Fast food can be a quick and convenient food choice. This is not always the case if you have IBS, as common fast food ingredients may trigger your symptoms.
In this article, we will discuss how fast food can trigger IBS symptoms and how to prevent this. We will also share some delicious recipes that can be prepared at home.
WHY MIGHT FAST FOOD TRIGGER IBS SYMPTOMS?
There are two main reasons why fast food might trigger IBS symptoms.
Fat content of some typical fast food items:
- Big King from Burger King: 30g
- Pizza Margherita from Pizza Hut (whole, medium size): 48g
- Chicken Sandwich from Burger King: 39g
Fast food might trigger IBS symptoms due to the FODMAP content (7).
Sometimes FODMAPs can be hidden in so-called “natural flavours”, which can contain high FODMAP ingredients, such as garlic.
Common high FODMAP ingredients in fast food:
- Onion/onion powder
- Garlic/garlic powder
- High fructose corn syrup
HOW TO FIND IBS FRIENDLY FAST FOOD
Finding IBS friendly fast food can be challenging, but it is not impossible.
We will share some useful tips to follow, so you can enjoy fast food with fewer or no IBS symptoms at all.
CHECK THE INGREDIENTS LIST
Menu ingredients lists can be hard to study in a busy fast-food restaurant, as they might not be readily available.
We suggest visiting the restaurant’s website in advance. You can then check the menu and search for the ingredients list to detect FODMAPs.
Checking the ingredients of seasoning is equally important. For example, french fries are made from potatoes fried in oil, so the dish is low FODMAP. However, common added ingredients include:
- Wheat: although quantities are usually small, and therefore still low FODMAP
- Onion and garlic for seasoning
CHECK YOUR CONDIMENTS
When ordering your meal, pay attention to the condiments as well. As always, check the ingredient list if there has been any high FODMAP ingredient added (e.g. garlic).
Suitable low FODMAP options that have been tested by Monash:
- Mayonnaise, which was tested low FODMAP at 40 g (4)
Remember to check the Monash app for low FODMAP serving sizes.
CHOICE OF DRINK
Fizzy drinks such as cola or lemonade may trigger symptoms due to carbon dioxide. In IBS, this can result in a build up of gas in the gut, which can result in bloating or pain if you are sensitive.
If this is the case for you, try choosing low FODMAP fruit juice or water.
When drinking juice, limit its intake to 150 ml a day, which is a general recommendation for a healthy diet (3).
Tested low FODMAP juices are (4):
- Grape juice
- Pineapple juice
- Orange juice
- Cranberry juice
RECIPES FOR LOW FODMAP FAST FOOD
Research shows that patients with IBS often avoid eating with others outside the family (5). The above tips will hopefully help you to choose fast food options in restaurants.
However, we know that the comfort of your own home can help reduce anxieties. We searched for a few low FODMAP fast-food style recipes that can be made at home:
- Low FODMAP Pizza
- Polenta Pizza Bites
- KFC Style Chicken
- Chicken Tenders
- California Burger
- Low FODMAP Burgers
- Baked French Fries
- Teriyaki Chicken Fried Rice
- Hummus Wrap
- Low FODMAP Tacos
Fast food can be enjoyed by people with IBS. Depending on your tolerance, you should be aware of the fat and FODMAP content.
Use our tips to learn how to choose IBS and fodmap friendly food and drinks at your favourite fast food restaurants. Or, you can try the low FODMAP fast food recipes that have been linked in this post.
Written by Barbara Lešnik, Student Dietitian and edited by Bethany Willson Specialist Surgical Dietitian
Beth is UK HCPC Registered Dietitian who specialises in gastrointestinal surgery. Beth graduated from University of Surrey in 2020 with a degree in Nutrition and Dietetics.
Last updated on May 16th, 2022 at 10:08 am