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Are grits OK for low FODMAP diet?

Grits are a popular breakfast food, especially in the Southern United States. They are made from ground corn, also known as maize. For those following a low FODMAP diet, grits can be a nourishing and satisfying addition to the diet. However, it’s important to understand how grits fit into a low FODMAP meal plan.

What is the low FODMAP diet?

The low FODMAP diet was originally developed by researchers at Monash University in Australia. FODMAP stands for “Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols.” These are all types of carbohydrates that can be poorly absorbed in the small intestine of some people. When FODMAPs reach the large intestine, they are fermented by gut bacteria. This produces gas and can lead to abdominal pain, bloating, cramping, and other digestive issues in susceptible individuals. Studies have shown that following a low FODMAP diet can dramatically improve these symptoms in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

The low FODMAP diet involves restricting high FODMAP foods for 4-8 weeks. After this elimination period, high FODMAP foods are gradually reintroduced one at a time. This helps identify which types of FODMAPs an individual tolerates. Many people are able to liberalize their diet and still keep symptoms under control. Strict FODMAP restriction is not meant to be lifelong, only as needed to control symptoms.

Why are FODMAPs problematic?

FODMAPs are osmotic, meaning they pull water into the intestinal tract. They are also rapidly fermented by bacteria in the large intestine. Together, these effects can create gas, bloating, and abdominal distension. In those with IBS, this can trigger symptoms like cramping, pain, and diarrhea or constipation.

Additionally, some FODMAPs are not well absorbed because people lack certain enzymes or transporters needed to break them down and absorb them properly. This leads to an excess of these carbohydrates reaching the large intestine, fueling the fermentation process.

Grits nutrition facts

One cup of cooked grits contains approximately:

  • 151 calories
  • 2 grams protein
  • 1 gram fat
  • 34 grams carbohydrate
  • 2 grams dietary fiber

The main nutrients in grits are the carbohydrates, which come from the corn. Grits are naturally gluten-free, making them a good option for people avoiding gluten.

Are grits low FODMAP?

Grits are made from corn, which is generally well-tolerated by most people on a low FODMAP diet. Pure corn grits prepared with water do not contain any ingredients that are restricted on the low FODMAP diet.

However, many people prepare grits in ways that may introduce FODMAPs. For example, adding milk, cheese, butter, or other ingredients can change the FODMAP content. It’s important to pay attention to every ingredient used.

Low FODMAP additions

Here are some low FODMAP additions that can be used when preparing grits:

  • Lactose-free milk
  • Rice milk
  • Almond milk
  • Coconut milk
  • Lactose-free cheese
  • Butter
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Green onions
  • Bacon

High FODMAP additions

These higher FODMAP ingredients should be avoided or limited on a low FODMAP diet:

  • Regular milk
  • Yogurt
  • Sour cream
  • Regular cheese
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Mushrooms
  • Apples
  • Pears

Tips for low FODMAP grits

Here are some tips for making low FODMAP grits:

  • Use water, lactose-free milk, rice milk, almond milk or coconut milk. Limit to 1/2 cup per serving.
  • Skip add-ins like regular cheese, yogurt and sour cream.
  • Use lactose-free cheese or small amounts of hard cheeses like Parmesan.
  • Flavor with butter, salt, pepper, bacon bits, smoked paprika or other low FODMAP seasonings.
  • Top with green onions instead of regular onions.
  • Stay away from garlic, mushrooms and high FODMAP vegetables.
  • Avoid apples, pears and other high FODMAP fruits as toppings.
  • Stick to 1/2 cup of approved milk substitutes per serving.

Sample menu ideas

Here are some recipe ideas for low FODMAP grits:

Cheesy grits

  • 1/2 cup lactose-free milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup grits
  • 2 tbsp lactose-free cheddar cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Shrimp and grits

  • 1/2 cup grits
  • 1/2 cup shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 green onion, sliced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

BBQ chicken grits

  • 1/2 cup grits
  • 2 oz chicken breast, chopped and seasoned
  • 2 tbsp bbq sauce
  • 2 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 green onion, sliced

Are grits gluten-free?

Grits made from purely corn are gluten-free. However, some instant or flavored grits may contain gluten-containing additives. Check the label to verify the product is certified gluten-free if following a gluten-free diet.

Low FODMAP substitutes for grits

For those who cannot tolerate corn or prefer an alternative to grits, some low FODMAP substitutes include:

  • Cream of rice
  • Polenta
  • Rice porridge
  • Oatmeal
  • Quinoa
  • Millet
  • Sorghum

Be sure to prepare any substitutes with allowed low FODMAP milks, cheeses, and seasonings.


Plain grits made with allowed low FODMAP ingredients can be a safe, nutritious breakfast option on a low FODMAP diet. As with any food, it’s important to pay attention to every ingredient used and limit high FODMAP add-ins. Preparing grits with lactose-free milk, low FODMAP cheeses, and allowed seasonings and toppings can produce a satisfying low FODMAP meal.