IBS Diet

ibs-dietIBS (or Irritable Bowel Syndrome) is a disorder of the bowel that affects up to 1 in 5 American adults. There are several symptoms of IBS – bloating, cramping, gas, diarrhea, and constipation. IBS is not a disease, and there is no cure. However dietary changes can alleviate symptoms.


New research has shown some very positive results in people with ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and other inflammatory bowel diseases.

The diet involves cutting back on wheat, onions, milk, icecream, apples, honey and stone fruits. Legumes were also found to cause pain.

“Often they are sugars and carbohydrates that are not absorbed when they pass through the bowel and when they get into the colon they can ferment and produce gas and pain,”

3 out of 4 IBS sufferers find relief following a low FODMAP diet.

Diet for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Determining the best diet for the IBS sufferer is a process of finding what works. However there are some general guidelines that may be useful.

Avoid Certain Foods

  • Alcohol, Soda, chocolate, coffee (and other caffeinated drinks) are common problem foods.
  • Foods high in saturated fat – such as butter, mayonnaise, cream, french fries, ice cream, red meats may also cause problems.

Monitor Your Dairy Intake
Some sufferers maybe Lactose intolerant, and should avoid milk. Yogurt (such as acidophilus) may still be used as the Lactose breaks down slightly differently. Again, it’s a process of trial and error. If you eliminate dairy completely – be sure to consume other sources of protein.

Drink Plenty of Water

Eat little and often
Aim for 4-5 meals daily with small portions. Don’t skip meals.

Experiment with High-Fiber Foods
Foods high in Fiber can help keep you more regular. Grains, Cereals, Beans, Fruit, and Vegetables all provide dietary fiber. Eat whole grain breads rather than white breads. Gradually introduce fiber – don’t change everything at once!

Look for Tasty bean recipes here.

Note: Recent research has indicated that many IBS sufferers may have food allergies and hypersensitivities. It way be worth trying an elimination diet to determine if this is the case. The research contradicts that which says IBS is a result of bowel inflammation.

See Also

The Maker’s Diet – A biblically-based diet by Jordan Rubin that has been effective in helping IBS symptoms.

Low Starch Diet – An alternate approach.

IBS Help Online – IBS Diets, Online Doctor Advice & Much More.

 By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)

31 Comments or Reviews

Comments now closed
  1. Ruth

    I have been reading various books around what could help with IBS (I also have arthritis) and have put all the thinking together to create the right eating plan for me. This includes:

    1. The IBS Low Starch Diet (Carol Sinclair) which recommends a low starch diet – eliminating wheat / cereal products gave me a huge improvement.

    2. Type 3 allergy testing and removing those intolerances from my diet. Wheat did not show up in the blood test so it is not perfect since how your body digests foods (or fails to) can’t easily be tested for.

    3. The Inflammation-Free Diet (Monica Reinagel) which ranks the inflammatory effect of thousands of foods – IBS is an inflammation of the gut. From this I am able to balance inflammatory and anti-inflammatory foods.

    4. The Body Talks (Judy Cole) which explains how food is digested and used throughout the body. Fantastic, clear book that also strongly recommends eliminating food intolerances and following a low starch diet as the only way to heal your body. This book really combines all the above thinking. From this I am able to understand various foods (protein, fat, carb and starch) so that I can combine them correctly and healthily.

  2. Den

    I have IBS for years now and its unbearable. I have swelling of the stomach looking as if im 9mth pregnant and full feeling and constipation. Im on Nexium 80mg everyday before i eat. Might get to eat one meal a day due to bloatness and yet im gaining more and more weight. Dont eat meat.Can anyone help or recommend something i could do? At this rate wont fit into my wedding dress for xmas.

  3. Manda

    I married a man with IBS. We have been together for more than a decade and meal preparation has been a “trial & error” learning experience for us both… sadly, he suffers more so than myself.
    My husband had diarrhea and constipation alternately, accompanied by a tremendous amount of cramping and bloating. He lost a job due to tardiness on the mornings of his “flare-ups”. We have seen every specialist in our metro area (very large city).
    There wasn’t a prescription available since he had both diarrhea and constipation… at least there wasn’t one available when we were looking for that option. He tested negative for Crohn’s Disease, UC, IBD, etc. His diagnosis has been IBS every time.
    We found that by eliminating sodas, chocolate, dairy, pork, eggs, mayo… even the vegan varieties, and preservatives that his “flare-ups” have almost disappeared. Granted it has taken us a decade of trial and error, but keeping a food journal helps tremendously.
    I have found fantastic substitutes for ice cream, cheese, sour cream, and cream cheese in the Tofutti line of products. We tried the “rice” cheese slices and other soy based “ice creams” and “cheeses”, but they weren’t as tasty. The Tofutti Vanilla Almond Bark “ice cream” is divine! I prefer it to regular ice cream. The Tofutti cheese slices actually melt and make a satisfying grilled “cheese” sandwich.
    We found that dairy products made from goat milk don’t cause any issues for him. I developed a recipe for lasagna using a goat cheese with herbs and mozzarella Tofutti slices that is wonderful. I detest goat cheese and ate two helpings!
    There is hope for folks suffering from these debilitating conditions, but it is a trial and error process. Once you find out the foods that trigger an “episode” you have to have the self-control to eliminate those foods and seek alternatives. There are a plethora of alternatives out there for your favorite foods, but you have to experiment.
    You also have to find a partner, friends or family members that are willing to aide you in your commitment to a lifestyle change. IBS and other such diseases affect the whole family, not just the sufferer. Our son has had to learn that “daddy can’t go to theme parks” and “daddy can’t go to concerts” because there may not be available bathroom facilities when he HAS to use one.
    It has been many months since my husband’s last flare-up. We have used diet to manage his symptoms. He used to have flare-ups at least 3 days a week. It has been a long, hard road and I wish you all the best of luck in overcoming these horrid conditions. It is my hope that someone out there is able to utilize information from our story to help control their own symptoms. :>)

  4. Natasha

    Thanks Ted I’ll check it out.

  5. lori

    I’v been diagnost IBS and have been in and out of the hospitals. My regular Dr. recommended medications to help but I feel they are not effective. He also gave a list of foods that I should not eat and I’ve been following his advice,however my IBS is still causing me a great deal of problems. What can I do, please help.

  6. Natasha

    I’m trying everything but nothing will help. Anyone else have this prob? I have severe C and have tried yoga, walking, elimination diet, mint fennel chamomile tea, miralax, amitza, magnesium pills, zelnorm, eating candied ginger, lots water.

  7. tiffani

    I have the same problem with u guys too.. But not diarrhea mostly constipation…
    I just start feeling bloated few weeks ago.. I don’t know if it is what I ate.
    I just went to doctor few days ago and he prescribed me motilium for bloats and frolax for constipation.
    I have been taking motilium and forlax for a 3days now, but I do not think it is helping.
    🙁 smbdy please help..


    i am bloated,every day, no matter if i eat or not, i still have discomfort, even if i eat foods that have no yeast! please, give me more advise…….


    I had my gallbladder out about 10 years ago! and from then I have always had bowel and digestive problems I feel that that’s what started it all, but back then IBS wasn’t known as it is now so my dr basically told me it will get better just give your body time to adjust to not having a gallbladder! so me trusting him as he is a dr just lived with it all until last year , then saw a specialist ! I truly believe that we do need our gallbladders to help filter good and bad in what we eat ! I have read a lot of people lately have been diagnosed with IBS have had their gallbladders removed ! cant DR’S or anyone prove that maybe this is what causes IBS put 2& 2 together and figure it out ! with all the modern technology these days you would think they would be able to do something !

  10. HAYLEE

    hi ! I have suffered from IBS for over a year now ! I have had to retire early because of it ! I had a colonoscopy and a endoscopy and it all came back negative! I have both diarrhea and constipation, bloating, gas and pain in my right side and lower back ! I have tried every thing and nothing works ! I have even moved from the city to the country to get away from stress ! I have no stress now but still have symptoms its still on and off! I also have gained weight from it all . I used to be thinner and active and now I cant leave the house have become a hermit ! IBS really does run your life no matter what you try to do . I understand what all of you are going through. one day I hope there is a cure let alone a treatment that actually works !

  11. Rose

    My friend who went to the emergency room with bad stomach pains found out it was IBS. I always had food issues/intolerances so I decided to try it.

    However, my friend (who got this diet from a doctor) said no whole grain. No brown breads or rice. They are harder to digest which is why they say its healthier in general because it takes more calories to process. She was told ONLY white/sourdough breads and no wheat/grain products. Yet, I am seeing mixed messages as I research it for myself.

    But for anyone switching to whole grains still having issues, may want to eliminate them and go for white breads and rice. It seems to be working for me so far. Though I’ve only been doing it for a week, so it’s hard to tell.

  12. Angela

    Have any of you been tested for celiac disease, a lot of the symptoms you are describing is associated with celiac. My daughter has just been diagnosed with it with the following symptoms, consipation followed by really bad diarrhea and severe stomach pains on her left side and round belly button area. If in doubt please get tested. It is commonly misdiagnosed as IBS.

  13. Eric

    I have suffred with IBS for almost 15 years I have cut out wheat, dairy, everything taken probiotics, herbal remedies apple cider vinegar. All with NO results except when i eliminated gluten that worked but impossible to follow, NOw I eat whatever I want I went through hell for 6 months crippling pain going to the can 8-9 times a day but now my body has adapted I might get “spasams” once everyother week compared to several times daily. Just remember what works for one person may not work for you IBS effects everyone DIFFRENTLY.

  14. mari g

    BTW!! It took ten years to get diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. I finally lied and told my doctor my entire family had had colon cancer. Then I finally got a colonoscopy. It seems awful to have lied but imagine if I hadn’t. They tried to diagnose me with hemorrhoids and IBS. You absolutely must stay on top of this or you will suffer greatly!! From 20 to 30 I had bright red blood in my stools. Sometimes I had fevers of 100 degrees and higher, just for one day. You could tell it started in my colon. My u.c. got very bad when I became engaged. I think I was over stressed. It was insane. My blood levels dropped my iron. I was a wreck. I only tell my story to help others. I can’t be embarrassed over this.

  15. mari

    Most of these comments sound like celiac, crohns disease or ulcerative colitis. If you are in remission you still need to take medication; my doctor just informed me of this. I have found that taking Metamucil every night and every morning has helped tremendously. I honestly cannot believe it. I hope I’ve she light upon something you never considered. Best of luck! I was there and I am so much better now. I am grateful for every day that I am well!

  16. Nicole

    I’m 16 years old and have been sufffering with the diarrhea after almost every meal. in school, i dont wanna eat because i hate having to leave class everyday to dart to the restroom. its annoying. i also had my gallbladder out when i was 15 because they thought maybe it wasnt digesting my fats right, well i still have the same symtoms. im narrowing it down to being IBS, i just don’t wanna eat anymore. I’m taking everyones advice to see if anything works. im so frusterated anymore and i wanna live a normal teenage life without the annoyance.

  17. Kelly

    Following this diet vegan style helps me.

    Drinking lots of chamomile, mint, fennel tea with meals,eating 6 mini meals instead of 3 big ones, eating sugar fennel seeds and candied ginger with meals, drinking 2 t. raw apple cider vinegar with 1 c. water 3 times a day after meals , doing yoga and walking helps too.

  18. alex diesman

    Hi. My names alex and im 17 years old. I was diagnosed with IBS last year. Its extremely hard to find a diet that suits me and being a teenager its hard to slow myself down and take some days off of running around. I would appreciate any advice that anyone has to offer about a day by day diet plan. After missing a total of 22 days of school, and frequent trips to the hospital any advice given is helpful. Thank you.

  19. courtney

    i have ibs and have for only about 2 months but i have suffered for about a year, but i dont know what to eat to make my stomach feel better i am so afraid to eat anything,or even drink anything..
    any advice

  20. Jessica

    After suffering for nearly 20 years with IBS, I have discovered several things that have made a huge difference for me–especially with the urgency problem. First, no dairy at all, no beef or pork, no onions, no chocolate. Also, get your vitamin D checked. Mine was extremely low and when I went on high doses of vitamin D my IBS systoms dramatically improved. I’ve also started taking a probiotic called “Align” (aligngi.com) and it has really helped with urgency and diarrhea.

  21. VIA


  22. Jaymi

    I am responding to those who need advice on this subject…I’ve worked in the nutrition/health food/diet industry now for about 5-6 years and grew up in a home where obesity and IBS run in the family. I was fortunately a wise child and watched what NOT to do to gain weight and have done well for myself on that specific…BUT as far as IBS goes…I’ve learned a few tricks here and there and they are as follows:
    elimination diets DO work (they helped me figure out my sensitivities to dairy, soy, and some preservatives such as guar gum, xanthum gum, etc!)
    I’ve also learned the more “simple” or “whole” I eat the better my digestion: for instance, I make sure I separate my fruit from all my other foods (like as a snack between meals), I also drink my water between meals/snacks, and I make sure I only combine protien with greens and if I do eat dairy (the cheese is hard for me to give up); I just make sure it is about 2 times a month and it is a small portion, by itself and it is usually at night so that I have all evening to digest it…as well as I try to make sure I don’t have anything going on the next day so that I can help myself digest it better by the next morning by drinking a combo of lots of cool water and hot water with lemon (that will get your digestion moving)….anymore advice, let me know

  23. London

    What kind of systoms do you all get. My stomic swells along with pain on my righ side of my stomic. I can’t wear tight clothing around my belly button area followed with back pain.

  24. London

    I wonder if anyone feels the pain and suffering I go through
    almost everyday It is so bad it is affecting my job and my life. I don’t know what to even eat and drink anymore. I have my good days and my bad ones, almost every day is a battle fied for me. While feeling sick I just want to lay in bed all day and sleep. I just recently found out I had IBS dose any one have advise out there.

  25. aisling

    Colpermin is a great peppermint oil based tablet that really really works, I cant eat any meals without taking it first or else I will be really sick after. It is a natural product and is available without prescription. Also peppermint tea helps as does eating very small amounts.

  26. Anonymous

    I have IBS per say by MD , negative colonoscopy, chronic constipation worst ever life, still working on fiber diet or IBS diet but not perfect, still taking Amitiza , Laxative PRN, just too much to think its getting a year now, hope theres hope and progress………..

  27. hannah

    im 17 and have just been told i have IBS. i have suffered quietly since i was eat. what can i eat and what can’t i eat. id be greatfull for some advice.
    i heard that peppermint tea bags help.

  28. sungoddess444

    I have heard peppermint oil helps. I couldn’t seem to find any locally,so I made a gallon of green tea, and added life savers peppermint candy to it, about 4 or 5 lifesavers. I drink 8 oz a day and it has calmed my IBS drastically.

  29. MARIE


  30. Mary

    Whole wheat breads and high fiber (insoluble) are the worst things for me. My IBS leans more toward diarrhea, especially with too much fiber. Also, I can’t tolerate any dairy.