IBS what not to eat

IBS, What Not to Eat

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a very common cause for multiple gut issues. About 10% of the world population has IBS, causing them to experience a wide variety of symptoms ranging from either abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, a combination of either one of these factors and many more. It’s no surprise that most people with IBS want to find the trigger of their symptoms and eliminate it. That’s where I want to help! So keep reading for IBS, what not to eat.

In my article about IBS, I mention several methods to try and relieve your gut symptoms, so make sure to check that out too! But generally speaking, there are several foods and food groups that tend to worsen IBS symptoms in general. So starting with those is a safe first step!

IBS What not to eat

What Not to Eat with IBS

For the list of foods you should try to avoid with IBS I consulted a recently published study, that compared a load of studies that have been done in this subject from before 1990 up until now. And read up on a study on the influence of diet in combination with IBS on the gut microbiota.

In this list, I do not include the FODMAP diet. The FODMAP diet is a full elimination diet that can be very helpful in symptom reduction in about 75% of the IBS patients. This diet requires proper explanation and preferably help from a registered dietitian. If you want to read about the basics of the FODMAP diet, click here for my article.

Are you having difficulties managing your IBS symptoms all by yourself and would you like guidance from a specialized dietitian? Schedule a free symptom assessment and I’ll show you how I can help.

Spicy food

As you might have noticed at some point in your life. Eating a lot of spicy foods can leave you miserable on the toilet the day after. Even people without IBS experience this. So having IBS, and thus having a bowel that is more sensitive than general, will only worsen this outcome.

There is a bioactive substance in hot pepper named capsaicin. Capsaicin can elevate the hypersensitivity of the bowel that is present in IBS and can speed up the transit time through the digestive tract. This can cause a burning sensation and abdominal pain.

If you really want to eat spicy food, you can actually build your tolerance for it. You might not like what you feel for the first couple of weeks, but the capsaicin receptors in your gut get used to it! It has been reported that gut symptoms from spicy foods go away, as long as you keep eating it on a regular basis. But if you’re not too excited about spicy foods, just try to stay away from them.


Caffeine can worsen IBS symptoms. Drinking fluids with caffeine in it, increases the secretion of gastric acid which can worsen reflux symptoms. Apart from that, caffeine increases the motility of the gut, causing your food to travel down the digestive tract faster and worsening diarrhea symptoms.


Having a drink every now and again on a sunny day in the park probably won’t hurt you. But chronic alcohol consumption does. Try and limit your alcohol intake as much as you can (also just for general health reasons).

Alcohol disturbs the movement of your intestinal tract and is also interfering with the nutrient absorption in the digestive tract.

Fatty foods

Fatty foods affect the movement of the small bowel, stimulate the natural movement of the digestive tract after a meal (gastrocolic reflex) and elevates the hypersensitivity of the bowel in people with IBS. So having that fatty take away meal, really can hurt.

Chewing gum

Chewing gum can cause an increase in symptoms in multiple ways. For starters, it usually contains sweeteners which can cause bloating and diarrhea. Secondly, chewing on gum makes you swallow air. The more air you swallow, the bigger the chance of bloating and abdominal pain.

In case of bloating: Gas producing products

This one is only necessary to take action on, if your symptoms actually include bloating and gassiness. Reducing the products that form a lot of gas during digestion, can really help reduce the bloatedness.

Foods that can worsen bloating include:
Resistant Starch (if you’re not used to eating it)
Carbonated drinks
Artificial sweeteners

What are the foods you are limiting to manage your IBS symptoms? Let me know in a comment below!

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