Eating Low FODMAP on a Whole30: Recipes & Tips
If you have IBS, you may eat a diet low in FODMAPs to help manage your symptoms. If you still have some lingering issues or feel that your overall health could be better, The Whole30 Program might be something for you to consider in consultation with your doctor or nutritionist. As I am neither a doctor nor a nutritionist (read more about how much I am not a doctor or nutritionist here), I have no business giving anyone dietary advice; however, I can speak to my own experience in successfully completing a Whole30 while eating low FODMAP and offer up some great recipes and tips in case you decide (in consultation with a medical professional) if eating low FODMAP on a Whole30 is right for you.
Tips for Eating Low FODMAP on a Whole30
Tip #1: Complete Monash University’s Low FODMAP Diet First
If I could do it over again, I would have done Monash University’s Low FODMAP Diet Program prior to my first Whole30 in order to find out which high FODMAP foods I could tolerate that are also Whole30 compliant. In a nutshell (of a nut low in FODMAPs, of course), Monash University describes its diet as a program during which a person diagnosed with IBS “swaps high FODMAP foods with similar low FODMAP alternatives to help reduce symptoms of IBS.” This is done for 2-6 weeks, depending on when symptoms subside. Then, the dieter reintroduces foods from each FODMAP group back into their diet to identify which types of FODMAPs they can and cannot tolerate. Through this process, the dieter can personalize their future eating habits by avoiding foods high in FODMAPs in the groups identified as intolerable and including foods high in FODMAPs in the groups identified as tolerable. This way, the IBS sufferer is able to include as many foods into their diet as possible and still manage their IBS symptoms.
The Difference Between the Low FODMAP Diet and Whole30 Diet
During a Whole30, a person with or without IBS eats only whole, unprocessed foods for 30 days – which excludes grains, dairy, legumes, refined sugar, and alcohol – and then gradually reintroduces foods from each of these into back into their diet, one-by-one, to see how they affect their body. These effects could include not only IBS symptoms but any number of symptoms unrelated to IBS (reduced energy, poor mood, allergic reactions, insomnia, migraines, etc.).
By excluding grains, dairy and legumes during a Whole30, the dieter is simultaneously excluding many – but certainly not all – foods high in FODMAPs. When eating low FODMAP on a Whole30, the dieter excludes even more foods, all of which are otherwise healthy if it weren’t for the bloody FODMAPs. Finding out which high FODMAP foods one can tolerate prior to doing a Whole30 through Monash Univerity’s Low FODMAP Diet Program enables them to exclude fewer foods during a Whole30 on the basis of FODMAPs.
In my experience, The Whole30 is what led me to start looking into FODMAPs in the first place, so I didn’t have the knowledge of Monash University’s program at the time, and I didn’t eat low FODMAP during my first round. Although I felt great at times during my first Whole30 round, I ate low FODMAP during my second Whole30 round and felt about 1,000 times better.
Tip #2: Do Some Research
Prior to my first Whole30, I did about a week of research to wrap my head around the program and ensure I was prepared. Upon first glance, I found it very overwhelming. The “whole foods” paradigm was entirely new to me, and I had to give my mind some time to shift. Doing a Whole30 while eating low FODMAP is even more challenging as you are excluding even more foods from your diet and have to have a fair understanding of which foods you can and can’t have to remain compliant with The Whole30 Program and still eat low FODMAP.
While there are a lot of helpful resources available that explain The Whole30 and others that explain the low FODMAP diet, there are very few resources that explain them in conjunction with one another. Below are some resources I have found helpful.
Best Whole30 / Low FODMAP Online Resources
The Whole30 Main Website – Features downloadable program rules, shopping lists and guides, common additives cheat-sheet and more as well as newsletter sign-up, meal plans, dining guides, approved products, and a forum full of advice from seasoned Whole30ers and answers to questions by other program participants.
The Official “Can I Have” Guide to Whole30 Complaint Foods (on The Whole30 Website) – During the Whole30 you will be asking yourself “Can I have [insert ingredient here]?” many times throughout the program. This is the best guide I have seen that simply outlines the ingredients that are in a Whole30 “gray area” of sorts, like when it’s okay to use grain-free flours, are smoothies allowed (no), are chips allowed (not if they’re store bought), are fries allowed (as long as they are not commercially prepared or supporting a french fry addiction), etc.
The Whole30 website also includes a downloadable Whole30 low FODMAP shopping list, but as I was new to The Whole30 as well as FODMAPs upon first seeing it, I found this list to be even more overwhelming. I ended up using Monash University’s Low FODMAP Diet App for more detailed, up-to-date information on the FODMAP content of certain foods. It doesn’t indicate which foods are Whole30 compliant, of course, but it is easier to remember which foods aren’t allowed on a Whole30 than to remember the FODMAP content of individual foods. Also, the researchers at Monash University first discovered the link between FODMAPs and IBS, so I generally consider Monash the authority when it comes to FODMAP research and information.
There is another similar but less comprehensive app for looking up FODMAP content called the FODMAP Friendly App. I have not used it extensively, but it works in a somewhat similar fashion to the Monash app. It sometimes contains FODMAP information on certain foods that the Monash app does not.
Low FODMAP and Whole30 – This article on the Casa de Sante blog by Staci Gulbin, a Board-certified dietitian, provides a great overview of both programs in conjunction with one another.
Best Whole30 / Low FODMAP Non-Online Resources
The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom by Melissa Hartwig Urban & Dallas Hartwig
After reading online resources, I felt I needed more comprehensive information about The Whole30 before starting the program. The book listed above provides a great overview of the program rules, philosophy, success tips as well as Whole30 compliant recipes, many of which I made during my first Whole30 (before I started eating low FODMAP). There is a brief section discussing FODMAPs and IBS and why someone still might have digestion issues while on a Whole30 (while not eating low FODMAP) as well as a few more related references to FODMAPs in the book.
It Starts With Food by Dallas Hartwig & Melissa Hartwig
Written by the same authors prior to The Whole30 book listed above, It Starts with Food gives a more in-depth explanation of the impact that dairy, grains, legumes, sugar, alcohol and other problematic foods have on the human body. I have not read this one cover-to-cover; just certain sections that peaked my interest as well as the recipes in the back of the book. It does contain a more detailed discussion of IBS in relation to The Whole30 Program that may put things in perspective.
Tip #3: Meal Plan, Meal Plan, Meal Plan
I started meal planning during my first Whole30 and have never stopped since. I can’t even imagine how life would go on if I stopped meal planning, it has become such an integral part of our lives when it comes to eating at home.
When doing a Whole30, meal planning is so important as you are eating only unprocessed foods, so most meals take a certain amount of preparation and planning. Eating low FODMAP on a Whole30 throws more curve balls into the mix, so meal planning is truly essential to staying compliant and not going hungry.
Meal Planning with Trello
Meal planning can be time consuming at first, but in my case, it became less so over time. I tried a number of meal planning apps but never found one I thought was making my life easier. I use an app called Trello for my freelance work and thought I might also be able to use it to meal plan. Trello is a free app (up to a certain amount of functionality) for desktop and mobile that’s like putting notes on a bunch of flashcards and sorting them into lists. I found this great article on the Trello blog about how the author uses the app to meal plan and modeled my meal planning board accordingly.
My meal planning board now contains hundreds of recipes that I can just plop into a calendar and create a shopping list based on what’s in the calendar. I also label my recipes to easily sort them (Paleo, Whole30, Low FODMAP, Quick, Best for the Weekend, Holiday, etc.) so that if I don’t know exactly which recipe I want to plan for a particular day, I can at least narrow it down by these criteria. I create my shopping list in the same Trello board with my desktop computer, and it syncs with the Trello app on my mobile phone, so I can access the list on my phone while shopping and check things off as I go.
Tip #4: Adapt Existing Whole30 Recipes to Low FODMAP
There are loads of Whole30 recipes online and cookbooks dedicated to Whole30 recipes; comparatively speaking, there are very, very few that are both Whole30 and low FODMAP and advertised as such so that they’re easily find-able. In the “Low FODMAP Whole30 Recipes” section below, I list and link about a dozen Whole30 compliant low FODMAP recipes, both from my blog and the blogs of others. However, if I want more variety, I will write my own recipes or adapt existing Whole30 recipes to low FODMAP. Adapting recipes may seem overwhelming at first, but it’s easier than you might think.
Low FODMAP Garlic & Onion Substitutes
Many recipes, especially dinner recipes, contain onion and/or garlic or onion powder and/or garlic powder, which are high in FODMAPs. To make the recipe low FODMAP, I do the following:
- Garlic -> Substitute garlic-infused olive oil for the garlic and oil listed in the recipe. Chives also have some notes of garlic.
- Onion -> Substitute leeks, the green parts of scallions, and/or chives.
Low FODMAP Mushroom Substitutes
Mushrooms are also a bit of a downer when it comes to FODMAPs. Instead of white button, cremini, or other common mushrooms that are high in FODMAPs, I use the following:
- White button, cremini, or other more common mushrooms -> substitute mushrooms canned in brine or oyster mushrooms.
Low FODMAP Whole30 Rice & Noodle Substitutes
Lots of Whole30 recipes call for cauliflower rice or zucchini noodles (aka “zoodles”) or suggest serving something (i.e. a stir fry, butter chicken, etc.) along with one of these starches in lieu of a grain-based rice. Cauliflower is very high in FODMAPs; only 1/3 cup of zucchini is considered a tolerable amount by Monash University and is not usually enough for me. Instead of cauliflower rice or zoodles, I make make one of the following low FODMAP starches:
- Mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, roasted potatoes, etc.
- Broccoli heads – up to 3/4 cup per serving
- Carrot noodles
- Spaghetti squash – up to 1/2 cup per serving
Parsnips, eggplant (up to 1 cup per serving), patty pan squash, and plantain rice are some other low FODMAP starch options. I haven’t personally tried these but have listed them for reference.
Important Things to Consider When Adapting Recipes
- FODMAP stacking – Eating two or more servings of foods from the same FODMAP group in one serving. To avoid FODMAP stacking, I look up all of the ingredients in Monash University’s Low FODMAP Diet App and write down which type of FODMAPs they contain and the tolerable amounts per serving. If multiple ingredients contain the same type of FODMAPs, I will either choose another ingredient or make sure the quantities of each of the ingredients are well below the tolerable amounts.
- Changing information on FODMAPs – Sometimes the available information on a food’s FODMAP content changes. When adapting recipes or when making recipes that are already adapted, I look up the ingredients in Monash Univerisity’s Low FODMAP Diet App to make sure I have the most recent information. When I’m making low FODMAP recipe written by someone else, I also double check the recipe’s ingredients against the information in the app to make sure it’s actually low FODMAP. There is a lot of misinformation out there, I think mostly due to ignorance, human error, or changes in research. It’s best to inform yourself.
Tip #5: Share Your Experience
I found out about the Whole30 by a friend sharing a Facebook post about their own experience. The result of this post ended up being life-changing for me. Although I don’t like sharing a bunch of personal information on social media, I do share about my Whole30 experiences and many of the recipes I eat while on a Whole30. When I am sharing my experience with others, I am less likely to give up before the 30 days is up, and I often get lots of encouragement from family and friends, which keeps me going.
Plus, it’s nice to share recipes where others can find them, especially when there are so few low FODMAP Whole30 recipes out there. Share the low FODMAP Whole30 love, people! #LowFODMAPWhole30
Low FODMAP Whole30 Recipes
Now for the fun stuff – here are my favourite low FODMAP Whole30 recipes. I will continue adding to this list as time goes on, so check back if you do any future Whole30 rounds, and there might be something new.
Air Fryer Buffalo Chicken Salad by Good Noms, Honey!
This Air Fryer Buffalo Chicken Tenders Salad recipe is adapted from a recipe by The Paleo Running Momma to be low FODMAP and for the tenders to be cooked in the air fryer. This is one of my all-time favourite recipes that I regularly make even when off the Whole30, it’s so amazing. Crispy chicken tenders slathered in buffalo sauce served over crisp salad and topped with:
Dairy-Free Homemade Ranch Dressing by Good Noms, Honey!
This dairy-free homemade ranch dressing recipe is definitely one to have in your back pocket when doing a Whole30 as chances are, you will be eating lots of salads, veggies and things that require some sort of fat component. It’s super flavourful and can be made thicker or thinner based on what you’re serving it as (dressing, dip, etc.). You can also serve it on this:
Paleo Whole30 Taco Salad by Real Food with Jessica
I practically ate this Paleo Whole30 Taco Salad by Real Food with Jessica every day for lunch during my low FODMAP Whole30. It’s something I looked forward to while working in the morning, hungrily awaiting lunch. Real Food with Jessica also has the most Whole30-compliant low FODMAP recipes that I’ve seen on any blog. I’ve tried many, and they’re typically really easy and incredibly yummy.
Instant Pot Shepherd’s Pie by Good Noms, Honey!
You can definitely have meals other than salads while on a Whole30. This Instant Pot Shepherd’s Pie is one of my favourite, comfort food-style dishes. Whenever I feel like I’m in major need of carbs on a Whole30, this shepherd’s pie goes in my meal plan.
Instant Pot Pork Chop One-Pot Meal by Good Noms, Honey!
This Instant Pot Pork Chop One-Pot Meal is an easy dinner recipe. The pork chops, carrots, mashed potatoes and gravy are all made in one pot, dirtying fewer dishes.
Paleo Whole30 Dijon Rosemary Pork Chops by Real Food with Jessica
If you prefer grilled pork chops, try this recipe for Dijon Rosemary Pork Chops by Real Food with Jessica. My husband in particular absolutely loves this flavourful pork chop recipe. Check that your Dijon mustard is Whole30 compliant and low FODMAP with no garlic or onion powder listed in the ingredients.
Chicken Thighs in Orange Dijon Herb Sauce by Whip & Wander
If you’re a Dijon mustard fan, you should also try this recipe on Whip & Wander, a blog I recently discovered. Whip & Wander features whole foods recipes, many of which are Paleo, Whole30 and low FODMAP, as well as travel insights, book reviews, and more. This Chicken Thighs in Orange Dijon Herb Sauce recipe is so delicious, especially when served over:
Instant Pot “Garlic” Mashed Potatoes by Good Noms, Honey!
The low FODMAP option of this Instant Pot “Garlic” Mashed Potatoes recipe is the starch component of many dishes that I make. I’ve even eaten butter chicken over it, it’s so versatile.
Low FODMAP Refrigerator Dill Pickles by Fun Without FODMAPs
If you’re wanting to add some flavour to your burgers or an easy, crunchy snack to have on hand in the fridge, I highly recommend this Low FODMAP Refridgerator Dill Pickles recipe by Fun Without FODMAPs. They’re incredibly easy to make and are the crunchiest pickles I’ve ever eaten! Fun Without FODMAPs is a blog mostly focused on low FODMAP recipes but has a number of delicious Paleo and Whole30 compliant recipes by a Monash University-trained dietitian.
Air Fryer French Fries by Good Noms, Honey!
Here’s another snack or side dish idea: Air Fryer French Fries. Contrary to popular belief, as long as you’re not using them to supplement a french fry addiction, air fried french fries are Whole30 compliant as well as are other air fried things (read this if you don’t believe me). They’re even better dipped in my Dairy-Free Homemade Ranch Dressing.
Low FODMAP Shrimp Fajitas by Fun Without FODMAPs
This Low FODMAP Shrimp Fajita recipe on Fun Without FODMAPs can be easily made Whole30 compliant by substituting a lettuce leaf for the corn tortilla or eating the fajita contents over greens in a bowl.
Instant Pot Whole Chicken One-Pot Meal by Good Noms, Honey!
One of my favourite things to make in the Instant Pot, this Instant Pot Whole Chicken One-Pot Meal includes a savoury, tender chicken, melt-in-your-mouth potatoes and green beans all cooked in one pot with the Instant Pot!
I will be adding more recipes to this list over time as I add them to the blog and try recipes by other bloggers, so check back often! Remember use the hashtags #LowFODMAPWhole30 and #GoodNomsHoney when posting your low FODMAP, Whole30 creations!