No fast food taco restaurant is better known than Taco Bell®. With their late-night hours, and extensive menu of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and “fourth meal” offerings, Taco Bell® is a hit for those in a hurry at meal time. However, it is not so easy for those on a low FODMAP regimen to grab a burrito to go since many ingredients at this restaurant could cause serious digestive distress. Therefore, here is a quick guide to what you can eat safely on a low FODMAP diet at Taco Bell®.
Limited protein options
Many of the proteins at Taco Bell® contain high FODMAP ingredients. The Fire Grilled Chicken contains garlic powder, the grilled steak and shredded chicken contains onion and garlic powder, the seasoned beef contains wheat and onion powder, while the sausage and sausage crumbles contain “spices” that may contain onion and garlic powder. The only safe meat on a low FODMAP diet is a regional item called May’s Kalua Pork, which may not be available at all locations. Therefore, for protein, stick to bacon, egg, and cheese at Taco Bell®.
Stick to corn tortillas
Since the flour tortillas contain wheat flour, the flatbread contains wheat flour and milk, and the chalupa shells contain wheat and barley flour, these shell options are off limits. Also, the Fritos® chips contain wheat flour, onion powder, garlic powder, and buttermilk solids, so this chip is not low FODMAP safe. Therefore, stick to corn-based shell options. The taco shell, nacho chips, and tostada shell are all low FODMAP safe options at Taco Bell®.
Stay fresh with veggies
When it comes to sides with your meal, beans are an automatic no-no on a low FODMAP diet. Not only are beans high FODMAP to begin with, but the black beans at Taco Bell® also contain onion and garlic powder, which is off limits on a low FODMAP regimen. You may think the chili is safe since it is just meat and tomatoes for the most part, but this option at Taco Bell® contains wheat flour, dried onion, and garlic powder, which makes it a high FODMAP option. Also, although potato bites may seem ok, they contain wheat flour as well as garlic and onion powder. Finally, the seasoned rice contains garlic and onion powder, as well as actual onion, so this is not low FODMAP safe.
Therefore, keep toppings fresh and simple to stay low FODMAP. Cheddar cheese, three cheese blend, red strips, cilantro, hash brown potato (different from potato bites), Romaine and iceberg lettuce, jalapeño peppers, and tomatoes are all low FODMAP safe options for Taco Bell® toppings.
Keep sauces simple
Unfortunately, all the sauces and salsas at Taco Bell® contain ingredients such onion, garlic (in powder or concentrate form), and wheat, which are all high FODMAP. Also, the spicy ranch sauce contains buttermilk, sour cream, as well as garlic and onion powder. Furthermore, the guacamole contains high FODMAP avocado and onion, the Mexican pizza sauce contains garlic and onion powder, and the nacho cheese sauce contains nonfat milk. Therefore, stick to simple hot sauces such as Tabasco® sauce which contains only peppers, vinegar, and sauce. And say no to Sriracha sauce, since it contains garlic.
Stay natural with your drink
The safest drink choices at Taco Bell® are water, coffee (plain), and Tropicana® orange juice. Sobe Lifewater® Yumberry Pomegranate 0 calorie drink is also a safe option as well as Brisk® No Calorie Green Tea options. Many of the drink choices are carbonated and/or contain high fructose corn syrup. Frozen beverage options contain pear and apple juice concentrates, which are high FODMAP. Also, Gatorade® G2 contains high fructose corn syrup, other tea options contain high fructose corn syrup and stronger tea concentrates which are not low FODMAP safe, and lemonades contain high fructose corn syrup.
So, what do I order?
- Pick your protein: safe choices are egg, bacon, and cheese, or the regional pork choice if you have it in your area.
- Choose your shell: taco shells, the tostada shell, or nacho chips are safe options. You can also choose a bowl with lettuce as your base if you want to avoid starch.
- Select your toppings: fresh options such as lettuce, tomatoes, and jalapeño peppers are safe as well as cheddar or three cheese blend, red strips, cilantro, and hash brown potato.
- Pick a drink: stick to water, coffee, orange juice, or one of the no-calorie safe drink choices for your beverage to be safe.
Disclaimer: Menu options may vary according to your local area.
Written by Staci Gulbin, MS, RD a Board-certified dietitian.