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Home » What’s New » Diet for Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Care Instructions

Diet for Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Care Instructions

Your Care Instructions

Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is a problem with the intestines. IBS can cause belly pain, bloating, gas, constipation, and diarrhea. Most people can control their symptoms by changing their diet and easing stress.

No specific foods cause everyone with IBS to have symptoms. Doctors don't offer a specific diet to manage symptoms. But many people find that they feel better when they stop eating certain foods. A high-fiber diet may help if you have constipation.

Man holding fresh fruit and vegetables at grocery store

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

To reduce constipation

* Include fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains in your diet each day. These foods are high in fiber. Slowly increase the amount of fiber you eat. This helps you avoid a lot of gas. * Drink plenty of fluids, enough so that your urine is light yellow or clear like water. If you have kidney, heart, or liver disease and have to limit fluids, talk with your doctor before you increase the amount of fluids you drink. * Get some exercise every day. Build up slowly to 30 to 60 minutes a day on 5 or more days of the week. * Take a fiber supplement, such as Citrucel or Metamucil, every day if needed. Read and follow all instructions on the label. * Schedule time each day for a bowel movement. Having a daily routine may help. Take your time and do not strain when having a bowel movement. * Check with your doctor before you increase the amount of fiber in your diet. For some people who have IBS, eating more fiber may make some symptoms worse. This includes bloating.

To reduce diarrhea

You may try giving up foods or drinks one at a time to see whether symptoms improve. Limit or avoid the following:

* Alcohol * Caffeine, which is found in coffee, tea, cola drinks, and chocolate * Nicotine, from smoking or chewing tobacco * Gas-producing foods, such as beans, broccoli, cabbage, and apples * Dairy products that contain lactose (milk sugar), such as ice cream, milk, cheese, and sour cream * Foods and drinks high in sugar, especially fruit juice, soda, candy, and other packaged sweets (such as cookies) * Foods high in fat, including bacon, sausage, butter, oils, and anything deep-fried * Sorbitol and xylitol, artificial sweeteners found in some sugarless candies and chewing gum

Keep track of foods

* Some people with IBS use a daily food diary to keep track of what they eat and whether they have any symptoms after eating certain foods. The diary also can be a good way to record what is going on in your life. * Stress plays a role in IBS. So if you are aware that certain stresses bring on symptoms, you can try to reduce those stresses.

Keep mealtimes pleasant

* Try to maintain a pleasant environment when you eat. This may reduce stress that can make symptoms likely to occur. * Give yourself plenty of time to eat, rather than eating on the go. Chew your food slowly. Try not to swallow air, which can cause bloating.