Low FODMAP at Starbucks
This question of "What can I get at Starbucks while on the low FODMAP diet?" is one I hear often. As a fan of Starbucks myself, and as someone who follows a modified FODMAP diet, I had a vested interest in figuring out this answer.
Please note this post pertains only to Starbucks in the US, as their offerings can vary from country to country. I have heard that in Canada they offer lactose free milk, but unfortunately they do not have this option in the US as of this writing. As for non-dairy, lactose free milks, they offer almond milk, coconut milk, and soy milk at most locations now, not all of which are low FODMAP though.
So in terms of Starbucks' ingredients, here is what I found – and some of it surprised me!
What's in My Drink?
Coconut Milk: Starbucks' coconut milk contains the following according to their website:
Coconut Milk [Water, Coconut Cream, Cane Sugar, Tricalcium Phosphate, Coconut Water Concentrate, Natural Flavors, Sea Salt, Carrageenan, Gellan Gum, Corn Dextrin, Xanthan Gum, Guar Gum, Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin D2 (Ergocalciferol)].
Because coconut water is high FODMAP in a small portion size (above 100 ml), and because coconut cream hasn't been tested specifically (though canned coconut milk is only okay at 1/4 cup), I think the two combined may be too high so I would avoid this. There's also corn dextrin in this which is believed to be high FODMAP.
Their soy milk is made from whole soybeans so it would be considered high FODMAP.
Almond Milk: Starbucks' almond milk appears to be safe! So if you are someone who tolerates almond milk, you may be in luck finding some suitable drinks at Starbucks. According to their website, their almond milk contains the following Ingredients:
[Filtered Water, Almonds, Sugar, Tricalcium Phosphate, Sunflower Lecithin, Sea Salt, Xanthan Gum, Guar Gum, Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin D2 (Ergocalciferol)].
Sweeteners: If you like sweeteners in your coffee, stick with cane sugar, splenda, saccharin, or aspartame. Most of their syrups are Torani brand which don't contain high fructose corn syrup. However, watch out for those "natural and artificial ingredients", which can be any number of things, and may contain high FODMAP juices. If they are listed at the very end of an ingredient label though, it means they are in small quantities, and presuming you aren't drinking 1/2 cup of syrup, they should be safe for elimination phase. You can always ask to look at the bottle of syrup first to scan for FODMAPs.
Sauces: Starbucks' "caramel drizzle" has high fructose corn syrup and milk added, so would be high FODMAP. Their caramel sauce contains milk so that would also probably not be a good choice. Their mocha sauce happily looks okay in a small quantity!
Frappuccinos: Their flavored Frappuccinos (aptly nicknamed Crappuccinos), have quite a few ingredients, including those natural and artificial flavors. When I contacted Starbucks to find out what these flavors were exactly, I got quite the run around and ultimately, they wouldn't tell me.
Teas: I was surprised to find that many contained either high FODMAP fruits or chicory root. Starbucks' Chai contains honey and their Rooibos contains apples, so both should be avoided. "Youthberry" White Tea contains mango and apple slices so would be considered high FODMAP.
So what drinks can I safely order at Starbucks?
An Americano (decaf if caffeine is a trigger for you) or their "Roast" coffee, like Pike Place or Dark Roast, with one of the sweeteners list above if desired, and a few tablespoons of half and half. Two tablespoons of half and half contains about 1 gram of lactose or less, and most people with lactose intolerance can handle at least this amount.
Short or tall hot chocolate or mocha made with almond milk. Their Mocha sauce contains: Water, Sugar, Cocoa Processed With Alkali, Vanillin. Cocoa is safe at 2 heaping teaspoons (but less than 5 teaspoons) so you may do okay with one of these smaller sizes if chocolate isn't a trigger for you.
Flat white made with almond milk. Ingredients: Almond milk [Filtered Water, Almonds, Sugar, Tricalcium Phosphate, Sunflower Lecithin, Sea Salt, Xanthan Gum, Guar Gum, Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin D2 (Ergocalciferol)], Brewed Espresso.
Caffe Latte made with almond milk. Ingredients: Almond milk [Filtered Water, Almonds, Sugar, Tricalcium Phosphate, Sunflower Lecithin, Sea Salt, Xanthan Gum, Guar Gum, Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin D2 (Ergocalciferol)], Brewed Espresso.
Royal English Breakfast Tea. Ingredients: An Infusion Of Water, A Blend Of Black Teas (brew weakly so only for a minute or so)
Green tea Latte with almond milk. Ingredients: Almond milk [Filtered Water, Almonds, Sugar, Tricalcium Phosphate, Sunflower Lecithin, Sea Salt, Xanthan Gum, Guar Gum, Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin D2 (Ergocalciferol)], Matcha Tea Blend [Sugar, Ground Japanese Green Tea].
Matcha green tea. Ingredients: Tencha green tea
Possibly Safe Drinks: Proceed with Caution
These drinks contain some untested ingredients and/or natural flavors close to the end of the ingredients list so they make my "maybe" list.
Teavana Shaken Iced White Tea Lemonade Ingredients: Ice, Lemonade Base [water, Lemon Juice, Sugar, Lemon Oil], An Infusion Of [water, A Blend Of White Teas], Liquid Cane Sugar [Water, Turbinado Cane Sugar, Cane Sugar, Natural Flavor, Potassium Sorbate, Citric Acid].
Earl Grey Tea Ingredients An Infusion Of Water, Black Tea, Bergamot Essence, Lavender Flowers, brewed weakly
Jade Citrus Mint Green Tea Ingredients: An Infusion Of Water, Green Tea, Spearmint Leaves, Lemon Verbena, Lemongrass, Natural Flavor
Mint Majesty Ingredients: An Infusion Of Water, Spearmint Leaves, Peppermint Leaves, Lemon Verbena.
A Coffee Frappuccino is the simplest of all of their Frappuccinos, but with the "natural and artificial" flavors in the middle of the ingredient list, it is unknown if these would be low FODMAP. If made with almond milk, this is what it would contain:
Ice, Almondmilk [Filtered Water, Almonds, Sugar, Tricalcium Phosphate, Sunflower Lecithin, Sea Salt, Xanthan Gum, Guar Gum, Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin D2 (Ergocalciferol)], Coffee Frappuccino Syrup [Sugar, Water, Salt, Natural And Artificial Flavors, Xanthan Gum, Potassium Sorbate, Citric Acid], Coffee.
As for food, you will be hard pressed to find something of substance to eat at Starbucks that is low FODMAP. Their Gluten Free Breakfast Sandwich has been discontinued as of 2018. From what I can tell on their website, most of their egg products contain added milk which would not be safe on the elimination phase of the diet. Their chicken contains garlic and onion so I would avoid anything made with chicken.
Oatmeal: Their oats may be okay in a small portions, though please note they contain steel cut oats, which haven't been tested as of this time. Rolled oats are allowed in 1/2 cup servings. You can add the fresh blueberries (1/4 cup allowed) and walnuts (10 halves) but skip the dried figs and agave that it comes with.
Seasonal Fruit Blends: These will, as their name implies, vary by season. You may be able to pick out some of the fruits in it, as often they will contain grapes and cantaloupe which are low FODMAP. Just remember to limit to 1 portion total of fruit per meal (which could be two half portions of different fruits, so 1/2 cup cantaloupe and 1/2 cup grapes).
Egg and Cheese Protein Box: Starbucks' peanut butter contains honey so would not be safe. But you could eat the cheddar cheese, grapes and hardboiled egg. You can bring your own rice crackers from home to fill it out. Even though a small amount of wheat is allowed on the diet (like 1 slice of white bread), the mini pita does not appear to be low FODMAP as it contains apples and numerous other ingredients including rye flour.
They also do have some snacks that aren't listed on their website, but sometimes they have unseasoned almonds (only safe to 10 nuts) or peanuts. They may also carry Justin's almond butter packets (allowed 1 tablespoon). Barnana Peanut Butter Chewy Banana Bites look like they may be low FODMAP in a small amount (maybe 5 pieces due to the ripe banana FODMAP limit): Organic Peanut Butter Coating (Organic Peanut Flour, Organic Dried Cane Syrup, Organic Certified Sustainable Palm Kernel Oil), Sea Salt, Organic Bananas, Organic Soy Lecithin, Natural Glaze.
The Bottom Line
In summary, if you visit Starbucks while doing the low FODMAP diet, I'd suggest you keep your order as simple as possible and avoid those items with many ingredients. As for the "possibly safe" list, my suggestion is that if your symptoms are under great control and you are dying for one of those items, you can always test your tolerance. Or you can wait until you are through with the re-introduction phase of the diet to try one of them. As an aside, I want to mention that while not a FODMAP issue, many of the beverages and foods contain multiple gums which can be a GI irritant for people with IBS.
Back in 2015, I originally contacted Starbucks to request that they have more non dairy options and more gluten free options. Since that time, they have started offering more of these options because many people requested the same. My point is that if enough of us make requests of restaurants and food manufacturers to offer more low FODMAP options, it sure would make life a little easier for those of us who suffer from digestive disorders. Starbucks gave me this link where customers can share ideas if you want to add your own request (maybe a request for lactose free milk in the US?!) www.MyStarbucksIdea.com
Disclaimer: I am not promoting any of these foods or beverages at Starbucks as healthy, I am simply commenting on FODMAP content as I have interpreted it. Also, note that food manufacturers change their ingredients frequently, so it's important to regularly check food labels and ingredient lists.
Do you have a favorite Starbucks drink that you tolerate well? Please let me know in the comments!
Post updated March 20, 2019