We’re heading into that cozy time of year. The time of year when you hit snooze because the warmth of your bed feels so much better than the cold bedroom air. The time of year when you pull out your flannel shirts and snuggly sweaters. The time of year when you want a hot breakfast that will both nourish and warm you.
And nothing fits the bill better than a hearty bowl of oatmeal!
But then you think about your IBS symptoms — pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation. And that’s when the questions start…
Before we get into the nitty gritty of how to safely add oatmeal to your diet, let’s take a look at some reasons you might want to — aside from the cozy factor.
Oatmeal is a nutrient-dense superfood. This humble grain packs loads of nutrition into your bowl.
Oats are a well-balanced source of nutrition — boasting a healthy amount of carbs, fiber, and protein, a great combination of nutrients for keeping you full, and one of the reasons oatmeal can make a great breakfast.
But there’s more to the story. Oats are also packed with vitamins and minerals.
✔ Manganese — 63.91% of the daily value (DV)
✔ Copper — 17.6% of the DV
✔ Vitamin B1 (thiamin) — 15.5% of the DV
✔ Zinc — 13.4% of the DV
✔ Phosphorus — 13.3% of the DV
✔ Magnesium — 13.3% of the DV
✔ Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) — 9.07% of the DV
✔ Iron — 9.4% of the DV
✔ Folate: 3.24% of the DV
Whole oats contain their very own group of antioxidants called avenanthramides. Found only in oats, these antioxidants have anti-inflammatory and anti-itching properties, and may help lower blood pressure.
Oats contain large amounts of a soluble fiber called beta-glucan. This fiber forms a thick gel-like solution in your gut. No, that doesn’t sound great, but stick with me — this gel is actually a good thing.
The gel produced by the combination of beta-glucan and water can help reduce blood glucose and improve insulin response, increase the growth of good bacteria in your microbiome, and hypertension. The beta-glucan in oats may also reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol and protect LDL from oxidation, which can lower the risk of heart disease.
Most people can have oatmeal without worsening their IBS symptoms. If you’re sensitive to oatmeal specifically, then it’s a different story. But overall, oatmeal can fit into the low FODMAP diet.
But if you look up oatmeal on your low FODMAP app, you might get some confusing information. If you don’t have a low FODMAP app, you can find my favorites in the IBS Resource Guide.
The issue is that ‘oatmeal’ isn’t just one thing.
Oats, also known as avena sativa, are a cereal grain. Raw oats come from the kernels of a type of grass. While we don’t eat raw oats, we do eat those kernels. But they show up in a variety of ways depending on how they’re processed.
Whole Grain Oat Groats
This is as minimally processed as you can get when it comes to oats. Once oat groats are cleaned and the inedible husk is removed, you’re left with the endosperm, germ, and bran. You can eat groats, but they take a long time to cook — up to an hour.
Steel Cut Oats
In steel cut oats, the oat groats are cut into thirds with a steel blade — hence the name. This form of oats looks like little nuggets. Steel cut oats take up to 30 minutes to cook and produce a chewy, rustic texture.
Also known as traditional or old-fashioned, rolled oats are probably what you think of when you picture uncooked oatmeal. The groats are steamed, rolled, and flattened. When a recipe calls for “oats”, this is what it’s calling for.
Instant or Quick Oats
Like rolled oats, these oats are rolled and steamed — but for a longer time. Then the oats are chopped into smaller pieces, which shortens cooking time.
As you might have guessed, the above types of oats are all a little different when it comes to the low FODMAP diet. Yes, they all start off the same. But the way they are processed can affect the carbohydrate levels.
So if you’re on the low FODMAP diet, stick to the following servings of (uncooked) oats:
✔ 1/2 cup of rolled oats
✔ 1/4 cup of quick oats
✔ 1/2 cup of oat groats
I’ve had several clients come to me and ask — does oat milk cause constipation?
Oat milk can exacerbate IBS symptoms if you drink too much of it. How much is too much? Unfortunately, that varies by brand.
Generally, most people can handle a small serving of oat milk — under ½ cup. But once you go beyond the ½ cup mark, your oatmilk will potentially be high enough in fructans (the F in FODMAP) and potentially cause some issues.
If you want to use a non-dairy milk option in your low FODMAP diet, you’re better off choosing a low FODMAP milk like almond milk. But a little bit of oat milk can work fine too.
If you want to get the health benefits of oatmeal, but you don’t necessarily want to eat a plain bowl of it for breakfast, you have lots of options. I did some digging and found several online sources of low FODMAP oat recipes.
Fody Foods and Monash are always good sources for all things low FODMAP. They each have a recipe for overnight oats. You can soak your oats overnight in a low FODMAP milk and add a variety of low FODMAP flavors. You’ll eat your oats cold, but it’s nice that they’re ready to go right out of the fridge. And overnight oats can be tasty! Fody Foods has an Overnight Oats with Berries recipe and Monash has a basic overnight oats recipe you can personalize with low FODMAP ingredients.
One of my favorite low FODMAP blogs is Fun Without Fodmaps. I found several low FODMAP oat recipes there:
Low FODMAP Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal
Low FODMAP Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Low FODMAP Oatmeal Raisin Energy Bites
Low FODMAP Peanut Butter Brownie Bites
A Google search will yield lots of low FODMAP recipe sites. When I find a new site, I usually read the About section just to make sure that the recipe creator knows what they’re talking about when it comes to the low FODMAP diet.
But it’s not easy to follow. And the lack of FODMAP information on labels doesn’t help. I walk my clients through exactly how to effectively use (and get off of) the low FODMAP diet. But I don’t have time to help everybody. So I wanted to create something that could help everyone who reads this blog.
That’s why I created the IBS Relief Blueprint course. I boiled down the information I teach my clients about the low FODMAP diet and put it into an easy do-on-your-own-time format. The IBS Relief Blueprint contains short videos, resources, cheat sheets, food lists, and more — everything you need to confidently navigate all three stages of the low FODMAP diet.