What Foods Should I Eat for My IBS Flare Up?

If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you know how important it is to pay attention to what you eat, especially during a flare-up. Certain foods can trigger uncomfortable symptoms such as bloating, abdominal pain, and changes in bowel movements. In this article, we will explore the role of diet in managing IBS and provide guidance on what foods to include and avoid during a flare-up. We will also discuss tips for planning an IBS-friendly diet and the benefits of consulting with a dietitian.

Understanding IBS and Its Triggers

Before we delve into specific foods, let's take a moment to understand irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and its triggers. IBS is a chronic gastrointestinal disorder that affects the large intestine. Symptoms can vary from person to person but commonly include abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea.

IBS is a complex condition that can be influenced by various factors. While the exact cause of IBS is unknown, researchers believe that it may be a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors. Stress, hormonal changes, and certain foods have been identified as common triggers for IBS symptoms.

When it comes to managing IBS, it's important to take a holistic approach that addresses both the physical and emotional aspects of the condition. This may involve making lifestyle changes, such as reducing stress levels and incorporating regular exercise, as well as dietary modifications.

The Role of Diet in IBS Management

The saying "you are what you eat" rings especially true for IBS sufferers. Diet plays a crucial role in managing IBS symptoms. By making smart food choices and incorporating certain foods into your diet, you can help alleviate discomfort and improve your overall well-being.

When it comes to managing IBS through diet, a personalized approach is key. What works for one person may not work for another. It's important to listen to your body and experiment with different foods to find what works best for you.

In general, a diet that is low in certain types of carbohydrates, such as FODMAPs (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols), has been found to be beneficial for many individuals with IBS. FODMAPs are a group of carbohydrates that can be poorly absorbed in the small intestine and fermented by bacteria in the large intestine, leading to symptoms such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea.

However, it's important to note that not all high-FODMAP foods will trigger symptoms in everyone with IBS. Each person's tolerance to FODMAPs can vary, and it may be necessary to work with a healthcare professional, such as a registered dietitian, to determine which specific foods are problematic for you.

Common Food Triggers for IBS

While everyone's triggers may be different, there are several common food triggers that tend to aggravate IBS symptoms. It's important to note that not all of these triggers will affect everyone in the same way. Some common food triggers for IBS include:

  • Fatty foods: Foods high in fat can be difficult to digest and may lead to symptoms such as bloating and diarrhea. It's important to choose healthier sources of fats, such as avocados, nuts, and olive oil, while avoiding fried and greasy foods.
  • Spicy foods: Spices such as pepper and chili powder can irritate the digestive system, leading to abdominal pain and changes in bowel movements. If you enjoy spicy foods, it may be helpful to experiment with milder spices or limit your intake to see if it improves your symptoms.
  • High-FODMAP foods: FODMAPs are a group of carbohydrates that can cause digestive symptoms in some individuals. Examples of high-FODMAP foods include onions, garlic, wheat, and certain fruits. It's important to note that not all high-FODMAP foods will trigger symptoms in everyone, and it may be necessary to work with a healthcare professional to determine your specific triggers.
  • Dairy products: Many people with IBS have difficulty digesting lactose, a sugar found in milk and dairy products. Consuming dairy can lead to bloating, gas, and diarrhea. If you suspect that lactose is a trigger for your symptoms, you may want to try lactose-free alternatives or incorporate lactase supplements to aid in digestion.

It's important to remember that individual tolerance to these food triggers can vary. Some people with IBS may find that they can tolerate small amounts of these foods without experiencing symptoms, while others may need to avoid them completely. Keeping a food diary and tracking your symptoms can be helpful in identifying your personal triggers.

By understanding IBS and its triggers, you can take proactive steps to manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life. Remember to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice and guidance on managing your IBS through diet and lifestyle modifications.

Foods to Include During an IBS Flare Up

Importance of Fiber in IBS Diet

Fiber is an essential component of a healthy diet for everyone, but it can be particularly beneficial for IBS sufferers. Soluble fiber can help regulate bowel movements and reduce symptoms of constipation, while insoluble fiber adds bulk to the stool and aids in promoting regularity.

Some examples of high-fiber foods that can be included in your diet during an IBS flare-up include:

  1. Whole grains: Opt for whole-grain bread, pasta, and cereals to increase your fiber intake.
  2. Fruits and vegetables: Choose non-citrus fruits and vegetables such as bananas, berries, carrots, and spinach.
  3. Legumes: Incorporate beans, lentils, and chickpeas into your meals for added fiber.

Probiotics and Digestive Health

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can help restore the balance of gut bacteria and improve digestive health. They can be particularly helpful for individuals with IBS, as imbalances in gut bacteria have been associated with the condition.

Some sources of probiotics include:

  • Yogurt: Look for yogurt containing live and active cultures.
  • Kefir: This fermented milk drink is rich in probiotics.
  • Sauerkraut: This fermented cabbage dish is a good source of probiotics.

Foods to Avoid During an IBS Flare Up

High-FODMAP Foods and IBS

As mentioned earlier, high-FODMAP foods can trigger symptoms in some individuals with IBS. FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. These are types of carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine, leading to symptoms such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea.

During an IBS flare-up, it is important to pay close attention to your diet and avoid or limit the consumption of high-FODMAP foods. These foods can exacerbate symptoms and make the flare-up more uncomfortable.

Let's take a closer look at some of the high-FODMAP foods that should be avoided:

  • Onions and Garlic: These aromatic ingredients are commonly used in cooking, but they can be problematic for individuals with IBS. Both onions and garlic contain fructans, a type of oligosaccharide that can ferment in the gut and cause bloating and gas.
  • Wheat and Rye: Foods made from wheat and rye, such as bread, pasta, and cereals, can be high in fructans and other FODMAPs. These grains can be difficult to digest for individuals with IBS, leading to digestive discomfort and diarrhea.
  • Beans and Lentils: Legumes like beans and lentils are rich in oligosaccharides, particularly galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS). These carbohydrates are known to cause gas and bloating in individuals with IBS. It is advisable to avoid or limit the consumption of these legumes during an IBS flare-up.
  • Apples and Pears: While fruits are generally considered healthy, some fruits can be high in FODMAPs. Apples and pears, for example, contain excess fructose, which can be difficult to absorb for individuals with IBS. This can lead to symptoms such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea.

The Impact of Spicy Foods on IBS

Spicy foods can be a trigger for many individuals with IBS. The capsaicin found in peppers can cause irritation and inflammation in the digestive system, leading to symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, and changes in bowel movements.

During an IBS flare-up, it is advisable to avoid or minimize the consumption of spicy foods. These foods can further irritate the already sensitive digestive system, making the symptoms more intense and uncomfortable.

Here are some examples of spicy foods that should be avoided during an IBS flare-up:

  • Chili Peppers: These fiery peppers are known for their heat, but they can also cause a burning sensation in the stomach and exacerbate IBS symptoms. It is best to steer clear of chili peppers during a flare-up.
  • Hot Sauce: Hot sauce, often made with chili peppers and other spicy ingredients, can add a fiery kick to meals. However, the high spice content can irritate the digestive system and worsen IBS symptoms. It is recommended to avoid hot sauce during a flare-up.
  • Curry: Curry dishes are popular in many cuisines, but the combination of spices used in curry can be problematic for individuals with IBS. The blend of spices, including chili powder and turmeric, can cause inflammation and discomfort in the digestive system. It is best to avoid curry during an IBS flare-up.

By being mindful of your diet and avoiding these trigger foods during an IBS flare-up, you can help alleviate symptoms and promote better digestive health.

Planning Your IBS-Friendly Diet

Tips for Grocery Shopping with IBS

Grocery shopping can be overwhelming, especially when you have dietary restrictions due to IBS. Here are some helpful tips to make your shopping experience easier:

  • Plan ahead: Make a list of the foods you need before you go to the store.
  • Read labels: Look for foods that are labeled as low-FODMAP or suitable for individuals with IBS.
  • Stick to the perimeter: The outer aisles of the grocery store usually contain fresh produce, meats, and dairy products.

Meal Prep Ideas for IBS Sufferers

Meal prepping can be a game-changer for IBS sufferers. By preparing meals in advance, you can ensure that you have IBS-friendly options readily available, reducing the temptation to reach for trigger foods. Here are some meal prep ideas:

  1. Grilled chicken with roasted vegetables
  2. Quinoa salad with cucumbers and cherry tomatoes
  3. Salmon with steamed broccoli and brown rice

Consulting with a Dietitian for IBS Management

The Role of a Dietitian in IBS Care

A registered dietitian can be a valuable resource for individuals with IBS. They can provide personalized dietary advice, help identify trigger foods, and assist in creating an individualized meal plan. Consulting with a dietitian may also be beneficial if you have additional dietary restrictions or health conditions.

Preparing for Your Dietitian Appointment

Before your appointment with a dietitian, it's helpful to come prepared with some information:

  • Keep a food diary: Track your symptoms and the foods you eat for a couple of weeks before your appointment.
  • Write down your questions: Jot down any concerns or questions you may have about your diet or IBS management.
  • Be honest: Provide the dietitian with accurate information about your eating habits and any previous attempts at diet modification.

In conclusion, when it comes to managing IBS flare-ups, making informed food choices can make a significant difference in alleviating symptoms and improving overall quality of life. While everyone's triggers and dietary needs may differ, incorporating fiber-rich foods, probiotics, and avoiding high-FODMAP and spicy foods can be a helpful approach. An IBS-friendly diet requires careful consideration, and consulting with a dietitian can provide personalized guidance and support. Remember to listen to your body, be patient, and find what works best for you in managing your IBS.

Back to blog

Keto, Paleo, Low FODMAP Certified Gut Friendly

1 of 12

Keto. Paleo. No Digestive Triggers. Shop Now

No onion, no garlic – no pain. No gluten, no lactose – no bloat. Low FODMAP certified.

Stop worrying about what you can't eat and start enjoying what you can. No bloat, no pain, no problem.

Our gut friendly keto, paleo and low FODMAP certified products are gluten-free, lactose-free, soy free, no additives, preservatives or fillers and all natural for clean nutrition. Try them today and feel the difference!