Adding Flavor without the FODMAPs

When I found I had to give up garlic and onion with the low FODMAP diet, I was devastated… simply devastated. I put garlic on everything… cloves, seasoning, powder or in any form where I could add it to my food. My husband would often make jokes like “at least I know you’re not a vampire” or “would you like some chicken with that garlic?” So embarking on the low FODMAP diet was a huge lifestyle change for me (to put it mildly).

So how does a garlic and onion lover get by on the low FODMAP diet? Surprisingly, very easy. It’s a great time to welcome new spices into your life and learn how to use them. But don’t give up on garlic and onion just yet, there’s some great substitutes and replacements that will have both your taste buds and your body smiling.

Low FODMAP Garlic and Onion Replacements

Tips on Adding Flavor without the FODMAPs:

  • Garlic Infused (Extra Virgin) Olive Oil – The fructans in garlic are water-soluble, not oil-soluble, so garlic infused olive oil is a great way to get the garlic into your meal without the pain. There are a few different ways to go about this:
    1. Make it in a slow cooker. Get some garlic cloves, peel them and throw them in a slow cooker with your desired amount of oil. Once you heat for 3-4 hours on low, remove and discard the garlic. It makes your place smell delightful! However, the oil doesn’t last that long (about 1 week) and I didn’t fee safe eating it since bits of garlic were floating around here and there.
    2. Make it every time you plan to use it. Simmer the oil you plan to use and add a peeled garlic clove for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Discard the garlic clove when finished. This is much easier since you don’t have excess to use, but you have to have garlic on hand at all times. I don’t like this method because it makes me sad to constantly have garlic in the house. Silly, yes, but out of sight, out of mind.
    3. Buy it. Easiest method in my book! It can be pricey, but I found a great option at Trader Joe’s for $3.99 and another option at my local grocery store for $5.99. Before I found it locally, I purchased it on Amazon. It keeps forever without the hassle or mess. Plus there’s no tempting garlic staring at you from the refrigerator.
  • Gluten Free Asafoetida Powder (Hing) – This bright yellow powder is a great replacement for that onion or garlic taste. This Indian spice is ideal for soups, marinades, dressings, etc. A little goes a long way. I initially read about this magical substitute on every FODMAP blog and ran around town trying to find it. I encountered two problems. First, asafoetida powder is very hard to find. I went to every Indian/Asian store and came up empty handed. Finally, when I did find it, I realized most asafoetida powder is made with wheat flour, which does not work within the guidelines of the low FODMAP diet. I searched online and finally found it made with rice flour at MySpiceSage.com, but they recently changed their ingredients to contain white flour. I haven’t had to buy it more recently, but I have seen it at HerbStop and Spices, Inc.
  • Green Onions/Scallions/Spring Onions (Green Part Only) – Whatever you call them, they’re a great addition to any dish to get the onion flavor. When you’re cutting them (from the green side), as soon as you feel some onion texture inside, stop and throw out the rest of the white part.
  • Chives – My newest love. Chives are a great addition to anything! Fresh or dried, I can’t get enough!
  • Spices – Now is a great time to discover spices you may never have used before. I never knew how to use them, so this was a great learning experience for me. Fresh or dried works, just ensure that there are no hidden ingredients (garlic, onion, wheat, “spices,” natural flavor, etc.) mixed in. Here are my most used spices:
      • Salt
      • Pepper
      • Basil
      • Oregano
      • Parsley
      • Cilantro
      • Rosemary
      • Cumin
      • Paprika
      • Thyme
      • Cayenne Pepper
      • Jalapeno Powder
      • Roasted Red Pepper Flakes
  • Hot Peppers – If you like a little heat, there are a number of great options here. Jalapeno peppers, cayenne peppers, banana peppers, habanero peppers, green chilis, etc. can all add some great flavor to your dishes.
  • Vinegars – There are a variety of types of vinegar on the market, and some will work within the guidelines of the low FODMAP diet, and some won’t. Be careful of additives like apple, fruit and honey. Red Wine Vinegar, White Wine Vinegar and Balsamic Vinegar are staples in my house and are the base of many sauces and dressings I make.
  • Gluten Free Soy Sauce – Perfect for Asian-inspired dishes. Ensure you avoid any soy sauces that include wheat. I prefer Tamari Organic Soy Sauce.

After a list like this, it’s exciting to see all the new options for adding flavor to your low FODMAP dishes. I have never felt so confident in my cooking skills and I definitely don’t miss having “onion eyes.” Have anything else to add? I’d love to hear it!

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80 thoughts on “Adding Flavor without the FODMAPs

  1. The ingredients in asafoetida powder at MySpiceSage.com include white flour, not rice flour. I don’t think it is gluten free.

  2. I purchased Asafoetida powder from MySpiceSage at least 1 1/2 years ago and I’ve been using it very sparingly as it is quite strong/pungent. Hopefully, it’s the rice flour version

  3. I’ve recently been diagnosed (if I may say so) with IBS. I’m struggling with it at the moment. Thank you so much for sharing all the info. This is a great place to start. Your blog is a lot more helpful than my doctor’s advice! I hope I can manage though. Being an Indian, I can’t imagine preparing food without onion and garlic! Wish me luck!

    • Recent FODMAP testing found that chamomile and fennel tea contain fructans. While the amount is small, it should still be avoided while on the elimination phase. Safe teas include peppermint, green, white and black tea.

      As far as almonds go, they are safe only in small amounts (1/2 serving or approximately 10 almonds). When you increase the amount, they become high in fructans. Because of this, I stay away from almond products, such as almond milk and almond flour.

  4. Before I knew about the quantity of almonds I was having difficulty but not pinpointing almonds to the problem. Now, I’m more careful when I eat them to avoid overload. Are walnuts on the safe list?

  5. Has anyone tried cooking with pearl onion in braised and slow cooked meals? Is it “safe” so long as the onion is not consumed?

    • The fructans in onions (and garlic) are water soluble, so this should be avoided. Even if you don’t add water to the slow cooker, the other ingredients will contain water and it can make everything unsafe. Try one of the alternative listed on this page or use a onion or garlic infused olive oil instead.

  6. Hi Heather, I was recently given the Low FODMAP diet from my GI doctor. He asked me to try it for 6 weeks and see if I have improvements from my IBS diagnosis. I noticed his information came from Stanford University and your information is coming from Monash University. Are they working together on this? I’m wondering if Stanford is up to date. Thanks for your input.

    • Hi Celine,
      Monash University is where all the FODMAP testing takes place, so they are the authority. Since testing is ongoing, it happens often that lists get outdated, so it’s very possible that you have an old list.

      • Celine, As Heather stated, Monash Univ is where the testing and information comes out of. Stanford publishes their own information for their patients. This info is most likely taken from Monash. Monash info is updated as new test are performed and there is new info to share. My nutritionist from Boston, MA, USA updates her info when she receives it from Monash.

  7. Hi Heather. I’ve been using Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar for some time now. Is apple cider vinegar off limits on the FODMAP diet?

      • Dang! Well thanks very much for replies to both my questions. I actually have one more for you. I can’t find info on this anywhere. I bought the Monash U. app and have found it wonderfully helpful but it is missing a few things (like apple cider vinegar). We use canned coconut milk a lot. The app has coconut milk but I think it is referring to the milk cartoon stuff that is used more for drinking than cooking. We avoid that because of the other additives like carrageenan anyway but I would like to know about canned coconut. It looks like small amounts of unsweetened dried coconut are okay and coconut water is completely off limits. Any news on the canned variety? Thanks in advance!

        • I’ve noticed some absent items within the app, as well. I think they try to limit it to ingredients and assume you will look at the ingredient list to all non-fresh foods. My advice would be to look over the ingredients to ensure they’re all ok. If they are, then use the regular recommendation for dried coconuts and use in moderation. Good luck!

  8. I have garlic chives in my garden. Any experience with this herb? If not, I will experiment and let you know. They are wonderful to cook with

  9. Hi Heather! I came across your website while searching for burger recipes for my 6 year old. He has been advised by his gastroenterologist to follow the FODMAP diet for 3months. I was compelled to write in when I noticed that you mentioned asafoetida as a substitue for onion-garlic. This got me very excited coz I’m an Indian and we use this spice a lot in our regular cooking, but till now I had no idea that it could be used as a substitute. Also , a big thank you for highlighting the fact that the fructans in garlic is water-soluble. I didnt know and so all this time, I’ve been just fishing them out from dishes where it can’t be avoided! :-/

    I’d like to share with you and your readers a little known cuisine within the broader Indian cuisine, known as ‘satvik’ or Jain. For religious reasons, onions & garlic are avoided in this cuisine. Maybe , you could get ideas from the recipes they have to offer and adjust them to suit your palate. Hope this helps! Once again , thank you!!

  10. Reading and referencing this great list. This is all new for me, but would love to add ancho chile powder as a suggested spice- my new fave, especially on kale.

  11. Just started the Fodmap Diet and am on my 4th day. I have had headaches everyday all day and am havng trouble sleeping. Is this usual and when does it stop? Makes me want to give up.

      • I felt pretty bad the first few days on the elimination, I chalked it up to getting the gluten out of my diet. Or maybe no onions and garlic which I ate every day. Then I started feeling really good. I have only been on the elimination for a week and I can tell the difference.

  12. Hello-
    I am very new to the FODMAP diet and almost immediately noticed a difference. Unfortunately the other day I ordered a smoothie at Starbucks (only comes in a venti size), the fruit concentrate they used had apples in it and I felt the effects the rest of the day and into the morning. Is it normal to feel the effects for that long?

    • Personally, I have experienced effects for this long when consuming the wrong things, so it’s very possible. This could be a large indicator that you react poorly to fructose.

      • Thank you Heather for responding so quickly and thank you for having this blog! I know I will have many more questions for you and the rest of the bloggers!

      • Woo hoo!! So I found that Udi’s makes a soft backed maple pecan chocolate chip cookie. The ingredients are: Tapioca starch, dried cane syrup, palm oil, organic dark chocolate chips (organic cane sugar, organic chocolate liquor, organic cocoa butter, organic vanilla extract), brown rice flower, eggs, tapioca syrup, pecans, potato starch, molasses, natural flavors, vanilla extract, salt, xanthan gum, baking soda, caramel color. Any of these ingredients concerning???

        Thank you 🙂

        • molasses is a no-no I have read, (ibsfree.net) states “molasses has not been analyzed for FODMAP’s at Monash University but older data in the USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Refernce suggest it has excess fructose”
          The site also says “Sweeteners that are suitable for a low FODMAP diet, like sucrose, must contain at least as much glucose as fructose. Fructose absorption works best when fructose is paired with an equal amount of glucose. Trying to absorb excess fructose is like trying to pedal a bicycle with just one foot. Not efficient! Even under the best of circumstances, there is a limit to how fast a person can absorb fructose, so even if sweetened with a suitable sweetener, your treat shouldn’t have more than 40 grams of sugar per serving during the elimination phase of the diet.” so it is important to understand the ratio of glucose to fructose in the food you eat.

  13. Anybody have issues with gluten free corn chips? I had some today for a late afternoon snack, I was hungry and I think I ate too many. My stomach is now bloated and gassy, I am assuming the chips were the cause.

    • Hi, this is so new to me and my head is spinning. I’m so glad I found this site!
      Can I use unrefined organic coconut oil? I use often in baking and I love it. I don’t believe I’ve seen anything saying I can’t use it.

      Please help! Thanks

    • Hi Alisha: I found that also and I think it is because the fat content is high. I found that once I was put on a low fat diet, my symptoms resolved a lot. (That was before when I was younger -now that I am older (60) I am having to restrict high FODMAPS as well.

  14. Hi Alisha, My GF also reacts to corn chips very soon after with bloating and diarrhea. I think it’s the corn itself and not the fat. Corn can be a trigger food and alot of people are allergic or intolerant to it and don’t realize it. It’s so satisfying to eat but definitely not worth it. I think JJ Virgin has it in her top inflammatory foods to avoid.

  15. Hi Heather! I’m confused about soy sauce and it seems everything I read about it is conflicting. I read that soy sauce is a big trigger food for IBS/SIBO/gut issues so I eliminated it, even though it’s one of my favorites. Since then, however, I’ve read that soy beans are high FODMAP but soy protein is low, meaning I could have soy sauce as long as it’s made with soy protein instead of soy beans. I have also cut gluten and dairy out of my diet so when I read this I was excited to be able to add another safe item to my tiny list, and because I knew I already had Tamari Gluten Free Soy Sauce in my fridge. Unfortunately, when I looked at the labels I was surprised to find soy beans listed on the Tamari Gluten Free and Kikkoman’s and soy protein listed on La Choy. Now I’m just frustrated realizing once again that gluten free doesn’t always mean low FODMAP and vice versa. Can you explain to me what the deal is with soy sauce?

  16. I have a question — I know that garlic-infused olive oil is okay on a low-FODMAP diet, but I was wondering about some leftover fermented pickle juice I have that has a few cloves of garlic in it. I like to have fermented vegetables AND their juice for the probiotics, but would it be okay to have the garlic-infused ferment juice??

  17. Thank you for the time you have spent on this. I’m currently sitting here crying because I have yet another list of foods I can’t eat and I’m really sick of it. I hope this works. I’m eating things I haven’t eaten in years and throwing/giving away food I’ve always thought were fine. My friends and family are tired of my restrictions changing and never helping long-term. I must say, the thought of onions or garlic being the source of my problems makes me very unhappy, but I’ve been unwell for so long that I must give it a good go. This is Day 1 and I’m pretty sure I blew it because I have no idea what’s ok without checking a list.

    Do you know of any support groups or forums for Low FODMAP peeps? Seems like there are forums for everything but I haven’t found one for this.

    Again, thank you. Be well.

    • I found some good IBS forums where I gathered some information and found some peace knowing that I wasn’t alone. However, I found the best therapy in writing this blog and the feedback I got was amazing. It’s very hard and the diet restrictions are tough, but if it’s on the road to feeling better, it’s absolutely worth it!

      • Thanks…I’ve gotten some great ideas from your blog and the comments. I’m currently on the elimination phase but it is my understanging that no sugar is tollerated well with these IBS issues so i have been avoiding all sugars at this time but am feeling seriously deprived. I see however that you promote gluten free cookies. Just curious…is that when you want to cheat a little or is table sugar allowed in small quantities? Thx

  18. easy! I have found that this way I can eat onions and garlic without a problem!! just ferment them! all the sugars that would ferment in your bowel ,causing gas and bloating, have already been fermented.. outside your body! plus, it tastes really delicious! and it’s so easy to do!

  19. I am suppose to be. On the fodmap diet. I drink coffee, which I have French vanilla creamer which says has a milk derivative but also says lactose a dairy free, would you have any idea if this is okay, the creamer is nestle coffee mate, thank you.

  20. thank you for all of this information,esp since there are no Fodmap dieticians anywhere near where I live. The closest listed are 100 miles from my home.

  21. So I have probably had IBS-C since I was little but it seems to get worse as I get older. Last few years have been really bad and Nothing has helped– laxatives, peppermint tea, and Linzess give a little relief but nothing permanent. My chiropractor wants me to change my diet and give up gluten also. Did I mention that I’m a foodie…a die hard foodie. I have my own supper club. This is going to be hard. I’ve decided to try the low fodmap and gluten free for some relief as here I am nearly in tears again. Thanks for your site and tips. I need prayers and support for this journey.

    • Ronika,
      Don’t despair. I’m a foodie also and found that there is life with IBS and FODMAP, SCD, or GAPS diets. I’ve been on them all. Slowly I’ve found what causes trouble for me and what I can tolerate in small or moderate levels of consumption. I’m still largely grain-free and will remain that way now, as I’m convinced wheat particularly is harmful generally to health, at least modern wheat varieties, and maybe even the ancient grains, although the jury is still out on that. (Periodically I will have white rice in a favorite dish without problems). At first I grieved because my specialties were homemade breads and exotic pancake recipes of my own creating; I have a 3-ring binder full of them. But, I have found that there are replacements that can be made that are close to the originals. It has taken a lot of trial and error, because there are a lot of unsatisfactory grain-free recipes out there, but you can find good ones with patience, and I’m developing growing competence in the ability to cook grain-free. For starters, look up empoweredsustenance.com with Lauren Geertson, she has a lot of recipes that are quite good. Also, for onions, read about and plant some Egyptian walking onions. If you can grow dandelions, you can grow these. They send up large green shoots in the spring (and later too, I get two crops in MA), that are just as good as scallions but stronger in flavor and much more abundant. They are perennials, and will come up every year. We slice them and freeze in bags. They do grow small-medium onions in the ground too, but leave them there unless you want to try a few as a trial for tolerance. And for constipation, make sure you’re getting enough magnesium. Most people do not. Mg-citrate is the form that can make the biggest difference.

  22. I really am appreciating your site, my daughter has finally had the suggestion of ibs and after 7 years of struggling with food, we have been getting somewhere in the last two weeks using low fodmap diet. She has hardly complained about a sore tummy, asides from one night when i tried kidney beans (as she loves them). But oh my goodness to have some results!!

  23. I use kelp (powder) as seasoning a lot! I sometimes use different seaweeds as well, especially in soups. Garlic chives seem to be fine for me, someone asked above.

  24. Hello,
    My partner has really suffered with all The IBS, gluten intolerance etc for at least 2 years now.
    I was made up when I found all the spices/ oil you can use.
    Now, question… if I wanted to make au potatoes gratin, would he be safe eating a garlic infused milk??? Or would I have to use the oil?
    Thank you!

  25. Thanks just trying out low fodmap for excessive wind bloating pain nausea & heavy feeling. Suffered lifelong did exclusion diet many years ago but havent had bad symptoms for long time until my mum passed 2yrs ago flared terribly.

  26. Can you recommend a lactose free/IBS substitute for cream. I see it in many recipes but have not found a product yet. I have a Whole foods, Wegmans and Shop Rite near me. Thanks

  27. I use Cumin as a substitute for garlic which I read it can be. So I don’t have to go looking for azofeita which I read also that it stinks like hell and dangerous to use too much of. Your list of ingredients looks pretty much like mine so seeing that I know that I have the basics needed for low fodmap. I saw tou have balsamic on your list, According to the Monash University who is head spearing the testing of fodmaps on food (i have the app that tells you which are safe and which aren’t), you should stay away from the balsamic. I think it’s important for any of us suffering from IBS/IBD/Ulcerative Colitis to have at our disposal the low FODMAP app from the Monash University. You have to pay for it but well worth it to have on your cell phone when you’re out grocery shopping. I recommend to have it, its a huge help. Specially if you have a hard time remembering everything you can or can’t touch

    • The Asafoetida Powder must be made with rice flour, not wheat. Fortunately it goes a long way so mine might never run out! lol As far as there being a danger in using too much of it…that would be impossible for me because it really does have a horrific pungent aroma. That aroma is enough to remind you to use sparingly. I seriously only use an 1/8 of a teaspoon in cooking. A speck goes a long way as a substitute for onion.

  28. I’m a rigorous low fodmaps observer. Onions and any wheat/gluten are what I avoid like the plague!!
    I’m having issues with smoke flavoring. Ate a great meal with low fodmaps and am now suffering. Only thing to pinpoint is bacon crumbles had smoke flavoring. Should have read the label! Actually smoked meat is not a problem. Get tired if the vigilance.
    Anyone else notice this with liquid smoke or smoke flavoring?

  29. I use a lot more ginger now that I have had to let go of onions and garlic, I am finding I love ginger almost as much as garlic 🙂

  30. Very helpful. Thank you for sharing. I am a garlic lover myself and I just found out I need to be on a FODMAP diet. Garlic is probably one of the most difficult things to avoid when cooking. I’m grateful to stumble upon this information. I will keep garlic oil and chives on hand.

  31. Thanks so much. You have made this journey so much easier. This information is so helpful. Food and I have gotten along pretty well until now. It’s a real challenging knowing what to eat. I am looking forward to having a healthy relationship with food again, however since it my source of pain right now that has been tough. My doctor put me on a gluten free diet but I am still having issues. My nutritionist says she believes based on my symptoms with food I need a low for map diet.

  32. Thanks so much. You have made this journey so much easier. This information is so helpful. Food and I have gotten along pretty well until now. It’s a real challenging knowing what to eat. I am looking forward to having a healthy relationship with food again, however since it my source of pain right now that has been tough. My doctor put me on a gluten free diet but I am still having issues. My nutritionist says she believes based on my symptoms with food I need a low for map diet.

  33. Why would you throw out the onions, and not just put them in water for a couple days and then plant them so that they’ll grow more green later?

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