An IBS diet can feel restrictive enough without adding a whole other category of foods to the ‘do not eat’ list. But for committed vegans who have only recently found themselves stuck with this chronic condition; it may not seem like there’s any choice to it. Following an IBS friendly diet that’s also vegan is far from easy, but it may be possible.
Typical IBS Diet
An IBS diet is usually a diet restrictive of foods high in FODMAPs. FODMAPs are certain types of carbohydrates that are known for being difficult to digest and triggering or exacerbating IBS symptoms.
So, what makes this combination diet so challenging? Well, the typical IBS diet is high in animal products such as meat, eggs, poultry and fish. This is because they are (more or less) guaranteed not to contain any FODMAPs, due to not containing any carbs. This makes it easy to bulk up your meals as these foods are also pretty nutritious, filling and high in protein.
Plant-based usually means more IBS issues
IBS sufferers on plant-based diets are more likely to suffer IBS symptoms because many vegan staples are high in FODMAPs. Foods like pastries, wheat noodles, multigrain bread and dried pasta are suddenly off the table. There are also a lot of vegetables and fruits which should be avoided or limited on the IBS diet – restricting your diet even further.
It’s not all bad news though, gluten-free bread and fresh pasta are considered Low FODMAP-friendly, as are rice flour, buckwheat, quinoa, oats, polenta, and potatoes.
The question of protein
The next challenge is that of getting adequate protein in your diet. This is already a challenge for many vegans but adding the restriction of an IBS diet makes it all the more difficult. Protein is absolutely essential to good health and should never be skimped out on, so this part is vital to get right.
Since all animal products are out the window, we’re left with tofu, tempeh and small amounts of chickpeas and lentils for our low FODMAP diet. There are also several nuts, seeds and nut butters that can help bump up your protein intake – although they’ll be much higher in fat, so be sure not to over-do it!
You should also note that most soy products aren’t suitable for the IBS diet, so steer clear of snacks with soy protein crispies and the like. But pea proteins have been approved for those following a low FODMAP diet, so if you are struggling to get enough protein you can always get a boost from a protein shake.
Is a Vegan IBS Diet Possible?
It can be possible to follow a diet that’s both vegan and IBS friendly. But it will be challenging and feel restrictive. For the first few weeks, we recommend that you keep track of your macronutrients to make sure you’re getting enough protein (and fat!) while minimising your FODMAP intake. You can learn more about macronutrients in a recent super-blog we wrote – Macronutrients: Everything you need to know.