Eating Out In Italy

Going to Italy on holiday and living with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)? You may want to read this! Italy is the country where I grew up, and from time to time, I get to travel there to see my family and friends and visit places.

I love going on vacation to Italy and I wish that I could eat all the delicious Italian dishes I used to have when growing up there, but unfortunately, most of that food no longer agrees with me.

Generally, eating out at a restaurant is a real challenge for those like me, suffering from IBS, but eating out in Italy is even more challenging.

Italian food can trigger IBS

For the past 10 years, I have been mostly following a low FODMAP diet, even though I no longer need to be very strict with some of the food quantities, I still must admit that a lot of Italian food does not agree with my digestive system and I will end up paying later with not very pleasant IBS symptoms.

My Italian family understands that I need to be careful with certain food. Therefore, it is a lot easier when I eat meals at their house, as they usually adapt their usual recipes to accommodate my intolerances. Things are more challenging when traveling around, and I need to rely on restaurant food.

According to results from the 6th IBS In America survey, one-third of IBS sufferers complain that the various aspects of dining outside of the home are extremely difficult for them due to their IBS, and for a long time, I was one of them.

Italian cuisine is known for its high FODMAP ingredients such as pasta, onion, and garlic, and in this article, because of my experience with Italian food, I have tried to compile a few tips that may be useful for you too when traveling to Italy or anywhere where you are not able to prepare your food:

Research before you go

Do some research on Italian cuisine and familiarize yourself with low FODMAP options. Look for those dishes that are naturally low in FODMAPs, such as grilled fish and meat dishes, risotto, and polenta (cornmeal), but also gluten-free pasta and gluten-free bread are often safe.

Communicate with the staff

When eating out, it is important to ask the waiter if certain hidden ingredients are present in your food and communicate your dietary restrictions to the staff and ask for recommendations for low-FODMAP dishes. These days many Italian restaurants are willing to modify their dishes to meet your needs, so don't be afraid to ask.

Learn a few Italian words

Although in most touristic places, hospitality staff speaks English, it doesn’t hurt to learn a few important words and sentences.

For example, "senza aglio" means "without garlic," "senza cipolla" means "without onion," and "senza glutine" means " gluten-free."

Be mindful of portion sizes

Italian portions tend to be generous, so be mindful of the portion sizes and avoid overeating, as this can also trigger IBS symptoms.

Choose your accommodation wisely

If possible, look for accommodation that offers kitchen facilities, such as an apartment. This will allow you to prepare your own low-FODMAP meals and snacks.

Be prepared with handy snacks

It is always useful to keep some low-FODMAP snacks and foods with you when traveling, such as rice cakes, low-FODMAP granola bars, low-FODMAP protein bars, or low-FODMAP fruit. This will ensure that you have at least one snack in case you can't find any low FODMAP options at restaurants.

Plan

Remember, planning is key to finding low-FODMAP food while traveling to Italy. With a little bit of research and preparation, you can still enjoy delicious Italian cuisine while following your low FODMAP diet.

While traveling, as a rule for myself, I am trying as much as I can not to experiment with new food, and I stick to what I know is safe for me. Everyone's tolerance to FODMAPs is different, so it's essential to learn what your food triggers are.

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