I get lots of questions about being a vegetarian and following the low FODMAP diet. It can be hard to know what to eat when your diet is so restricted! Previously I’ve shared posts about key nutrients and my top tips for vegetarians. Today I’m sharing one example of a healthy day that is both vegetarian and appropriate for the first phase (elimination) of the low FODMAP diet. Hopefully, this gives you some inspiration for meals and snacks that can help you meet your nutrient needs!
Note: If you are not a vegetarian, check out this sample low FODMAP day.
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. For vegetarians, it can be even tougher. Seven nutrients of concern are protein, calcium, vitamin B12, iron, zinc, vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids. One important role of a dietitian is to assess your diet and make sure it is still balanced and nutritious. To learn more about these key nutrients read my Vegetarianism and the Low FODMAP Diet blog post.
This sample day of foods is just one example of a healthy day that includes plenty of those seven key nutrients. 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 max 1/2 cup per serving.
I have five different oatmeal bowl recipes on my blog. One of my favourites is this Strawberries and Cream oatmeal recipe. You will get protein, calcium, and vitamins D and B12 from the lactose-free yogurt. The oats contain iron, and the vitamin C from the strawberries will help to increase the absorption of iron. To add some omega-3 fatty acids, stir in a tablespoon of ground flax seed! Click on the picture for all five recipes and more details on how to make a balanced breakfast bowl.
If you are in a rush in the mornings, check out this recipe for Pumpkin Spice Baked Oatmeal. It’s basically a bowl of oatmeal baked into a portable muffin shape!
LUNCH – EGG MUFFINS AND QUINOA CAKES
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, lactose-free milk, feta cheese and veggies. A couple of these muffins will provide you with protein, calcium, zinc, and vitamins D and B12. 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. Another favourite grab and go recipe is my Quinoa Cakes recipe. Quinoa, flax, oat flour, sweet potato, pumpkin seeds, fresh basil and more add tons of flavour. These cakes are convenient and packed with many essential vegetarian nutrients, including protein, iron, zinc, and omega-3. They freeze well and are great for meal prepping on weekends.
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, calcium and omega-3 fats. When you make pudding with lactose-free milk or soy milk (made with soy protein) you add extra calcium, vitamin D and B12, and protein. (Note: 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.
I have two chia seed pudding recipes: Vanilla Maple or Pumpkin Spice.
DINNER – LENTIL SQUASH SWEET POTATO STEW & MARINATED TOFU
At dinner time try to include a vegetable, a protein and a whole grain or starchy vegetable (such as potatoes or squash). This Lentil Squash Sweet Potato Stew has all three in one! While most beans are high FODMAP, canned lentils are low FODMAP at max 1/2 cup per serving. The mix of lentils, squash, sweet potato, tomatoes and spinach provides protein, calcium, iron and omega-3 fatty acids. The omega-3 come from the winter squash. Bonus: the vitamin C from the tomatoes will increase the absorption of the iron.
To get extra protein, calcium and iron, you could add some tofu to your dinner. Firm tofu can be crumbled into the stew. Another great option is this easy recipe for marinated tofu by Audrey Inouye at IBS Nutrition. You just mix up the ingredients for the marinade in a container, and then add the tofu and let it soak up the amazing flavours.
SNACK – HEALTHY CARROT COOKIES
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 Healthy Carrot Cookies. They taste like a treat, but still have plenty of nutrition, including some protein and omega-3 fats.
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 then don’t worry about occasional treats.
For a treat, you could have three-ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies instead.
Overall this day is packed with lots of nutritious foods as well as plenty of important nutrients. All 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. Eating a variety of foods is important for overall health.
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!