Blog Post

Foods to Avoid When You Have IBS

Anyone who’s experienced constipation, bloating, bathroom urgency, or nausea regularly knows how uncomfortable these symptoms are.

While many issues can lead to these gastrointestinal symptoms, irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is at the top of the list.

When you're living with IBS, certain foods trigger chronic symptoms in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, causing a decrease in the quality of your life. However, it's completely manageable through diet changes and, sometimes, medications.

At Gateway Gastroenterology, our expert team of six board-certified doctors and four nurse practitioners provides personalized treatments and compassionate care to patients with stomach and intestinal problems like IBS.

What is IBS?

Irritable bowel syndrome comprises symptoms that affect your bowel movements and stomach without causing any damage to the intestine or other areas of the GI tract.

Many people with IBS have abdominal pain, especially after eating certain foods, along with changes to their bowel movements.

For example, one person with IBS may experience nausea and constipation, while another has diarrhea, cramping, and bowel urgency. The disease affects each person differently but usually impacts the person's quality of life.

Doctors aren't exactly sure of what causes IBS. However, it may be due to several lifestyle factors, including extreme stress, infection, or gut microbiome changes.

The symptoms of IBS usually involve a change in the appearance or frequency of a bowel movement and pain in your abdomen. These symptoms typically last long, but you can manage them with the proper diet.

Foods that trigger IBS symptoms

Food and stress are the most significant factors that trigger IBS. Your diet is one of the best — and worst — things you can do for your gut. Your foods directly impact your gut health and may trigger episodes of IBS symptoms.

If you're living with IBS, you should try to avoid certain foods, including the following triggers:

Dairy products

Low levels of lactase in the body make it hard to digest foods containing lactose in many dairy products. Many types of cheese, milk, and ice cream include high levels of lactose, which wreaks havoc on someone with IBS.

Some fruits and vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables are hard to digest and cause gas and bloating. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and asparagus are all no-nos when eating with IBS.

Whole wheat

Many whole wheat products contain barley, wheat, or rye, which aren't easily digestible.All have high levels of fructose, which isn't easy on your stomach or intestinal tract.


Limiting caffeine is a good idea if you suffer from diarrhea related to IBS. Caffeine stimulates your bowel to quickly move food through your intestines, resulting in diarrhea and abdominal pain.


Honey, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners trigger IBS symptoms. Many foods contain these sweeteners, so it's best to look at the labels on your food before eating.

Sugary, processed foods

Overly processed foods often contain a lot of additives, including sugars and carbohydrates, all of which are hard on the gastrointestinal tract. Limiting processed foods can help manage the symptoms of IBS.

What foods should I eat?

Living with IBS can be tricky — but it's not impossible. Many people manage their symptoms through a special diet called the low FODMAP diet. The low FODMAP diet cuts out foods that contain carbohydrates that the body has trouble digesting.

FODMAP foods are hard on the GI tract, leading to gas, diarrhea, and constipation. If you're looking to manage your symptoms, you can follow a low FODMAP diet that includes the following foods:

  • Lactose-free milk or yogurt
  • Fruits containing lower fructose
  • Zucchini, green beans, sweet potatoes, and eggplant
  • Rice, polenta, quinoa
  • Maple syrup or molasses
  • Soluble fiber

Our team provides tips and other treatments for dealing with IBS as well. We help you identify the foods that trigger your symptoms and provide safe alternatives.

We may also discuss adding probiotics and prebiotics to your daily regimen. These supplements contain healthy bacteria that improves the flora in your gut and may reduce symptoms related to IBS.

Call Gateway Gastroenterology today to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists for IBS treatment. Call or message one of our offices. We’re in Chesterfield, St. Louis, and Ballwin, Missouri.