20 Low FODMAP Plant-Based Snack Ideas | Plant Nutrition Wellness
August 23, 2022
If you’ve been diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) you have likely come across the low FODMAP diet. Making these dietary changes can be overwhelming, especially when it comes to low FODMAP plant-based snack ideas. Snacks are essential to keep your energy levels stable throughout the day and provide an opportunity to boost your nutrition.
Let’s go through what the low FODMAP diet is, how an IBS or gut health dietitian can help, and 20 low FODMAP plant-based snack ideas suitable for people following a vegan, vegetarian or flexitarian diet.
What is the low FODMAP diet?
‘FODMAP’ is an acronym that stands for: Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, And Polyols. These are types of carbohydrates (sugars) that are poorly digested by the body.
FODMAPs can trigger symptoms in people with IBS in a couple of ways:
- FODMAPs attract extra water into the intestines.
- Gut bacteria rapidly ferment FODMAPs, producing gas as a result
For people with IBS, the extra water and gas causes the intestinal wall to stretch. This can lead to common IBS symptoms including pain, flatulence, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation.
FODMAPs are found naturally in a range of foods including fruit, vegetables, grains, legumes and nuts. Foods vary in the types and amounts of FODMAPs they contain. How much of these foods you can tolerate is different for everyone, which is why it is often recommended by your doctor or dietitian to try a low FODMAP diet.
How does the low FODMAP diet work?
Researchers at Monash University developed the low FODMAP diet to help relieve IBS symptoms . The diet starts by restricting FODMAPs that aggravate IBS symptoms for approximately 2-6 weeks. Next, certain foods are tested in the ‘challenge’ phase. This is followed by a longer-term ‘personalised phase which reintroduces all foods that are tolerated .
Stages of the low FODMAP diet
- Phase 1 – Elimination: The first phase involves eliminating all high FODMAP foods from your diet for approximately 2-6 weeks to get your IBS symptoms under control.
- Phase 2 – Re-introduction: Once your symptoms are stable, the second phase involves re-introducing each type of FODMAP one by one back into your diet. During this process, you will monitor which FODMAPs trigger symptoms.
- Phase 3 – Personalisation: By keeping a food and symptom record in phase two, you will be able to identify which FODMAPs you can tolerate and which trigger your symptoms. Using this information, you can find a balance between reintroducing tolerated high FODMAP foods and avoiding or limiting the foods you don’t tolerate.
How effective is the low FODMAP diet?
Research has proven that a low FODMAP diet helps with overall IBS symptoms, symptom severity and quality of life for 50-86% of people living with IBS . However, due to the restrictive nature of the diet, it comes with risks of nutrient deficiencies if not followed correctly.
This is why it is recommended to trial a low FODMAP diet under the guidance of an IBS dietitian or gut health dietician. The PNW Clinic team of online dietitians are experts in Irritable Bowel Syndrome management and the low FODMAP diet. They can help provide you with individualised nutrition advice, meal ideas and low FODMAP plant-based snack ideas tailored to your nutrition needs.
What are the key nutrients at risk on a low FODMAP plant-based diet?
If you are vegan or plant-based and also following the low FODMAP diet, it is important to ensure you are meeting all your nutrient needs. This is important as over-restriction may compromise the intake of nutrients such as B vitamins, calcium and dietary fibre.
Vegan protein alternatives are also commonly high in FODMAPs. Restricting these foods may affect your ability to consume key nutrients such as vitamin B12, iron, zinc, and protein. We recommend consulting with one of our vegan nutritionists to ensure you’re meeting your dietary needs while managing IBS.
You can read our article about nutritional considerations for vegans following a low FODMAP diet here. We also have an article on nutrition for IBS on a plant-based diet.
When is it appropriate to follow a low FODMAP diet?
The low FODMAP diet should only be followed if you have been diagnosed with IBS.
Symptoms of IBS such as abdominal pain, bloating, altered bowel habits like diarrhoea and constipation, and nausea can overlap with other serious chronic diseases. It is important to receive a proper diagnosis and rule out other diseases before trialling the low FODMAP diet.
The diet is also restrictive and excludes many healthy plant-based foods. This limits the number of different types of plant-based foods you can include in your diet. Plant diversity has been shown to improve the gut microbiome and overall health.
This type of restrictive diet may also not be appropriate for some people who are suffering from a past or present eating disorder. There are other non-diet therapies you can try such as gut-directed hypnotherapy that may be more suitable and effective.
Other non-diet strategies to help with IBS
A low FODMAP diet may not improve symptoms in all people with IBS. You may wish to include other strategies such as:
- Stress Management: There is increasing research to show that stress and overall mood have implications on gut symptoms. This is due to the two-way flow of information between the brain and gastrointestinal tract, also known as the ‘gut-brain axis’. Using stress management techniques is important when you are trying to improve your symptoms. Strong evidence supports the use of gut-directed hypnotherapy in people with IBS which has been shown to improve IBS symptoms in 70% of people who trailed hypnotherapy .
- Sleep: Having disturbed sleep is common amongst people with IBS and is associated with worsening symptoms. It is important to prioritise 7-9 hours of quality sleep daily. If disturbed sleep is a re-occurring issue, you could discuss with your medical doctor if trialling melatonin (a sleep hormone) or any medications may be appropriate.
- Regular Movement: Implementing light to moderate movement daily can have positive effects on your gut health. Physically inactive people are more likely to experience constipation. Regular light to moderate exercise can help to keep things moving through your gut, promoting regular bowel movements and less bloating.
- Water Intake: Making sure your drink enough water is important for proper gut function. Increasing how much water you drink helps to soften stools and encourage regular bowel movements which can help relieve constipation. Diarrhoea results in dehydration, so it is important to drink plenty of water to replace the lost fluid.
- Regular Eating: Eating smaller meals frequently throughout the day may be tolerated better than three large meals. We recommend including at least 2-3 snacks per day and have listed 20 low FODMAP plant-based snack ideas below.
- Be Mindful of Potential Trigger Foods: Some foods have the potential to aggravate symptoms of IBS. For example, spicy foods, alcohol, caffeine and very high-fat foods may impact the severity of diarrhoea, bloating and gut discomfort. Reducing these foods may help with symptom severity.
Try these 20 Low Fodmap Plant-Based Snack Ideas
Sweet low FODMAP vegan snacks
- A serve of low FODMAP fruit such as 2 kiwi fruit
- A fruit smoothie using soy milk made with soy protein and not whole soy beans (such as So Good by Sanitarium), strawberries, and chia seeds
- Fodbods bars
- Carman’s certified low FODMAP muesli bar
- Kez’s Kitchen Gluten Free Chocolate Cream Princetons
- Kez’s Kitchen Gluten Free Choc Golden Snaps
- Fodmapped Oven Baked Bars
- Carman’s certified low FODMAP muesli with coconut yoghurt
- Gluten-free weet-bix with Sanitarium So Good soy milk and/or coconut yoghurt
- Chia pudding made with Sanitarium So Good soy milk, maple syrup and strawberries
Savoury low FODMAP vegan snacks
- ¼ cup of mixed nuts
- ¼ cup of seeds (pumpkin or sunflower)
- Edamame beans
- Home-made hummus using garlic-infused oil instead of garlic to add flavour (1/4 cup of chickpeas is low FODMAP)
- Corn cruskits with various toppings e.g. hummus & cucumber
- Corn thins & rice cakes with a scraping of avocado
- Cucumber & carrot sticks
- Roasted Kent Pumpkin soup
- Bakers Delight Wholegrain LowFOD bread with vegemite & 2 slices of plant-based cheese
Having a list of low FODMAP plant-based snack ideas can help with meeting your nutritional needs when following a vegan, vegetarian or plant-focused diet.
For specialised advice, our online dietitians and vegan nutritionists at The PNW Clinic can provide you with an individualised nutrition plan and recipes to help support you on your journey to resolving uncomfortable digestive symptoms.
Article written by: student dietitian Shauna Gibbons
Reviewed by: PNW Clinic dietitian Megan Boswell