Wellness Warrior

The Best Guide To Understanding IBS Food Triggers.

There is nothing worse than not being able to eat what you want when you want. For a very long time, I thought that I had IBS, spoiler alert, turns out I had Crohn’s Disease instead. Anyway, there are so many foods that can trigger your symptoms and make living a normal life a little more challenging. Getting to know your IBS food triggers is the best way to keep your symptoms at bay!

IBS food triggers
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What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a chronic gastrointestinal disorder that affects the large intestine. The symptoms vary widely from person to person and can fluctuate in severity, often triggered by certain foods, stress, or other environmental factors. Unlike inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, IBS does not cause changes in bowel tissue or increase the risk of colorectal cancer. The exact cause of IBS remains unclear, but it is believed to involve a combination of abnormal gastrointestinal motility, increased sensitivity to pain, and disruptions in the gut-brain axis. Managing IBS typically involves dietary modifications, stress management, and sometimes medication, tailored to each person’s unique symptoms and triggers.

IBS symptoms:

  • Abdominal pain or cramping.
  • Bloating and gas.
  • Alternating episodes of diarrhea and constipation.
  • Mucus in the stool.
  • Urgency to have a bowel movement.
  • The feeling of not being done after a bowel movement.

Common IBS food triggers to be aware of.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for IBS. But the good news is, it’s manageable if you know what to look out for. If you follow the right diet, you can live a seemingly normal life without experiencing most of these symptoms. Taking a few supplements for your stomach can also go a long way to help you manage your symptoms. From my personal experience, it’s easier to remember the list of things you can eat, rather than the things you can’t.

High FODMAP foods.

Fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides, and polyols (FODMAPs) are a group of carbohydrates that are challenging for the digestive system to break down. These foods can lead to gas, bloating, and diarrhea if you suffer from IBS. Although this list isn’t extensive, it’s a good idea to get to know most of these IBS food triggers.

  • Oligosaccharides: Found in wheat, onions, garlic, and legumes.
  • Disaccharides: Found in lactose-containing dairy products.
  • Monosaccharides: Found in fructose-rich foods like apples, and honey.
  • Polyols: Found in sugar alcohols and fruits like stone fruits (e.g., cherries, plums).

Fatty foods.

Have you ever noticed that you feel really bad after having fast food? And not in the guilt type of way because you want to be healthier, but the sick to your stomach kind of way. Well, that’s because fatty foods are a common IBS food trigger. High-fat foods can slow down digestion, leading to increased gas production and discomfort. These foods can be particularly challenging when you have IBS because they stimulate the gut excessively, leading to spasms and cramping.

Managing your fat intake by opting for lean proteins, low-fat dairy products, and cooking methods like grilling or baking instead of frying can help avoid these excessive symptoms and promote better digestive health.

Anything that contains gluten.

This was a hard one for me to deal with just because everything delicious contains gluten. I was never aware of how many products actually contained gluten until I started looking out for it. And don’t you fear, the gluten-free world has evolved so much, that being gluten-free is easier and more delicious than ever before. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, and is a well-known trigger for IBS. While gluten intolerance is mostly associated with celiac disease, some people with IBS experience similar digestive problems when eating gluten-containing foods.

Following a gluten-free diet can help alleviate some of these symptoms and give you some ease in your gut. It’s important to note that not everyone with IBS is sensitive to gluten, so it may be beneficial to work with a healthcare provider to determine if a gluten-free diet is appropriate for you specifically.

RELATED: The 11 Best Fiber Rich Foods For Weight Loss.

Spicy food.

As delicious as spicy foods may be, your gut might not be too happy with you after a night of indulgence. Spicy foods can irritate the gastrointestinal tract, leading to bloating, abdominal pain, and bowel irregularities. While some people may be able to tolerate small amounts of spice, for others, even a hint of heat can spell disaster for their digestive health. Try keeping a food journal to write down foods that might be a trigger for you as everyone is different. If you do love eating spicy food, try experimenting with different varieties as they might not all cause the same reaction.


When I first started learning about IBS food triggers, I was shocked to find out that alcohol was on that list. It never even crossed my mind that a drink would be a possible trigger. Not only does alcohol itself cause a problem in your gut, but the mixers and additives commonly found in cocktails can further aggravate symptoms. Find the balance that works for your body and stick to it. I have noticed that some alcoholic beverages are tolerated much better than others. You just need to find what works with you.

Artificial sweeteners.

If you’re trying to live a healthier lifestyle but suffer from IBS, I have some bad news about the sugar replacements you might have been using. Despite their calorie-saving goodness, these sugar substitutes, like aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose, can wreak havoc on sensitive digestive systems. These sweeteners can act as potent IBS food triggers, leading to bloating, gas, and abdominal discomfort. The body struggles to digest and absorb these synthetic compounds, resulting in fermentation in the gut, which can worsen any symptoms.

Even in small quantities, artificial sweeteners have been known to provoke digestive issues even more. But don’t worry, you can still use natural sweeteners like stevia or small amounts of sugar instead of using these artificial sweeteners.


Usually, the best is saved for last, but in this case, it’s the worst. Not the worst trigger, just the fact that it’s on this list in the first place! If you feel like you can’t focus until you’ve had your first coffee for the day, it might be time to get used to decaf coffee sooner rather than later. Caffeine can stimulate the gastrointestinal tract, causing increased contractions and potentially leading to diarrhea, cramping, and bloating. Caffeine is also known to worsen anxiety and stress, which are common triggers for IBS flare-ups.

While you don’t have to say goodbye to your morning coffee, it might just be time to take the decaf route or enjoy a cup of tea instead. It might not be ideal, your usual morning coffee turned into a decaf, milk-alternative coffee, but at least you won’t be dealing with an upset stomach!

RELATED: The Best Beginners Guide To Gluten-Free Eating.

Things you can do to help manage your symptoms.

While there is no cure for IBS, there are a few things you can do to help manage your symptoms and live a seemingly normal life. While IBS might not be something great to live with, it gets easier to manage as time goes on. You’ve got this.

  • Dietary adjustments: Eat smaller, more frequent meals and increase your fiber intake (if you’re not sensitive).
  • Stay hydrated: Make sure to keep a water bottle on hand and stay hydrated throughout the day.
  • Stay active: Make sure to make regular physical activity, like walking or yoga, a part of your daily routine.
  • Practice stress-reducing techniques: Try practicing techniques like meditation or deep-breathing exercises to help reduce stress.
  • Get enough sleep: Make sure you get enough sleep and maintain a regular sleep schedule.
  • Consult with a professional: Work out a treatment schedule with your healthcare provider to help manage any symptoms you might be having.
  • Keep a record: Keep a food and symptom journal to identify and avoid triggers.


Remember, everyone’s experience with IBS is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. By being mindful of your eating habits, identifying your IBS food triggers, and making necessary dietary adjustments, you can take control of your IBS food triggers and improve your overall quality of life. Just because you have a disease, doesn’t mean it needs to take over your life.

Happy Eating,

Your Wellness Warrior!

1 thought on “The Best Guide To Understanding IBS Food Triggers.”

  1. Great post. I really learned a lot. There is so much information out there but this post made it easy to understand.

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