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What to eat when you have irritable bowel syndrome

We have talked about poo (click here) before and what it can tell you about your gut as well as how to know if you might have irritable bowel syndrome (click here).

If you are living with IBS, then you already know there are certain foods that you just can’t eat.  You know that if you eat them, you will pay the price later with a flare up in your IBS symptoms.  An urgent need to find a toilet in a hurry, embarrassing stomach noises or wind are just some of those consequences.  For some, extreme pain and nausea.

So why is it that even though you know what not to eat, you still eat the wrong foods?  I wonder what would have to change for you to make the right choices for you?

Let’s start with some examples of what to eat.  Foods that work for most people with IBS.  There are many foods that people living with IBS can eat and you can even eat out and travel with ease.  Imagine rediscovering a sense of enjoyment around food that you may not have felt for a while.


Irritable bowel syndrome – what to eat

What you eat when you have IBS is as unique as you.  You can and should eat as wide a variety of food as possible, with a focus on whole, natural, unprocessed foods such as:

  • Cooked vegetables – as many different kinds as possible. (see below for foods to avoid).
  • Fruit without the skin (see below, fruits to avoid)
  • An increase in your fibre intake – note that this should be done slowly. Ground psyllium husk is a fantastic way to increase your fibre intake.  Start with half a teaspoon a day and add it to your morning smoothie, eggs, toast or similar.  It has very little taste and can be added to most things.  Work your way up to a full teaspoon every day.
  • Red meat, chicken, fish
  • Dairy products unless you are lactose intolerant or have skin issues
  • Eggs
  • Good fats such as avocado, nuts, coconut products, olive oil

The important thing is to focus on what you can eat rather than on the trigger foods that you are best off avoiding.


Irritable bowel syndrome – foods to avoid

There are of course some foods that IBS suffers find are best to avoid.  You can experiment and see what does and doesn’t work for you if you don’t already know. As a start, the following foods have been known to cause issues:

  • Vegetables that may cause a problem – beans, legumes, cabbage, cauliflower, brocolli
  • Some seeds like pumpkin, sunflower, chia etc
  • Fruits to avoid – melons, apples and citrus fruits
  • Heavily spiced, fried or sauced foods


Irritable bowel syndrome and the Fodmap Diet

If you are living with IBS then chances are you have heard of the Fodmap diet.  The principal behind it being that following a low Fodmap diet reduces the amount of food fermenting in your gut (unabsorbed foods that are difficult to digest), thereby potentially reducing the embarrassing side effects of IBS.

The protocol was developed in Australia through Monash University in 2001 and some people have had great results eliminating Fodmap’s from their diets for a period of time.

Fodmap’s include foods such as wheat, rye, artichokes, onion, garlic, legumes, cow’s milk, honey, apples, pears, watermelon, mango, stone fruits, artificial sweetners like xylitol, mannitol, mushrooms, cauliflower, capsicums.

As this diet includes restricting many normally nutritious and beneficial foods, you shouldn’t embark on a low Fodmap diet without the support of a qualified health practitioner (watch this space for more information!).

As discussed here (Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) – Could you have it?) there can be other factors at play as well such as candida, SIBO, toxic metal or chemical exposure, stress or anxiety.

To find out more about the impact of stress and anxiety on irritable bowel syndrome click here.

If you want to get that good gut feeling each and every day, sign up to our mailing list here to receive more hints, tips and tricks on beating the overwhelm and sense of isolation that goes with living with irritable bowel syndrome.  So you can get your basics organised, start feeling better, more confident with more energy and happier.

Tracie is a certified Health and Wellness Coach, Member of the Institute of Complimentary Therapists, holds a Bachelor of Engineering in Chemical Engineering and has spent over 20 years driving change at all organizational levels in the corporate space, with small businesses and more recently with individuals looking to live a thriving, fulfilling life.