It can be hard to know what to eat or even where to start when looking at a long list of high and low FODMAP foods. Today I’m sharing one example of a healthy day that is appropriate for the first phase (elimination) of the low FODMAP diet. I hope to show that it can be easy to put together a full day of nutritious foods that meet your nutrient needs and also tastes great!
The Low FODMAP Diet is an elimination diet designed by researchers to help people identify food triggers for lower gastrointestinal symptoms. It is a medical diet for managing certain digestive issues, NOT a weight loss diet, and meant to be done with the help of a trained dietitian. If you are unfamiliar with this diet please read my Introduction to the Low FODMAP Diet page first. The elimination phase is the first of three phases.
It can be challenging to have a balanced and healthy low FODMAP diet in the elimination phase. Two nutrients of concern are fibre and calcium. If you are not careful you may not get enough of these important nutrients. One important role of a dietitian is to assess your diet and make sure it is still balanced and nutritious.
Fibre is a super healthy nutrient, but unfortunately, many Canadians don’t eat enough. Fibre has many health benefits, including improving digestive regularity, lowering cholesterol, managing blood glucose levels and increasing satiety.1 Plus, eating enough fibre decreases your risk of heart disease and certain cancers.1 High fibre foods include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds. Eating a variety of these healthy foods is the best way to get enough fibre. There are low FODMAP options in each of these food groups. Most beans and lentils are high FODMAP, but canned lentils are low at 1/2 cup, and canned chickpeas are low at 1/4 cup.
Calcium is not just important for bone health, but for heart, muscle and nerve health as well.2 The foods that contain the highest amount of calcium are yogurt, cheese, milk and fortified milk alternatives.3 Other foods that are also sources of calcium include fish with bones (e.g., canned salmon), tofu, certain greens (i.e., turnip greens, kale, collards, spinach), certain beans (i.e., white and navy), tahini and almonds.3 However, white and navy beans should be avoided during elimination, tahini limited to 1 tablespoon, and almonds limited to 10 nuts per serving.
Most grocery stores now carry lactose-free versions of milk and yogurt. Low FODMAP milk alternatives such as almond milk and soy milk (made with soy protein, not whole soy beans) are fortified to have the same amount of calcium as regular milk. Hard cheeses are naturally low in lactose and okay for elimination. Like fibre, eating a variety of these foods is the best way to get enough calcium.
This sample day of foods is just one example of a healthy day that includes plenty of fibre and calcium. I did not give specific serving sizes for the foods, as everyone has different hunger levels and energy requirements. It’s best to eat according to how hungry or full you feel.
Note: you can see the full recipes by clicking on the pictures of the food.
Breakfast – Oatmeal
Start your day off right with a balanced breakfast. To make a healthy and filling breakfast, try to include a fruit or vegetable, a source of protein and a whole grain. One easy way to get all three in one bowl is oatmeal! Rolled oats are low FODMAP at 1/2 cup per serving.
I have five different oatmeal bowl recipes on my blog. This Chocolate Raspberry Almond Oatmeal recipe has fruit (raspberries), protein (almonds) and whole grains (oats). Click on the picture for all five recipes and more details on how to make a balanced breakfast bowl.
Lunch – Egg Muffins and Quinoa Salad
In general, most people don’t often snack on veggies, so lunch and dinner are the key meals to get your servings. You also want to include a source of protein and a whole grain to help fill you up.
These Greek Egg Muffins are a great lunch option. They are made with eggs, milk, feta cheese and veggies, and therefore packed with protein, calcium and fibre. You can bring a few with you to work or school and eat them cold or warmed up.
The egg muffins are fairly small so you it’s a smart idea to add something else to your meal. To add more veggies and a whole grain to your lunch you could also bring a quinoa salad. This Cranberry Walnut Quinoa Salad is quick to make and will last in the fridge for up to one week. You can make it Sunday and have it all ready to go for lunches all week long.
Snack – Chia Seed Pudding
When you are feeling super hungry it’s hard to take the time to cook up a healthy dinner. A healthy snack mid-afternoon can be a great way to eat more nutritious foods as well as tide you over until dinner. To make a filling snack I recommend including fibre or protein, or ideally both, in your snack.
One example of a super filling snack is chia seed pudding. Chia seeds contain fibre, protein and healthy fats. When you make pudding with lactose-free milk or soy milk (made with soy protein) you add extra protein (almond milk does not have a significant amount of protein). Chia seed pudding is very simple to make but does require a few hours to thicken. It’s best to make your pudding the night before and allow it to thicken overnight.
Try out my recipe for Vanilla Maple Chia Pudding layered with berries.
Dinner – Chicken Strips with Roasted Carrots & Potatoes
At dinner time try to include a vegetable, a protein and a whole grain or starchy vegetable (such as potatoes or squash). For example, Roasted Carrots, Potato Wedges and Coconut Chicken Strips make a balanced meal, and they can all be baked at the same temperature in the oven.
While the chicken and veggies are baking, you could whip up an easy pineapple sweet and sour dipping sauce in five minutes, and maybe add a basic side salad too. The pineapple sauce adds a lot of flavour to the chicken!
Snack – Healthy Banana Oat Cookies and Milk
If you are hungry in the evenings it’s okay to have a snack. Before you grab a snack take a moment to check in with your body and how you are feeling. Often we grab snacks because we are bored or sad or stressed instead of hungry. Ask yourself if you are truly hungry, and if the answer is yes then go get a snack. If you are feeling something else (e.g., boredom, stress, etc.) ask yourself what might be a better way to manage that emotion. Maybe a walk around your neighbourhood or talking to a friend would help you more than food.
An example of a tasty snack that is still very healthy is these Banana Oat Cookies. Pair one or two cookies with a glass of low FODMAP milk.
It’s also okay to include some treats! We should never feel bad for enjoying delicious food. Just try to make sure that most of the food you eat is healthy, homemade, and nutrient-dense, and don’t worry about occasional treats.
For a treat, you could have these Chocolate Chip Cookies with milk instead.
Overall this day is packed with lots of nutritious foods as well as plenty of fibre and calcium. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds all add fibre. Calcium is found in the feta cheese, pudding and glass of milk (plus a small amount in the almonds). All of the recipes listed are strictly low FODMAP and safe for the elimination phase. Once your symptoms are well managed it is key to complete the reintroduction phase and determine which FODMAPs are symptom triggers. It’s likely that not all high FODMAP foods are triggers and you should be able to add some foods back into your diet.
Hopefully, this sample day also shows that it’s not necessary to eat only bland foods to manage digestive issues. We all deserve to be able to eat delicious food, no matter what health issues we may have! Click here to read my blog post on 10 Ways to Add Flavour to Low FODMAP Food.
Are looking for help with healthy eating, managing digestive issues or the low FODMAP diet? I see clients for nutrition counselling across Canada via video messaging and phone. I help make it easy to have a healthy low FODMAP diet and determine which foods are symptom triggers. Dietitian services are covered by many health insurance plans. Contact me to set up a free 10-minute phone consultation!
- Eat Right Ontario, 2016. https://www.eatrightontario.ca/en/Articles/Fibre/Focus-on-Fibre.aspx
- Eat Right Ontario, 2016. http://www.eatrightontario.ca/en/Articles/Vitamins-and-Minerals/What-you-need-to-know-about-calcium.aspx
- Eat Right Ontario, 2016. https://www.eatrightontario.ca/en/Articles/Bone-Health/Food-sources-of-calcium.aspx