“Ultimate Guide to Finding & Choosing a Low FODMAP Cereal” was written by dietetic intern and functional nutritionist Krista Wale, B.S., and was reviewed, edited, & updated by Jenna Volpe, RDN, LD, CLT.
You may have found that since starting a low FODMAP diet, many of the breakfast cereals most of us know and love – even the whole grain ones – are chocked full of high FODMAP ingredients.
(Translation: lots of cereals out there often trigger unwanted symptoms, if you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)!)
The good news is there are lots of low FODMAP cereal options out there; you just have to know what to look for.
In this article we’ll done the heavy lifting for you. We’ll provide you with the low-down on exactly how to hunt for low FODMAP breakfast cereals, along with a list of low FODMAP cereal brands and products – so you can save time and energy the next time you hit the cereal aisle.
What makes a cereal high or low FODMAP?
Avoiding FODMAPs in food is easier when you’re dealing with whole foods like milk or apples. It gets trickier when it comes to packaged foods, since there’s often a laundry list of multiple ingredients to search through! But it can be done.
Label reading: what to look for
Typically when choosing a breakfast cereal, people will look at the calories, protein, fiber and sugar – but when it comes to finding suitable low FODMAP cereal options, it’s all about the ingredient list.
For example, all of the “healthy” wheat-based cereals (think raisin bran or shredded wheat) – while high in fiber and B vitamins – are also naturally high in fructans, a type of FODMAP notorious for triggering gas, bloating, and diarrhea in lots of people with IBS/SIBO. (That’s right – gluten isn’t the culprit in some of these cases! Read more about wheat vs gluten here.)
Cereal ingredients to avoid
High FODMAP grains
If you’re seeking out low FODMAP cereals, you’ll want to steer clear of the cereals made with high FODMAP grains such as:
- Whole wheat
- Wheat flour
- Enriched wheat flour (bleached or unbleached)
- Kamut (a type of wheat)
To add an extra layer of complexity, even cereals made with low FODMAP grains like oats, rice, or corn (which are all low in fructans) can still contain other high FODMAP ingredients such as sweeteners and fillers.
High FODMAP cereal sweeteners
That said, watch out for high FODMAP sweeteners, fruits, nuts, and other common high FODMAP additives such as:
- High fructose corn syrup
- Fruit juice concentrate or puree
- Sugar alcohols (ending in -ol)
- Chicory / chicory root / chicory root fiber
- Inulin (especially in gluten-free products)
- Whey /whey protein concentrate
Low FODMAP cereal ingredients – lean into these
Low FODMAP grains
Look for cereals made with low FODMAP grains such as:
- Rice (any kind)
What about cassava?
Up to 2 tablespoons of cassava flour is considered low in FODMAPs, according to Monash University. That being said, a cereal containing cassava flour is likely safe to eat with IBS, especially if it’s diluted with other types of flour.
But first and foremost, always listen to your body!
Low FODMAP sweeteners, fruit, nuts, and additives
The following ingredients are usually safe for people with IBS/SIBO from a FODMAP intolerance standpoint:
- Real maple syrup
- Rice malt syrup
- Invert cane syrup / invert syrup / invert sugar
- Table sugar / cane sugar
- Evaporated cane juice
- Dried bananas (usually in small enough quantities in a cereal)
- Coconut flakes
- Dried cranberries (if unsweetened or sweetened with cane sugar)
- Dark chocolate
While we did include sweeteners like table sugars, cane sugars and evaporated cane juice on this list, we still recommend keeping the total amount of added sugar to no more than ~9 grams or less, for the sake of your gut microbes.
(Read about a more holistic perspective on IBS and sugar here!)
What about cereals sweetened with coconut sugar?
Coconut sugar (aka “coconut palm sugar”) is considered low FODMAP in small quantities of 1 teaspoon or less per serving, according to Monash University.
- Since 1 teaspoon of coconut sugar equals about 4 grams, any type of cereal sweetened with coconut that contains more than 4 grams of added sugar per serving is not considered to be low FODMAP.
(As a friendly reminder, not everyone with IBS reacts to the FODMAPs in coconut sugar. It may be worth exploring this, with guidance from an IBS food diary and supervision from a registered dietitian as needed!)
What about corn syrup?
Technically, corn syrup is considered a low FODMAP sweetener; however, since it tends to feed troublesome pathogens in the gut linked with IBS, we chose not to include it on the above list! 😉
If you want to skip the label reading and be absolutely certain that a cereal is low FODMAP, look for the certified low FODMAP symbol on the box. This ensures that it has been tested in a lab to make sure it fits the parameters of a low FODMAP food.
Best low FODMAP cereals: functional nutritionist picks
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: just because a cereal is low FODMAP doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthy, if you’re looking to optimize gut health! There’s more to the story.
Many cereals, low FODMAP or not, are highly processed, high in added sugar, genetically modified, sprayed with glyphosate (a controversial herbicide banned in many other countries), and low in fiber. For most people with gut issues, which are impacted by microbiome imbalances, that stuff isn’t in your best interest.
Our key nutrition criteria
We recommend leaning more on cereals that contain at least 3 grams of fiber per serving (unless, of course, you notice that fiber makes you feel worse).
Look for a low FODMAP cereal with little to no added sugars (less than or up to 9 grams of added sugar per serving).
Does organic matter?
We also prefer cereals that are certified organic and/or not genetically modified (“non-GMO”).
Going organic and/or non-GMO means the ingredients in your cereal were never sprayed with glyphosate (“Round-Up”) which, as we mentioned, is banned outside the U.S. and under scrutiny for potential links to health problems.
- Research on this is still conflicting, but we prefer not to subject you to that risk, just in case. 😉
However, we also totally understand that following a low FODMAP diet is hard enough – so below is an entire spectrum of low FODMAP cereal options for you to choose from!
Best low FODMAP cold cereals
We did the heavy lifting for you in terms of evaluating the added sugar, fiber, and pesticide content – all things that matter and make a difference in long-term outcomes, from a gut health standpoint.
Depending on whether you do well with fiber or not, we’ve also organized them by their amounts of fiber and added sugar for you!
Lowest in added sugar + highest in fiber (per serving)
- Barbara’s Bakery Puffins Original (6g fiber, 6g added sugar)
- Barbara’s Bakery Cinnamon Puffins (6g fiber, 6g added sugar)
- Barbara’s Bakery Peanut Butter Puffins (4g fiber, 7g added sugar)
Low in added sugar + low in fiber (per serving)
- Nature’s Path Rice Puffs Crispy Rice (1g fiber, 0g added sugar)
- Barbara’s Bakery Organic Corn Flakes (1g fiber, 3g added sugar)
- Nature’s Path Honey’d Corn Flakes (1g fiber, 5g added sugar)
Moderate in added sugar + high/moderate in fiber (per serving)
- Barbara’s Bakery Organic Honest O’s Honey Nut Cereal (3g fiber, 9g added sugar)
- Arrowhead Organic Maple Buckwheat Flakes Gluten Free (2g fiber, 8g added sugar)
- Barbara’s Bakery Peanut Butter Puffins (2g fiber, 9g added sugar)
- Annie’s Homegrown Organic Cocoa Bunnies Cereal (2g fiber, 10g added sugar)
Organic but higher in added sugar + high in fiber (per serving)
- Trader Joe’s Honey Os (3g fiber, 13g added sugar)
Other low FODMAP cold cereals
The following cereals are not guaranteed to be organic/non-GMO or made with all-natural ingredients.
However, some are lower in sugar and/or higher in fiber than others.
The lower sugar, higher fiber options are the best (in our opinion) from a gut health standpoint, for most people.
Lower in added sugar + higher in fiber (per serving)
- Kix, original (3g fiber, 4g added sugar)
- Cheerios, multigrain (3g fiber, 8g added sugar)
- Cheerios, regular (4g fiber, 1g added sugar)
Lower in added sugar + lower in fiber (per serving)
- Kellogg’s Rice Krispie (0g fiber, 4g added sugar)
- Kellogg’s Corn Flakes (1g fiber, 4g added sugar)
- Kellogg’s Crispix (0g fiber, 5g added sugar)
- Corn Chex (2g fiber, 4g added sugar)
- Cinnamon Chex (2g fiber, 8g added sugar)
- Peanut Butter Chex (2g fiber, 9g added sugar)
- Rice Chex (2g fiber, 3g added sugar)
- Vanilla Chex (1g fiber, 8g added sugar)
Moderate in added sugar + high in fiber (per serving)
- Cheerios, chocolate (3g fiber, 10g added sugar)
- Cheerios, cinnamon (3g fiber, 11g added sugar)
Higher-sugar + lower-fiber (per serving)
We don’t endorse this categry of cereals as “healthy”, since they’re high in added sugar and low in fiber, and they may also contain some controversial chemicals/additives that aren’t all allowed in other countries… but we wanted to provide you with an entire spectrum of options so you can make your own informed choices!
- Chocolate Chex (2g fiber, 10g added sugar)
- Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes (1g fiber, 12g added sugar)
- Post fruity pebbles (0g fiber, 12g added sugar)
- Kellogg’s Frosted Krispies (0g fiber, 15g added sugar)
- Kellogg’s Cocoa Krispies (<1g fiber, 15g added sugar)
Low FODMAP hot cereals
Many plain hot cereals, such as oatmeal, are a naturally low FODMAP food.
(Aside from cream of wheat, which is naturally high in fructans, most othere hot cereals aren’t usually high FDMAP unless they contain certain high FODMAP flavors and sweeteners.)
When looking for a hot breakfast cereal, look for the following specific low FODMAP base ingredients:
Low FODMAP hot cereal grains
- Corn grits (plain)
- Oat bran
- Rolled oats
- Rice bran
- Steel cut oats
Try buying a plain hot cereal and adding in your own sweeteners and toppings to avoid sneaky FODMAP ingredients!
Healthy low FODMAP hot cereal toppings
Adding toppings to your cereals not only helps to pack on the flavor, but can also add extra nutrients and fiber to your breakfast! Here is a list of healthy toppings that pack nutritional benefits and won’t trigger IBS symptoms:
Low FODMAP nuts/seeds (1 to 2 tablespoons per serving)
- Chia seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Flax seeds
- Macadamia nuts
- Pine nuts
- Pumpkin seeds
Better-for-you low FODMAP sweeteners for hot cereal
- Coconut sugar (4 grams added sugar or less per serving)
- Real maple syrup
- Raw turbinado sugar
- Brown rice syrup
Low FODMAP fruits (fresh or dried):
- Banana (firm) – 1/2
Best brands of low FODMAP hot cereals
Feel free to try out any of the following:
- Ancient Harvest Quinoa Flakes
- Arrowhead Gluten Free Rice and Shine Hot Cereal and Puffed Corn
- Eden Organic Brown Rice Flakes Hot Cereal
- Pocono Cream of Buckwheat
- One Degree Organics sprouted oatmeal
- Purely Elizabeth gluten free oatmeal
What about low FODMAP milk for the cereal?
Traditionally, most people like to pair cold cereal with commercial cow’s milk, which is unfortunately very high in FODMAPs due to the lactose (milk sugar) content of 12 grams per cup.
So if you’re among the millions who are lactose intolerant, you’ll most definitely want to opt for a low FODMAP milk alternative!
For a similar taste and a better breakfast experience (without any IBS aftermath), you can easily swap regular milk for a low-lactose or lactose-free milk.
Or if you want a non-dairy alternative instead, there are many low FODMAP options available; just be sure to check the label for any FODMAP additives and added sugars.
- Note: Much like with cereal, not all low FODMAP milks or milk alternatives are going to help you optimize your gut health! (If you’re looking for a more holistic approach, you can read more about the best milk / milk alternatives for IBS here.)
If you’d like some extra resources navigating the low FODMAP diet and/or IBS, we’ve got you covered!
- 15 Tasty & Healthy Low FODMAP Breakfast Recipes
- Best Milk for IBS Sufferers
- Wheat vs Gluten – What’s the Difference?
- 50+ Tasty Low FODMAP Snacks for IBS
- IBS and Coffee: Can They Coexist?
- Decaf Coffee and IBS – To Drink or Not to Drink?
Hot and cold cereals are among the most popular breakfast choices and it can be tough to find breakfast cereals that adhere to low FODMAP guidelines since so many of them contain wheat and/or high FODMAP additives like high fructose corn syrup or sugar alcohols.
Knowing what to look for on the label is key to determining if a cereal fits the bill of the low FODMAP diet. Fortunately, more and more companies are coming out with low FODMAP cereals so it’s becoming easier to keep cereals a part of your low FODMAP diet.
Remember, not all low FODMAP cereals are created equally in terms of health. Try choosing cereals with no added sugars (less than 5g per serving) and at least 3g of fiber per serving. If your cereal is lacking fiber, try adding toppings like chia or flax seeds!
If you’re navigating gut issues and would like to learn more, we recommend downloading a copy of this free gut health nutrition guide: 5 Diet Mistakes to Avoid When Healing Your Gut!