Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a bowel disorder often associated with abdominal pain, bloating, cramping and erratic bowel habits like diarrhea and constipation. While IBS isn't considered life threatening, nor does it cause any permanent damage to the colon, it can be very inconvenient and quite discomforting. One way a person can help ease the discomforts of IBS is by avoiding certain foods.
Foods to Avoid
The following is a list of foods that can exacerbate the discomforts of IBS related constipation or diarrhea:
- Refined foods like white bread, white rice, cookies, chips and refined cereals can make issues with IBS related constipation even worse.
- Drinks that stimulate the intestines like coffee, teas, alcohol, sodas and energy drinks can be very bad for a person suffering from IBS.
- Eating excessive amounts of protein, specifically from red meat.
- Dairy products like cheese, ice cream, yogurt and milk can lead to issues with bloating and diarrhea, especially if the person is lactose intolerant.
- Foods that contain the artificial sweetener, sorbitol.
- Fried, fatty and greasy foods that are difficult to process in the digestive tract.
- Foods that can cause gas like broccoli, beans, cabbage and hard-boiled eggs.
- Foods that contain sorbitol like peaches or apples.
- Anything carbonated like beer, soft drinks and sparkling ciders.
- Although it isn't exactly a type of food, large meals should be avoided in general to reduce the stress on your digestive system to prevent any issues of IBS.
Keep a Log of Foods to Avoid
The common misconception about irritable bowel syndrome is that a person can prevent IBS by avoiding certain foods. This is not true. There are various possible causes for IBS, like issues with muscles in the intestines, stress, anxiety and intestinal infections. A person's diet is not responsible for IBS. However, people can reduce the amount of discomfort caused by IBS by avoiding certain foods.
If you are suffering from IBS, and are curious about what specific foods you should avoid, start a log to track how your body reacts to certain foods. The foods listed above are only a general guide of what should be avoided. However, there is no specific diet for IBS since it can vary from person to person. In one instance, dairy products can make your IBS worse, while having no effect on your IBS on a separate occasion. If a certain food makes your IBS worse on multiple occasions, take note of it in your log and avoid that type of food from that point onward.
Here are some tips for your IBS food log:
- Carry a small notepad and pen with you at all times.
- Keep track of everything you eat during the day.
- Note any symptoms of IBS and track when they occur.
- Track how many times a specific food causes any symptoms of IBS. If the food causes your IBS to act up on several occasions, stop eating that type of food.
- Sometimes it's the amount of a particular food that causes your IBS to act up, so be sure to track the portion sizes of the foods you eat.
Tips for Dealing with IBS
Because it is difficult to determine a specific cause for IBS, it is important to develop changes to your lifestyle to overcome IBS along with dietary changes. Here are some tips to help you overcome irritable bowel syndrome:
- Find ways to relieve stress and practice them regularly.
- Developing better sleeping habits can also help relieve stress and anxiety, reducing the severity of IBS.
- Drink more water to help with steady bowel movements.
- Eat five small meals a day instead of three large ones. Smaller portions can be easier on your stomach and reduce the amount of stress on your intestines.
- Opt for leaner forms of protein like chicken breast, salmon or pork tenderloin, and always make sure to have small portions only.
- Live a healthier lifestyle by getting more exercise.
- If regular fruits from the produce section are causing issues with your IBS, try canned or frozen fruits instead.