Part 1 - What Can I Eat?
The Set Menu
Do you dread that moment when the menu gets passed around the office with the set meal options? It's hard enough finding a tasty vegetarian option let alone one which is FODMAP friendly. Assuming you're already committed to a sit down meal, how can you make sure it's 'safe'? If it's a traditional Christmas meal there are several things to watch for.
First Course - There is often the choice of a vegetable soup for the first course but this may not be the best option for you. Even something innocent sounding like a carrot and coriander or parsnip soup may contain onions which are high-FODMAP. So my first tip is to opt for the melon.
Main Course - Goats Cheese tartlet sounds great, doesn't it? It's so very tempting for a Veggie Christmas meal but so wrong for us Fodmappers. Onions have a way of sneaking into these too but there's also the pastry to consider, and to avoid. You'll also want to avoid anything with mushrooms. If a nut roast is on the menu it could very easily contain wheat, onions and mushroom! But don't fear. My tip for the main course? Phone the restaurant beforehand and explain that you have special dietary needs - this is nothing unusual these days. Some restaurants pride themselves on being able to cater for special diets, as long as you give them enough notice. If they can't accommodate you, you could always offer to provide your own. That way you can eat in the confidence that it tastes great as well as the fact that it's not going to upset your tummy.
As for the vegetables - potatoes, parsnips, carrots and green beans are low-FODMAP, so enjoy. You should find you can tolerate a small portion of broccoli but remember to avoid the peas. As for Brussels sprouts, Monash University advises that a serving of two is tolerated by most people with IBS, though I'd choose whether to have those or the broccoli (rather than both) just to be extra careful. Also you'll be wise to avoid the stuffing and gravy - both are likely to contain wheat and onions.
Dessert - Christmas desserts are a challenge as wheat and dried fruit are high-FODMAP, and best avoided. But if you like something sweet you could take along some home-made low-FODMAP Ginger, Orange and Walnut Mince Pies to surprise your colleagues (having spoken to the restaurant first) or go for the savoury option and finish with the cheese selection. Cheese boards often come with grapes which are safe to eat, just remember to give the wheat crackers a miss.
The other scenario at this time of year is the festive buffet. This is a whole lot easier as far as a low-FODMAP diet is concerned, partly because a buffet tends to be a much more informal meal anyway and partly because you'll be in control of what goes on to your plate. If you're not sure yet what foods are safe to eat, take time to familiarise yourself with the 'Foods to Avoid' and 'Foods to Enjoy' lists. There are plenty of buffet classics such as plain crisps, plain corn tortillas, carrot and celery sticks, cheese and pineapple on sticks, olives, peanuts, grapes, cheddar or feta cheese and salad leaves which are low-FODMAP, so you won't go hungry.
You could even offer to help prepare the buffet, that way you can make sure there are plenty of low-FODMAP options available. Or take something with you, everyone loves someone who brings food to a party.
One final tip, especially if you know you are easily tempted by festive goodies, is simply to eat something before you go out. That way when the food is put in front of you it'll be easier to stick to those safe options.
In Part 2 I'll take you through some low-FODMAP drinks options complete with a tasty recipe of my own for a winter warmer which I think you'll enjoy.
'Til then - stay fabulous! :)
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