Follow these tips for eating a low FODMAP diet in your favorite restaurants plus find 7 low FODMAP picks from popular restaurant menus
Dining in restaurants can be a challenge if you’re following a low FODMAP diet. However, the expectation to avoid restaurants completely is unrealistic and not enjoyable for many. Instead of skipping restaurants altogether, I’m helping you find low FODMAP restaurants and low FODMAP fast food options at some of the most popular restaurant chains. Take the stress out of following your low FODMAP dining plan when eating away from home with these quick tips.
5 Tips for Eating Out on a Low FODMAP Diet
If you’re prepared for dining out on a low FODMAP diet then your experience will be much more enjoyable. Follow these five simple tips for following a low FODMAP diet when eating out:
1. Research before you go
Check the restaurant menu before you go out. You can even make a list of questions to ask the server so that you don’t feel like you’ve been put on the spot when ordering.
2. Ask targeted questions
It’s important to know what types of questions to ask. Consider asking about seasonings, marinades, dressings, and other ingredients that may contain your trigger foods.
3. Know the culinary basics
Take some time to learn about various culinary preparations and common ingredients used. For example, grilled foods are often marinated to aid in moisture and tenderness of the meat. It’s helpful to know about these common preparations so that you can ask targeted questions.
4. Rethink your drink
Sweetened beverages can be a trigger food for many and are often not considered when dining out. The same goes for alcohol and coffee. Stick to water when dining away from home to eliminate an unintended consequence from adding a high FODMAP drink to your meal.
5. Wear comfortable clothing
Did you know that tight clothes can have an impact on your digestion? Wear clothing that’s comfortable versus those that are tight, especially around the waist.
Spotting a Low FODMAP Choice
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that restaurants with more than 20 locations have nutrition and allergen data available for customers. Because of this, many national chains will also have a full ingredient list on their website for review.
The ingredient list is essential when choosing a low FODMAP dish as many dish names and descriptions won’t provide enough details to ensure you’re choosing a low FODMAP option. However, if it’s not readily available and/or if you’re dining in a locally owned restaurant, make sure to have a detailed conversation with your serving or the chef before ordering.
Below are a few examples of a low FODMAP choice in popular restaurants.
From this screenshot taken on the McDonald’s website, you can see that the beef patty contains beef plus salt and pepper for seasoning. This is a low FODMAP choice. However, the Big Mac sauce is not a low FODMAP choice due to its high fructose corn syrup, onion powder, garlic powder, and other ingredients like wheat.
Burger King Oatmeal
The screenshot below shows the ingredients of the oatmeal at Burger King which is a low FODMAP option.
7 Low FODMAP Choices at Fast Food and Fast Casual Restaurants
If you’re looking for more ideas of what to eat at popular restaurants, check out these low FODMAP restaurant dishes from a few national chains.
Requests/Modifications: no bun, no onions, bring a low FODMAP dressing.
The McDonald’s beef patty is low FODMAP, however you’ll want to skip the bun if you have a sensitivity to wheat or gluten. Steer clear of any additional sauces as most are high in FODMAPs. A side salad is also a good choice, but it’s best to bring your own low FODMAP dressing.
Egg White and Roasted Bell Pepper Egg Bites (Contains dairy)
These egg white bites are a high protein, low FODMAP option that’s a good choice if you tolerate dairy. The bites do contain cottage cheese, feta cheese, and Monterey jack cheese, so steer clear if lactose is a no-go for you.
Requests/Modifications: add quinoa, remove cheese if intolerant to dairy, ask for no onions, go light on the dressing or bring your own.
The Panera Greek Salad with quinoa added is a great choice if you’re looking for a light meal. The dressing does contain garlic, so go light on adding it to your salad or bring your own. You’ll also want to skip the feta cheese if you’re sensitive to dairy.
Requests/Modifications: Skip the English muffin if you’re avoiding gluten, ask for no cheese if not tolerated.
Most of the chicken at Chick-Fil-A is seasoned with onion and garlic, so if you’re sensitive to either ingredient then it’s best to skip this restaurant or avoid chicken on salads and sandwiches. If stopping in for breakfast, the Egg White Grill sandwich is a good choice for those who can tolerate both lactose and gluten. You can make modifications by asking to have the cheese removed or by asking for double egg white and no chicken. Cheese can also be removed. Choose a side of fruit and avoid the apples if you’re sensitive to excess fructose or sorbitol.
Gluten Free Chicken and Broccoli
Requests/Modifications: No legumes or onion, ask for green parts only of the green onion.
PF Chang’s gluten-free menu is a good starting point if you’re looking for low FODMAP choices. Request no legumes, no garlic, and no onion when ordering your meal. Choose brown or white rice from the gluten-free menu.
Requests/Modifications: No onion or garlic on trout, ask for loaded baked potato toppings on the side.
Cracker Barrel is a southern favorite with a mix of protein and vegetable sides on the menu. Grilled fish like trout and catfish are good options as they use minimal seasoning. Be sure to confirm with the server that garlic and onion powder are not used when preparing your meal. Opt for a steamed vegetable and a baked potato on the side.
Requests/Modifications: no seasoning, loaded potato toppings on the side, skip the onions if included in the seasonal vegetables.
According to the Outback Steakhouse website, the restaurant accommodates requests like grilling steak without seasoning or butter or making a combo meal that works for you. This is ideal if you need to ask for special requests on the low FODMAP diet. Plus, the restaurant also offers a gluten-free menu making it a good starting point if you need to avoid gluten.
Finding low FODMAP fast food and restaurant options takes some time but is manageable once you know what to look for on restaurant menus. It’s also helpful to familiarize yourself with culinary preparations so that you’re prepared to ask the right questions. For more information, check out my Guide to Eating Out with IBS.