The holiday season gets underway this week. With any luck you'll be invited to a few parties--what can you have to drink on a low FODMAP diet? There are lots of potential pitfalls around alcoholic beverages and IBS. Alcohol itself can be a direct GI irritant for some people. Some people may have non-FODMAP reactions to consuming alcoholic beverages; for example, people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity cannot drink beer made with barley malt. Over-eating while under the influence of alcohol can trigger a bout of symptoms, especially if you indulge in too many sweets or high-FODMAP foods. However, I don't subscribe to one-size-fits all lists of "everything to avoid for IBS" and I certainly don't think that everyone with IBS must avoid all alcohol. There may be some adult beverages you can enjoy in moderation. Let's really zero in on FODMAPs.
1. Beer and wine are low in FODMAPs. Hard ciders have unknown FODMAP status. (Best all-around bets to minimize adverse reactions of all kinds: filtered, bottled beer or white wine aged in steel barrels.)
2. Gin, whisky and vodka are low in FODMAPs, but rum is not. (Best all-around bet: unflavored vodka)
3. Mixers are the most likely source of FODMAPs at the bar. Stick to drinks mixed with club soda, and small amounts of fresh lime, lemon, or orange juice. The cranberry juice cocktail at the bar is likely to have high-fructose corn syrup in it. Tonic water does, too. Obviously Coke and ginger-ale do, too. You can buy and use sugar-sweetened tonic water or soft-drinks, however.
4. Champagne? I'm reserving judgment on that one until I see some published data on FODMAP composition. It may contain excess fructose.
5. Limit yourself to one drink per meal or snack, as a rule. How does that translate into a long holiday party? It isn't clear and may depend greatly on what else you're consuming. Does the drink have moderate-FODMAP orange juice in it? Are the snacks at the party full of FODMAPs? Err on the side of caution.
Enjoy yourself at holiday parties! Stick to simple drinks without mixers and bring some low-FODMAP snacks to share! Better yet, plan some holiday activities that don't revolve around food and drink. This weekend our gang will be going ice skating, bundling up for a long beach walk, and hiking up a small, local "mountain." We're looking forward to attending some holiday concerts in the coming weeks, too. Luckily, those are all low-FODMAP activities. Happy Thanksgiving to all.