We are here to revamp your lunch boxes! So many of you struggle to figure out work lunches and easy snack ideas, so our goal is to give you practical take-to-work low FODMAP lunch ideas to make life that little bit easier. This FODMAP chat session is hosted by Alana Scott, founder of A Little Bit Yummy and she is joined by Emily Clarke, research dietitian from the Monash University FODMAP team.
This article will cover the following:
- FODMAP Chat Session with Emily Clarke from the Monash University FODMAP team
- How to create a balanced lunch box
- Can you have leftovers from the night before for lunch the next day?
- Emily’s Go-To Ideas for Her Lunch Box
- Alana’s Go-To Ideas for Her Lunch Box
- Lunch Time Low FODMAP Takeaway Options
- Go To Low FODMAP Snack Ideas
- Tips for Managing Symptoms At Work
- Extra Resources
Watch The Video
Take To Work Lunch Ideas Chat Notes
Host: Alana Scott from A Little Bit Yummy
Monash University FODMAP Dietitian: Emily Clarke
We love talking about food and can’t wait to share some take-to-work low FODMAP lunch ideas! Let’s jump into the session.
What should you think about when creating a balanced lunchbox?
We like to use the healthy eating model, which means your lunchtime meal should have a balance of carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats and vegetables.
Low FODMAP carbohydrates could include rice, quinoa, rice noodles, gluten free pasta, potato, or low FODMAP bread.
Protein sources like beef, chicken/poultry, pork, lamb, seafood, and fish are all low FODMAP provided they haven’t been marinated or cooked in high FODMAP ingredients. If you use a vegetarian protein source like firm tofu or canned lentils/chickpeas, then make sure you use the low FODMAP serving size (you can find more information in the Monash University FODMAP Diet App).
Vegetables – aim to have a good variety and keep to the low FODMAP servings. Not only will this help you create a balanced plate, but it will also reduce FODMAP stacking.
Seasonings. Try adding some low FODMAP herbs and spices or a Monash FODMAP-certified sauce or dressing (you can find information on these in the Monash University FODMAP Diet App) to make the dish tasty.
Healthy fats include olive oil, low FODMAP nuts and seeds and fish like tuna, salmon and sardines.
High fibre and protein snacks that will help keep you feeling fuller for longer.
Can you have leftovers from the night before for lunch the next day?
Yes, this is one of the best things you can do. It’s convenient, saves meal prep time and is budget-friendly. Ensure you’ve good food handling, hygiene and storage so the meal stays safe. Using leftovers from the night before doesn’t cause any FODMAP stacking issues, so you don’t need to worry about that.
Soups, saucy stir-fries and casseroles are fantastic for freezing, so make extra at dinner time and use them for easy lunches.
Emily’s Go-To Ideas for Her Lunchbox
I love bulk cooking and freezing spaghetti bolognese. I grate some extra veggies into the sauce to boost the nutrition and fibre content. I also like making different salads and bulk them with quinoa or brown rice. One of my favourites is quinoa, rocket, roasted Japanese pumpkin with a drizzle of infused olive oil and some lemon juice. Just remember your lunches don’t have to be fancy or expensive – this option is easy, budget-friendly and can be made a couple of days in advance.
If I am time-poor, my go-to lunch option is an instant packet of plain rice, a can of tuna, and some frozen low FODMAP veggies. In five minutes, I can have an instant nutritious meal.
Alana’s Go-To Lunchbox Tips
Make a delicious sandwich using low FODMAP bread (e.g. spelt or wheat sourdough bread or a gluten free bread – check for high FODMAP ingredients). I like making a roast chicken/lamb/beef at the start of the week and using the leftovers to make meat and salad sandwiches for the next couple of days. I love to include shredded meat, mayonnaise, my favourite low FODMAP salad ingredients (think lettuce, a couple of slices of tomato, cucumber and fresh sprouts) and hard cheese in the sandwich.
Make your own egg wraps and fill those with your favourite low FODMAP fillings. These are created from eggs, a splash of low FODMAP milk and some gluten free all purpose flour and are great if you can’t find a low FODMAP wrap you enjoy from the grocery store. You could then make a creamy chicken wrap using shredded chicken, mayonnaise, spring onion leaves, a low FODMAP serving of chopped cranberries, and spinach OR make a veggie version using leftover roast veggies.
Pikelets are also really fun to pop into your lunchbox. These are like mini pancakes, and you can make them savoury or sweet. Try topping them with lactose free cream cheese, chives and smoked salmon or with strawberry jam and a small dollop of whipped cream (yes, whipped cream has a low FODMAP serving size). You can also make the pikelets in advance and freeze them.
Soup is a fantastic lunch option. You can bulk-cook it and pop it in the freezer for busy work weeks. If you don’t have access to a microwave at work, try heating it at home and popping it in a thermos so it stays warm until lunchtime. Low FODMAP soups we love include:
Pick-and-pack lunch box cheese board. This option is perfect for those of you who like to graze at work. In your lunchbox, put your choice of low FODMAP cheese, low FODMAP crackers/rice crackers/rice cakes, a serving of low FODMAP fruit, chopped low FODMAP veggies (think carrot sticks, cucumber sticks), and a homemade low FODMAP dip like hummus, 5 minute beetroot dip, or pumpkin dip. Check the Monash University FODMAP Diet app for suitable fruits, cheese, vegetables and crackers.
Low FODMAP Lunch Time Takeaway Options
If you are tight on time and don’t have time to pack lunch, then there are some low FODMAP takeaway options you can try:
Sushi is a lovely go-to option. Look for sushi made from rice, a protein source (e.g. fish, chicken), and low FODMAP vegetables. Sushi has small servings, so generally it is a relatively low FODMAP choice. Check the sushi rice hasn’t been made using high fructose corn syrup and avoid having too much wasabi.
Vietnamese or Asian Cuisine. These cuisines use a lot of rice or rice noodles in their cooking, so you know the base carbohydrate is low FODMAP. A lot of the Asian flavourings and sauces are also low FODMAP. Ask the vendor to take the onion and garlic out of the meal, then order a stir-fry or rice paper rolls.
Cafe-style lunch is also a good standby. We recommend eggs on toast. Ask for it to be on sourdough or gluten free bread, then add low FODMAP toppings (e.g. spinach, a couple of slices of avocado or tomato), and your eggs – whether you like them poached or fried, it’s going to be good.
Fried rice. It’s easy to get this made low FODMAP – ask for onion and garlic free, request low FODMAP vegetables (e.g. broccoli, carrots and green beans), and add your plain protein of choice.
Pub meals can be a good low FODMAP option too. Ask for plain grilled chicken or steak, a side of unseasoned potato, and get a green salad or steamed veggies. Ask for dressings on the side, so you can choose if you use them.
Go To Snack Ideas For your Lunch Box
These easy low FODMAP snack options require minimal effort and can help keep you feeling full between meals.
- Low FODMAP Fruit – think about what’s in season and if it will transport okay in your backpack.
- Low FODMAP granola/nut bars – there are lots of low FODMAP options in the Monash University FODMAP Diet App.
- Plain popcorn.
- Homemade trail mix using a combination of low FODMAP nuts and seeds, a small serving of pretzels and dark chocolate.
- Lactose free yoghurt or low FODMAP yoghurt if you have access to a fridge.
- Cheese and rice crackers.
- Low FODMAP baking – make a batch of muffins – check out the recipe area on monashfodmap.com or alittlebityummy.com.
- Make a veggie slice – try a cheesy zucchini and carrot slice or a zucchini and rice slice.
Tips For Managing Symptoms At Work
Experiencing symptoms at work can be really stressful and embarrassing. We suggest keeping some essentials in a drawer at work or in your bag to help manage symptoms:
- favourite low FODMAP herbal tea (provides comfort),
- a heat pack to help manage abdominal pain,
- enteric-coated peppermint capsules,
- antispasmodic medication,
- anti-diarrhoea medication.
Having these options readily available can help you cope and reduce symptoms while you are at work. Make sure you check with your doctor about what medications are suitable for you.
Other helpful strategies include taking a break and going for a walk and, if you feel comfortable, letting your colleagues know that you aren’t feeling well so they aren’t confused or can offer more support.
If you want to support the FODMAP work that Monash University is doing, then please download the Monash University FODMAP Diet App from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. The money you pay for the app goes straight back into low FODMAP research, so not only are you helping yourself, but you are also supporting your FODMAP community.
We’ve given you a range of take-to-work low FODMAP lunch ideas and some strategies for managing symptoms at work. Hopefully, these tips help make your work days a little easier.
Image credit: A Little Bit Yummy