You probably already know that the Mediterranean diet is a healthy way to eat. In fact, this study ranked the Mediterranean diet as the most likely diet to protect against heart disease.
If you have IBS and follow a low FODMAP diet, you may be thinking that you can’t follow a Mediterranean diet as well, but with a few simple strategies it’s possible, and even easy, to give your low FODMAP diet a Mediterranean flair.
Since not all Mediterranean countries eat the same things, there is no one “right” way to follow it. Instead focus on including lots of healthy fats, fruits, vegetables, legumes and a wide of variety of foods is a great place to start.
Use extra virgin olive oil as the main fat for cooking, dressings and baking. Extra virgin olive oil is primarily monounsaturated fat and high in antioxidants. It has been shown to be protect against chronic disease including heart disease, cancers, and diabetes.
If you are following a low FODMAP diet, you will have worked out that onion and garlic are a big no go. However, the FODMAPs in onion and garlic are not oil soluble. This means that you can infuse extra virgin olive oil with onion and garlic and get some flavour back without pushing your FODMAP limits.
Fruits, vegetables and legumes
You really want these foods to make up the majority of your diet. One of the key elements of the Mediterranean diet is eating a plant based foods. In 2014 this review looked at the relationship between diet and chronic disease risks. The researchers studied a total of 304 meta-analyses and systematic reviews published over the last 63 years. The stand out finding of this review was that plant-based foods are protective against diet related chronic diseases, including diabetes and heart disease when compared to animal-based food.
Tips for a low FODMAP diet:
- Embrace plenty of colourful low FODMAP vegetables including carrots, tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce, tomato, eggplant & capsicum just to name a few.
- Munch on two pieces of low FODMAP fruit each day. Strawberries, blueberries, bananas, and oranges are great choices.
- Swap some of the meat in main meals for canned legumes. The FODMAPs in legumes are water soluble, so they leach into the canning liquid. By draining and rinsing them you effectively wash a large portion of the FODMAPs away. Up to ½ a cup of canned lentils and ¼ cup of canned chickpeas or butter beans are considered low FODMAP.
A key aspect of the Mediterranean diet is the amount of variety. We have five food groups, each of which provides different types of nutrients. For example fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins and minerals, grains provide us with energy through the day and fibre for healthy bowel function, while legumes and animal products have protein which is important for preserving muscle and strength as well as hormone and enzyme reactions.
Although the low FODMAP diet limits options within food groups, it doesn’t completely remove any food group. This means that you can provide your body with all of the nutrients it needs every day.
My rule of thumb to ensure variety, is to aim for at least three different food groups in a main meal and at least two food groups in a snack.
The Mediterranean diet varies by region and has a range of definitions, but is largely based on vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, cereal grains, olive oil and fish. By including a large variety of low FODMAP foods, and extra virgin olive oil each day, you can reap the benefits, enjoy your food and manage your IBS at the same time.
Check out Joanna’s recipe: Low FODMAP Mediterranean Fish with Veggies