How To Avoid Irritable Bowel Syndrome Trigger Foods

Every Person With IBS Is Different, And Has Different Triggers

Broccoli
Broccoli is a very healthful food that gets quite a bad rep because it also causes gas.. Photo © Colin Higgins

There is no one diet used to treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), because every person is different. However, there are some common trigger foods that are the ones that most often bother people who have IBS. Many people with IBS find that staying away from certain trigger foods can help avoid the symptoms of IBS.

How To Avoid IBS Trigger Foods

  1. Keep a food and symptom diary to help keep track of the foods you eat. It is very easy to forget what you have eaten during the day. Update the food and symptom diary several times a day.
  1. Read labels. Before anything goes into your mouth, read the ingredient label to ensure you understand all the ingredients. This includes over-the-counter medicines, which may have all manner of additives.
  2. Avoid alcohol. It may not be easy to skip the drinks when everyone else is having a glass of wine with dinner, but you'll feel better if you do.
  3. Avoid artificial sweeteners or sugar substitutes such as sorbitol and artificial fat such as olestra. Sorbitol is found in a surprising number of foods and over-the-counter-medications.
  4. Avoid coffee. I know -- you can't live without your morning coffee, but I bet once you get through the first few days and the caffeine withdrawals are over, your IBS symptoms will improve.
  5. Avoid dairy. If you're lactose intolerant, you will want to avoid cow's milk. If you think you are lactose intolerant, you probably are: most adults have some degree of lactose intolerance. Be aware that milk goes under many names, including casein and whey.
  1. Avoid red meat. Steaks, burgers, and other types of red meats are another type of food that is tough to avoid, but many people with IBS find their symptoms are set off by red meat.
  2. Avoid fried foods. Saying goodbye to fried foods is almost a no-brainer. Anything deep fried is not going to be good for you or for your guts, and you'll be better off leaving it behind.
  1. Avoid large meals. Eating smaller meals more frequently, or "grazing" throughout the day may help you to avoid setting off symptoms. Many people find that IBS symptoms are worse after eating a heavy meal.
  2. Eat low fat. This is good advice for anyone, and especially for people who have IBS. Fat is not absorbed well in the digestive tract. When a food is not absorbed, it can lead to diarrhea.
  3. Avoid gassy foods. Many people with IBS find that gas and bloating is a problem. If your IBS tends to cause you to have gas, avoid gassy foods such as beans, broccoli, cabbage, onions, brussels sprouts, and garlic.

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