Foods to Avoid with IBS

Amy Long Carrera, MS, RD, CNSC, CWCMS
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
11/11/13  10:17 PM PST
IBS Diet

Irritable Bowel Syndrome affects up to 45 million Americans. It’s the most common condition diagnosed by gastroenterologists, or doctors that specialize in your digestive tract. Symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating and either constipation or diarrhea, but some people experience both. Stress doesn’t cause IBS, but it may lead to flare-ups, as symptoms seem to arise from a disturbance in the way your brain, nervous system and gut interact. There is no IBS diet, as symptoms are different for everyone, but it may help to limit or eliminate certain foods to see if they contribute to your discomfort.

FODMAPs (Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides and Polyols)

Certain types of carbohydrates are not absorbed very well in your small intestine and therefore, end up being fermented by bacteria in your colon. Although this process is beneficial, it may cause increased gas and discomfort for some people. The best way to find out if any of these foods are giving you grief is to remove them from your diet for a short period of time. Keep track of everything you eat and drink and any symptoms you have every day, especially when you add the food(s) back into your daily diet.

Fructose Fructans and Galactans Lactose Polyols
High FODMAP Food Sources High fructose corn syrup (as in soda), apples, pears, fruit juice, dried fruit, watermelon Wheat, rye,  garlic, artichokes, leeks, inulin, soy, legumes, lentils, cabbage, Brussels sprouts Milk, yogurt, soft cheeses Sugar alcohols (sorbitol, maltitol, mannitol, xylitol), stone fruits
Alternative Low FODMAP Food Sources Citrus, berries, bananas, grapes, honeydew, cantaloupe, kiwi Rice, corn, potato, quinoa, vegetables (winter squash, spinach, cucumbers, bell peppers, eggplant, tomato) Lactose-free dairy products, hard cheeses Sweeteners (sugar, glucose, artificial sweeteners not ending in “-ol”)


There is some research showing an association between IBS and sensitivity to gluten; a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, triticale and malt (malt flavoring, malt vinegar).  A small group of study subjects who ingested gluten-containing foods after a 6-week period of going gluten-free reported worse intestinal symptoms when the gluten was added back, compared to the group that did not consume gluten during the study.

Consult a Registered Dietitian

If you decide to eliminate foods from your diet, make an appointment with a registered dietitian to make sure you are meeting your nutritional needs.

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This article is designed for educational use only and does not replace the advice of a medical professional. If you have any questions or concerns regarding a medical condition, contact your healthcare provider.

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