If you’re struggling with dysbiosis, and perhaps have a diagnosis of IBS, IBD, or SIBO, you might be familiar with FODMAPs: Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. These FODMAPs, found in many commonly eaten foods, can cause a lot - and I mean a LOT - of gastrointestinal discomfort if your microbiome is out of whack. You might be surprised to find that FODMAPs are in a lot of the foods we consider to be “healthy” - like fruits and vegetables. Foods like garlic and onion, apples, and even broccoli contain different FODMAPs.
For introductory information on FODMAPs and why you might choose to follow a low-FODMAP diet, check out this article by Whole30 Certified Coach Kirin Escher, MD. Also, here is a shopping list from Whole30 that identifies medium- and high-fodmap foods to avoid.
However, if you have really severe symptoms (like I did!), this shopping list may not quite cut it - you may benefit from more detailed information about which foods contain FODMAPs, and in what quantities, before you start noticing improvements.
Whole30 + Low FODMAP Tips and Tricks
If you suspect or find that you’re highly reactive to FODMAP foods and want to take on a Whole30, here are a few pieces of advice:
1. Download the Monash University FODMAP App
This app isn’t free ($9.00 last time I checked), but it’s a one-time fee and gives you full access to the foods they’ve evaluated for FODMAPs. While it isn’t necessarily the most user-friendly interface, it does have the most thorough and up-to-date information on FODMAP foods. The app lists all of the foods they’ve tested and which type of FODMAP(s) they contain. For each food, it lists three different serving sizes. For each serving size, there is a rating of green, yellow, or red for each type of FODMAP, indicating if it’s likely to trigger symptoms if you’re sensitive to that FODMAP.
2. Eat as much variety as possible
When I started low FODMAP, I tried to avoid any food with even a trace of FODMAPs in them - and it felt like all I could eat were strawberries and carrots. It got really old, really quickly. I don’t recommend this approach! Check out the serving sizes in the Monash app. If a fruit or vegetable with FODMAPs has a serving size that is all green, I encourage you to incorporate that food into your diet. There are a lot of fruits and vegetables that have a little bit of FODMAPs in them - and it’s just too restrictive to try to avoid any trace of FODMAPs. Eating as big of a variety of vegetables and fruits as you can will give your body the largest variety of nutrients - and keeping your body properly nourished is going to help it heal more efficiently. There are a number of fruits and vegetables that you can likely eat in smaller amounts to avoid triggering FODMAP-related symptoms. Enjoy things like bok choy, broccoli, red cabbage, or jicama - just make sure to check what size serving you should stick with to stay “in the green” in the app.
3. Learn to substitute
If you’ve done a Whole30, you might already be familiar with making substitutions to recipes to make them compatible - swapping coconut milk for regular milk, or ghee for butter. There are a few easy substitutions that you can make in many Whole30 recipes to help keep the FODMAP action down without losing flavor:
Garlic / Garlic Powder - the culprits in garlic are not fat-soluble; that means that if you saute some garlic in oil, then remove the garlic, you’ll get the flavor without the corresponding GI distress! You can also skip the sauteeing step and buy shelf-stable garlic infused olive oil at most grocery stores. It’s even available at Costco!
Garlic Substitution: roughly 1 teaspoon infused oil per clove of garlic
Garlic Powder Substitution: substituting garlic oil for garlic powder may require a little more tweaking, but I’ve found that I can generally find a way to incorporate garlic oil in most recipes to get the flavor. I roughly substitute 1 teaspoon of garlic oil per ½ teaspoon of garlic powder (you can always add more or dial it back based on personal preference!)
Onion - although different onions have subtly different flavors, most have that onion-y bite to their flavor that us onion-eaters enjoy. Green onions are a good substitute to get a similar flavor - but make sure to only use the green parts of the plant and avoid the white parts, which still contain FODMAPs!
Substitution: roughly one bunch of green onions (6-8), green parts only, for one small to medium onion (you can always add more or dial it back based on personal preference!)
*Pro-tip - learn how to get more out of your green onions by regrowing them in a cup of water!
Onion Powder - chives have a similar onion-y taste to them. You can buy dried chives with other herbs at your grocery store, or even buy in bulk on amazon. You can also grind them down with a mortar and pestle for a finer texture.
4. Make your own sauces and dressings
It’s really cool to see so many new products on the market that follow specific diets - there’s plenty of sauces and dressings out there now that are Whole30 compatible, and now there’s even a market for low FODMAP sauces. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of store-bought sauces or dressings that are both low FODMAP and Whole30. If you get your hands on some compatible mayo (store-bought or homemade) you can make a number of dressings using Whole30 AND low FODMAP ingredients - namely, without garlic or onion.
5. Hone your label-checking skills
On the Whole30, you’ve likely learned how surprising ingredients can be in foods you wouldn’t expect. Hopefully you’re now more attuned to checking labels, and won’t find it too challenging to keep an eye out for FODMAP-containing ingredients as well. But also, be persistent and check a variety of brands when looking for low-FODMAP-friendly foods! For example, Rao’s has a “Sensitive Marinara” sauce that doesn’t have garlic or onion. POMI tomatoes have no preservatives in them, making them a safer option than canned tomatoes. Annie’s Dijon Mustard doesn’t have the generic label of “spices” on their ingredient list like most mustards, so you know it doesn’t have garlic or onion in it. Check LOTS of labels, and you might find a product here and there that checks both boxes!
Three Whole30 + Low FODMAP Recipes
Low-FODMAP Ranch Dressing
Recipe makes about 1.5 cups
1 cup Whole30 compatible mayonnaise (homemade or store-bought)
1 teaspoon garlic infused olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dried parsley (or 1 Tbsp. fresh)
1 teaspoon dried chives (or 1 Tbsp. fresh)
1 teaspoon dried dill (or 1 Tbsp. fresh)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Whisk together the mayonnaise and garlic-infused oil until combined. Add the vinegar and whisk until combined. Stir in the parsley, chives, dill, salt and pepper. Refrigerate leftovers. Should last about 5-7 days in the fridge.
*Pro-tip: if you’re making your own mayo, add the garlic oil at the end of the process and blend with your food processor/blender/immersion blender to incorporate well!
Kabocha Chili - Instant Pot Recipe
Kabocha squash is a winter squash, also referred to as a Japanese pumpkin. It’s a round squash, with orange flesh and dark green skin. I was excited when I discovered them while searching for new foods that were low in FODMAPs.
1 tablespoon ghee
1-2 tablespoons Garlic oil (adjust to taste preference)
2 bell peppers, diced
2 pounds ground elk or beef
2 teaspoons turmeric
2 teaspoons cumin
1-2 teaspoons chili powder* (if tolerated!)
1/2 teaspoons cayenne
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 bunch green onions, diced (green parts only)
6 tomatoes, seeded and diced (or 14oz/half box of POMI chopped tomatoes)
I kabocha squash, seeded and chopped roughly into ½ to 1-inch cubes
1 can full fat coconut milk (14.5 oz)
1-2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup water
*Technically, most chili powders aren’t low FODMAP as they often contain garlic powder. If you find one without garlic or onion powder in it, that’s a huge score! Use it in this recipe! Otherwise, just omit.
- Push sauté on the pressure cooker. Add ghee and oil to the inner pot.
- Sauté the diced bell pepper for a couple minutes, until softened.
- Add ground meat and cook until browned, using a wooden spoon to break up the meat.
- Add spices (turmeric, cumin, chili powder if using, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, sea salt and pepper) and cook for an additional minute.
- Add green onions, tomatoes, kabocha squash chunks, coconut milk, beef broth, apple cider vinegar, and water to the pot.
- Place the lid on the pressure cooker; lock the lid and make sure the pressure release valve is closed.
- Pressure cook on manual for 20 minutes.
- Quick release, give it a good stir, and enjoy!
Tip: The flavors of this chili develop well overnight in the fridge - it tastes great as leftovers. It also freezes well!
Creamy Pesto Sauce
Serving Size: Makes about 2 cups
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons garlic oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup full fat coconut milk
2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
- Blend the basil, pine nuts, lemon juice, and nutritional yeast in a blender or food processor and process until fine.
- With the food processor on, gradually add the olive oil until combined.
- Add the coconut milk and blend until smooth. Add salt to taste.
- Serve over cooked chicken and roasted tomatoes
- Serve with your choice of protein over spaghetti squash
- My favorite: served over grilled chicken with roasted tomatoes and broccoli on spaghetti squash!