The Worst & Best Foods to Eat For IBS

April 17, 2024


IBS is a chronic disorder that causes daily discomfort and pain for nearly 10% of American adults. Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a common disorder in the stomach and intestines (gastrointestinal tract) that can cause cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation.

Fortunately, IBS’s uncomfortable symptoms can be manageable by maintaining a diet of non-triggering foods. Some foods can cause symptoms to become even more severe, but some foods promote digestion and bring relief. In this blog, we’ll cover the most common foods you should avoid and foods you should eat for IBS. 

The most common advice those with IBS may receive is to avoid gluten and add foods with more fiber. However, every individual is unique and may react differently to certain foods. We recommend using these tips as a starting point and working closely with your doctor to determine your specific needs

The Worst Foods & Drinks to Eat For IBS

Dairy, fried foods, caffeine, and alcohol are four types of foods that generally tend to trigger severe symptoms of IBS. Those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome should try to avoid these foods or only consume them in small amounts.

A dietician or nutritionist can help you decide whether to remove these from your diet to promote healthy digestion and comfort.

Diary Products

Cream, cheese, milk, butter, and other dairy products contain lactose, a type of sugar found in cow’s milk. Unfortunately, that means that ice cream and pizza may not be your friends. Excess lactose can be difficult to digest and often causes gas, bloating, and diarrhea for those with IBS.

Luckily, dairy-free options have become more readily available and affordable, even for your favorites—ice cream and pizza. There’s a dairy-free alternative for nearly any food that traditionally contains cow’s milk. Using olive oil instead of butter and switching to oat or almond milk can halt the negative consequences for your IBS.

Fried Foods

Everyone knows that deep-fried foods aren’t the healthiest options on the menu, but did you know they can also trigger nasty IBS symptoms? Crispy fried foods are usually cooked in excess unhealthy oils, and foods that contain high amounts of fats and sugars are difficult to digest. These options may even move through the body without digestion.


Caffeinated beverages like coffee, energy drinks, and soda can cause IBS flare-ups. They are especially likely to cause diarrhea and other symptoms on an empty stomach. Caffeine is considered an irritant because it stimulates the frequency of contractions in your colon.

For those that depend on caffeine for a daily energy boost, try exercising first thing in the morning or going to bed earlier at night. Or, opt for less caffeinated beverages like green and white tea.


Alcohol can be problematic for Irritable Bowel Syndrome for multiple reasons. Alcohol is, first and foremost, a toxin that can cause harm to the digestive system when drinking in excess. Beyond that, many alcoholic beverages contain high amounts of sugar, and certain beer contains gluten, both of which are known to worsen symptoms.

Excess drinking also leads to dehydration which can cause symptoms such as constipation to worsen. If those with IBS choose to drink alcoholic beverages, we recommend sticking to sugar-free and gluten-free options.

The Best Foods & Drinks to Eat For IBS

The following foods promote good digestion and may reduce IBS symptoms. Talk to your doctor or nutritionist to decide which foods should be essential to your diet if you suffer from IBS.


Probiotics increase healthy bacteria in your gut. These beneficial bacteria improve digestion and bowel movements. Probiotics are often found in fermented foods such as kimchi, tempeh, kombucha, miso, and Greek yogurt.

Whole Grains

While gluten is generally a food that those with IBS should avoid, whole grains are high in fiber and aid in food movement through the digestive tract. Additionally, whole grains lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Rice and oats are good examples of whole grains that may bring relief to those with IBS. However, avoiding flours such as bread, pasta, and cereal is best.

Lean Meats & Fatty Fish

Lean meats and fatty fish are healthy meat options for those with Irritable Bowel syndrome. Fatty fish contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for heart health and reduce inflammation. Examples of fatty fish are tuna, salmon, mackerel, trout, black cod, and white fish.

Lean meats are high in protein, making them easier to digest, and won’t cause gas. Those with IBS should avoid meats like sausage, bacon, pepperoni, and salami. We recommend adding healthy lean meats like white meat chicken, turkey, sirloin cut steak, veal, and duck to your diet.

Soluble Fiber

Fiber is great for digestion in healthy amounts, and nutritionists may even recommend those with IBS take a Fiber supplement. There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibers found in foods like avocado, oranges, tofu, and sweet potatoes may ease symptoms of IBS.

Prioritize Your Colon Health with Alabama Colon & Rectal Institute

Alabama Colon & Rectal Institute specializes in treating colon, rectum, and anus diseases such as IBS. If you’re experiencing symptoms related to Irritable Bowel Syndrome, don’t hesitate to reach out to us about colonoscopies, anorectal surgery, and minimally invasive colon surgery. We proudly provide expertise and care for Colorectal diseases and cancers in the Birmingham area. Call us at( 205) 850-1830 or contact us online to learn more about our care.


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