You’ve probably heard about the FODMAP (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols) diet that may relieve your IBS symptoms.
If you’re thinking to switch to IBS diet plan for vegetarians, you may wonder how it can work for you.
Usually people with IBS adopt a low FODMAP diet.
But it may pose some challenges especially if you’re a vegan.
- If you look at the list of high-FODMAP foods, you’ll find many staple foods that you consume every day. This means you have to eliminate a variety of legumes, nuts, wheats, fruits, and vegetables from your diet. Basically a vegan low FODMAP diet could leave you with almost nothing to eat.
- Since plant-based diet is rich with indigestible fiber, it can cause gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, vomitting, gas, constipation, flatulence, bloating, and cramps.
- Following a low FODMAP vegan diet plan can lead to the nutritional deficiencies particularly protein, calcium, zinc, iron, Vitamin B6 and B12.
Yet, don’t be despair.
You can still be successful in managing IBS symptoms with a vegan diet plan.
Following are a few tips to help you adopting this eating plan without freaking out!
1 Your First Step: Get Professional Help
Before changing your diet, consult your doctor and your dietician. You may have other underlying medical conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease or celiac disease that you’re not aware of.
Your dietician makes sure that you’re eating a balanced diet without depriving yourself of any essential nutrients.
2 Get the Monash App
Use the Monash App to be familiar with the list of low FODMAP foods.
Then plan your diet.
This app also tells you how much you should eat.
Monash app comes with updated the list of FODMAP food sources. You’ll find a huge variety of vegetables for the elimination phase of the diet.
3 Bump Up Your Nutrients
As mentioned before, this diet is lack of certain nutrients that your body needs.
So, it makes sense to include them in your meals.
Most staple vegan protein sources such as legumes and nuts are considered high-FODMAP.
For low-FODMAP dairy-based products, try cheddar cheese, cream, feta cheese, lactose-free milk and Parmesan cheese.
Here are good low-FODMAP vegan protein sources:
- Firm tofu (avoid silken tofu as it’s high in FODMAPs)
- Tempeh (avoid it if it contains wheat, barley, onion or garlic or other FODMAP ingredients)
- Grains such as quinoa, brown rice, corn, millet, buckwheat and oats.
- Seeds such as chia seeds, flaxeeds, pumpkin seeds, poppy seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds
- Canned and rinsed butter beans (1/4 cup), chickpeas (1/4 cup), lentils (1/2 cup), and lima beans (1/4 cup). Canning and rinsing remove enough of the troublesome FODMAP so you can consume these legumes safely during the elimination phase of the diet.
- Limited portions of almonds, Brazil nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, and pecans.
- Eggs (not if you’re a strict vegan)
List Of Low-FODMAP Yogurts
- Lactose free yogurt
- Greek yogurt
- Goat’s milk yogurt
- Coconut yogurt
If you don’t get enough iron, you may suffer from anaemia.
Make sure you include green leaf veggies like kale, spinach, and chard and iron-rich foods such as sesame seeds, quinoa, oats, tempeh, tofu, canned chickpeas, canned lentils, and pumpkin seeds in your diet.
To increase the absorption of iron, consume iron rich foods with a source of vitamin C such as lemon juice, lime juice, red pepper, strawberries, or tomatoes. On the flip side, tea, coffee, and calcium rich foods can decrease the absorption of iron.
You need calcium for healthy bones and prevention of osteoporosis.
Dairy products are rich in calcium but also high in lactoce. So they’re not ideal for people with IBS who are lactose intolerant.
Alternatively, you can still get calcium from low FODMAP food sources such as:
- Fortified soy milk made from soy protein (not from soy beans) such as ‘So Good’
- Fortified almond milk
- Soy cheese
- Lactose-free milk
- Lactose-free yoghurt
- Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, bok choy
- Some low FODMAP nuts, such as brazil nuts.
3.4 Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 maintains healthy cells and nerves.
It also helps in the production of red blood cells. These cells carry oxygen and nutrients throughout your body
If you’re a vegan who wants to adopt an IBS diet plan, you’ll be disappointed as vitamin B12 is only found in animal products (poulty, eggs, dairy products, meats and seafood).
So it’s best to use B12 fortified foods or take a supplement.
Your body absorbs zinc from animal products better than plant-based products.
So, for vegans, you should consume an additional 50% more zinc in your diets.
Zinc absorption from plant-based foods is lower than that obtained from animal-based products.
You can get enough zinc from vegetarian low FODMAP foods such as
- pumpkin and hemp seeds (small quantities)
- canned and rinsed lentils or chickpeas (small quantities)
- dark, leafy vegetables
- whole grains (such as quinoa, buckwheat)
You can enhance your absorption of zinc by toasting nuts and seeds, including FODMAP-friendly fermented foods (like miso, fermented veggies, tamari sauce, tempeh) into your diet, enjoying some FODMAP friendly servings of sprouted legumes and seeds, and soaking grains and lentils prior to cooking.
4 Skip Culprit Foods
You should cut down the consumption of foods that contains high amounts of sugar and refined starch. Avoid processed and oily foods.
Try a gluten free diet. Many nutritionists recommend switching to a gluten free diet. Gluten is a protein found in wheat that is known to be difficult to digest and one of the culprits responsible for triggering the symptoms of IBS. Switching to a gluten free diet helps many people overcome their IBS symptoms to a very large extent.
5 Stick To Home Cooked Foods
It’s better to prepare your food at home.
You don’t want to get foods from outside as they may contain high FODMAPS.
It requires some planning ahead of time. Plan your meal each week so you know what to get when you visit a grocery store.
Try these IBS Diet Recipes – Jo Stepaniak’s Low FODMAP and Vegan: What To Eat When You Can’t Eat Anything.
6 Should You Include Probiotics In Your Diet?
Although probiotics may relieve IBS symptoms, it is better to test one method at a time. Trying both probiotics and FODMAP diet at the same time will not tell you which one works for you the best.
7 Re-Introduction Or Re-Challenging Phase
You should not stay too long on the low-FODMAP diet. Why?
The FODMAPs are actually a source of fuel for the good gut bacteria (the bifidobateria and lactobacilli), which produce a wide range of compounds (such as short-chain fatty acids) with well-defined health benefits. As such, the ideal diet for keeping the gut healthy should be high in FODMAPs, not low in FODMAPs.
IBS diet plan is a restrictive diet. Thus, you only use it for a short term to identify which FODMAP foods you react to and how much you can tolerate before the IBS symptoms appear.
If the diet helps in reducing the symptoms of IBS after four weeks, you will stop the elimination phase and begin the re-challenge stage.
You will starting eating your old foods to test your FODMAP tolerance levels.
Probably you can enjoy your favorite staple food again even if they’re high in FODMAPs.
IBS FODMAP diet program is highly restrictive. So, it’s not for everybody especially with medical conditions.
While following this plan, make sure you get all the nutrients your body needs.