Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, causes gastrointestinal symptoms such as constipation, diarrhea, stomach pain, cramping, bloating, and gas. As many as 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. have symptoms of IBS. Many don't have a formal diagnosis.
Avoiding foods that trigger IBS may help you discover if you have this chronic condition.
Foods That Trigger IBS
Avoiding or limiting certain foods can improve IBS symptoms.
These foods can make constipation worse:
- Processed foods (cookies, chips)
- Refined grains (white flour) in breads and cereals
- Dairy products (especially cheese)
- High-protein diets
- Carbonated drinks
These foods can make IBS-related diarrhea worse:
- Too much insoluble fiber (such as from the skin of fruits and vegetables)
- Fried foods
- Dairy foods, especially if you are lactose intolerant
- Foods with wheat if you are gluten-sensitive
- Large meals
- Carbonated drinks
GI Issues? Try These Diets
Our dietitians created diets for IBS and other issues.
These tips can also help you avoid and treat IBS-related issues.
- Limit processed foods, which often contain unsuspecting ingredients that trigger IBS flare-ups.
- Eat multiple small meals throughout the day instead of three big meals.
- Don’t eat too quickly.
- If you're constipated, increase the amount of soluble fiber in your diet. It will help ease constipation without bloating or diarrhea.
- Try ginger, peppermint, or chamomile – they may improve a variety of digestion issues.
- Don't smoke – smoking may worsen symptoms.
- Find ways to manage stress and anxiety, which can trigger flare-ups.
If you’re not sure what triggers your IBS symptoms, try the elimination approach. Make a list of foods you suspect may be causing symptoms. Eliminate one food at a time for 12 weeks to see if it makes a difference in how you feel.
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