Low FODMAP Thanksgiving menu planning and recipes: How to navigate Thanksgiving while managing IBS symptoms

In search of low FODMAP Thanksgiving menu and recipe ideas? You are in the right place.

The stress of the season and the abundance of foods that are not exactly FODMAP-friendly can take some of the joy out of Thanksgiving and the holidays. 

As an intuitive eating dietitian specializing in IBS and plant-based nutrition, my goal is to help you navigate the holiday season without fearing your favorite foods.

Disclaimer: the content from this post and any part of this website (gozzinutrition.com) is not medical nutrition therapy. It is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not a substitute or replacement for medical care. If you are seeking individualized nutrition care, contact a dietitian or physician in your area.

What is the low FODMAP diet?

The low FODMAP diet is an elimination-style diet designed to limit foods that contain specific types of carbohydrates, known as FODMAPs, that are likely to trigger or worsen Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) symptoms. 

The low FODMAP diet is meant only for people who have been medically diagnosed with IBS by their doctors. It is best to navigate through the low FODMAP diet with the help of a registered dietitian

For a comprehensive overview of the low FODMAP diet, refer to my Vegan Low FODMAP Diet Guide (you don’t need to be vegan to use it as a resource). 

It is important to remember that individual tolerances for FODMAPs vary from person to person. The third phase of the diet is designed for you to know which FODMAP-containing foods you can tolerate. 

I highly recommend downloading the Low FODMAP Diet App from Monash University. Monash regularly tests the FODMAP content of foods and then classifies them according to a green-yellow-red system to indicate their FODMAP content.

The recommendations below emphasize foods that are determined to be low FODMAP by the team at Monash University.

Who is this low FODMAP Thanksgiving menu designed for?

This post is designed for people who need low FODMAP options around the holiday season (or any time of year). 

As you progress through the FODMAP protocol you will find that there may be high FODMAP foods that you can tolerate. 

You will discover which FODMAP group you are most sensitive to. The recipes and tips here assume that you are in Phase 1 or Phase 2 of the diet

High FODMAP foods to limit during Thanksgiving

As stated above, FODMAP tolerance varies and portion size matters. This is not an exhaustive list but rather foods that are not only commonly found on the Thanksgiving table, but also are known to be high FODMAP. 

Working with your registered dietitian, you should consider limiting these foods during the holiday season when flare-ups may be more likely to occur.

High FODMAP Vegetables and aromatics

  • Garlic
  • Onion and shallots
  • The whites of scallions and leeks
  • Mushrooms (except oyster mushrooms in 1 cup portions)
  • Beets
  • Brussel sprouts 
  • Butternut squash
  • Celery
  • Cauliflower
  • Peas

High FODMAP fruits 

  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Avocado
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Ripe banana
  • Blackberries
  • Cherries
  • Many dried fruits include dates, dried cranberries, currants and figs

High FODMAP proteins, grains, dairy products and seasonings

  • Legumes other than ¼ cup serving of canned lentils and chickpeas
  • Silken tofu
  • Wheat, barley and rye products
  • Lactose containing cow’s milk and some soy milks 
  • Garlic powder
  • Stocks and broths containing onion, garlic and other FODMAP-irritants 

Cooking tips for a happy low FODMAP Thanksgiving 

Now that you know what may trigger your symptoms, let’s talk about ways that you can enjoy your favorite foods this Thanksgiving and still manage your IBS. 

Simple low FODMAP swaps for garlic, onions and celery 

As frustrating as it is that garlic, onions and celery are not friendly to low FODMAP eaters (believe me, as an Italian-American, I sympathize), there are a few ways to add that flavor to your food:

Try using the green tops of scallions and leeks to impart flavor. I recommend adding the green tops of scallions at the end of cooking. 

Consider adding a pinch of asafoetida powder to your recipe. Also known as hing powder, this South Asian staple is a low FODMAP seasoning made from a root that has a similar flavor to garlic and onions. A little goes a long way! 

Try garlic infused oil. Colavita Roasted Garlic Extra Virgin Olive oil is a certified low FODMAP product that is popular with Amazon shoppers. 

Embrace the low FODMAP fruits and vegetables you can eat

While the list of vegetables and fruits that are off limits may seem daunting, there are a wide variety of fruits and vegetables that you can eat that are perfect for your Thanksgiving spread. 

If you are a fan of cruciferous vegetables like me, you can swap cauliflower and brussel sprouts for:

  • Broccoli florets (¾ cup) 
  • Cabbage (red, green, napa) (¾ cup) 
  • Kohlrabi (½ cup) 
  • Greens like swiss chard (1 cup) or collard greens (1 cup)

It is a bummer that butternut squash is off the table, but consider the other squash you can eat:

  • Kabocha (sometimes called Japanese pumpkin) in a ⅔ cup portion
  • ½ spaghetti squash
  • Up to ⅓ cup of canned pumpkin (pumpkin soup anyone?)

There are several festive low FODMAP root vegetables perfect for Thanksgiving-either roasting or mashing. 

  • Celery root, also called celeriac (¼ cup)
  • Carrots (1 medium, about ½ cup)
  • Cassava (½ cup)
  • Jicama (½ cup)
  • Parsnip (1 medium, about ½ cup)
  • Rutabaga (1 cup)
  • Taro root (½ cup)
  • Turnip (½ cup)

Apples and dried cranberries are typical Thanksgiving and fall-themed foods. The good news is that fresh cranberries (½ cup) are a low FODMAP food. Orange, pineapple, and kiwi are great fruits to add instead. 

Go gluten-free with low FODMAP grain products

Gluten is not a FODMAP. In fact, it is a protein, not a carbohydrate, found in certain grains. 

We suggest gluten free products for low FODMAP eaters because gluten-containing grains like wheat, barley and rye contain a FODMAP called fructan. However, just because a grain is gluten free does not automatically mean it is low FODMAP. 

It’s always best to read the packaging of bread to look for any other high FODMAP foods (like honey, garlic powder and added fibers like chicory root and inulin for example). Monash has a list of approved FODMAP friendly bread brands. 

Some people are able to tolerate sourdough wheat bread. Regardless of gluten-free or not, you will learn what types, which brand and how much bread you can tolerate as you progress through the phases of the low FODMAP diet. 

Here are some tips for adding grains into your Thanksgiving spread while minimizing the risk for an IBS flare up.

Find a go-to gluten free stuffing (recipe or pre-packaged) and dinner rolls. Opt for a rice or millet based stuffing. 

Consider a warm grain salad as a sophisticated and delicious Thanksgiving side dish. Here are some examples of gluten free, low FODMAP grains perfect for salads and stuffings:

  • Buckwheat (¾ cup cooked)
  • Corn, canned kernels only (1 cup)
  • Gluten-free couscous (½ cup cooked)
  • Hominy, canned and drained (½ cup)
  • Millet (1 cup cooked)
  • Oats and oatmeal, certified gluten free (½ cup uncooked)
  • Quinoa (1 cup cooked)
  • Polenta (1 cup cooked)
  • Rice (including arborio, brown, basmati, glutinous, red and white–serving size varies. Check Monash App)

Add flavor in low FODMAP ways to your Thanksgiving menu

Fortunately, there are many low FODMAP seasoning options available to flavor up your Thanksgiving meal. 

Consider adding fresh and dried herbs and spices to your food to boost flavor. Many herbs and spices are low FODMAP. Some especially seasonal low FODMAP seasoning options include:

  • Thyme
  • Sage
  • Parsley
  • Cilantro
  • Cinnamon
  • Cardamom

Other FODMAP friendly flavor boosters include:

  • Citrus juice and zest
  • Lactose free dairy products
  • Butter
  • Many cheeses even if they are not explicitly lactose free are considered low FODMAP
  • Nuts and seeds are a great way to add texture and flavor
  • Some jams and marmalades are low FODMAP in the appropriate portions. 

Leverage FODMAP friendly packaged products. 

In the United States, between 25 and 45 million people suffer from IBS. This means that there is a significant market for packaged foods that meet the low FODMAP protocol. 

Monash University offers a certification program for brands that specialize in low FODMAP products. FODY and Smoke ‘n Sanity are great examples. 

Low FODMAP Thanksgiving Main Dish Ideas

Below is a round up of Thanksgiving recipes and meal ideas suitable for a low FODMAP diet. I’ve curated them from sources I trust around the internet. 

The FODMAP protocol is best navigated with a registered dietitian. These are just suggestions and meant to give you inspiration, not medical advice. Remember that portion size matters. 

Citrus & Herb Crisp Whole Roast Low FODMAP Turkey from the FODY blog

Turkey is a nutritious low FODMAP protein. Turkey is rich in B-vitamins like niacin (B3), vitamin B6 and vitamin B12. B vitamins serve a variety of functions in the body including supporting healthy metabolism.

Easy Roast Turkey from E.A Stewart at Spicy RD Nutrition

I love this roast turkey recipe from fellow dietitian E.A Stewart. It uses low FODMAP seasoning and breaks down what can feel intimidating!

If you are a fan of gravy with your turkey, then try this Low FODMAP gravy recipe from Rachel Pauls Foods. 

Spaghetti Squash Enchiladas from Tara Rochford Nutrition 

Spaghetti squash makes a tasty, gluten-free and low FODMAP vessel for all types of fillings. If turkey is too much of a commitment this Thanksgiving, why not try chicken? The enchilada sauce is available from FODY Foods

Low FODMAP Mushroom Wellington from The FODMAP Formula 

Did you know that mushrooms are one of the only plant based foods with vitamin D, an immune supporting nutrient? I love that this recipe pairs FODMAP friendly oyster mushrooms with hazelnuts, fresh herbs and goat cheese.

Lighter Low FODMAP Eggplant Parmesan from FODMAP Everyday

Eggplants are a low FODMAP food that make a great vegetarian entree due to their meatiness and versatility. This recipe not only makes a great main dish for your vegetarian guests, but also a side option for your meat-eater. 

Low FODMAP Thanksgiving side dish ideas

Low FODMAP Potato and Pumpkin Gratin from My Gut Feeling

I think this is a colorful and nutrient rich side dish that shows that you do not have to compromise on flavor when you are following the low FODMAP protocol. Many grocery stores now carry kabocha squash, or Japanese pumpkin.

Low FODMAP Parmesan and Thyme Roasted Parsnips from Monash FODMAP 

Parsnips are so underrated. This is unfortunate because these low FODMAP root vegetables are a good source of dietary fiber and vitamin C. I love the extra crunch that the polenta offers in this recipe. 

Low FODMAP Green Bean Casserole from A Little Bit Yummy

This is such a nostalgic favorite from the American Thanksgiving table. I love the ingenuity of the team from A Little Bit Yummy to remake this low-FODMAP-style. Green beans offer dietary fiber and are abundant with vitamins A,C and K. 

Low FODMAP Maple Dijon Carrots from Fun Without FODMAPs

To me, Thanksgiving is not complete without carrots. I love dipping them in my mashed potatoes with a bite of turkey. Using maple syrup instead of honey is a really smart way to keep this recipe in the low FODMAP zone. 

Low FODMAP Cornbread from Monash

This cornbread is a great gluten free option for Thanksgiving. I love making it in the cast iron skillet for a rustic twist. 

Low FODMAP Cranberry Almond Quinoa Salad from Fun Without FODMAPs

I think this is such an elevated grain-based side dish for Thanksgiving. I also love that the creator used a small amount of dried cranberries–just enough to get the flavor but stay in the low FODMAP parameters. 

Creamy Low FODMAP Pumpkin Soup from A Little Bit Yummy

What a classic and color-packed side dish for your Thanksgiving table. For extra flare, top with something crunchy like toasted pepitas or croutons made with low FODMAP bread. 

Low-FODMAP Spinach Salad with Cranberries & Pumpkin Seeds & Low-FODMAP Maple Dijon Vinaigrette from Rachel Pauls Foods

There are a lot of salad greens, like spinach, that are low FODMAP. So don’t forget your salad this Thanksgiving. The recipe calls for a small amount of dried cranberries allowing you to use portion size to stay within the parameters. Simply omit if not well-tolerated. 

Spiced Citrus Cranberry Sauce from FODMAP Everyday

Simple with a twist from the orange and cinnamon, this low FODMAP cranberry sauce is perfect for your Thanksgiving spread. 

Festive Thanksgiving or Christmas stuffing from Monash

Being low FODMAP does not mean that you need to skip the stuffing. This is a classic stuffing recipe that can be modified with different flavors. Skip the ground turkey and use vegetable stock to make vegetarian. 

Easy Sprouted Rice Salad with Pomegranate, Feta, Pine Nuts and Fresh Herbs from E.A Stewart at Spicy RD Nutrition

This grain salad is a stunning addition to the table. I love the idea of using red jasmine rice! Remember that pomegranate arils are low FODMAP at 45 grams or less.

Low FODMAP dessert and alcohol-free beverage

Low FODMAP Pumpkin Pie from Monash

I love pumpkin pie! And I’m so happy to see recipes designed for low FODMAP eaters. Enjoy whipped cream on your pie? Try some dairy free options. 

Low FODMAP Blood Orange Ginger Mint Spritzer from FODMAP Everyday

I think it is important to have a non-alcoholic option for your guests that is not soda. Nothing against soda, but people who choose not to drink alcohol deserve a delicious option too! I love the festive touch this beverage adds to the holiday table. 

Sparkling Cranberry Vodka with Lime from Gut Health and Nutrition

A festive and sparkling way to add an adult beverage into the mix this Thanksgiving and holiday season. Make it mocktail by omitting the vodka and adding a splash more lime sparkling water.

Gluten-free, dairy-free orange cake from Plant-Based with Amy

This cake would make a great option for Thanksgiving morning. Or, packaged up as gifts for your guests to take home. Add some sliced oranges on the top or even some fresh cranberries for extra flare.

How to manage stress during Thanksgiving for reduced IBS flare-ups

Move your body: exercise can help boost your mood and lower your stress level. Find exercise that you enjoy and try to keep up your routine over the holiday season if you can. Of course, don’t beat yourself up if you miss workouts–try your best. 

Stay hydrated: you may find that you are drinking less water because you are traveling or busy preparing food for hungry guests. Keep your water bottle around and aim to drink unsweetened beverages. The best indication of hydration is pale yellow or clear urine. 

Focus on gratitude: sometimes focusing on sharing kindness with others can give us a sense of purpose beyond ourselves. This looks different for everyone. Maybe it means praying or volunteering or journaling. 

Set boundaries: I know it can be hard to set boundaries around the holidays–especially if you have a lot of family members to see. Remember it is ok to say no. Also check yourself: are you putting unreasonable pressure on family members to spend time together around the holidays?

Don’t skip meals: are you skipping meals because you are too busy to stop and eat a balanced meal? Or are you skipping meals because you are “saving” calories? Either way, skipping meals will contribute to overeating and not make you feel good in the long run.

Ignore the food police: everyone has an opinion about what other people should or should not be eating. “Should you be eating that?” “Make sure you clean your plate.” Working with your dietitian, you can learn to tune out these messages and eat intuitively. 

Final thoughts on low FODMAP Thanksgiving

You can still enjoy traditional Thanksgiving foods while living IBS. Focus on incorporating low FODMAP foods into your holiday plate. 

Remember to download the Monash App and work with a local dietitian to navigate your specific needs.

Managing stress can go a long way when managing IBS symptoms over the holiday season. 

Thanks for Sharing!

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