Today’s post is written by nutrition student volunteer Mackenzie Michalczuk and edited by Lauren Renlund.
The holidays are a time for people to let loose and have fun with friends and family. The low FODMAP diet is not meant to restrict treats or limit opportunities to eat out. To avoid feeling restricted, it’s a good idea to have a plan and be prepared for the season. Here are some low FODMAP holiday tips to make it easier to stick to the diet!
1. Start the Day Off Right
Eating a healthy breakfast will ensure a great start to the day! If your mornings are rushed, try preparing your breakfast the night before. Chia Seed Pudding is a great recipe for this, it is best left in the fridge to thicken over-night and it only takes a few minutes of prep-time.
Skipping breakfast makes it more challenging to get the nutrients your body needs each day.1 Complex carbohydrates, like oats, for example, are a great addition to your breakfast as they are lower on the glycemic index. Low glycemic foods allow for a slower release of sugar into the bloodstream.2 This will help you maintain your energy levels and prevent urgent hunger cues from your body. In contrast, foods that are high on the glycemic index create large insulin spikes and rapid uptake of glucose. This leads to sugar crashes, which can leave you feeling tired and hungry.2
2. BYOF: Bring Your Own Food!
The holiday events you attend will likely not include ingredients lists beside the food. This makes it difficult to tell what options are low FODMAP. It is always good to keep some low FODMAP snacks with you for situations like this.
Here are some great low FODMAP snack options:
Lauren has an e-book with lots of quick and easy snack recipes. Click here to learn more!
3. Offer to Make a Dish
By preparing and bringing low FODMAP food for the other guests, you won’t feel left out. This allows you to eat what everyone else is eating stress-free.
Some great holiday recipes include:
Lentil Squash Sweet Potato Stew
4. Meal Prep
The holidays are busy times, so you should plan for the chance you may need to grab food and go in a hurry. Keep a supply of healthy grab-and-go foods in your kitchen.1 Protein-rich plant foods such as quinoa are a great option. Dried quinoa lasts in the pantry for years. Cooked quinoa can easily be made into a healthy salad by adding chopped vegetables and an olive oil-based dressing. Canned lentils are another good option; they are low FODMAP at 1/2 cup. Canned tuna and salmon are also convenient, just make sure there is no onion or garlic added! Hard-boiled eggs are high protein and can be kept in the fridge up to 1 week.
You may also want to double or triple your favourite recipes and freeze the extra food. That way you can have healthy, low FODMAP meals ready to go on busy days!
5. High Volume and Nutrient Dense Foods
Avoid consuming lots of empty calories throughout the day. An “empty calorie” is a food that has a lot of calories but not many beneficial nutrients. These foods are typically high in sugar, fat and salt – potato chips are one example. The whole point of the low FODMAP diet is to feel good; nutrient-dense foods help to nourish your body and provide it with the care it needs for daily functioning. Aim to eat mostly home cooked foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish, lactose-free dairy, nuts, seeds, soy, poultry and lean meats. Vegetables such carrots, cucumber, bean sprouts, red bell peppers and kale are great ways to add volume to a meal and make you feel full.
Eating nutrient dense food doesn’t have to be boring! Check out these tips for adding flavour to low FODMAP food!
6. Include a Protein Source with Each Meal
Protein reduces the hunger hormone ghrelin and will help keep you feeling satisfied until your next chance to eat.3 Add a tablespoon of peanut butter to your oatmeal, or try it in a smoothie. Hummus with vegetables is a good option as well. There is a list of low FODMAP foods that contain protein in the Quick and Easy Snacks E-book!
7. Don’t Deprive Yourself
A low FODMAP diet is not a treat-free diet. Dark chocolate is low FODMAP at 30g, and milk chocolate and white chocolate are low FODMAP at 15g. It’s okay to indulge in a low FODMAP desert recipe to help avoid high FODMAP temptations.
Here are some options to choose from:
Short Bread Cookies
8. Social Support
Social support might come from having friends and family to talk to about low FODMAP and cook or bake recipes with. It may also be found through support groups online such a Facebook. Having a good support system can help to take some of the pressure off yourself. Positive encouragement is important as this diet can be tough!
Here are some online support groups for the low FODMAP diet:
Low FODMAP Canadians
If you have celiac disease, here is an online Canadian support group:
9. Don’t Forget to Drink Water!
Dehydration can induce strong cravings; making it more difficult to stick to your plan. Water is also important for maintaining healthy blood pressure, motility in the gastrointestinal tract and cushioning joints and organs.4 Avoiding high FODMAPS can be tough, you don’t want any additional stressors to your body, like dehydration.
10. Limit Alcohol
It’s easy to lose your motivation under the influence of alcohol, making those high FODMAP treats much more tempting. Try to space your drinks one hour apart to avoid becoming too intoxicated to make good dietary decisions.5 It is also important to note the varying alcohol content in varies drink choices.
Not all alcohol is low FODMAP. A Little Bit Yummy has a great guide to alcohol and FODMAPs.
If you don’t want to drink alcohol, don’t let anyone pressure you into drinking. Here is a fun holiday mocktail you could try instead!
You could also make a mock mulled wine using cranberry juice, orange slices and spices!
Staying consistent with the Low FODMAP diet over the holidays can be tough. Try your best to eat foods that will help you to feel your best, but don’t be too hard on yourself. Most importantly, enjoy yourself with friends and family!
Lauren recently wrote a blog post with tips specifically for potlucks. Click here to read Tips for Sticking to the Low FODMAP Diet at Potlucks.
Happy holidays and have a great new year!
1. Dietitians of Canada. (2017). Plan well shop smart. Retrieved from https://www.dietitians.ca/Your-Health/Plan-Shop-Cook/Plan-Well.aspx
2. Eat Right Ontario. (2016, September 21). Getting to know the glycemic index. Retrieved from https://www.eatrightontario.ca/en/Articles/Carbohydrate-and-Sugar/Getting-to-know-the-Glycemic-Index.aspx
3. Human Physiology 14th Edition. Stuart Ira Fox. (2016). p.625
4. Eat Right Ontario. (2017). Fact on fluids- how to stay hydrated. Retrieved from http://www.eatrightontario.ca/en/Articles/Water/Facts-on-Fluids-How-to-stay-hydrated.aspx
5. Eat Right Ontario. (2017, November 1). Alcohol and nutrition. Retrieved from https://www.eatrightontario.ca/en/Articles/Alcohol-and-smoking/Alcohol-and-Nutrition.aspx
6. Dietitians of Canada. (2013, February 6). Planning meals using eating well with canada’s food guide. Retrieved from https://www.dietitians.ca/Your-Health/Nutrition-A-Z/Seniors/Planning-Meals-using-Eating-Well-with-CFG.aspx
7. Monash University. (n.d.). Low FODMAP smartphone app. Retrieved from http://www.med.monash.edu.au/cecs/gastro/fodmap/iphone-app.html