Freelancer Journalist, UK

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Some people have a whole host of dietary requirements due to medical conditions, allergies and intolerances. But what if you were already restricted and then you wanted to go vegan? For people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) looking to switch to a plant-based diet, this is the case and it presents quite a challenge. People who have IBS are often recommended to follow a low FODMAP diet which means eliminating all things that fall under the FODMAP spectrum. Many people are concerned that if they follow a vegan low FODMAP diet there will be nothing left to eat!

What is IBS?

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IBS is a condition that affects your colon, otherwise known as the large intestine. Although the exact causes of IBS are unknown, it makes your intestinal muscles to contract and relax differently to normal and they can either be stronger and go on for longer or weaker, slowing down your food passage. This can cause a variety of symptoms including cramping, bloating and diarrhoea. Many people can control their IBS with changes to diet, like switching to low FODMAP, and keeping stress levels down however some people require medication.

What is a low FODMAP diet?

The recommended diet for IBS sufferers is a low FODMAP diet and means that they should avoid all FODMAP foods. FODMAP stands for

F: fermentable – foods that are poorly absorbed so stay in the digestive system and are ‘fermented’ by bacteria producing gas, bloating and distention
O: oligosaccharides – carbohydrates that are comprised of a small number of monosaccharides (types of sugar that cannot be broken down with water to create a simple sugar)
D: disaccharides – sugar that is comprised of two monosaccharides
M: monosaccharides – sugars that can’t be broken down with water to create a simple sugar
P: polyols – sugar free sweeteners

Because lactose is a disaccharide, dairy products are to be avoided completely on the FODMAP diet which might sound like a vegan’s dream but there are also many vegetables and legumes which can cause IBS to flare up. This includes soy beans, cauliflower, mushrooms, amongst others. In addition to this, many fruits are off limits to avoid aggravating IBS, and a lot of grains too. It might seem like there’s nothing left to eat.

Vegan and Low FODMAP Friendly Foods

Thankfully, this is not the case and there are plenty of vegan friendly whole foods that are low FODMAP friendly and won’t aggravate your IBS. We’ve put together a table of some examples, but you can find a more extensive list here.

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The protein section may seem a little small, but thankfully a lot of vegetables provide a great deal of protein as do nuts and seeds. If you are concerned about your intake of certain nutrients speak to your doctor and get advice on the best vegan vitamin supplements to take!

Vegan and Low FODMAP Meal Ideas

Now you know which foods you can and can’t eat, you might still be struggling for inspiration. The FODMAP friendly vegan has written an e-book with tons of advice and recipes, but here’s a few to get you started:

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Ultimately, going vegan and following a low FODMAP diet might take some getting used to as the world isn’t best prepared for either diet, let alone both together. However, it can be done! And even better you’re just going to have to make loads of batches of cakes and goodies to make sure that you can get them right!

Image credit: FODMAP Friendly Vegan

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