The IBS Diarrhea Diet
Belly pain, frequent bowel movements, loose stools. They are the unwelcome signs of IBS with diarrhea, also known as IBS-D. The sudden bathroom urges are equally upsetting. If you have IBS-D, you likely are very disturbed by this pattern.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) causes your colon to be more sensitive than is normal. Some people think of IBS as the gut's response to stress, and stress is often part of the picture. However, medications and certain foods are also typically at the crux of this disorder.
What Causes IBS-D?
Researchers have come to understand IBS to some extent. For example, it’s clear that women are more likely than men to suffer from IBS – especially adults under 50. If a family member has had IBS, your odds are higher.
The good news is that this is not a life-threatening condition. It can come and go throughout your life. But when you figure out what “triggers” your IBS, you can help get it under control – including the foods that irritate your colon. Don’t worry, and you won’t have to cut foods you enjoy completely!
Understanding What Your IBS Triggers Are
Getting relief from IBS-D may take some detective work. For many people, the right diet, exercise, and stress relief can control symptoms without medication.
First, experiment to figure out the foods that agree with your gut – whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables. You might try an elimination diet if it seems that specific foods are triggering your symptoms. Stop eating them one at a time and see how you feel.
Keep notes and be specific in your notes. Maybe you can’t eat grapes or apples without having an “episode,” but a pear or a bit of banana works just fine. Everyone’s pattern is different.
Work toward getting a balanced diet. Don’t totally avoid certain food groups, or your body won’t get the necessary nutrients. Simply cut back. Moderation is key.
The IBS-D Diet: Everything You Need to Know
If you have IBS-D, too much fiber can make your symptoms worse. Certain high-fiber foods produce gas which causes abdominal pain and diarrhea. Doctors often recommend a special diet of easily digestible foods.
Here’s a breakdown of what foods to “limit” as well as some substitutes:
Lactose can be problematic; it is in milk and other soft dairy products like cottage cheese, cream cheese, ice cream, and sour cream. A very small amount of lactose is fine for most people. But if you have IBS-D, you’ve got to control the amount. You don’t want to eat more than your intestine can handle. This will cause gas and abdominal pain.
Fat in dairy can also cause problems; you may need to switch to a low-fat or nonfat dairy or try non-dairy cheese.
Instead: Try soy milk, rice milk, oat milk and lactose-free milk instead of cow’s milk, as well as lactose-free yogurt. Try these cheeses: hard cheeses, camembert, brie, or non-dairy soy cheese. Skip butter in favor of olive oil.
The sugar fructose in fruit can cause issues for IBS sufferers. Apples, pears, and watermelon are especially high in fructose. Dried fruit and fruit juice are similarly fructose-intense. Citrus, bananas, grapes, and berries are lower in fructose.
Instead: Eat lower-fructose fruits; these include bananas, blueberries, cantaloupe, cranberries, grapes, oranges, lemons/limes, kiwi, and strawberries.
Specific vegetables cause gas and bowel problems. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, coleslaw, and sauerkraut are especially problematic. Also, you will want to limit artichokes, brussels sprouts, onions, shallots, leeks, and asparagus.
Instead: Eat plenty of carrots, celery, green beans, eggplant, peas, spinach, sweet potato, yam, zucchini, and squash. You can enhance flavors of these veggies with herbs.
Spasms caused by irritable bowel syndrome are common, uncomfortable, and sometimes debilitating. Here are some ways to reduce the frequency of spasms.
These contain indigestible saccharides which cause gas. Baked beans, chickpeas, lentils and soybeans have high amounts. If you have IBS-D, you should eat them in very small quantities, or avoid them.
Instead: Enjoy rice, polenta, oats, millet, quinoa, and tapioca. They aren’t the same as legumes, but they will help keep you feeling full.
Certain grains can cause problems — namely rye, wheat, and barley – because they contain a protein called gluten.
Research suggests that gluten sensitivity may be involved in the development of IBS for some people. Therefore, a gluten-free diet may improve symptoms.
Lots of gluten-free products on the market take care of this problem. If you love pizza, pasta, cakes, or cookies, you can simply opt for gluten-free options.
Polyols are sugar substitutes in sugarless gum and candy. These are called sorbitol, mannitol, isomalt, maltitol and xylitol on food labels. Avoid them.
Instead: Eat foods with regular sugar, or sweetened with NutraSweet, Splenda, maple syrup, molasses, and golden syrup.
What Foods to Eat With IBS Diarrhea
If you have IBS-D, don't avoid fiber if you have diarrhea. Fiber is important in lowering LDL cholesterol and protecting you from heart disease and certain cancers. Just switch to foods that have more soluble fiber, which stays in the gut longer – and promotes a normally functioning colon.
Also, choose fruits carefully instead of cutting them entirely. Your body needs the nutrition that fruits offer; just enjoy them sparingly. Cut gluten if you are sensitive to it. Try experimenting with a few gluten-free products to see if you feel better.
Choose wisely when you eat desserts and indulge in those sweetened with sugar or the “safe” sweeteners. And steer clear of dairy products, choosing alternatives like rice milk and soy cheese instead.
A List of Foods to Eat With IBS Diarrhea
When you’re shopping, here’s a good “safe foods” list to follow:
- Green beans
- Sweet potatoes, yams, squash
- Blueberries & strawberries
- Citrus fruits
- Rice, polenta, quinoa, oats & barley
- Soy, rice & oat milk
- Olive oil
- Gluten-free products
You might also benefit from taking a fiber supplement that includes psyllium, methylcellulose, wheat dextrin, or calcium polycarbophil. Make sure you increase the amount slowly to help prevent gas and cramping.
Also, be sure to It’s also important to drink enough liquids when you increase your fiber intake.