The Most Common Trigger Foods for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)


Woman dealing with chronic IBS symptomsIf you have been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), then you know that identifying your trigger foods is an essential part of managing this medical condition. Unfortunately, this is something that tends to be easier said than done, as no two people with IBS will have the exact same trigger foods. Thus, it can be quite difficult to identify all the foods that will cause your IBS symptoms to flare. However, we wanted to put together a list of foods that are very common food triggers. So while these may not be your exact triggers, they could help point you in the right direction.

Greasy or High Fat Foods

Food that has a high fat content could produce even stronger intestinal contractions, especially for someone living with IBS. You may be wondering why greasy food produces this reaction. Well, these contractions are triggered by the body’s own natural gastrocolic reflex. For people with a very sensitive digestive system, they should try to avoid eating fatty meats or fried food where possible. Some popular foods in this category would include:

  • Sausage
  • Pizza
  • French Fries

Dairy Products

You may have or know someone who is lactose intolerant. This is a common medical condition which basically means that the body is unable to effectively digest lactose, the sugar that is found in dairy based foods. If you are lactose intolerant, then ingesting these foods can cause a number of digestive problems including cramps, bloating, and diarrhea. The most common dairy products include:

  • Cheese
  • Milk
  • Ice cream

Whole Grain Products

While high fiber diets are often recommended for overall health, IBS patients need to be careful when it comes to certain high fiber foods. A lot of people who are living with conditions like IBS or celiac disease are gluten intolerant. This means that ingesting this protein, which can be found in many whole grain foods, can cause a serious flare up of their IBS symptoms. If you are living with IBS, then you may also want to avoid products that contain bran, as this seems to be a common irritant for a sensitive digestive system. Instead, you may be better off opting for whole wheat products that contain no bran.

Raw Fruits

As I am sure you know, fruits are a great source of nutrients and make up an important part of any healthy diet. That is unless you have been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome. With IBS, there are certain raw fruits that can cause problems. On the other hand, you can still enjoy these fruits if you cook them or buy them canned. These types of raw fruits have been known to cause issues with IBS:

  • Citrus fruits, like tangerines and oranges
  • Melons, like cantaloupe and watermelon


Just like some fruits can cause problems, there are vegetables which can be tougher on the digestive system for someone with IBS. Watch out for these veggies:

  • Cabbage, broccoli, beans, or other vegetables that produce a significant level of gas
  • Scallions, red peppers, and onions when eaten raw

Avoid the Soda and Coffee

If you are looking to identify the foods that can cause issues with your IBS symptoms, then you can’t forget to take a good hard look at the types of beverages that you are drinking. The following could be an issue for your digestive system:

  • Coffee and other drinks that have a lot of caffeine
  • Carbonated beverages such as soda can really exacerbate certain IBS symptoms
  • Alcoholic beverages, especially red wine

Watch Out for the Heat

A IBS clinical trial showed that spicy foods can cause abdominal pain in people living with this medical condition. Clinical researchers discovered that IBS patients have a greater quantity of this specific nerve fiber that reacts adversely to a substance contained within chili peppers. Fans of spicy foods know that chili peppers are a common ingredient in many of the popular foods that can make our eyes water.

Now, there is no guarantee that these are going to be the foods that trigger your symptoms, but hopefully this will provide a good starting point. When it comes to the long-term treatment and management of irritable bowel syndrome, it doesn’t get much more important than knowing your food triggers and eating right.



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