You might be suffering from an IBS flare up and might be looking for the recommended diet for IBS. Or you might have your symptoms under control but you might be looking for foods you can eat with IBS. If that’s the case then this article is all you need.
This article will walk you through a detailed IBS diet plan that would include the foods to eat with IBS list and irritable bowel syndrome foods to avoid. This article will give you a three-step plan on how you can optimize your diet and minimize IBS symptoms by healthy eating. So let’s get to it!
Step 1: What Foods Can You Eat With IBS?
If you are looking for foods to help with IBS, you need to make and follow a strict diet plan. Here are the best foods for IBS that anyone with IBS (whether IBSD or IBSC) could eat:
- Fruits and vegetables
You should experiment with fruits and vegetables and see which ones are best suited for your needs. Instead of taking IBS medication or IBS tablets, you should rather rely on the right diet for relieving IBS symptoms. The fruits and vegetables suitable for IBS sufferers include citrus fruits, starchy potatoes, kidney beans, lentils, green beans, and lama beans.
- Add protein sources to your diet
Add a little protein to your diet as well. You can get your daily protein from chicken, turkey, eggs, seafood, lean beef, and some beans.
- Add a little fat too
Your diet should contain a little fat too. Avoid the saturated varieties of fat like ghee, cheese, and butter. Instead, you should try the unsaturated varieties of fats like sunflower oil, olive oil, flax seeds, and avocados.
- Eat a little dairy too
Don’t overdo it; just eat enough to get your daily calcium. If dairy goes too hard on your system, you could try soy-based alternatives and almond milk.
- Drink just water
You should drink water only and avoid other beverages. If you want to try something different, you could try the non-caffeinated versions of green tea.
Step 2: Make Symptom Specific Changes To
The diet mentioned above is suitable for anyone with IBS. However, you must realize that IBS is a condition with an array of symptoms. Your symptoms might be totally different from others.
So, you need to identify what foods trigger IBS symptoms in your case and make respective changes to your diet. Here are the most common foods that trigger IBS symptoms.
- Reduce your caffeine intake
Coffee IBS or tea IBS are quite common among a lot of individuals suffering from IBS. The main reason is that coffee is quite rich in caffeine. Caffeine acts on your gut and increases its motility. As a result, you experience abdominal cramps and diarrhea. If you are someone who experiences frequent abdominal cramps and diarrhea then you should start by giving up on caffeine.
To avoid the IBS symptoms associated with the intake of caffeine, you should avoid drinking or eating caffeine-rich foods. You can start by slowly reducing the intake and then finally eliminating such foods from your diet altogether.
Your final goal should be not to drink more than 3 cups of coffee per day. Also, not that filter coffee has a much higher caffeine content compared to instant coffee or tea. So if you are drinking filter coffee, you should try to drink not more than 2 cups of coffee per day. Also, caffeine is present in carbonated beverages and chocolates. If your IBS symptoms get worse with caffeine intake, you should avoid eating these foods altogether.
- Limit your intake of alcohol
IBS and alcohol share a deep connection. Alcohol is one of the foods to avoid with IBS, especially if you have IBSD (Irritable Bowel Syndrome with Diarrhoea).
First, alcohol alters the way your immune system works, making it work in an aberrant way. Second, it promotes inflammation in the walls of your gut. Third, it alters the growth of the good bacteria in your gut. All these factors add up and make your gut leakier, which eventually worsens the symptoms of IBS.
If that’s the case with you too then you should avoid alcohol. A unit of alcohol is present in one small glass of wine, half a pint of beer, a small shot of spirit.
- Avoid Drinking Carbonated Beverages
The effect of carbonated beverages on IBS symptoms is quite similar to alcohol. In addition, they are rich in caffeine. Also, they are rich in sugars like sorbitol. Sorbitol attracts a lot of water towards your intestine and makes your stools watery and frequent. Therefore, you should avoid carbonated beverages and fizzy drinks if you are struggling with IBS.
- Avoid Foods Rich in Resistant Starch
Foods rich in resistant starch are not included in the best diet for IBS. Foods rich in starch are quite healthy, but no so much if you are suffering from IBS. These starches, as their name signifies, are resistant to digestion. Instead, the bacteria in your gut slowly ferment these starches. The process of fermentation results in the production of gas, symptoms of bloating, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.
Here is the list of foods high in resistant starch that should not be included in your IBS diet plan:
- Savory snacks
- Foods that are precooked and left out in the cold. These include cold salads and pastas.
- Highly processed and packaged food items such as breakfast cereals, crisps, cakes, oven chips, biscuits, and pizzas.
- Ready to eat meals.
- Whole grains, bran, pulses, green unripe bananas, and sweetcorn.
- Partially baked breads such as garlic bread.
- Dried pasta
Different types of starches have different effects on your IBS symptoms. For some, reducing the intake of fiber helps reduce the symptoms. For others, an increase in the intake of fiber helps improve the symptoms. You need to identify the type of fiber that suits your needs and stick to that type of fiber.
Fiber is of two main types:
- Soluble fiber: This type of fiber is soluble in water and is easily digested by the bacteria present in your gut. These types of fiber help improve the bulk of your stool and could help you get rid of constipation. Therefore, if you have IBSC, then you should consider adding more soluble fiber to your diet.
Some food sources naturally rich in this type of fiber include barley, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, and psyllium.
However, you should be careful regarding the intake of fiber. If you are suddenly increasing the intake of fiber; you could experience symptoms of bloating and abdominal pain. Therefore, you should include fiber to your diet slowly so to avoid the unwanted side effects.
- Insoluble fiber: This type of fiber is insoluble in water and is resistant to digestion by bacteria. Therefore, this type of fiber passes through your gut almost intact and draws water towards it leading to diarrhea. Therefore, if you are someone who has IBSD, you should avoid foods rich in insoluble fiber. Such foods include nuts, whole grains, bran, and wheat.
- Reduce the intake of fatty foods: Some people with IBS find it difficult to digest fat and eating fatty foods might worsen the symptoms of diarrhea. Therefore, you should avoid the intake of following foods:
- Bakery items such as biscuits, pastries, and cakes.
- Creamy sauces.
- Sausages, pies, and pasties.
- High-fat dairy.
- Avoid added sugars: Eating added sugars is not healthy and is certainly not helpful for you if you are someone who is suffering from IBS, especially IBSD. Added sugars such as fructose, sucrose, and sorbitol have a diuretic effect. In simple words, these sugars draw a lot of water towards them making your stool watery. Therefore, you should avoid items rich in these sugars such as drinks, corn syrups, or any other item with artificial sweeteners in them.
- Try Probiotics: Probiotics are one of the IBS supplements that are rapidly gaining popularity as a treatment for IBS. You might be looking for best probiotic for IBS with constipation or best probiotic for IBSD. Research shows that the use of probiotics can help both types of IBS- IBSD and IBSC. Since one of the basic reasons for IBS is an imbalance in the number of good bacteria in your gut, eating a probiotic supplement could help restore the balance and help improve IBS symptoms as well.
You should try probiotics coming from natural sources like yogurt, kefir, pickled foods, low-fat dairy, lassi, and kimchi. Or you could try some probiotic supplements. The best probiotic brands for IBS include Yakult®, Actimel®, and Activia®.
Step 3: Try Elimination Diets
If following the above two steps has not helped you much then it means that the condition is quite complicated in your case and making one or two dietary choices will not help you. What you need, instead, is a strict dietary plan that eliminates a lot of foods. Some elimination diets include:
- Check for Foods that Might Be Causing Intolerances
You might be suffering from food intolerance. Food intolerance is something when your gut becomes sensitive to some constituents in your food. Some food intolerances include:
- Lactose intolerance: Lactose in a sugar present in dairy items. Your gut might not have the enzyme needed to break down this sugar and this may make you prone to develop IBS symptoms like abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and bloating.
- Gluten intolerance: You might be intolerant to the gluten present in wheat, barley, and rye, which might be worsening your IBS symptoms.
So you should make a food journal and eliminate a type of food every week and see if you have experienced any improvement. If your symptoms improve, it means that food group was causing trouble in your case.
- FODMAP Diet: FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligo Di Monosaccharides And Polyols. Eating a high FODMAP diet could worsen your symptoms. Therefore, you should try a FODMAP elimination diet. Some high FODMAP foods include cabbage, asparagus, savoy, onions, beetroot, artichokes, garlic, leek bulk, sugar snack peas, legumes, plums, apples, peaches, watermelon, mango, nectarines, and pears.
Some Additional Tips
In addition to following the steps mentioned above, you should also consider following the tips given below:
- Eat in small portions.
- Divide your meals. Instead of eating 2 or 3 big meals in one day, you should eat 5 or 6 small meals spaced throughout the day.
- Don’t rush through your food. Chew your food properly.
- Try not to drink things other than water while eating food.
- Don’t eat lying down or standing. Try to sit down when you eat.
- Don’t eat anything at least one to two hours before going to bed.
- In addition to the regular exercise, try to have a 5-10 minute walk after each meal.
- Skipping meals is not the solution. You should always follow a meal pattern.
- Try yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises.
- Try to get 7-8 hours of good night sleep every day.