What are the Worst Foods for IBS?

D. Waldman

Many foods that trigger irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are referred to as trigger foods. These include most red meats, dairy products, and fried foods. Coffee and other caffeinated beverages should also be avoided.

Red meat can trigger IBS.
Red meat can trigger IBS.

For many people, one of the worst trigger foods for IBS is anything from the red meat family. This includes steaks, ground beef, and pork products. Scientists believe it is the high animal protein content in these foods that tends to cause an IBS flareup. While it may be hard for many people to eliminate red meat from their diets completely, the first step should be to start cutting back on the frequency of red meat consumption while also reducing portion sizes.

Dairy products, like milk, can trigger IBS.
Dairy products, like milk, can trigger IBS.

The next on the list of worst trigger foods for IBS is dairy products. Products such as milk and cheese may seem healthy enough, but they contain high levels of whey and casein proteins. Dairy products also tend to be very high in fat, another quality to avoid when trying to manage IBS. For many people, eliminating or reducing dairy products has already been done before a diagnosis of IBS is made. People suffering from IBS typically have had a lactose intolerance since much earlier on in life and have already taken the steps to cut as much dairy as possible.

A human colon, which is affected by IBS.
A human colon, which is affected by IBS.

Since IBS is particularly irritated when foods high in fat are consumed, fried foods are also considered some of the worst items for IBS. Regardless of what it is that is being fried, the cooking process itself is what increases the overall fat and calorie content of the food. Fried foods may also be greasy in nature, which can easily trigger an IBS flareup as well. Foods should be baked, or at least pan-fried, whenever possible to not only avoid an onset of IBS symptoms, but also improve the overall levels of fat and calories being consumed as part of a balanced diet.

Caffeinated beverages, like coffee, often trigger IBS.
Caffeinated beverages, like coffee, often trigger IBS.

Aside from the many foods for IBS that should be avoided, there are also beverages to cut out as well. Both coffee and caffeinated beverages can have a serious impact on those suffering from IBS. These types of drinks can cause intestinal contractions, and consumption of them is one of the easiest ways to trigger a bout of IBS. Even decaffeinated coffee contains certain enzymes which may irritate the intestines. Caffeine-free herbal teas, on the other hand, are a safe alternative to both coffees and sodas.

Onion rings and other fried foods may trigger IBS.
Onion rings and other fried foods may trigger IBS.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


I'm a 45 year old male who has fought IBS for 23 years. One of the worst things i can eat are sesame seeds! since i stopped eating them on anything, my IBS has improved greatly. Not gone, but way better. --NU


Mutsy-I think that fast food restaurants should be avoided. Fatty fries and cheeseburgers are foods to avoid for IBS.

In addition, milkshakes are bad foods for IBS and should also be avoided because these dairy products are high in fat and they contribute to this condition and make matters worse.

I know that this is a very uncomfortable condition that leaves you with a stomach bloated with painful cramping and diarrhea.

It is also a good idea to keep track of your flare ups with a journal. If you write down what you ate and when you had these flair ups it will help you modify your diet so that these episodes remain few and far between.

It is also a good idea to keep yourself hydrated by drinking a lot of water. This will also flush out the impurities in your system and make you feel better.


IBS causes a bloating stomach but soluble fiber foods for IBS sufferers offer some relief.

According to the Mayo Clinic foods rich in fiber like apples, strawberries, raisins, sweet potatoes, oatmeal and raisin bran are recommended.

Also, lean meats and water packed tuna along with brown rice and whole wheat bread are also suggested foods to eat for IBS sufferers.

Really when you suffer from IBS you really have to avoid fatty foods because these make the symptoms of IBS worse and increase the level of cramping and diarrhea which really add to your discomfort.

Post your comments
Forgot password?