IBS Diarrhea Diet: Foods to Eat and Not Eat With IBS-D
Get relief with the IBS Diarrhea diet and live a more comfortable life.

IBS Diarrhea Diet

Belly pain, frequent bowel movements, loose stools — they are the unwelcome signs of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) with diarrhea, also known as IBS-D. The sudden bathroom urges are equally upsetting. If you have IBS-D, you are likely disturbed by this pattern.

IBS symptoms can include your colon to be more sensitive than normal. Some people think of IBS as the gut's response to stress, and stress is often part of the picture. However, medication 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 is 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 — you will not 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 techniques 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 cannot 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 will not get the necessary nutrients. Simply cut back. Moderation is key.

IBS-D Diet Guidelines

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:

1. Lactose and Dairy

Lactose can be problematic; it is in milk and other dairy products, like cottage cheese, cream cheese, ice cream and sour cream. A small amount of lactose is fine for most people. But if you have IBS-D, you have got to control the amount. You do not 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 non-fat dairy, or try non-dairy cheese.

Milk and yogurt alternatives:

  • Soy milk.
  • Rice milk.
  • Oat milk
  • Lactose-free milk.
  • Lactose-free yogurt.

Cheese alternatives:

  • Hard cheeses.
  • Camembert.
  • Brie.
  • Non-dairy soy cheese.

Skip butter in favor of olive oil.

2. Fruits

The sugar fructose in fruit can cause issues for IBS sufferers. Apples, pears and watermelon are especially high in fructose. Dried fruit and fruit juices are similarly fructose-intense. Citrus, bananas, grapes and berries are lower in fructose.

Lower-fructose fruits:

  • Bananas.
  • Blueberries.
  • Cantaloupe.
  • Cranberries.
  • Grapes.
  • Oranges.
  • Lemons and limes.
  • Kiwi.
  • Strawberries.

3. Vegetables

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.

Beneficial veggies:

  • Carrots.
  • Celery.
  • Green beans.
  • Eggplant.
  • Peas.
  • Spinach.
  • Sweet potato.
  • Yam.
  • Zucchini.
  • Squash.

You can enhance flavors of these veggies with herbs.

4. Legumes and Beans

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 small quantities, or avoid them.

IBS-friendly options:

  • Rice.
  • Polenta.
  • Oats.
  • Millet.
  • Quinoa.
  • Tapioca.

They are not the same as legumes, but they will help keep you feeling full.

5. Gluten

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.

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6. Sugar Substitutes

Polyols are sugar substitutes in sugarless gum and candy. These are called sorbitol, mannitol, isomalt, maltitol and xylitol on food labels. Avoid them.

Instead, you should try foods with regular sugar, or sweetened with NutraSweet, Splenda, maple syrup, molasses and golden syrup.

Good Foods to Eat With IBS Diarrhea

If you have IBS-D, do not 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 healthy, functioning colon.

Also, choose fruits carefully instead of cutting them entirely. Your body needs the nutrition that fruits offer. However, 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. 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 are shopping, here is a good safe foods list to follow:

  • Carrots.
  • Celery.
  • Green beans.
  • Eggplant.
  • Spinach.
  • Sweet potatoes, yams, squash.
  • Peas.
  • Bananas.
  • Blueberries and strawberries.
  • Citrus fruits.
  • Rice, polenta, quinoa, oats and barley.
  • Soy, rice and 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.

To ensure your IBS diarrhea diet continues to work, drink enough liquids when you increase your fiber intake. If possible, consult your doctor about a low fodmap diet.