It’s crucial for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) patients to be extremely cautious of what they put in their bellies.
Don’t let your busy schedule dictate your diet; those fast-food meals aren’t doing your stomach or waistline any favors in the long run...
IBS attacks vary from person to person, but the general symptoms are stomach discomfort and altered bowel transit times (diarrhea and/or constipation).
And with no cure in sight, the best we can do is treat the symptoms—in this case, sometimes by implementing radical changes to our diet.
It doesn’t take much to trigger IBS flare-ups, but with careful planning, you can better manage the unpredictable from catching you when you least expect it.
Today, let’s talk about what foods to avoid, exceptions (if any), and possible stomach-friendly substitutes.
If you stick around, you can find 18 low-FODMAP recipes that just might help soothe IBS symptoms!
Taking a Look at the FODMAP Food List
FODMAPs are short-chain carbs that can be difficult for some people to digest. It’s highly suggested for IBS patients to alter their diets by limiting or even eliminating high-FODMAP foods.
This file contains a comprehensive list of FODMAP-rich foods to avoid, but the most common culprits behind chaotic IBS flare-ups can be found below.
It really goes without saying that we should avoid dairy can aggravate IBS.
Many adults lose the ability to digest lactose, and consuming dairy products (cow’s milk, matured cheese, ice cream) can result in a case of the violent toots or—infinitely worse—diarrhea almost immediately afterward.
But there’s some good news for you dairy lovers out there.
Not all dairy products are high in lactose!
Probiotic yogurt is fine, and the live bacteria can be beneficial for your gut. Certain dairy protein powders can be safe and can help by giving you that extra boost in the gym.
Possible Low or Lactose-Free Options:
○ Almond, cashew, soybean milk
○ Parmesan, cheddar, swiss cheese
○ Greek yogurt
The next time a friend or family member tells you that they’re gluten intolerant, your immediate reaction shouldn’t be to roll eyes at them.
Gluten intolerance can be a sign of celiac disease, another gastrointestinal disorder that can cause weight loss or depression.
Whether gluten is a cause of IBS has yet to be discovered so the gluten-free movement shouldn’t celebrate just yet.
But if you’re looking for a reason to celebrate, here’s one for ya.
There are plenty of gluten-free snacks and ingredients to choose from. The next time you have a hankering for pastries, use rice flour in place of wheat flour for a delicious crumbly crust.
Possible Gluten-Free Options:
○ Almond, buckwheat, oat, brown rice, sorghum flour
○ Corn tortillas
○ Any pastry, pie, bread, cracker, or pasta with a gluten-free label
Some people swear by caffeine and its energy-boosting properties. This is undoubtedly true, but it doesn’t do much good for your stomach.
How many times have you ever had the urge to use the bathroom after drinking a cup of joe?
Yep, that’s one of the side-effects of caffeine consumption.
The caffeine content in coffee and energy drinks can aggravate and even trigger IBS flare-ups. Unfortunately, this means your morning or midday pick-me-up might just be the thing that dampens your mood among other things.
The good news is that coffee isn’t inherently bad so decaf is still a viable option.
Consider switching over to green tea or herbal tea for lower but safer doses of caffeine. Or perhaps a piece of fruit will give you an energy boost to get you through the day?
Possible Low-Caffeine Options:
○ Peppermint, ginger, chamomile, green tea
○ Decaffeinated coffee
○ Lemon water
○ Plain water
4. Certain Fruits
Every type of fruit contains fructose, a type of FODMAP. Glucose is another type of sugar—a non-FODMAP one—found in fruits that helps our bodies absorb fructose.
Fruits containing higher levels of fructose compared to glucose (apples, mangoes, watermelon, among a long list of others) will not help those on the FODMAP diet.
On the other hand, fruits with a one-to-one ratio of fructose (blueberries, kiwis, oranges, and pineapple, just to name a few) generally have beneficial effects on the stomach.
Just don’t go overboard; introducing more FODMAPs into your system is the last thing your stomach needs!
Possible Low-FODMAP Fruits:
○ Unripe bananas
○ Honeydew melon
5. Insoluble Fiber
You may have been told by a doctor at one point to increase your dietary fiber intake which can be true since it’s a crucial component of any healthy diet.
In general, fiber can be classified as soluble or insoluble.
Insoluble fiber is the type that doesn’t dissolve well in our guts and can exit through our bodies almost completely intact. Insoluble fiber has “bulking” properties that can increase bowel transit times or in other words, can cause or worsen diarrhea.
Although this may relieve constipation, you may end up feeling bloated after eating, say, beans or white rice.
As for soluble fibers, they stay in our stomachs for longer and can contribute to improved colon functionality. Dr. Leslie Bonci, the author of the ADA Guide to Better Digestion suggests treating IBS symptoms can be easier simply by increasing insoluble fiber intake.
If her statement holds true, then a dish of baked potatoes, oatmeal, or pasta should help return your gut and stomach to near-pre-IBS conditions.
Possible Soluble Fiber Options:
○ Chia seeds
Low-FODMAP Diet: 18 Hearty, IBS-Friendly Recipes
As promised, here’s a list of 18 low-FODMAP recipe ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack time!
Mini Banana Pancakes by Alana Scott at A Little Bit Yummy
“Baked Beans” on Toast with Egg and Rocket Arugula by Glenda Bishop at A Less Irritable Life
Oat, Seed, and Chocolate Granola Bars by Kate Scarla
Cornbread Muffins by Dédé Wilson at FODMAP Everyday
Blueberry Smoothie by Alana Scott at A Little Bit Yummy
Fresh Spring Rolls by Emily Kyle
Slow Cooker Chicken and Wild Rice Soup by Julie O’Hara at Calm Belly
Potato and Egg Salad by Alana Scott at A Little Bit Yummy
Baked Eggs with Spinach and Lettuce by Jacqueline Alwill at 28 By Sam Wood
Carrot, Coconut, and Ginger Soup at She Can’t Eat What
Spicy Chicken Drumsticks with Roast Vegetables by Alan Scott at A Little Bit Yummy
Rosemary Pot Roast by Zoe at FODMAP and Adapt
Moroccan Lamb Shank with Pomegranate and Mint by Dédé Wilson at FODMAP Everyday
Creamy Bacon Pasta by Jennifer at Fussy Fodmapper
Fettuccine with Salmon and Vegetables by Joanna Baker at Everyday Nutrition
Vegetable Frittata at Monash FODMAP
Soft Ginger Cookies by Alana Scott at A Little Bit Yummy
Fruit Salad by Alana Scott at A Little Bit Yummy
Note to Reader: Some of the ingredients you buy in the shop may contain trace amounts of dairy, gluten, or insoluble fiber... Be sure to check the labels!
Treating and preventing IBS starts with implementing lifestyle and diet changes.
Without an effective cure in sight, improving symptoms (diarrhea, constipation, and so on) is the only effective way of making it through the long, exhaustive fight against IBS.
Patients need to be especially conscious of what they put in their bodies.
The wrong ingredient or dish can end up aggravating IBS flare-ups and make the condition a lot more unbearable than it needs to be.
The general rule when making changes to your diet is steering clear of foods that can lead to an upset stomach. If I don’t mention any of your food intolerances above, please feel free to add them to your personal list of foods to avoid.
Speak with your doctor to see whether the FODMAP diet plan is right for you!