Foods To Avoid with IBS

Abdominal cramps, bloating, and uncomfortable and embarrassing gas are just some of the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, also known as IBS.  Others may also experience constipation, diarrhea, or a combination of both. There are certain foods to avoid with IBS since these foods can trigger symptoms, causing pain, making it hard for your clothes to fit, and putting a stop sign on your daily tasks. Therefore, here is a short list of foods to avoid with IBS to limit these triggers, so you can live with IBS without having it take over your life.

Go Gluten-Free

When it comes to foods to avoid with IBS, foods with glutens are high on the list. Any products made with wheat, barley, or rye are considered gluten-containing foods. Breads, pastas, and baked goods made from such ingredients should be avoided. However, you should also be careful to avoid foods that contain small amounts of these ingredients hidden in the label. Thickeners and additives that contain gluten may include soy sauce or malt vinegar, wheat gluten, or wheat starch are just a few of the hidden forms of gluten in supermarket products. Some products to watch out for when on an IBS diet include gravy, sauce, and marinade mixes, condiments, frozen foods such as potatoes, soups, and vegetarian meat alternatives.

When you are eating out, it may be harder to know if gluten is in some seemingly innocent foods you are eating. Some restaurants foods may be coated in a “crispy” or “golden” batter which usually contains wheat. Also, some restaurants may fluff their eggs with wheat-based batter. Therefore, be your own health advocate and ask about the ingredients in certain foods before ordering - to be sure that they don’t fall on the IBS foods to avoid list.

Pass on the Milk

Dairy products are one of the largest categories of foods to avoid with IBS.  Milk as well as yogurt and certain cheeses made from cow’s milk may cause IBS symptoms. Plant-based milks made from soy protein, coconut, almond, and hemp are safer options, and yogurts made from such milks should be OK. Cheeses that are aged and sharp should be fine. Just watch out for cheeses such as cream cheese or ricotta cheese that may trigger IBS symptoms. Again, it is critical to know what not to eat with irritable bowel syndrome, and to make sure that these ingredients aren’t in your meals when you’re eating out - some restaurants add milk or cream to eggs for flavor and consistency, and some soups and sauces may be milk-based.

Skip the Fizz

There are many foods to avoid with IBS, but there are a few drinks you should avoid too. Carbonated beverages may be refreshing but could also trigger IBS symptoms. The bubbles in the fizz cause a gas buildup in your intestines that can cause cramping and gas.  Therefore, avoid any seltzer beverages, soda water, or any drink that claims to be sparkling.  Also, colas should be avoided as much as possible too since not only do they contain fizz, but regular colas also may contain high fructose corn syrup, which is another IBS trigger.

Sugar-free foods and drinks

You may think your sugar-free foods and drinks are healthy for you since they contain little to no sugar. And they very well might be. However, for those with IBS, any sugar-free food or drinks that contain sugar alcohols, or any sugar ending in -ol, may have you running for the bathroom. Foods to avoid with IBS include any foods with sugars such as maltitol, xylitol, erythritol, or sorbitol.  These sugar alcohols can lurk in a number of items such as sugar-free cookies or candy, chewing gum, yogurts, or ice creams. Therefore, if you are following an irritable bowel syndrome diet plan; read your ingredient label carefully before purchasing any sugar-free products.

Other foods to avoid

There is more where this list came from, but some other important foods to avoid with IBS include fried foods, high fructose fruits such as apples and watermelon, and any kind of beans, except for green beans. For a more comprehensive list of foods to avoid, check out Casa de Sante for tips and tricks or join one of their IBS-friendly meal plan programs.  Shopping for Low FODMAP Foods doesn’t have to be tricky, just bring along Casa De Sante’s free Low FODMAP grocery list and you’re good to go.


Written by Staci Gulbin, MS, RD a Board-certified dietitian.

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