Your ultimate guide to eating out and travelling on the Low FODMAP diet

by | Jul 12, 2017 | Digestion

Have you found it difficult to eat food that won’t make you sick when you travel? I’m in Uluru this week with my mum and aunty and it’s been challenging at times to find food that tastes good and won’t make me sick later.


And what about those awkward conversations you have when friends invite you over for dinner? Maybe they just don’t invite you any more? When you go out for dinner or over to a friend’s place it can be difficult to help them appreciate how badly some food can make you feel.


This week I’ve created this guide to make it easier when you travel and to help you to eat out more – being social is good for our well being and nourishes our soul… it doesn’t have to leave you bloated, in pain or running to the loo!


Eating at restaurants


Many people with food sensitivities, intolerances and allergies find the idea of going out to eat a bit daunting. You have your favourite places where you know the menu and what you can and can’t have and sometimes find it difficult to go somewhere new.


But that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying yourself and getting out and about to new and exciting places to eat.


Here are five hot tips for getting out and try new places:


  1.   Check out the menu beforehand. You can download almost any Restaurant menu onto your phone so you can check out what they have and what might be appropriate for you;


  1.  Call and ask if they cater for allergies/intolerances and find out what their policy is and how flexible they are with their menu. This is especially useful if you’ve looked at the menu online and still aren’t sure;


  1.  At many restaurants now, waiters will proactively ask if there’s any food allergies or intolerances. Now is the time to speak up and start a conversation about what ingredients you can’t have and what alternatives they provide. It’s really important here to know you all the names for your ingredient because chefs may use some alternatives names and may not be aware of the allergen if it’s listed in the ingredients of a sauce/dressing under another name.


  1.  A quick google search will get you loads of restaurant options that cater specifically for food allergies/intolerances. Try typing in “best restaurants for food allergies” plus your city. Enjoy working your way down the list!


  1.  If in doubt, you can generally find a meat and vegetables or salad option somewhere on the menu that you can ask for without dressing/ a simple dressing you can have on the side.  



Travelling with IBS


It’s no easy feat sometimes to find something you actually want to eat plus something that won’t leave you bloated, unbuttoning your pants or worse, running to the toilet. Airports and train stations are particularly hard places to find low FODMAP food – or let’s face it, food that will give you the least amount of symptoms!


Travelling this week has been a mixed bag for me. I didn’t do much reading up on the latest advice on how to go about travelling because I know what to look for and what my triggers are, but sometimes reminders are useful! I had a burger and chips for lunch yesterday and regretted it. It was delicious at the time but probably wasn’t the best decision and thinking back to the menu, they had a caesar salad which would’ve been a much better choice, with dressing on the side. Ah well, sometimes you need to make a bad decision and suffer the consequences to remind yourself of why you always make good decisions even when they’re not exciting, fun or the tastiest. :s


The Monash Uni Low FODMAP team recommend taking your own snacks with you like mixed nuts (I do always have a muesli bar in my handbag and it works wonders) and calling the airline if you’re flying long haul to arrange a meal free of your most troublesome foods. They also add: “Something to keep in mind – airline food is well-balanced, and although there may be many other foods that you prefer to avoid, they do not tend to serve large amounts of one food. Therefore, the amount of some high FODMAP foods provided may be low FODMAP. For example, there may only be 2 or 3 florets of broccoli, 2 slices of beetroot, and minimal amounts of butternut pumpkin – all of which are still low FODMAP.” That’s really good advice.


Alana Scott, low FODMAP blogger at A Little Bit Yummy recently went on a trip to South America and I loved her article on how to choose (or pack) a low FODMAP in-flight meal. You can read the full article with all her advice here.



The pre-packaged food options for those on a low FODMAP diet or those with IBS who really don’t want a flare up on their holiday is booming right now. If you’re lucky enough to have access to a microwave or kitchen there’s a number of companies offering low FODMAP packaged foods that are readily transportable for travellers. Check out Fodmapped for you and FODY Foods.


When you’re eating out the whole time like we are this week, the best advice I can offer you is to choose each meal as best you can. Try and make the healthiest decision for your gut and try to do the right thing by yourself! I do 80% of the time and that’s usually enough but this week I’m reminded that when you’re not in control of what’s on offer and what you can and can’t eat, it’s crucial to be more vigilant and “good”!


Eating at friends’ places

When you’re invited to a friend’s house for dinner, having to explain about a food sensitivity or intolerance must be done so you can be safe but you don’t want to seem picky, fussy or downright difficult!


Asking them to change their whole menu for you may be a bit extreme when chances are, a few minor changes may be all that’s needed. A simple way to approach this without anyone getting their nose out of joint (you or your host!) is to start a conversation about it:


You: “Hey Mary, thanks so much for the invite, we’d love to come over. My stomach is still sensitive to a couple of foods, what are you making?”

Mary: “Oh yeah, I forgot about that. Um, I was going to make some {insert food with ingredient you can’t eat here}.”

You: “Okay, that sounds delicious but if I have too much {ingredient} then I’ll be in the toilet all night with stomach pain/cramping. Can I be a pain and ask you to use {alternative you can enjoy} instead? It won’t change the taste much.”

Mary: “I haven’t used that before. I’m not sure.”

You: “Oh that’s okay. It’s really easy I can send you a link to a video/blog post to show you how… or if it’s easier I can bring my own food along? What would suit you?”


In this conversation, which I’ve had a few times before, your aim is to get a meal that you can eat and whether you prepare it or your host is irrelevant.


Some people are more than happy to exchange ingredients and prepare something you can enjoy. For others it’s too difficult and bringing your own is an easier option all round.


It’s important not to be offended if someone doesn’t want to change their menu for you. I’ve seen these situations get out of hand and people losing friendships over something as simple as using lactose-free cream! It’s crazy and there’s no need for it.


Keep it simple when talking about your sensitivities and intolerances, saying things like “wow, I’d love to eat that but I’ll be in so much pain later” is much more clear to someone who doesn’t have any intolerances than “oh, I can’t eat any food with {ingredient} in it”. The former sounds like you wish you could eat the food (which you probably do!) and that you’re the one missing out because you can’t; whereas the latter sounds dismissive of your host’s meal plan and uncompromising.


Keep it light, friendly and always fall back to bringing your own food. I’ve had a friend bring their own frying pan due to a peanut allergy – the point of getting together is to share a meal together and enjoy each other’s company.


One last thing to remember is that reminding someone of your food sensitivities isn’t annoying them – in most cases. I once completely forgot a friend of mine was fructose sensitive and I made an apple cake for dessert! She politely declined dessert and reminded me about her fructose issue and I was horrified I’d forgotten. It’s easy to forget these things so don’t feel bad about offering gentle reminders.


Remember, you deserve a healthy gut!

Kate x


Photo credit: iStock photos