Foods to Avoid for People with Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Eating smaller meals more often, or eating smaller portions, may help your irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms. Large meals can cause cramping and diarrhea if you have IBS.

Eating foods that are low in fat and high in carbohydrates, such as pasta, rice, whole-grain breads and cereals, fruits, and vegetables, may help.

Fiber may improve constipation symptoms caused by IBS because it makes stool soft and easier to pass. Fiber is a part of foods such as whole-grain breads and cereals, beans, fruits, and vegetables.

Certain foods or drinks may make symptoms worse.

Here is a brief list of foods that you should avoid or cut-down on if you suffer from the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome:

  • Alcohol is a gastrointestinal irritant and often triggers IBS attacks, especially on an empty stomach. Small amounts of alcohol in cooking are fine.
  • Artificial fats, such as Olestra, can cause abdominal cramping and diarrhea in people who don’t even have IBS.
  • Artificial sweeteners, such as sorbitol, can trigger pain, cramps, gas, bloating, and diarrhea.
  • Battered and deep-fried food.
  • Biscuits
  • Caffeine is a gastrointestinal stimulant and should be avoided, especially in higher doses.
  • Carbonation in soda pop and mineral water can cause bloating and cramps.
  • Chocolate
  • Coconut milk
  • Coffee: regular and decaf coffee contain an enzyme that is a powerful irritant of the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Cookies
  • Corn chips and nachos – unless they are baked.
  • Crackers
  • Croissants, pastries, biscuits, scones, and doughnuts.
  • Dairy products such as cheese, butter, sour cream, cream cheese, milk, cream, ice cream, whipped cream, yogurt, frozen yogurt.
  • Doughnuts
  • Dried bananas they are often deep fried in oil.
  • Egg yolks (whites are fine, do try to buy organic)
  • French fries
  • French toast
  • Fried chicken
  • Hot dogs / Corn dogs
  • Margarine
  • Mashed potatoes which have butter / milk.
  • Mayonnaise
  • MSG used a lot in Chinese food. MSG has been implicated as a cause or trigger of various digestive issues.
  • Nuts and nut butters.
  • Oils, fats, spreads, etc.
  • Olives.
  • Onion rings
  • Pancakes
  • Pastries
  • Pie crust.
  • Potato chips – unless they are baked.
  • Poultry dark meat and skin. Skinless chicken white meat is fine.
  • Red meat, such as ground beef, hamburgers, hot dogs, steaks, roast beef, pastrami, salami, bologna, pepperoni, corned beef, ham, bacon, sausage, pork chops, and any other meat that comes from cows, pigs, sheep, goats, deer, etc.
  • Salad dressings
  • Scones
  • Shortening
  • Shredded coconut
  • Skillet-fried food that is cooked in fat or oil.
  • Solid carob but carob powder is OK.
  • Solid chocolate but baking cocoa powder is OK.
  • Tartar sauce
  • Waffles
  • Wheat, rye, barley or other foods containing gluten

Photo: jeffreyw. Chicago style hot dogs. CC BY 2.0

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