What Foods Should I Avoid With Severe IBS?

Medically Reviewed by: Nicole Anne Vergara, RD

A healthy diet consists of a variety of wholesome foods. However, those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) could find that some meals make their symptoms of uncomfortable digestion worse.

It's not possible to compile a single list of foods to avoid because the precise foods that cause IBS to flare up vary from person to person.

Having said that, a lot of people will notice the following benefits from avoiding some of the most typical triggers, such as dairy, alcohol, and fried foods. Improved bowel quality, less cramping, less bloating are some of the noticeable benefits.

Below are some of the food items that you have to consume less:


1. Insoluble Fiber

In general, dietary fiber promotes intestinal health and gives the diet more bulk. Foods high in fiber include whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. There are currently two types of fiber, insoluble and soluble.

The majority of plant-based foods include both soluble and insoluble fiber, but some are particularly abundant in one.

Beans, fruits, and oat products are high in soluble fiber. Insoluble fiber is prevalent in vegetables and whole grain products.

For the majority of IBS sufferers, soluble fiber is a fantastic option. IBS can be treated affordably and effectively with soluble fiber supplements, such as psyllium, according to the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG).

Conversely, they assert that insoluble fiber, such as wheat bran, may exacerbate discomfort and bloating.

Each person has a distinct threshold for fiber. Some IBS sufferers may experience worsening symptoms from eating foods high in insoluble fiber, although other sufferers might not have any problems. In addition, some persons with IBS may experience problems with soluble fiber-rich foods like beans.

As you can see, nutrition and IBS are very unique issues. While some fiber-rich foods may make your symptoms worse, others may help.

If eating something like this makes you sick, try taking soluble fiber pills. For a variety of reasons, dairy may be problematic for IBS sufferers.


2. Dairy Products

First off, a lot of dairy products include a lot of fat, which can cause diarrhea. Changing to nonfat or low-fat dairy may help you feel better.

Second, a lot of IBS sufferers claim that milk makes their symptoms worse, while it's not known if this is accurate or if IBS patients are more likely to have a true lactose intolerance.

Consider switching to dairy substitutes like plant milks and soy-based cheese if you believe that dairy or dairy products are creating bothersome stomach issues.

If you must fully avoid dairy, concentrate on eating other calcium-rich foods like:

  • Greens
  • Beans
  • Nuts
  • Sardines
  • Seeds

It is advised to choose calcium-rich meals rather than calcium pills because, according to a 2017 study, supplements frequently cause more harm than good.

3. Beans and Legumes

Although they can exacerbate IBS symptoms, beans, lentils, and peas are generally excellent sources of protein and fiber. They contain oligosaccharides, which are substances that are resistant to being broken down by digestive enzymes.

In addition to helping with constipation by adding volume to the stool, beans also increase gas, bloating, and cramps.

To determine whether it helps with your IBS problems, try avoiding beans. Alternatively, soaking and washing beans or lentils the night before cooking can make them easier for the body to digest.



4. Gluten

A group of proteins called gluten, which is included in grains including rye, wheat, and barley, may be problematic for certain IBS sufferers.

Celiac disease is a significant immunological response to gluten in certain people's bodies. Some people may be sensitive to gluten. These ailments have symptoms in common with IBS that is primarily diarrheal.

An autoimmune condition, celiac disease. Poor nutrient absorption occurs as a result of its impact on intestinal cells. Less is known about the root causes of gluten intolerance or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

According to a 2015 study, evidence suggests that a gluten-free diet can reduce IBS symptoms in about half of those who have been tested.

Some medical professionals advise IBS patients to try cutting out gluten to determine whether their symptoms get better. Try a gluten-free lifestyle if you discover that gluten aggravates your symptoms.

The good news is that gluten-free products are quickly becoming more and more available on the market. You can always choose gluten-free versions of items like pizza, spaghetti, cakes, and cookies if you really must have them.

Furthermore, there are a variety of whole, healthy alternatives to grains and flours containing gluten available, such as:

  • quinoa
  • sorghum
  • oats
  • buckwheat
  • almond flour
  • coconut flour

You can also try eating Low FODMAP Oatmeals that are ready to eat, great for people on the go. 



5. Fried Foods

The normal Western diet often includes fried meals like French fries and other fried dishes. However, overeating can lead to health issues. For those with IBS, the high fat content may be particularly taxing on the digestive tract.

Food that has been fried may have undergone chemical changes that make it more difficult to digest and cause unpleasant digestive problems. Try grilling or baking your preferred foods as a healthier alternative.


6. Processed Foods

Processed food commonly includes a lot of extra salt, sugar, and fats. Anybody who consumes excess amounts of these components may have health issues. Additionally, they frequently have additives or preservatives that could cause flare-ups of IBS.

Common processed foods include:

  • Chips
  • Prepared, frozen food
  • Refined meats
  • Deep-fried meals

In a review published in 2019, the following factors were also associated to an increased chance of getting IBS:

  • Cancer
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure

Making meals at home or purchasing fresh produce is a healthy substitute for purchasing processed foods when it is possible.



7. Chocolates

Because they are often heavy in fat and sugar and frequently contain lactose and caffeine, chocolate bars and chocolate candies might cause IBS. Consuming chocolate can cause constipation in some people.

People with IBS frequently find certain vegan chocolate options to be more pleasant. Shakes and smoothies that are low fodmap are also a great option. You can try having a Low FODMAP Complete Meal in Chocolate instead if you’re craving for some chocolates.


8. Sugar-free Sweeteners

Even when it comes to IBS, something being sugar-free doesn't necessarily imply it's good for you.

Using sugar-free sweeteners are commonly found in unsweetened candies, gums, diet beverages, and mouthwash.

Typical sugar replacements consist of:

  • Glucose alcohols
  • Synthetic sweeteners
  • Natural sweeteners with no calories, such as stevia

Artificial sweeteners, which may be harmful to your health, may include the following ingredients:

  • Sucralose
  • Potassium acesulfame
  • Aspartame

Additionally, researchTrusted Source demonstrates that sugar alcohols are challenging for the body to assimilate, particularly in those with IBS, leading to excessive gas and digestive unrest.

You can prevent consuming these substances by carefully reading the ingredient labels of any sugar-free goods.


9. Alcohol

People with IBS frequently experience triggers from alcoholic beverages. This is as a result of how the body processes alcohol. Dehydration brought on by drinking can also interfere with digestion.

Because it frequently contains gluten and because wines and mixed drinks sometimes have a lot of sugar, beer is a particularly risky choice.

Limiting alcohol consumption may assist in easing IBS symptoms. If you decide to consume alcohol, think about a gluten-free beer or a beverage that is blended with basic seltzer and free of added sugar or artificial sweeteners.


10. Broccoli and cauliflower

Because they are hard for the body to digest, broccoli and cauliflower may make IBS symptoms worse.

Even for those without IBS, the breakdown of certain meals in your intestine might result in gas and, occasionally, constipation.

If eating veggies raw makes your digestive system uncomfortable, consider roasting or sautéing broccoli and cauliflower instead. Cooking vegetables also makes them easier to digest.



11. Garlic and Onions

While garlic and onions add wonderful flavors to food, they can also be challenging for your intestines to digest, which can result in gas.

Raw garlic and onions, as well as prepared versions of these meals, can cause uncomfortable flatulence and cramping. If you love garlic and onions to flavor up your meals, you can try Organic Low FODMAP Seasonings instead.


12. Caffeinated Drinks

For proper digestion, several people swear by their morning coffee. However, coffee, like all caffeinated beverages, stimulates the intestines, which might result in diarrhea.

People with IBS may be sensitive to caffeine from coffee, sodas, and energy drinks.

If you feel like you need a little pick-me-up or an energy boost, think about having a small snack or taking a short walk.

What Should I Eat Instead?

The low FODMAP diet is advised by several medical professionals for persons who have IBS. This diet emphasizes avoiding foods high in particular kinds of carbs.

Fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols are referred to as FODMAPs. These short-chain carbohydrates are fermentable.

Research suggests that foods containing FODMAPs are difficult for the small intestine to absorb, according to Harvard Medical School. They could result in gas, bloating, and stomach pain.

The following foods contain FODMAPS:

  • Nearly all dairy products
  • Fruits such as mangos, cherries, and apples
  • Vegetables, such lentils, cabbage, and cauliflower, beans, and
  • Rye and wheat
  • Fructose-rich corn syrup
  • Sweeteners like xylitol, sorbitol, and mannitol

You can still enjoy a wide variety of other foods with low FODMAP ratings while avoiding the foods listed above.

To begin with, this diet permits any foods that are free of carbs or have a low FODMAPS content. This comprises:

  • Meats
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Lard and oils
  • Tough cheeses

Among the other nutritious low-FODMAPS foods you can eat are:

  • Dairy products without lactose
  • Fruits: bananas, blueberries, grapes, kiwis, oranges, and pineapple
  • Vegetables: potatoes, carrots, celery, eggplant, green beans, kale, pumpkin, and spinach
  • Rice, millet, quinoa, and cornmeal
  • Medium and firm tofu
  • Seeds: sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds

The low FODMAP diet entails periods of elimination and reintroduction and is challenging to follow without assistance from a healthcare professional.

Speak with a healthcare professional with experience in digestive issues, such as a registered dietitian, if you're interested in giving the low FODMAP diet a try.



It's critical to keep in mind that each person has unique dietary triggers and digestive processes. Some IBS sufferers can handle certain meals while others cannot.

Get to know your body, discover the foods that give you the best feelings, and eliminate or limit the ones that give you unpleasant sensations.

Knowing which foods to eat and which to avoid can be determined by keeping a food and symptom diary.

Make an appointment with a certified dietitian if you feel you need more assistance with your diet due to IBS.

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