9 Common Foods to Avoid with Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Healthy diets typically recommend that people consume a variety of nutritious foods in moderation. But, when a person has irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), that isn’t always possible. As a matter of fact, many of the foods that we eat, even those that are generally considered healthy, can generate uncomfortable symptoms with IBS.

There’s no single list of foods that are off-limits when you’re living with irritable bowel syndrome, as the symptoms can vary among sufferers. That being said, certain foods are known to trigger symptoms. For some people, avoiding these foods can reduce ailments such as bloating, cramping, diarrhea, and constipation.

Consider ditching the following foods to improve your IBS symptoms…


Dairy is one of the main trigger foods known to cause problems with IBS. That’s because it contains fat and lactose, which many people with irritable bowel syndrome do not tolerate well.

If you experience symptoms when consuming dairy products but don’t want to give it up, then try switching to low-fat or non-fat dairy or opt for dairy alternatives like soy cheese and rice milk.


Many people with IBS are gluten intolerant. When this is the case, the body responds negatively to foods containing gluten protein from grains like wheat, disturbing gastrointestinal symptoms.

Can’t you do without your pizza, crackers, and cookies? Then substitute with gluten-free options. Thankfully, there are loads of gluten-free products available for those who cannot tolerate glutinous foods.

Fried Foods

Regular consumption of fried foods like French fries, chicken strips, and cheese sticks increases your risk of obesity and heart disease. Eating these foods also tends to trigger and worsen IBS symptoms.

Fried foods generally contain a lot of fat content. Fat can be very taxing on the digestive system when a person has irritable bowel syndrome. To improve your IBS, grill and bake your favorite foods.

Processed Foods

Most people don’t think too much about the content of the processed foods that they eat, but foods like ham, bread, and breakfast cereals can be harmful, especially when you have an irritable bowel.

Processed foods contain additives and preservatives, which can flare up IBS. Many of these foods are also fried and high in fat. Thus, buying and cooking fresh foods is a smarter option.


While beans are a good source of fiber and protein, they can cause symptoms such as cramping, gas, and bloating with irritable bowel syndrome, as they contain indigestible saccharides.

Individuals with symptomatic IBS should be particularly cautious with baked beans, lentils, soybeans, and chickpeas. These are legumes that are especially high in saccharides.


Broccoli is another healthy food that is best avoided with IBS. Why? Because it contains raffinose, which produces gas. Broccoli’s high sulphur and insoluble fiber content can also cause gut issues.

If you’re a broccoli lover, grating or ricing the vegetable can make it easier for your body to digest it. Or, you can simply ditch the broccoli altogether and eat more spinach, eggplant, celery, carrots, or squash.

Caffeinated Drinks

Coffee, sodas, and energy drinks – are all bad with IBS. Caffeine increases stomach acid production. This can cause pain and indigestion. Caffeine also stimulates the colon’s motor activity, which often causes diarrhea.

Beverages that contain caffeine are common triggers in those with irritable bowel syndrome. When you’re low on energy and need a boost, then rather reach for a snack or take a walk.


Chocolate bars, candies, and desserts contain caffeine, and usually quite a lot of it. Most chocolates are also packed with sugar. Both ingredients can produce uncomfortable IBS symptoms.

If eating chocolate – or foods that contain it – appears to be causing you digestive discomfort, then you’re better off exploring vegan options and looking for other ways to indulge.


Alcoholic beverages are a trigger for a lot of people living with IBS, especially beer, which has gluten, and wines, which contain sugar. The dehydrating effects of alcohol also impact liver function and digestion.

Avoiding alcohol or limiting the amount that you drink can reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. If you must have a drink, then opt for gluten-free beer and drinks without any added sugar.