Eating out when on a low FODMAP diet can prove quite a challenging and stressful experience. As you probably know from experience, most items on a menu will contain high FODMAP ingredients. Onions and garlic are usually the most common hidden culprits. I decided to start putting up restaurant and cafe reviews to help low FODMAP eaters find good places to dine stress free. All reviews will be for restaurants in the UK as that is were I live. Before I write my first restaurant review, here are some tips on how to make your dining experience enjoyable and FODMAP friendly!
Tips on eating out on the low FODMAP diet
- Pick a restaurant with a varied menu. This will increase the options of finding safe foods.
- Choose a restaurant that offers gluten-free options. This will open up more options such as pasta dishes. If you live in the UK become a member of Coeliac UK. Once you join (membership costs £20/year) you will be able to access their venue guide which locates restaurants offering GF options in your area making life a bit easier. They have recently also launched an app so you can find GF restaurants when you’re out and about.
- Check out the menu beforehand. Most restaurants have websites and the menu is available online. Find out what options would be safe for you.
- Call the restaurant in advance and speak with the chef. Ask if certain dishes could be altered to suit your needs such as omitting onion and garlic. One day heads up is usually sufficient.
- Choose safe options; these usually include: grilled meats, fish, rice, potatoes, salads with low FODMAP ingredients, eggs, omelette with low FODMAP toppings, sorbet or low FODMAP fruits for dessert.
- Ask for substitutions. e.g. exchange couscous with rice.
- If in doubt always ask if there are any high FODMAP ingredients. Better safe than sorry.
- Choose your drinks wisely. Limit intake of alcohol and caffeine as these are irritants to the gut.
- Know your triggers! High fibre and high fat meals tend to be common IBS triggers. You can try and identify your triggers by keeping a food and symptom diary.
- Know which foods might contain hidden high FODMAP ingredients. Example soups and dressing often contain onion and garlic. Sauces such as ketchup and BBQ sauce can be a source of garlic, onions and fructose. If possible check the labels or ask your waiter/ess.
- Lie. I know mum said not to… but she might let this one slide. Saying you’re allergic to onions and garlic tends to work quite well. Restaurants tend to take allergies quite seriously as having someone sent to hospital or dropping dead in their restaurant ain’t exactly good rep…
- Relax and enjoy your meal!
Please do share any more tips or dining out experiences in the comments below. Any restaurant reviews are also welcome!
Restaurant review: Hala restaurant on Green Lanes London
Cost: Main dishes cost £8-£10.
This restaurant is open all day and offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. FODMAP friendly options include the grilled meats and fish which are served with rice, couscous and salad. I usually ask to omit the couscous and to have the salad without onions to make it FODMAP friendly. The salad is drizzled with olive oil and pomegranate sauce. If you are intolerant to pomegranate do ask them to omit it. They also bring a bread basket with the food. If this is too much temptation ask them not to. I eat here once a week or fortnight and am always symptom free afterwards. My usual go to dish is lamb shish or lamb ribs. The food is excellent and will not disappoint! Portion sizes are quite big and I usually have half of it packed to take home. The restaurant staff are very friendly and offer a great service. I would definitely recommend the restaurant.
You may check out the restaurant website here. Salad and a small Lamb Shish are pictured below.
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