Nutrition Articles

Eating with Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Symptoms, Treatment, and Tips


General Eating Tips
  • Consume meals and snacks on a regular, consistent schedule. Avoid skipping meals. Try 5-6 smaller meals daily. The stomach is more sensitive when it is empty.
  • Chew thoroughly and eat at a leisurely pace. If you must eat in a hurry, serve yourself half portions.
  • Avoid swallowing excess air because this may trigger symptoms. Sip—don't gulp—your beverages, don't drink through a straw, don't talk while chewing, and eat with your mouth closed.
  • Drink 8 cups of water daily.
  • Ask your physician if she recommends taking Metamucil or Citrucel daily. Do NOT use the sugar free varieties, which may contain ingredients (artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols, etc.) that aggravate IBS symptoms.
  • Carry Fibercon capsules when you have to unexpectedly wait too long between meals or wait at a restaurant.
  • Peppermint may help to relieve spasms. Try Altoids, hot mint tea, or peppermint oil capsules.
Tips for Eating Fiber
  • Slowly increase fiber in your diet to 25-35 grams per day. Include a variety of grains such as wheat, rye, barley, oat, farro, kamut, couscous, soy, and quinoa.  To learn more, read Figuring Out the Facts on Fiber.
  • Always eat soluble fiber first, whenever your stomach is empty. Make soluble fiber foods the largest component of every meal and snack. Foods rich in soluble fiber include: oatmeal, pasta, rice, potatoes, French bread, sourdough bread, soy products, barley, and oat bran. Nuts, beans, and lentils are also a good source of soluble fiber. However, nuts also include fat and lentils also contain some insoluble fiber.
  • Never eat insoluble fiber on an empty stomach, in large quantities at one sitting, or without soluble fiber. Foods rich in insoluble fiber include: wheat bran, whole grain products, and whole wheat products.
  • Limit fat intake to 25% of your total daily calories. Never eat high-fat foods on an empty stomach or without soluble fiber.
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About The Author

Becky Hand Becky Hand
Becky is a registered and licensed dietitian with almost 20 years of experience. A certified health coach through the Cooper Institute with a master's degree in health education, she makes nutrition principles practical, easy-to-apply and fun. See all of Becky's articles.

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