Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common condition described as a gut to brain to microbiome disorder. It causes symptoms such as stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation. Symptoms can be worsened or triggered by food and/or stress. IBS is usually a lifelong problem but with diet changes, stress management tools targeted to the individual as well as individual medicines used to help control the symptoms relief can be found.
Consuming certain foods is also often seen to trigger IBS symptoms. These foods trigger or worsen symptoms and need to be minimized or avoided. A Monash University FODMAP trained dietician would help to identify your individual food triggers and create a meal plan for IBS sufferers.
That said, there are IBS-friendly meal plan options that can work in general for many people with IBS. An IBS-friendly meal plan leaves out or limits foods and food groups that trigger IBS symptoms for that individual.
The Top Food Offenders for IBS Are:
Coarse foods like popcorn, most raw vegetables, whole nuts, seeds, and thick stalks are high in roughage or insoluble fibre. It is impossible for humans to fully break down these foods more than we can chew them. From our mouth, these high-fibre foods travel throughout the gastro-intestinal tract more or less intact. As they are coarse in nature, they can worsen IBS symptoms, triggering abdominal pain, diarrhoea, bowel urgency, and constipation. However, these foods also contain very important food for the gut microbiome. This is why it is important to not fully eliminate these foods without first speaking with a dietitian. They should instead be examined as they pertain to each individual and thoughtfully placed in an IBS meal plan.
- Fatty Foods
Foods that are high in fats like fried chicken and greasy French fries can trigger IBS symptoms like bowel urgency and/ or loose stool. Meals high in animal fat or greasy meals are best avoided. For a good IBS meal plan it is recommended to eat small amounts of animal fat and a good amount of plant-based fats like avocado, small amounts of olive oil, and nut butters.
- Excess Sugar
A meal plan for IBS sufferers should limit daily sugar consumption to less than 25gm a day. Those who have IBS tend to be more sensitive to sugar. Stay away from sugary drinks, cookies and cake. Granola bars, flavoured yogurts, cereal, and condiments can also be hidden sources of sugar. Do not use artificial sweeteners, as they can cause IBS symptoms and have a negative impact on overall gut health not to mention that they are not a healthy choice for your gut microbiome.
- Spicy FoodS
Spicy foods can irritate the GI tract. Consuming foods that are high in spices can trigger IBS symptoms in some people with IBS. Instead, opt for fresh herbs and mild spices to flavour foods. Avoid hot sauce or red pepper flakes.
- FODMAP Foods
FODMAPs are certain types of carbohydrates (sugars and fibres) that are poorly absorbed by the body. They are highly fermentable in the presence of bacteria. For those with IBS, this can lead to uncomfortable gas, bloating, diarrhoea, and other symptoms. A personalized approach to figuring out which High-FODMAP foods are problematic for you needs to be considered. To eliminate all high FODMAP foods unnecessarily is not healthy and cannot be part of a meal plan for IBS sufferers Instead, consult with a dietitian who is Monash trained and recommended on their website.
High-FODMAP Foods (to limit or avoid): Artichoke, asparagus, cauliflower, garlic, green peas, mushrooms, onion, sugar snap peas, apples, apple juice, cherries, dried fruit, mango, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums, watermelon, cow’s milk, custard, evaporated milk, ice cream, soy milk (made from whole soybeans), sweetened condensed milk, yoghurt, most legumes/ pulses, some marinated meats/ poultry/ seafood, some processed meats, wheat/ rye/ barley based breads, breakfast cereals, biscuits and snack products, high fructose corn syrup, honey, sugar free confectionary, cashews, pistachios.
Low-FODMAP Foods (to eat): Aubergine/eggplant, beans (green), bok choy, green capsicum (bell pepper), carrot, cucumber, lettuce, potato, zucchini, cantaloupe, kiwi fruit (green), mandarin, orange, pineapple, almond milk, brie/camembert cheese, feta cheese, hard cheeses, lactose-free milk, soy milk (made from soy protein), eggs, firm tofu, plain cooked meats/poultry/seafood, tempeh, corn flakes, oats, quinoa flakes, quinoa/rice/corn pasta, rice cakes (plain), sourdough spelt bread, wheat/rye/barley free breads, dark chocolate, maple syrup, rice malt syrup, table sugar, macadamias, peanuts, pumpkin seeds/ pepitas, walnuts.
Meal Plan Options for Those Suffering from IBS
Here’s an IBS-friendly meal plan (2-4 weeks only) that you can mix and match according to your preference and convenience for each day of the week. The recipes are available at monashfodmap.com. This IBS diet plan is full of tasty and easy options for all your meals…
- Overnight Oats
- Choc Peanut Butter Smoothie
- Quinoa Breakfast Pudding
- Kiwi Kakadu Plum Smoothie Bowl
- Vegetable Frittata
- Maple Granola
- Spinach Feta & Pine Nut Omelette
- Tropical Millet Porridge
- Warm Chicken & Roast Vegetable Salad
- Salmon Poke Bowl
- Grapefruit Prawn Salad
- Barnyard Millet, Chicken and Vegetable Pilaf
- Tofu Vermicelli Bowl with Peanut Sauce
- Chicken Ramen Noodle Soup
- Rice Paper Dumplings
- Roast Pumpkin & Thyme Risotto
- Tuna & Sweet Potato Patties
- Stir-fried Beef with Oyster Sauce & Rice Noodles
- Kartoffelknödel – Potato Dumplings
- Shepherd’s Pie
- Chicken Cacciatore
- Slow-cooked Herby Roast Chicken
- Chicken Madras Curry
- Paneer Butter Masala
- Asian Chicken Noodle Salad
- Spicy Vodka Pasta
- Vegan Roasted Chickpea & Vegetable Bowl with Peanut Cream
- Thai Tom Yum Soup
- Roasted Polenta Bites with Cheese & Herbs
- Sri Lankan Beef Curry
- Thai Green Chicken Curry
- Veggie Burgers
- Lemon & Thyme Marinated BBQ Lamb
- Zucchini & Rice Slice
- Tomato & Basil Bruschetta
- Roasted Red Pepper & Pumpkin Hummus
- Carrot Fritters
- Muesli Bars
- Kale Chips
- Peanut Butter Energy Bars
- Vegan Chocolate Chia Pudding
- Lemon & Blueberry Cheesecake Slice
- Chocolate Pudding
- Blueberry Popsicles
- Fruit Salad Pavlovas
- Cookie Dough Bliss Balls
- Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Double Chocolate Bliss Balls
Using the above guidelines, a simple and effective meal plan can be followed by the elderly suffering from IBS until you are able to properly identify your FODMAP triggers. Along with the proper IBS meal plan, it’s important to be aware of eating schedules and behavior. Ensure that you are eating and chewing slowly and thoroughly. This will ensure improved digestion and help you feel your best after your IBS diet plan meals. Do though, consult a trained dietician for an optimum IBS diet plan.