IBS Diet Trigger Food List | Irritable Bowel Syndrome Danger | Stop!

Stay with me here. Don't read the IBS trigger food list and assume that you can never eat any of these foods again, so life is no longer worth living.

These are top IBS trigger foods, true. And some of them you will probably have to completely eliminate from your diet.

BUT - some trigger foods can be eaten in small quantities when you follow the how to eat for IBS guidelines. Most trigger foods have safer substitutes you can use freely, and there are quite a few tips and tricks to learn for cooking with the nutritious foods on the list in a safe manner.

Please take heart, this isn't the end of good food it's just the beginning of a better IBS diet and life.

Here's the quick and dirty shortcut of red light trigger foods for IBS. These are all huge gut stimulants or irritants.

  • Red meat
  • Dairy
  • Fried foods
  • Coffee
  • Soda pop
  • Artificial Sweeteners
  • Alcohol
Keep reading for full details, there's a lot to cover here.

Fats! Big Time IBS Trigger Foods

Fat is quite simply the single greatest digestive tract stimulant, and thus the most common IBS trigger food.

Basically, when food enters your stomach, it triggers the gastrocolic reflex. This then cues your colon to start contracting.

(Have you ever had an IBS attack moments after eating the wrong thing? Common sense tells you that the food was nowhere near your colon at that time. It doesn't have to be - this is your gastrocolic reflex going awry.)

Fat will trigger the gastrocolic reflex more powerfully than any other category of food. With a normal gut this would simply result in a bowel movement. But if you have IBS, you do not have a normal gastrocolic reflex response.

Instead, your colon can react to stimulant foods with violent spasms. This will set off pain, diarrhea, urgency, constipation, bloating, or all of the above.

If the spasms are strong enough they can "seize up" the colon in a type of gut charley horse, and motility can halt altogether. This can cause agonizing constipation. Motility has shut down and fecal matter does not move through the colon.Bloating and gas can be severe.

But high fat trigger foods also worsen IBS diarrhea, not just constipation. The muscle spasms triggered by fats result in gut contractions so fast and hard they rush matter through the colon, without enough time for water to be absorbed.

This causes urgency, pain, and diarrhea from the hypermotility.

So, though it sounds contradictory, high fat foods are triggers for BOTH diarrhea AND constipation if you have IBS. They are just different expressions of the same underlying pathology. With IBS, it's always about dysfunctional gut motility.

Let's Get Into the Details

Red meat. Ground beef, hamburgers, hot dogs, steaks, roast beef, pastrami, salami, bologna, pepperoni, corned beef, ham, bacon, sausage, pork chops, venison, veal, or anything else that comes from cows, pigs, sheep, goats, deer, etc. If it has four legs, it's red meat.

Red meat is an extra terrible idea for IBS as the proteins can lead to a decrease in beneficial gut bacteria, and an increase in harmful ones.

This is not true of plant proteins, which lead to a significant increase in anti-inflammatory butyrate-producing bacteria, bacterial diversity, and a reduction in pro-inflammatory bacteria. This is critical because the gut microbiome is at the root of the underlying brain-gut dysfunction of IBS.

Poultry dark meat and skin. Skinless white meat is fine (as is all seafood by the way). Try to buy organic turkey and chicken.

Dairy products. Cheese, butter, sour cream, cream cheese, milk, cream, half-and half, ice cream, whipped cream, yogurt, frozen yogurt. Dairy is an IBS trigger even if you're not lactose intolerant. It's not just the lactose. It's not just the high fat content. Even skim and lactose-free dairy can trigger IBS attacks.

In addition to fat and lactose, dairy contains proteins such as whey and casein, which can cause severe digestion problems. Though yogurt is traditionally recommended as an "easily digestible" dairy product because fermentation has reduced the lactose levels, even non-fat versions contain whey and casein, and should be avoided.

Egg yolks. Whites are fine, try to buy organic. Egg Beaters are also safe.

Meat, dairy products, and egg yolks are particularly dangerous for all aspects of IBS. In some people their high fat content causes violent, rapid colon spasms and triggers diarrhea.

For others their heavy animal proteins, complete lack of fiber, and very low water content can lead to drastically slowed colon contractions. Or one prolonged colon spasm, which is extremely painful, and severe IBS constipation.

No matter what Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms you're prone to, these three categories of foods pose high risks and are trigger foods really best eliminated from your diet altogether.

More High Fat IBS Trigger Foods

French fries
Onion rings
Fried chicken
Corn dogs
Anything battered and deep-fried
Anything skillet-fried in fat of any kind
All oils, fats, spreads, etc.
Salad dressings
Tartar sauce
Cool Whip
Coconut milk
Shredded coconut
Solid chocolate (unsweetened baking cocoa powder is fine)
Solid carob (carob powder is fine)
Nuts and nut butters
Potato chips
(unless they're baked)
Corn chips and nachos (unless they're baked)
Store-bought dried bananas (they're almost always deep fried)

Fats are usually fairly obvious foods to identify, but not always. The worst culprits are listed above, and many (particularly meat, dairy, egg yolks, and fried foods) can simply be eliminated from your diet entirely and your whole body will be healthier for it.

The thought of this can be deeply shocking, but giving up these foods does not equal deprivation. Honestly, it doesn't. There are a great many easy IBS safe substitutions that will let you cook and eat safely while still enjoying many of your traditional favorite foods. There's also a lot of fun to be had in trying a wide variety of new ones.

And when you're tempted to indulge in a dangerous treat, just remember that everything tastes a lot less delicious when it triggers a vicious IBS attack.

There are also some sneaky hidden sources of fat to watch out for.

Sneaky High Fat IBS Trigger Foods

French toast
Pie crust
Mashed potatoes

These can all be sky-high in fat, virtually always so at restaurants, so be careful.

As an aside here, while it's crucial to maintain a low fat diet in order to manage Irritable Bowel Syndrome, it's equally important that you do not go fat free.

It makes no difference to your gastrocolic reflex if you're eating lard or extra-virgin olive oil, but it makes quite a difference to your heart, your cancer risks, and your health in general. Your body needs heart healthy fats in order to function.

Keep your fat intake to 20% - 25% of your total calories, and make your fats count. They should be monounsaturated and contain essential fatty acids, so choose fat sources such as olive oil, safflower oil, avocado oil, grapeseed oil, avocados, finely ground nuts, fatty fish, flax oil, etc.

Just remember that all fats, even heart-healthy ones, are still huge IBS triggers. Coming up we'll get to how to eat for IBS and safely add fats to your diet.

Warning! GI Irritants Are IBS Trigger Foods

These foods and drinks have no IBS benefits but plenty of risks. Avoid them.

Coffee. Both regular AND decaffeinated coffee beans contain an enzyme that's an extremely powerful GI tract irritant. Espressos, lattes, cappuccinos, cold brew, drip, it doesn't matter. If you need the caffeine to open your eyes in the morning go to green or black tea so you don't get withdrawal headaches. Then gradually switch over to IBS friendly herbal teas instead.

Caffeine. A GI stimulant that should be avoided, especially in higher doses.

Alcohol. A GI irritant that often triggers IBS attacks, especially on an empty stomach. Small amounts of alcohol used in cooking or baking are fine.

Carbonation. In soda pop or plain water, it can cause bloating and cramps.

Artificial sweeteners. All of them, and particularly sorbitol, can trigger IBS pain, cramps, gas, bloating, and diarrhea. Leave things unsweetened or use real sugar, maple syrup, honey, pure stevia, or pure monkfruit instead.

By the way, sugar free does not mean IBS safe. It means artficial sweeteners have been added instead. So sugar free means IBS trouble. The safe word you're looking for here is unsweetened.

Artificial fats. Olestra can cause abdominal cramping and diarrhea in people who don't even have IBS – imagine what it can do to you.

MSG. There's a lot of ugly anecdotal evidence against it regarding all sorts of digestive upsets. It can simply be avoided, so why take a chance?

Inulin, FOS, MOS, GOS, XOS, and oligosaccharides are pure FODMAPS. These are cheap manufacturing by-products used to add fiber to many processed foods. They ferment very rapidly in the gut and cause extreme bloating and gas. Always check ingredients for these.

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