What to order eating out - SIBO/Low FODMAP!

 Before I even knew about the low-FODMAP diet!

Before I even knew about the low-FODMAP diet!

Hello everyone!  This morning I'm actually headed back to the doc to get myself retested for SIBO, and I will definitely keep you updated on the results. Knock on wood for me! I'm feeling better than I have in a long time, so I want to get a baseline and make sure that everything is on track.  Here's to hoping it is!

Planning for my appointment (you have to eat a pretty restricted diet the day leading up to the SIBO breath test) got me thinking more about how cooking and eating have changed for me over the years as I've learned more about low-FODMAP - I'm more aware of my triggers such as garlic and onion, and I avoid them the best I can in my day to day diet.  But what about going out to eat, when things aren't within your control? Today I wanted to talk about a somewhat sensitive and tough to navigate issue (at least for me) - eating out with family and friends when you have SIBO or are trying to maintain a low-FODMAP diet.

I'm not going to lie - I personally think that eating out can be really tricky when you're trying to stay symptom-free. Sharing food at the table with others is a way to participate in community. And I LOVE going out to dinner with my friends and family, but sometimes I suffer the (painful) digestive consequences. In the past, I've even backed out of plans, because I knew that my stomach issues were going to be so much worse after eating out. Does this sound familiar? 

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I'm a people pleaser.  And that's part of my issue with eating out while trying to avoid certain foods - I feel bad asking the waiter and "making a scene." I also feel bad for my friends because they're totally embarrassed, right? Wrong! I'm going to bet that's almost 100% NOT the case! What I've learned from my experience is that you need to advocate for yourself when you're out to eat to take care of yourself.  It's definitely not always easy - waiters/waitresses seem to take it personally when you ask to make substitutions - but I really think that you need to take care of yourself and your body.  And ultimately, you're paying the tip right? :)

I think it's also important to understand that sometimes you may also be out to dinner with people who aren't close friends.  And they might not let your food choices/substitutions go without a lot of negative questions and comments.  I've had this happen to me in the past, and even though I was SO frustrated at the time, I now try to take a step back and think about how THEY might be feeling.  They're probably never experienced severe digestive issues (and if they have, and are STILL commenting, shame on them!) and it's hard to sympathize with something you haven't dealt with personally.  And that's ok - I find that a quick "I have some pretty serious digestive issues that require some dietary substitutions" to usually do that trick in stopping further commentary.  But at the end of the day - you DON'T owe anyone an explanation. You're the only one who knows how you feel - so take care of yourself!

Now, onto food options. Remember, this is SO personal, and I really advocate doing the low-FODMAP diet yourself to learn your triggers.  Nevertheless, here are some of my go-to meal options and tips:

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-Always ask for no onion:  I also ask for no garlic - this is much trickier though because many restaurants have garlic already mixed into their sauces, glazes, meat, ect.  I do find though that onion bothers me much more than garlic, so I just use common sense to try my best to avoid garlic (I don't get the garlic bread :)).

-Sub a side salad: Greens with an olive-oil/lemon drizzle are a great way to order a side that won't put your stomach over the edge.  Be careful of many conventional resaturant dressings, which usually have garlic and onion.  

-For lunch or dinner, try: Some options that I tend to gravitate towards are a grilled chicken salad, sub olive oil/lemon dressing with tomatoes and carrots (be careful of dried fruits and nuts if those are triggers for you!), a plan burger without the bun and a side salad, a plain baked potato, a side of French fries (if you know that the fries at the restaurant you are at usually come with seasoning, avoid), or a grilled salmon salad (same as chicken above)

-Choose a hearty brunch: I find breakfast and brunch to be much easier to order out.  Eggs work really well for me (again just double check no onions) and a side of gluten free toast you should be good to go! I also love to add fruit to my order (just no pineapple or watermelon for me) for a refreshing side.

-Eat beforehand: You always have the option to eat before going out to dinner and just order a drink.  I do this sometimes when I'm having serious stomach issues or doing strict low-FODMAP, but still want to be social.  Your friends and family will still love you, I promise! 

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-And sometimes, just eat whatever the heck you want! Like this pizza pictured above :) This is where being in tune with yourself really comes into play.  If I'm in a bit of a "flare" with my stomach (I.e. consistent days in a row of serious stomach pain), I'll be on the safe side.  If I've been eating low FODMAP for a week straight and feel great, I'll order pizza! Sure, I might not feel 100% the next day, but it's worth it to me to loosen the reigns and eat what I'm craving. Food is self-love! 

I hope that this was helpful in any way for those of you out there who still want to be social with friends, but also want to feel good at the end of the evening.  It can be tough sometimes to balance it all, so don't beat yourself up! The great thing is - there's always tomorrow to get back on track and feel better!

I would love to hear if any of you struggle with eating out and any tips you have - let me know in the comments below!

Sending love,

Meg