Eating low FODMAP in Italy – A holiday in Bologna
As you will probably know from my earlier posts I have to avoid quite a lot of foods, because of my IBS. I know that there are more and more people these days who have to avoid certain kinds of foods because of health issues, therefore, I wanted to share my tips of places to eat safely when you are travelling. This time, I will talk about eating low FODMAP in Italy – Bologna. Firstly I have to say that I still find it very difficult to minimise my IBS complaints on holiday. I love food so much and I really have difficulties not eating things that I know give me complaints sometimes and I still haven’t fully figured out what I can and cannot eat, so I have not had a complaint free holiday yet. However, I did find some nice places where I could eat food without problems and I will share the things I learned during my trip.
Some general tips for eating low FODMAP in Italy
- If you can prepare some of your food by yourself Italy is great. In the supermarkets, they have many gluten free choices: fresh pasta’s, bread, rice-, quinoa- and corn crackers etc. In the bigger supermarkets, they also sell lactose-free yoghurt and milk so that is really nice.
- I am lactose intolerant and my biggest friends on holiday are the lactase pills (I wrote a blog post about them). In Italy, I really wanted to be able to eat ice cream and drink cappuccino’s and with these pills, I could just do that without having to look for lactose-free options all the time. In most ice cream shops the allergens are shown for each ice cream flavour. This makes it easy to pick for example gluten free flavours. Most fruit-flavoured ice creams are lactose-free too. This makes eating ice cream in Italy a possibility for most people 🙂
- One tip that I have to start applying better myself is, especially important for people eating low FODMAP: always bring something that you know is safe to eat. I am often too trusting that I will find something that I can eat somewhere. This is not always the case and then I chose to try something that I think might be safe (which turns out not to be safe) and end up having problems. Better be safe than sorry and take some snacks with you.
- If you are in a restaurant and you are in doubt what to eat: order a salad. In a lot of Italian restaurants, the pasta sauces are prepared beforehand and usually contain either onion or garlic (or both). When you order a salad you can easily ask them to replace the dressing with some olive oil (without garlic of course) and you can pick one with ingredients that are safe for you or ask the restaurant to substitute some things you cannot eat.
- My favourite tip for eating low FODMAP in Italy: enjoy the many Italian aperitivos! Aperitivos are small dishes that Italians usually eat before dinner to get an appetite. The ones I tried in Bologna usually consisted of different kinds of cheese and meats: mozzarella, Parmigiano, mortadella, prosciutto di parma, salami). To my surprise, the salami we ate did not contain any garlic (in the Netherlands Italian salami always contains garlic, as far as I know). So the cheese and meat is usually safe for people eating low FODMAP (the bread they serve with it, unfortunately, isn’t). Softer cheeses like mozzarella are fine for some people too. If you are very sensitive to lactose you can choose to only eat the harder cheeses or use lactase pills if that works for you. Make sure to stick to the low FODMAP portion sizes of the different cheeses.
Tips for Bologna
Of course, you also want to eat pizza when you are in Italy. We ordered pizza’s one night and did this at a place called La Pantera Rosa. They make delicious gluten free pizza’s that cannot be distinguished from the regular ones. The Margherita variant was perfect for me and did also not contain onion or garlic. A very happy Karlijn 😀 La Pantera Rosa has a takeaway restaurant and two normal restaurants:
- Take away: Via Francesco Zanardi 189/A
- Pizzeria, bar, ristorante: Via Guelfa 74/A
- Pizzeria, bar, ristorante: Via Cleto Tomba 14/A
On our last evening, we went to eat in a restaurant that was said to have many gluten free options too: Osteria Broccaindosso. It was not shown on their menu, but when I told them I could not eat gluten, garlic and onion they came up with a whole list of things that they could serve. I could choose from gluten free macaroni and tagliatelle and they made a nice zucchini sauce for me. They also had several meat dishes that could be made low FODMAP. Their service was brilliant. We got mortadella with bread as an aperitivo and they had special gluten-free crackers for me. When they made a mistake and I had to wait a bit longer for my dish they came to bring chunks of Parmigiano, so I had something to nibble on while waiting. Also for dessert they had 5 kinds of cake, I could choose from. In the end, I ate delicious gluten-free brownies with mascarpone crème on the side (using lactase pills again).
It is not a restaurant that you would pick by the looks of it as you can see they also did not really make an effort to make up the plates (it was also quite dark, that is why the pictures of the food did not turn out that nice), but they serve really nice food and the staff is extremely helpful when you are dealing with dietary restrictions. I had a great evening there. You can find the restaurant at Via Broccaindosso 7/A.
Don’t expect that eating low FODMAP in Italy will be extremely easy, but if you search well you can really find some gems out there and have a great holiday 🙂 Apart from that Bologna is just an incredibly beautiful city and is really worth a visit!
What are your tips for eating low FODMAP in Italy?