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Low-FODMAP diets have been studied in recent years as a possible treatment for IBS. FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. These are all types of carbohydrates that may lead to IBS symptoms (which is one of my digestive diagnoses), so I decided to give the diet a try and see if it helps. Here’s a day’s worth of vegan low-FODMAP meals.
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The Science Behind a Vegan Low-FODMAP diet
I won’t go into a ton of details about the diet itself and how it works. However, there are many documented sources on the internet, so I’ll refer you to those:
- The Vegan RD’s take on low-FODMAPs. Within the article is a link to the list of foods that are acceptable to eat and those to avoid from a vegan perspective.
- Stanford Hospital’s low-FODMAP diet plan; for those who are not vegan.
- Peer-reviewed research published in a Gastroenterology journal on the diet and its effectiveness for IBS.
- Harvard Medical School’s article on the diet for IBS.
- The USDA’s food database, where you can look up a food and find out its nutrient content.
A dietitian recommended I try this diet a few years ago. I tried it, but I was vegetarian at the time, so it still included some dairy products. Now that I’ve been told I should avoid all dairy and that fructose is also a trigger, I decided to give it a go again as I hope it will further narrow the field. You may also have noticed that this diet is also gluten-free. My physician informed me the 3 most common triggers for my particular condition (nerve damage to the digestive tract) are dairy, fructose and gluten which just strengthened my resolve to give this a try.
This diet is intended to be used as an elimination diet, which means I will need to cut out all foods that are higher in FODMAPs for 4-8 weeks (probably 6 but depending on when my symptoms abate). Then, I will carefully add back in the items one at a time while monitoring my reactions. As I’ve done elimination diets many, many times before, I know that I tend to have reactions almost immediately to a food and the symptoms typically continue for several days. Therefore I will try one food per week, with an even longer interval if my symptoms have not resolved by the end of a week.
This will not be a short process. It’s actually very tiresome. I’ve spoken to my care providers about concerns of being nutrient-deficient during this time, and the assured me that it is highly unlikely that I will experience any adverse effects (as most Americans do not take in the RDA for many nutrients as part of their regular diet anyway). When adding items back in, I will attempt to include those first that would be most beneficial in increasing any nutrients I am not getting enough of.
Here’s my disclaimer: if you have digestive symptoms and have not yet seen a physician, please do so before trying this diet. It is best to be supervised by a knowledgeable practitioner when trying any type of elimination diet.
Examples of Vegan Low-FODMAP foods
I’m going to give details for 3 vegan low-FODMAP meals that I’ve eaten over the past week. They are all delicious, simple and easy to make. I use a free website called Cron-O-Meter to track my nutrient intake and make sure I am getting what I need; I will give you a screen shot of the nutrient breakdown so you can see how it adds up.
Steamed brown rice with coconut milk, banana, walnuts and maple syrup, heated together until bananas and walnuts soften.
Homemade oil-free oven fries (no seasoning) and homemade salt-free ketchup (tomato paste, rice vinegar, maple syrup, water).
Gluten-free brown rice pasta (ingredients are brown rice and water) with pine nuts pulsed in a blender to form a paste, dash of salt, nutritional yeast. The nuts and seasoning are mixed with coconut milk to form a creamy sauce. Purple kale, tomato and zucchini are cooked in the sauce and then cooked pasta is stirred in.
I find all these foods to be delicious and satisfying, and as you will see they do a good job of fulfilling most of my nutritional needs. Of all the restrictions a vegan low-FODMAP diet entails, the main problem I typically have is getting in enough calories. As you’ll see from the screenshot, I often take in only about 1500 calories. This was also the case before I started on this diet; for years I’ve been unable to consume much more than this in a typical day unless I start purposefully eating junk food or even just processed food instead of making everything from scratch. Because of that, my weight has remained fairly stable over time. I don’t usually worry about portion sizes, fat, or counting calories, and I don’t track my meals every day. I just do this periodically to ensure that I’m eating enough of the right foods.
- Tips for a Low-FODMAP Vegan Diet
- Dealing with relapses/digestive upsets while on a special diet
- My new diet is keeping me out of the doctor’s office (and testing lab)!
- Update on vegan gluten-free low-FODMAP diet
As you see below, my macronutrient intake balances exactly as it should for someone on a high-carb vegan diet. I included the details below as you can only see them if you mouse over each macronutrient category.
The micronutrients I did not consume enough of are: calcium, vitamin D, iron and vitamin E. I was previously taking supplements to fill the gap for these, but they were causing stomach upset. If I still cannot reach the RDAs for these nutrients with food after the diet is complete, I will attempt to find different supplements. I am also low on some amino acids, but I know from previous monitoring that I can meet these needs. I eat other foods rich in aminos that were not in this sample diet. Here’s a breakdown of nutrient intake:
Only a week into this vegan low-FODMAP diet, I already notice the following changes:
- Much less bloating (my abdomen is very flat)
- While I still have an upset stomach most mornings, some mornings I wake up without feeling sick
- I don’t always have an upset stomach later in the day (before bed is common for me)
- Fewer incidences of exercise-induced digestive problems
- I took “rescue” medication only once for an upset stomach
I’m hopeful of further progress and will post more updates.
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