About 15-20% of all Americans suffer from irregular bowel syndrome (IBS). An IBS diet plan is highly individualized and can make the difference between living a normal, happy life, verses spending every day in the bathroom or bound over with cramps. Most IBS episodes often occur after consuming dairy, but that doesn’t necessarily mean right after the meal. Often times nothing happens until the following day, leading you to believe it is some other food that is causing issues with your digestive tract. The problem can be frustrating, trying to pinpoint one specific food that causes IBS, as often times ANY food that’s high in fat, insoluble fiber, caffeine, coffee, carbonation or alcohol can also exacerbate the issue. Why? All of these food categories are classified as either GI irritants or stimulants, which can cause painful and exasperating reactions. This directly affects the muscles in your colon and can lead to the common IBS symptoms: pain, constipation, diarrhea, gas and bloating.
The IBS trigger foods list below may frustrate you even further, thinking you can never again eat any of these IBS “ bad foods”, causing despair. They are all IBS trigger foods, and yes, some of them you will probably have to completely eliminate from your diet.
BUT – others may be eaten in small quantities and, many of the items listed have safer substitutes you can use freely. So take heart, this isn’t the end of the world – it’s just the end of IBS bad foods and the beginning of a better IBS diet.
IBS Trigger Foods List:
Red meat (ground beef, hamburgers, hot dogs, steaks, roast beef, pastrami, salami, bologna, pepperoni, corned beef, ham, bacon, sausage, pork chops, and anything else that comes from cows, pigs, sheep, goats, deer, etc.)
Poultry dark meat and skin (skinless white meat is fine, as is seafood by the way – try to buy organic turkey and chicken)
Dairy products (cheese, butter, sour cream, cream cheese, milk, cream, half-and half, ice cream, whipped cream, yogurt, frozen yogurt) Dairy is an Irregular Bowel Syndrome trigger even if you’re not lactose intolerant. It’s simply not just the lactose. It’s also not just the high fat content of most dairy products that can cause your IBS to flare. Even skim and lactose-free dairy can trigger IBS attacks. In addition to fat and lactose, dairy contains components such as whey and casein proteins, which can cause severe digestion problems. Though yogurt is traditionally recommended as an “easily digestible” dairy product because fermentation has reduced the lactose levels, even non-fat versions contain whey and casein, and should be avoided.
Egg yolks (whites are fine, do try to buy organic)
Meat, dairy products, and egg yolks are particularly dangerous for all aspects of Irregular Bowel Syndrome. In some people their high fat content causes violent, rapid colon spasms and triggers diarrhea. Alternately, for others their heavy animal proteins, complete lack of fiber, and very low water content can lead to drastically slowed colon contractions (or one prolonged colon spasm, which is extremely painful) and severe IBS constipation. No matter what Irregular Bowel Syndrome symptoms you’re prone to, these three categories of foods pose high risks and are trigger foods really best eliminated from your diet altogether.
Other high fat IBS trigger foods to watch out for:
- French fries & Onion rings
- Fried chicken
- Corn dogs
- Anything battered and deep-fried or skillet-fried in fat of any kind
- Shortening, margarine, mayonnaise
- All oils, fats, spreads, etc.
- Salad dressings
- Tartar sauce
- Cool Whip
- Coconut milk & shredded coconut
- Solid chocolate (baking cocoa powder is fine) & solid carob (carob powder is fine)
- Nuts and nut butters
- Croissants, pastries, biscuits, scones, and donuts
- Pie crust
- Potato chips (unless they’re baked)
- Corn chips and nachos (unless they’re baked)
- Store-bought dried bananas (they’re almost always deep fried)
Fats are usually fairly obvious foods to identify, but not always as they can be hidden in processed foods. The worst culprits are listed above, and many (particularly meat, dairy, egg yolks, and fried foods) can simply be eliminated from your diet entirely and your whole body will be healthier for it.
The thought of this can be shocking, but giving up these foods does not equal deprivation. Honestly, it doesn’t. There are a great many easy IBS safe substitutions that will let you cook and eat safely while still enjoying many of your traditional favorite foods. There’s also a lot of fun to be had in trying a wide variety of new ones. And when you’re tempted to indulge in a dangerous treat, just remember that everything tastes a lot less delicious when it triggers a vicious IBS attack.