Irritable bowel syndrome is more than mild tummy trouble after a meal. People with IBS take more days off work than the general population and report the condition has a significant impact on their lives. While the symptoms aren’t life-threatening, the abdominal pain, cramps, gas, and diarrhea can make it difficult to function and enjoy life.
Managing IBS is complex and requires working closely with a specialist. Even though triggers vary from person to person, there are certain foods most likely to cause problems in people with IBS.
Hard stools that are difficult to pass are common in people with IBS. Constipation often comes and goes and alternates with diarrhea. If you suffer from IBS-related constipation, steer clear of these common triggers that can make your symptoms worse:
- Refined breads and cereals
- Processed cakes, cookies, and pastries
Fiber can help ease IBS constipation, but suddenly increasing your intake can worsen your symptoms. Dr. Delgado can work with you to gradually boost your fiber intake from nutritious sources like beans, fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain breads.
While the exact cause of IBS is still a mystery, we do know that people with the condition have colons that readily contract more than people without IBS, and foods that stimulate contractions often trigger or worsen diarrhea. Stay away from the following foods if you’re prone to IBS-related diarrhea:
- Fatty foods
- Carbonated beverages
- Caffeinated food and drinks
- Diet foods that contain sugar alcohols
Too much fiber can cause problems for people with IBS-related diarrhea, too. Dr. Delgado can help you fine-tune your diet so that you get the right amount of fiber for health benefits that doesn’t aggravate your IBS symptoms.
Foods that contribute to gas and bloating
Gas is not only embarrassing, the bloating it causes can lead to stomach pain and discomfort. The good news is, gas is one of the easier IBS symptoms to manage. Each person with IBS is different, but here are some of the most common triggers:
- Fatty foods
- Vegetables in the broccoli family
- Onions and garlic
For some people with IBS, foods high in insoluble fiber can trigger gas and bloating. Insoluble fiber is otherwise healthy. You may be able to tolerate a certain amount before gassy symptoms arise. Learning your threshold is key to limiting symptoms. Whole grains, vegetables, and some beans are rich in insoluble fiber and may trigger or worsen gas and bloating.
The same foods that trigger constipation, diarrhea, and gas can cause stomach pain. It’s a good idea to keep a food diary to help discern your triggers and solve your IBS puzzle.
Avoiding foods high in FODMAPs
Many IBS patients do well on a low-FODMAP diet. FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. These are a group of carbohydrates and sugar alcohols that are difficult for the body to absorb and cause gas, bloating, and other IBS symptoms.
High levels of FODMAPs are found in a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy foods, condiments, and beverages. Dr. Delgado can help you learn which high-FODMAP foods to reduce or avoid to better manage your IBS.
Avoiding certain foods can help manage IBS symptoms, but everyone is different, and IBS is a complex condition. Before changing your diet, discuss your symptoms and current diet with Dr. Delgado.
For help with managing your IBS, call our Reston or Annandale office, or use our online booking form to schedule an appointment.