Thanksgiving is around the corner, and for those who have a specialized or restrictive diet, this can be a daunting and confusing time. With so many foods you need to avoid, it can be overwhelming to create holiday meals compliant with your diet while still honoring family tradition. Those who have IBS or SIBO (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth) would usually be following a Low FODMAP diet for several weeks before slowly reintroducing foods while monitoring symptoms. The Low FODMAP diet can be restrictive as it avoids several nutritious fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains. Fortunately, these restrictions don’t have to ruin th-e joy of the holidays. Here are some ways to make your Thanksgiving meal a success without any subsequent abdominal pain or bowel problems to contend with:
Thanksgiving Eating Strategies
- Eat cleanly this month as you prep for Thanksgiving. Remember that FODMAP-containing foods are quantity-specific, meaning that eating a large serving or multiple servings create an additive effect. Before you know it, your snack attack on low FODMAP foods has turned into a high FODMAP disaster
- Seek out low FODMAP recipes online. Here’s one that lists dozens of Thanksgiving recipes. When it comes to any specialized diet, it’s always best to cook meals at home. This is especially true for holiday meals where it’s tempting to simply pick up a pumpkin pie from Costco, or grab a box of StoveTop Stuffing. When you opt for homemade meals you have control over the ingredients and can easily make substitutions
- Read ingredients labels. Home cooking begins at the grocery store where diligence in label-reading allows you to choose wisely. Make sure you are indeed buying low FODMAP foods by looking at the ingredients list. The first three ingredients listed comprise the large majority of what’s in the food. Additionally, ingredients are listed in order of quantity. This means that the seventh ingredient listed will be in much smaller quantities per serving compared with the first ingredient
- If you are traveling to someone’s home for Thanksgiving, speak with your host beforehand about your dietary restrictions. Offer to home-cook specific dishes that are traditionally made with high FODMAP ingredients.
- Eat moderately. This advice spans throughout the year but is especially true during the holidays…and even more especially true on the low FODMAP diet. Once again, having large servings of a dish will increase the FODMAP amount, even if the dish is low FODMAP
- Save room for dessert. If you’ve pre-planned which desserts are FODMAP friendly, and know exactly what ingredients are in it, then allow yourself to indulge a little!
- Drink responsibly. This holds true for every occasion, but when seeking low FODMAP drinks it’s even more important to be aware of what (and how much) you are drinking. Dry wine, vodka, gin, or whiskey are low FODMAP alcohol choices provided that there isn’t any added sugars from the mixers. These drinks all contain way more alcohol than your standard Guinness, so know your limitations!
Modifying Classic Menu Items
Lucky for us, the main course of the Thanksgiving meal does not contain any FODMAPs. However, some other classic dishes do. Here’s some modifications you can make to lower the FODMAP content.
French Onion Dip:
Nothing about this dip is low FODMAP. It says it right in the name…onions! The good news is, you don’t have to go dip-free this Thanksgiving. Instead of French onion dip, whip up some homemade hummus (recipe here!). Using canned chickpeas and garlic infused oil will make this low FODMAP. By the way, garlic infused oil is made when garlic is steeped in oil and the flavor alone transfers over (leaving the FODMAPs behind). Another dip idea is spinach dip. Be sure to use lactose-free sour cream and a mayonnaise that doesn’t have garlic or onion powder in the ingredients. Recipe here!
Green Bean Casserole:
Similar to French onion dip, the classic green bean casserole usually has onions (French fried onions) sprinkled on top. Those darn French. To avoid the inevitable gut bomb, simply opt to roast, grill, or saute the green beans instead. This skips out on the French fried onions and any canned soup it might call for. Here’s a recipe for pan-roasted green beans and almonds that’s sure to please!
Traditional Thanksgiving stuffing usually has onions in it and is made with high FODMAP breads. Instead, choose a sourdough bread that was made with a slow rise and a true sourdough starter. Alternatively, you can choose a gluten free bread. Lastly, stuffing can be made with quinoa or rice instead of bread. Swap out the onions for celery, carrots, leeks, and/or green onions. Here’s a wonderful stuffing recipe to try.
Potatoes contain no FODMAPs! This includes starchy baking potatoes, red-skinned, yellow-skinned and purple potatoes. However, the milk, sour cream, and garlic that are mixed into most recipes create a high FODMAP dish. Instead, mash them with butter and lactose-free milk. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with minced chives or sliced green onions.
The flour is the real kicker in gravy that makes it high FODMAP. Choose a gravy that uses cornstarch or sorghum flour as a thickener (or even select gluten free flours). Here’s a great recipe.
Cranberry sauce is usually low FODMAP in small servings. Between the fresh cranberries and the sugar, you don’t want to eat more than 2 tablespoons.
Store bought pumpkin pie often contains evaporated milk, which is quite high in lactose. The crust is also unlikely to be low FODMAP unless it is gluten free. Use lactose-free milk or canned coconut milk, and then make your own pie crust and you’re in business! Here’s a great recipe.
Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be stressful or confusing for those of us on the low FODMAP diet. There are plenty of ways to modify traditional dishes to ensure that you enjoy the meal. And the best part is that the turkey has no FODMAPs! When planned correctly and modified slightly, you’ll be able to eat from a variety of dishes, including dessert! Just be aware of serving sizes and the additive effect of FODMAP foods. This is not the meal to stuff yourself (unless it’s just the turkey)! With all this aside, the focus of Thanksgiving is not on the food. It’s about spending time with friends and family and being thankful for the blessings in your life. Wishing you a wonderful holiday!!