Although a low FODMAP lifestyle can be difficult at times, that does not mean that it has to lack flavor or taste. In particular, if you are craving that pizza or pasta dish, you do not have to do without. Just a little creativity and some help from delicious low FODMAP products can help you enjoy Italian fare while sticking to your eating regimen. Follow the tips below to help you enjoy eating Italian food at home or on the go while staying within a low FODMAP lifestyle.
Low FODMAP Italian Food Guidelines
When eating on a low FODMAP friendly regimen, it is important to watch every ingredient, even sauces, very carefully for high FODMAP ingredients. With Italian food, it is best to stick to the basics such as the following:
- Simple salads made from ingredients such as lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, bell pepper, kale, tomato, cucumber, baby spinach, and olives.
- Simple side dishes such as green beans, okra, radish, carrots, kale, or roasted zucchini or squash.
- Go gluten-free: Instead of pasta, choose a gluten-free pasta alternative if available, or opt for a low FODMAP-friendly grain option such as quinoa, rice, or rice noodles. You could also choose spaghetti squash instead of spaghetti or create your own "zoodles," or zucchini noodles made from spiralizing fresh zucchini, boiling for 4-5 minutes, then sauteing with a bit of butter and fresh herbs. For lasagna, use thinly sliced eggplant instead of noodles. Finally, for pizza, ask about the availability of a gluten-free crust.
- No batter, please: Make sure meats and proteins are not breaded or battered to avoid any wheat or gluten-containing ingredients. Stick to grilled, baked, broiled, or steamed proteins.
- Watch the dairy: Avoid sour cream, cream cheese, and ricotta cheese in your dishes. Stick to safe, low lactose dairy products such as butter, margarine, or cheeses such as cheddar, swiss, mozzarella, or parmesan.
- See through your soup: When looking at soups, choose bouillon-based soups and make sure they do not contain any dairy such as cream or milk. Instead, you can thicken soups with corn starch, coconut milk, or simply with pureed vegetables such as potato or carrots, which are low FODMAP friendly.
- Check your condiments: Make sure sauces or condiments do not contain garlic, onion, or high fructose corn syrup. With salad dressings, you can use Casa de Sante’s Low FODMAP salad dressings. For marinara, you can either make it homemade to ensure control over the ingredients that are put in it, or you can try low FODMAP friendly marinara sauces such as Nellino's or Rao's sauces which can be purchased on the Casa de Sante website.
- Stick to dairy-free desserts: Instead of reaching for the cannoli or tiramisu, stick to dairy-free desserts such as sorbet made with frozen berries or fruit salad containing honeydew, cantaloupe, and pineapple. If you are craving ice cream, choose a dairy-free option such as almond or soy milk based ice cream or frozen yogurt made from coconut milk.
- Watch what you drink: It can be traditional to have a glass of wine with your Italian dish, but be sure to limit consumption to no more than 5 ounces wine or 12 ounces of beer each day to stay low FODMAP friendly. Also, when drinking with dessert, stick to black coffee with or without no more than 8 ounces of lactose-free milk or plant-based milk such as almond or cashew milk. If you want to limit caffeine, then just opt for teas such as white, green, black, or chai teas. Limit fizzy drinks to colas that are either sugar-free or are sweetened with something other than high fructose corn syrup. It is important to remember though that carbonated beverages can be irritants to the gut. Therefore, consumption of these types of drinks should be limited.
Low FODMAP Italian Food Final Notes
The most important thing to do when eating Italian food on a low FODMAP regimen is to watch out for gluten, dairy, and spices such as garlic and onion. It may be time-consuming at first, but once you have been on the low FODMAP lifestyle for a while, you will realize that eating low FODMAP can still be delicious and making the safest choices will become like second nature.
Written by Staci Gulbin, MS, RD a Board-certified dietitian.