If you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, also known as IBS, learning what foods to avoid if you have IBS is key to a good treatment plan. IBS causes digestive symptoms such as bloating, constipation, diarrhea, flatulence, indigestion, nausea, stomach pain, a nervous stomach and other digestive ailments. If not treated, it can cause poor absorption of nutrients and a number of health issues, pain, and embarrassing social situations. The good news is, you don't have to let your tummy troubles ruin your life and you most certainly shouldn't give up hope. The following foods to avoid if you have IBS are a good starting point to monitor your symptoms, but you’ll also want to be sure to see a specialist for further help.
1. High Fat Foods
One of the main foods to avoid if you have IBS is any food, whether healthy or not, that is high in fat. Remember, IBS is not about calories, or a diet plan geared at losing or gaining weight. An IBS diet is about avoiding foods that stimulate or aggravate the bowel, or that are hard to digest. Fat is a big trigger for people with IBS, so avoid eating too much fat at each meal, or eating too many fatty foods in one day. A little fat is okay with each meal, but you’ll have to learn how much you can tolerate and from what sources. As a general rule, all oils cause a problems for people with IBS, as do fatty meats and high amounts of nuts and seeds.
2. Refined Foods
All refined foods should be avoided in IBS. They are full of sugars, fats, preservatives, chemicals and more, all of which can aggravate the bowels and stomach, along with interfering with the nutrient absorption from foods. Be sure to avoid refined foods for the most part anyway, since they are void of nutrients in comparison to healthier fresh foods. All sources of gluten should also be avoided, even if the sources aren’t refined and are in whole grain form. Go for gluten-free options like oats, rice, quinoa, and more foods in the whole non-refined form.
3. Carbonated Foods
Carbonated water, sodas and other beverages cause major issues in people with IBS. Those bubbles in your drink end up in your stomach and cause major gas and bloating. Instead, drink plain water, herbal teas, and flavor them with lemon and some stevia if you want some flavor.
4. Spicy Foods
Spicy foods may be tasty and some can even be healthy, but they should be highly avoided if you have IBS. Instead, flavor foods with lemon and lime juice, along with herbs and seasonings, which can actually improve IBS. Just be sure to avoid cayenne pepper, along with paprika and any seasoning that includes hot, spicy ingredients.
5. Certain Veggies
Broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts are some of the healthiest foods you can eat, yet if you have IBS, they cause bloating and major pain, quickly. Corn, eggplant, summer squash, all legumes and beans, and cucumbers with seeds also pose a problem. There are plenty of IBS-friendly options to include in the veggie department so load up with those, and you'll never feel guilty about avoiding broccoli again!
6. Sugary Foods
Most all sugars and fruits will ferment in the gut, so for those with IBS, it is best to avoid all sources of sugar. Some people will find that they can tolerate small amounts of berries and lower sugar citrus such as grapefruit, lemons and limes, along with stevia, a zero calorie sweetener. All artificial sweeteners should also be avoided since they contribute to IBS symptoms for most people.
Dairy contains lactose, or milk sugar, which causes symptoms to arise very quickly in people who have IBS. Lactose-free varieties may be enjoyed if you choose to do so, along with small amounts of unsweetened, low lactose yogurt due to the probiotic content, which has been said to “eat up” most of the lactose sugars. There are a variety of nondairy alternatives out there, so be sure to explore this option instead of giving up dairy-type foods completely.
Alcohol aggravates the gut and is generally best avoided on an IBS diet. All alcohol is fermented and many varieties contain a high sugar content as well. Some people tolerate lower sugar versions, such as small amounts of red wine, while others can’t tolerate any form at all.
Coffee stimulates the gut and can trigger the bowel to move. For some people, this may seem like a good thing, but over time, coffee can cause problems to arise since it may harm the gut lining to some degree. Test your tolerance to coffee if you enjoy it, but if you can’t, be sure to enjoy the variety of coffee alternative beverages instead.
IBS can be a terrible disorder to deal with. It can cause social issues, major pain and make eating seem like punishment if you aren't eating the right foods. If you have IBS or know someone with IBS, what problem foods do you avoid?