Alcohol & The Low FODMAP Diet
Everyone likes to have an occasional alcoholic drink and you don’t need to miss out just because you are on the low FODMAP diet. There are multiple low FODMAP alcohol options to choose from, however you will need to be smart about your drinking to avoid gastrointestinal issues.
It is important to understand that alcohol is a gut irritant, which means even if you choose a low FODMAP drink it could be an IBS trigger (1 2). Alcohol can cause your stomach to produce more acid than usual, which can cause gastritis, stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhoea (4).
5 Tips for Enjoyable Drinking
- Don’t drink on an empty stomach. I know that many people think ‘eating is cheating’ when it comes to drinking. However when you have gastrointestinal issues, drinking on an empty stomach is never a good idea. Have a decent meal before you have a drink.
- Drink in moderation. I know this can be really hard to do but your body will thank you for it. The National Health Service (NHS) in the UK recommend limiting your drinking to two standard drinks at a time (1 3).
- Alternate your drinks with water. Drink water in between your alcoholic beverages to help reduce how much alcohol you consume. My tip is to drink chilled water from a wine glass.
- Choose your alcohol carefully. Make sure your alcohol and your mixes are FODMAP friendly. Many sweetened spirits contain high FODMAP ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, honey, or sugar alcohols.
- Choose your mixer carefully. Carbonated soft drinks can be full of sneaky high FODMAP sweeteners so check the ingredient list before selecting. If you are mixing your drinks with juice choose carefully as most juices are high FODMAP. Cranberry juice is low FODMAP. Also take care to have only one low FODMAP fruit juice over a two to three hour period otherwise you could consume a high FODMAP serve.
Which Alcohols are Low FODMAP?
Beer (Low FODMAP)
Beer is low FODMAP despite being made from barley, wheat and rye, which are high in fructans (5). During the manufacturing process, the yeast ferment the fructans and converts them into alcohol. Beer does contain gluten so if you suffer from Coeliac Disease you will need to choose a gluten free beer instead.
Cider (Untested Potentially High FODMAP)
Cider is normally made from apple, pear or berries and the FODMAP content of different ciders is currently untested. During the fermentation process for apple cider the fructose, sucrose, and glucose are converted into alcohol and are normally only present in the cider if they have been added as a sweetener (6). However, it appears that some sugar alcohols (glycerol, hexitol, mannitol and inositol) remain after the fermentation process (6). This means that some ciders could be high FODMAP.
Wine (FODMAP Content Depends on Type)
|Low FODMAP||High FODMAP|
Dry white wine
Low glycaemic index wine
Red wine (Low FODMAP)
Red wine is low FODMAP at 150ml (1 glass) serve (5). This means you can enjoy your glass of pinot noir, cabernet, shiraz, or zinfandel.
Sparkling wine (Low FODMAP)
Sparkling wine is usually a white wine or rose that contains carbon dioxide to make it fizzy (7). Champagne is a classic example of a sparkling wine (7). According to Monash University, it is low FODMAP at a 1 glass serve (5).
Sweet wine (Low FODMAP)
Sweet wines are also listed as low FODMAP at 1 glass serves (5). The amount of residual sugars in sweet wines range from 35 to 120g per litre (8). According to Wine Folly, sweet wines can include Muscato, Sweet Rieslings, Gewürztraminer, and Chenin Blanc (9 10)
Sticky wine (High FODMAP)
It is likely that Monash is referring to fortified wines or sweet dessert wines (like sherry, port and ice wine) by using the name ‘sticky’. According to the NUTTAB nutritional database both port and sherry contain excess fructose, which would make them high FODMAP (8). This aligns with the Monash app which notes that sticky wine contains excess fructose and is high FODMAP (5).
White wine (Low FODMAP)
According to Monash University white wines are low FODMAP and safe to drink in 150ml (1 glass) serves (5).
Dry white wine (Low FODMAP)
Dry white wines have less residual sugar than standard white wine. This means dry white wine is considered the safest if you malabsorb fructose (11). For a wine to be classified as dry it should have less than 4g of sugar per litre (12). Types of dry wine include sauvignon blanc, albarino, chardonnay, and muscadet (12). According to Monash University dry white wines are low FODMAP and safe in 150ml (1 glass) serves (5).
Low glycaemic index wine (High FODMAP)
According to Monash University wines that have a low glycaemic index can be high in fructose and should be avoided during the elimination phase (5).
Spirits (FODMAP Content Varies)
Several spirits are low FODMAP however you need to be wary of sweetened spirits as these can contain high FODMAP ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup, honey, agave syrup and sugar-alcohols.
Gin (Low FODMAP)
There is good news for those of you who enjoy a gin and tonic. Gin is low FODMAP and safe to consume in 30ml serves (5). Just watch out for sneaky FODMAPs in the tonic water.
Rum (High FODMAP)
According to Monash rum is high in fructose and should be avoided in the elimination phase (5).
Vodka (Low FODMAP)
Vodka is low FODMAP and the safe serving size is 30ml (5). For a simple low FODMAP vodka drink, mix 1 part vodka with 2 parts cranberry juice then add ice and a wedge of lime. Make sure you check the cranberry juice doesn’t have any sneaky FODMAPs.
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Whiskey (Low FODMAP)
If you like whisky on the rocks then you are in luck. Whiskey is low FODMAP and safe for the elimination phase. Monash lists a serving size of 30ml as safe (5).
Tequila (Not Tested)
Tequila is made from blue agave syrup (13). Agave syrup is known to be high in fructose. The sugars from the agave stems is fermented and then distilled to produce tequila (13). During the fermentation process the sugars are converted into alcohol and it is possible that any remaining fructose does not make it through the distillation process. However, until Monash tests tequila we will not have a definite answer on its FODMAP content.
Just remember that you can indulge in an alcoholic beverage while on the low FODMAP diet. Just remember to choose your beverage wisely, look out for sneaky FODMAPs, and if possible limit yourself to a couple of drinks.
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