only 2% almonds) or rice milk are all appropriate alternatives.