If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) you will be well aware of the foods that you should avoid. Here is the flip side – the foods you CAN eat.
What Foods Can You Eat If You Have IBS?
If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you probably already know there are certain foods you need to avoid. The chances are, you know this from experience.
Managing an irritable bowel can be very frustrating and making the wrong food choices can lead to a lot of discomfort.
Unfortunately, there is not much research about foods that may help IBS. Nor are there any guarantees that certain foods will not make the condition worse.
Although some foods are known to present problems to certain people with IBS, others seem to be fine for some people who have the condition but a poor choice for others.
If you are currently struggling with IBS, it may be a good idea to start keeping a food journal. Doing so will help you keep track of your food choices and notice any patterns that emerge.
It can also be helpful to stick to no more than three healthy meals per day and, perhaps, a couple of snacks.
IBS is a hard condition to manage. Especially in the early days. However, healthcare workers and IBS patients have managed to identify some foods that are less likely to present issues than others.
What Is IBS?
IBS is a common condition that causes problems in the digestive system. Symptoms include bloating diarrhea, and stomach cramps. People who have IBS may also find themselves struggling with constipation.
The symptoms of IBS may only last for a couple of days but can just as easily continue for several months.
One of the worst things about IBS is it’s usually a lifelong problem. Even when things appear to have calmed down the symptoms may return at any time so it’s best not to let your guard down at times that may be the lull before the storm.
Despite the prevalence of the condition, the exact cause remains unknown.
It’s been speculated IBS may be a response to the speed at which food passes through the gut. Oversensitive intestinal nerves are another possible cause, as is stress. It’s also possible IBS may run in families and be passed on from members of one generation to the next.
There is no cure for IBS. All you can do is try and control the symptoms. There are medications that can help you to do this but there are limits to the level of value they offer if you eat the wrong foods.
Moving forward, let’s take a look at some of the foods many IBS sufferers can eat without issue. Don’t forget, though, controlling IBS is a personal battle. Just because many people who have IBS can eat these foods, there are no guarantees you will be able to do the same.
Foods You Can Eat with IBS
Chicken and Turkey
Lean meats like chicken and turkey are low in fat and high in protein. Digesting red meats overstimulates the guts. Chicken and turkey are much better options. Especially if you opt for the breast meat and throw away the skin.
The dark meat from the birds’ thighs and other areas contain fats that may inflame your guts, causing your IBS to kick in.
Lean proteins are also less likely to be fermented by the bacteria present in the gut. If you choose lean cuts of poultry over red meats like beef and lamb, it may also save you from the discomfort of excessive intestinal gas.
As for cooking, it may be best to steam or boil the meat. Doing so will make it lighter on the stomach and easier to digest.
Pork is another one of the foods you may be able to eat without triggering your IBS. Again, though, you need to avoid belly pork and other cuts that contain a lot of fat. If you are going to eat pork keep it nice and lean.
As with chicken and turkey, boiling or steaming the meat will make it gentler on the gut.
White fish, like cod, haddock, halibut, and Alaskan pollock, are excellent sources of protein. They don’t put undue strain on the digestive organs, are unlikely to ferment in the gut, and shouldn’t get on the wrong side of your IBS.
Poach the fish or steam it. Grill it if you must. Just try to avoid options like frying that will coat the fish in fat.
Unless you are lactose intolerant, you may be able to join the ranks of IBS sufferers who can enjoy an occasional yogurt.
As well as being light on the stomach, yogurt provides probiotic bacteria that can help improve the health of your gut.
However, although plain yogurt should not be too much of a gamble, you will need to be careful about selecting fruity options unless you know the fruit is question will not antagonize your gut.
Eggs whites are another good source of protein that is unlikely to bring on an attack of IBS.
You may be able to eat the yolks as well but tread carefully. Many people who have IBS cannot.
However, some people find they can eat the yolks, but not the egg whites. It’s just another part of the mysterious condition we call IBS.
Now we are entering dangerous ground. Although vegetables provide important nutrients, finding the best options can involve some trial and error. This is another time when keeping a food journal may help.
A few of the best options to try include:
- Bell peppers
- Corn on the cob
- Green beans
- Sweet potato
With the possible exception of tomato, most vegetables will be easier on your stomach if you cook them instead of eating them raw. Again, boiling or steaming is probably the best way to go.
Although it’s not a good idea to go overboard, many people find Brazil nuts, almonds, and other types of nuts, do not cause problems with their IBS.
Nuts are high in fat but it’s a healthy form that can work alongside your probiotic bacteria and help promote a healthier gut microbiome.
If you decide to see how nuts affect your IBS, try not to eat more than a handful a day. Nuts are great as an occasional snack but don’t try to eat them as a meal.
Foods to Avoid with IBF
As with trying to compile a list of the best foods to eat with IBS, listing the worst options is going to be difficult. Some of the foods that cause a lot of people’s IBS to flare up may be among the best options for other people.
As already mentioned, IBS can be a very frustrating condition to manage.
However, you may want to put foods that are high in insoluble fiber on your no-go list.
The insoluble fiber present in whole grains, fruits, and certain vegetables could prove to be murder on your gut.
Products that contain gluten have the potential to trigger your IBS too. A lot of people living with the condition have learned to avoid gluten like the plague.
Fried foods are also a good option for your no-go list. There’s a good chance all that fat will flare-up your IBS.
Beans and legumes may also present problems. Although they are a good source of protein they contain oligosaccharides.
These compounds can inhibit the digestive enzymes. When this happens there will be extra undigested food to ferment in the gut.
It’s not just what you eat. When you have IBS, you need to pay close attention to the things you drink as well.
Caffeinated drinks can be particularly bad. Caffeine is a stimulant that may stimulate colonic spasms. It has its advantages – such a being a great fat burning ingredient.
In addition to providing caffeine, carbonated drinks can fill you with gas. Again, this is something that may aggravate your intestines, making your IBS worse.
What Foods Can I Eat With IBS – Summary
IBS is an unpleasant condition that affects many people. It’s also a very difficult condition to manage.
Although certain medications can be useful for managing the symptoms, the medical community has yet to develop a cure. Perhaps this may change in the future but, until then, learning to manage the condition is the best thing to do.
Certain foods can aggravate IBS. Avoiding these foods in favor of less problematic options is one of the best ways to pacify your gut. However, although certain foods are known to be good options for many people who have IBS, there is not a single one that is suitable for all.
After you have been managing your condition for a while, you should know which foods to avoid. You will also have a good idea which foods you can eat without triggering your IBS.
Keeping a food journal may seem like a lot of work but it’s one of the best ways to learn to understand your condition. Attaining a better understanding will allow you to prepare meals and choose snacks that are friendly to your gut instead of ones that are not.
It’s not just the food choices though. The way you cook food can influence the way it affects your guts too. So, if you do decide to keep a food journal, be sure to log this too.