Heather Van Vorous, Author of Eating for IBS & First Year IBS
I am so glad we found each other.
There can be only one reason why you are reading this page, right now, this moment in time…
You or someone you love is terribly sick and suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
I'm Heather Van Vorous. My best-selling books, Eating for IBS and The First Year IBS have helped hundreds of thousands of people get their lives back, save their jobs, marriages, family relationships, friendships, and, in some cases, even saved their lives.
This site contains hundreds of pages of information that can quickly help you do two things:
GET STABLE FROM IBS ATTACKS & STAY STABLE FROM IBS ATTACKS NOW!
You'll discover unprecedented contradictions about the food you eat. One is…
Did you know there are two types of fiber?
Insoluble fiber (the type a doctor may have told you to eat more of) can cause serious attacks. But soluble fiber can be the single biggest aid in stabilizing gut motility and can help prevent IBS symptoms in the first place.
Over the last 25 years this site has grown very large and it may take time to find the most relevant information you need to stop attacks now.
So, here are short cuts to the most important information:
First - Best way for me to help you? Sign up for my diet cheat sheet and newsletter below. I mail several times a week with tips and tricks, how food affects your gut, how to socialize and travel with IBS, stories from my IBS community about how my Eating for IBS diet has changed their lives, and more.
Second - If you're not ready to share your email, I don't blame you. I delete unwanted emails daily and I know you must hate doing this too.
Third - I've also bulleted all my most important IBS diet links below.
Fourth - Don't want short cuts? Just explore below at your own pace.
Have you been told to eat wheat bran? Raw veggies for fiber? That dairy is fine if it's lactose free? This is all wrong!
How is that possible?
Because these foods are powerful gut stimulants or irritants that can cause violent reactions of your gastrocolic reflex.
That reflex directly affects your bowel motility. Disruptions to this motility cause IBS pain, constipation AND diarrhea, gas, and bloating.
This means ANY food high in fat or insoluble fiber is a likely IBS trigger.
Your goal with IBS is bowel motility stability. You do not want to disrupt this stability with gut stimulants or irritants.
That means bran, raw veggies, and dairy are all top IBS diet trigger foods.
A normal person may not have any problems with these foods, but IBS sufferers have a gastrocolic reflex that has gone awry.
But hang in there, because if you're struggling to figure out your IBS diet, you're in the right place.
Diet most definitely plays a direct role in gut function. This is instinctively obvious to IBS sufferers, who are desperate for real help.
But many doctors still fail to give their patients any diet or food guidelines for IBS at all.
Worse, much of the diet information given for IBS is outdated or useless - or to trigger IBS symptoms.
And if you've been told to follow a low FODMAP diet, did you know that FODMAP free does not equal IBS safe? Just like gluten free does not mean IBS friendly. Here's why...
The Proper IBS Diet Plan
The proper IBS diet plan (and yes, there is one - IBS is not so highly individualized that no accurate generalizations can be made) makes a world of difference for almost everyone with Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
For many, the IBS diet makes the difference between living a normal, happy, outgoing life versus spending every single day stuck in the bathroom enduring blinding pain, bowel dysfunction, bloating, and other Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms.
You likely already know from personal experience that some foods nearly always cause IBS symptoms, while others never seem to bother you.
On the other hand, you've also probably noticed that sometimes a specific food will trigger an IBS attack, while at other times you can eat the exact same thing without difficulty.
Odds are it doesn't seem like there's any rhyme or reason to this. Odds are also that you've been wracking your brain to figure out why.
There are, in fact, very clear diet guidelines to follow for how to eat safely for IBS, based on the well-established physical effects certain categories of foods have on the GI tract.
Key Word Here - Categories
The key word here is categories most people with IBS drive themselves bonkers trying to find that one specific food that is triggering their Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
But actually, the diet plan for IBS is the same for IBS diarrhea (or IBS D) as for IBS constipation (or IBS C). Why?
Because both IBS D and IBS C result from the same underlying pathology. IBS is defined as a brain-gut disorder.
It is a dysfunction of the enteric nervous system of the gut and the way that enteric nervous system interacts with the brain.
Interestingly, the enteric nervous system is also called your second brain.
Whether you have IBS diarrrhea, constipation, or both, your bowel motility is dysfunctional. You don't have a disease, you have a disorder.
This brain-gut disorder causes colon contractions, or peristalsis, that are too fast, too strong, too slow, too weak, or irregular and mis-timed.
If your bowel motility is too fast and strong, it results in urgency and IBS diarrhea (and often spasms and pain.
If your motility is too slow or irregular, it results in IBS constipation (and often bloating and trapped gas.)
IBS can also manifest as a nasty combination of all these symptoms, with gut motility so wildly dysfunctional that you alternate between diarrhea and constipation.
This is also called IBS A for alternating, or IBS M, for mixed diarrhea/constipation.
Regardless of the specific IBS symptoms, the diet plan is the same. How can that be?
Because your goal is always stable, rhythmic, normal bowel contractions, which in turn will result in normal bowel function.
The dietary plan for achieving this is based on regulating your bowel function from either extreme, diarrhea and/or constipation, to a stable middle point.
Your Keys to Motility Stability
The diet keys to IBS stability are:
1. A foundation of green light soluble fiber safe foods
2. Adding onto that foundation as needed with a slowly fermenting prebiotic soluble fiber supplement
3. Cautious incorporation of yellow light insoluble fiber foods
4. Avoidance of red light IBS trigger foods
5. Adding natural antispasmodics and carminatives as needed for pain, bloating, gas
IBS Trigger Foods
One big problem is that it isn't a single food that triggers IBS symptoms.
It's ANY food that is high in fat, insoluble fiber, caffeine, coffee (even decaf), carbonation, or alcohol. Why?
Because all of these food categories are either GI stimulants or irritants, and can cause violent reactions of your gastrocolic reflex.
This directly affects the muscles in your colon and can lead to IBS pain, constipation AND diarrhea, gas, and bloating. These are the IBS diet trigger foods.
But! The happy truth is that eating safely for IBS does not mean deprivation, never going to restaurants, bland food, or an unhealthily limited diet.
Nor does it mean living on "rabbit food" available exclusively at health food stores, or following brutal elimination diets, or keeping endless IBS food diaries for the rest of your life.
It does mean learning to eat safely by realizing how different foods physically affect the GI tract. And then managing how foods can help or hurt both IBS diarrhea AND constipation, as well as bloating, gas, nausea, and painful abdominal cramps.
Following the Irritable Bowel Syndrome diet simply means learning how foods can prevent or trigger a spastic colon.
Please remember, you are not alone!
An estimated 15-20% of all Americans have IBS, and it's a devastating, incurable condition. But you can use your diet to successfully manage all symptoms.