Low FODMAP Shopping Guide
Hands up if you find shopping for low FODMAP food a challenge…you’re not the only one! So many IBS sufferers that I talk to say that low FODMAP shopping is one of the most stressful experiences. Going to the supermarket can take ages because you’ve got to read all the ingredients on labels and change how you shop. It takes so much time, which is something we are all in short supply of.
With this in mind, today I’m going to give you some low FODMAP shopping tips. Here is what I’ve learned about reading food labels and spotting low FODMAP foods when you’re shopping
EATING REAL, UNPROCESSED FOOD
Before I get into any of that, I’m going to mention something that will help A LOT with low FODMAP shopping. That is, eating as many ‘REAL’ foods as possible. By real foods, I mean unpackaged, unprocessed foods. Fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, etc etc. Things that don’t come in lots of packaging with a long ingredients list of things you’ve never heard of!
Firstly, processed food like this won’t do your gut any favours and may actually be causing some of your symptoms. However, I’ll get into that another time. The point for now is that, secondly, processed foods make low FODMAP shopping SO much harder. Think of how much easier it is to buy a pack of carrots than a pack of biscuits…you don’t have to spend 5 minutes reading an ingredients list on the back of a pack of carrots.
So, the more real, unprocessed food you add to your shopping list, the easier and quicker low FODMAP shopping is going to be. Not to mention, the better your gut will feel!
READING FOOD LABELS
The Monash University Low FODMAP Diet App contains loads of great information about the FODMAP content of foods so is a very useful shopping tool. However, most of the information on processed foods is not specific to a particular brand, unless that brand has been certified. Therefore, we need some help on interpreting food labels on these foods to understand their FODMAP content.
A FEW FOOD LABEL TIPS:
Gluten free products: these aren’t always, but they normally are low in FODMAPs. So, look out for gluten free labels. However, check the ingredients list for high FODMAP ingredients (such as garlic, onion, dried fruit, fruit juice, and chickpea/lupin flour) which are often added to gluten free products.
Order: items on the ingredients list are listed in order of weight, from high to low. Therefore, if high FODMAP ingredients are listed among the first few ingredients, the product may be high in FODMAPs. If they’re near the end, there’ll only be a tiny amount in the food. E.g. I don’t tolerate garlic well, but if garlic is listed as one of the last ingredients in a product, it means it’s only got a tiny amount in so I’ll be OK with a little bit.
High FODMAP ingredients: here’s a list of high FODMAP ingredients that are common to find in processed foods. If these are listed in the first few ingredients, the product is probably high in FODMAPs:
High fructose corn syrup
Fruit juice concentrate
Garlic/garlic salt/garlic powder/garlic extract
Onion/onion salt/onion powder/onion extract
Chicory/chicory root extract/chicory root powder
If you’re not sure: as a last resort, if you can’t work out whether a product is high or low FODMAP, but it’s something you really want to include in your diet, buy it and try a a small amount. Do this when your symptoms are otherwise under control and monitor your symptoms. If you don’t get any symptoms, it’s safe!
SPOTTING LOW FODMAP FOODS
The thing I find really hard is when you write out a shopping list or you have a recipe you want to make. You then get to the supermarket and realise some of the things you wanted are high FODMAP. You don’t know what to get as a low FODMAP alternative, so you stress out, buy something high FODMAP in panic or just have to abandon the recipe altogether.
To help you out with this, here’s a little list of high FODMAP foods and their low FODMAP alternatives within all of the food groups.
Low FODMAP shopping is one of the most challenging parts of the diet. However, with a few little tips it doesn’t have to be.
Swap processed, packaged food for ‘real’ food as much as possible.
When reading food labels, take note of gluten free products, order of ingredients and look out for the sneaky high FODMAP ingredients in the list above.
When you find something on your list is high FODMAP, there is always a low FODMAP alternative. Keep the list of low FODMAP substitutes handy and you’ll be able to find an alternative quickly, rather than panicking.
Good luck with your low FODMAP shopping!
If you've mastered low FODMAP shopping but are struggling with eating out, check out this guide to eating out on the low FODMAP diet.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read this. Let me know your favourite low FODMAP substitutes in the comments below.