Many people with GI problems get anxious with the prospect of going out to restaurants and rightly so, as high FODMAP offenders are very commonly found in restaurant menus. Going out with family or friends should be an enjoyable and stress-free time for all. As part of our Happy Belly Tips Series, we will provide our top tips for visiting restaurants and enjoying a meal.

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  • Prior to the outing, check the restaurant’s menu online or call the restaurant ahead of time so you know if there are low FODMAP options.
  • Ask the people you are going out with to let you choose the restaurant and go with a place you have visited before or a restaurant that you know will provide gut-friendly choices.
  • Choose a FODMAP-friendly and healthy appetizer option right off the bat so you avoid over-indulging on bread until the main course arrives.
  • Good options for meals at a restaurant are grilled fish or shellfish, poultry and red meat served with vegetables or salad, quinoa or potatoes. Avoid fried or very fatty foods as they can cause dyspepsia, abdominal pain, bloating, gas and diarrhea.
  • Ask for gluten-free, quinoa or buckwheat pasta as an alternative to the wheat-based pasta.

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  • Ask if your food can be prepared without onion or garlic (including onion and garlic powders).
  • Ask for the dressing or sauces to be served on the side. Also, you can replace the salad dressing with extra virgin olive oil and vinegar.
  • Know your worst triggers, let the waiter know, and ask if the cook could accommodate these requests so you are not stressed during your outing about the outcome of the evening.
  • Stay away from pasta sauces or creamy, heavy dishes which tend to contain onion, garlic and may be high in dairy products (lactose) and other high FODMAP ingredients.
  • Avoid eating heavily processed foods which contain gut irritating food chemicals, additives and emulsifiers.
  • Avoid spicy foods if they tend to cause you abdominal pain and/or diarrhea.

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  • You may consider a gluten-free meal but bear in mind that those are not necessarily low in FODMAPs. Many times, gluten-free items are packed with high FODMAP onion, garlic, dried fruits and fruit juices amongst others.
  • Avoid alcohol if it poses a gut trigger for you. If your tummy can handle alcohol, avoid drinking rum which is high in FODMAPs, drink one or two drinks only and make sure you eat first before consuming the alcohol.
  • Avoid the consumption of very cold beverages, juices, fizzy drinks or drinking with a straw.
  • Be careful when choosing desserts. As tempting as they are, most of the times they are high in FODMAPs. Go for one serving of low FODMAP fruit (or fruit salad), dark chocolate or another dessert that you have previously had without any negative results.
  • If going out for breakfast or brunch, choose an egg-based dish (for example omelet, frittata, scrambled eggs) with a salad or some fruit instead of bagels, muffins, pancakes or other very doughy foods that may cause bloating and other tummy issues.