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How to Eat with IBS


Updated June 16, 2014

How to Eat with IBS
Photo: Owen Price/Getty Images

If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), paying attention to how you eat can be just as important as thinking about what to eat.

IBS is a complicated disorder: Symptoms can vary person to person, or even from day to day in the same person. In an effort to bring some simplicity into the picture, I have put together the following series of easy guidelines covering the best ways to approach the issues of food and eating depending upon the symptom, or symptoms, you find yourself dealing with.

How to eat when you have...


The number one question I get asked about IBS is “What should I eat when I have diarrhea?” Although there are some specific foods that may help diarrhea, it is essential that you also consider eating in a way that does not intensify the strength of intestinal contractions. To do so, eat small, low-fat meals frequently throughout your day. Read more…


The main thing to keep in mind regarding how to eat for constipation is that you want to do the opposite of what is recommended for diarrhea. Thus, you want to eat in a way that encourages intestinal contractions. The simplest way to accomplish this is to eat a large breakfast in the morning, therefore working with your body’s natural rhythms to encourage movement in your bowels. Read more…

Gas and Bloating

To reduce the symptoms of gas and bloating, you want to make sure that how you eat minimizes the amount of gas in your system. The easiest way to do this is to consider how likely a particular food is to produce gas. The science behind this is not all that complicated. Gas-producing foods are those that contain certain sugars and/or soluble fiber. The interaction between the non-digested parts of these foods and intestinal bacteria results in the production of gas. On days where it is especially important to be symptom-free, you can minimize your intake of these foods. Read more…

Abdominal Pain

The guidelines on how to eat when you have abdominal pain have a lot in common with those of diarrhea and gas/bloating. You don’t want to do anything that encourages stronger intestinal contractions, so that means smaller, lighter meals. Since there can be a relationship between abdominal pain and bloating, try to avoid notoriously gassy foods on days when your pain is more intense. Read more…


Agrawal, A., et.al. “Bloating and distention in irritable bowel syndrome: the role of visceral sensation.” Gastroenterology 2008 134:1882-1889.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained on this site is for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment rendered by a licensed physician. It is essential that you discuss with your doctor any symptoms or medical problems that you may be experiencing.

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