Foods to Avoid with IBS

If you are thinking of starting an elimination diet then it’s difficult to know where you should start. YorkTest test results will highlight foods that you have had an IgG reaction to in your blood, and YorkTest Nutritional Therapist’s advice is that these should be avoided.


However, in addition, there is emerging evidence that a diet low in “FODMAPs” can reduce the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) (1). What is FODMAP? FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols which are certain types of carbohydrates and sugars that are NOT successfully broken down and absorbed by the small intestine. When these molecules are poorly absorbed in the small intestine of the gut they then continue along their journey arriving at the large intestine where they act as a food source to the bacteria that live there normally. Undigested FODMAP foods can act like a sponge drawing water into the gut and trapping it there. In addition, the combination of bacteria and FODMAP foods in the large intestine produces a LOT of gas. The result? Bloating, pain, diarrheoa and/or constipation, all classic IBS symptoms.

FODMAP carbohydrates include certain natural sugars in foods, and also certain types of fibre in foods. It’s not obvious which foods contain FODMAPs and which don’t and so Dietician or Nutritional Therapist guidance is needed. Here are some interesting examples:-

• Some fruits, for example apples, apricots, cherries and pears should be avoided, but others such as bananas, blueberries, cranberries, oranges or strawberries are fine.

• Vegetables such as beetroot, garlic, leeks and onions can be culprits, but carrots, courgettes, peppers, parsnips and tomatoes are FODMAP friendly.

• Wheat, rye and barley (in large amounts) are a big NO NO. Note that FODMAPs don’t have anything to do with gluten or coeliac disease, it’s just a coincidence that FODMAPs are contained in these gluten containing grains.

• Milk sugar (lactose) can be problematic, as can all types of legumes, for example baked beans, kidney beans and borlotti beans, also lentils and chickpeas.

Professor Peter Whorwell, Gastroenterologist from the University Hospital of South Manchester says “there is emerging evidence that a diet low in FODMAP’s seems to help reduce the symptoms of IBS. Certainly it is easy to implement and a patient should adhere to it for two to three months after which they can make a judgement about whether it has helped or not. If it helps they should continue and if it doesn’t then they should abandon the idea as it does not work for everybody”.

There are other non-FODMAP foods that IBS sufferers may wish to try avoiding. For example foods high in fast releasing sugars such as unrefined grains, confectionary, cakes and biscuits, and insoluble fibre such as bran. Soluble fibre such as that contained in oats is usually more tolerable. Saturated fats from red meat may exacerbate symptoms and stimulants such as coffee, tea and sugary carbonated drinks.

This may all sound daunting; lots to think about before starting an elimination diet, but it’s important to remember that each IBS sufferer will have different food triggers and combining information about known IgG reactions (2) with other likely culprit foods to try and remove may help.

Take a look at our IBS Diet Programme which will indicate problem foods and put together a diet plan with low FODMAP foods.

(1) Gibson P and Shepherd S, 2010: Evidence-based dietary management of functional gastrointestinal symptoms: The FODMAP approach. J Gastroenterol Hepatol 25, 252-8

(2) Atkinson W, Sheldon T, Shaath N and Whorwell P, 2004: Food elimination based on IgG antibodies in irritable bowel syndrome: a randomised controlled trial. Gut 53, 1459-64


FirstStep Test


  1. Aaffy
    2013/02/21 at 21:41

    I have been diagnosed with IBS last year and struggling to find food that does not cause pain\ bloating. Finally, I started avoiding carbohydrates and regulate my daily sugar intake to minimum levels possible from the start of this year and this has made a drastic difference to my life.
    I think your research is profound and needs to be developed further such as to allow for a product that targets dissolving the FOD in the intestines.
    Thank you do much for making it so simple to understand

  2. Nikki Lincoln
    2013/02/21 at 22:09

    Had IBS for 32 years learnt to live with it. But interesting reading

  3. Karen Coyle
    2013/02/23 at 15:59

    I have had ibs for about 10 years. I was put on some tablets but they didn’t seem to work :-(…. I have tried all sorts of food to avoid but never works, I get bloated after every meal and if I drink alot too.
    Would you have any other ideas what to do?

    • 2013/08/27 at 9:06

      I have had IBS for the last year andi it is getting worse and worse all the time. I watch what I eat and do not have sugar at all. Could you give me a list of food that would help me. I would be truly grateful for any help.

      Many thanks

      Clare gOATCHER

    • David Fullerton
      2013/11/25 at 11:55

      I have been troubled with discomfort in my gut and bloating ( on & off) for quite
      some time. I would be VERY interested if you could advise me in layman’s
      language what foods I should avoid. Particularly I would like to learn what
      type of bread – if any – is acceptable.
      I would welcome your advice

  4. Victoria Parsons
    2013/04/20 at 18:39

    I’ve had IBS for 5+ yrs, over the last 18 months I was diagnosed with severe IBS, I found this was due to my diet, doctor also realized that main culprit was stress, I try to avoid as stressing by trying to relax. I read books, speak to my partner and shopping helps lol, I still find foods that I can’t eat such as bananas, fresh cream weetabix and spicy foods are a big no no. My list grows longer each week for what I can’t eat but it helps narrow it down, Each person is different and I know several people with IBS, helps to talk about it and discuss ideas.You’ll be surprised what you’ll find you may not be able to eat. Hope this helps.

  5. Valerie Heighway
    2013/06/26 at 13:59

    Had IBS for many years but recently severe. All the classic symptoms – even had ultrasound. Everything is painful in my abdomen including shooting pains. Abdomen very tender to the touch. Have just discovered brown bread & nuts are bad for me. Not sure where to find correct diet to ease the pain. Any help greatly received.

    • Maxine elstob
      2013/08/13 at 12:00

      I have too suffered for over 20 years with IBS, recently the symptoms increased dramatically, bloating, lack of sleep as a result of abdominal pain, I too had ultrasound and other tests via the GP. A friend recommended IBS test via York Laboratories, the results were a shock, over 30 foods that I was having recations to. It’s been 7 weeks and I have eliminated these foods from my diet wherever possible, I feel so much better, the pain and bloating has virtually gone. I would recommend having the test, it’s changed my life around.

      • Sandra
        2013/12/06 at 21:34

        So where u get test I’ve just started to get realy bad including making my heart burn worse anim a very anxious persom

      • maria
        2013/12/29 at 11:44

        Can you share what foods you have eliminated ,it would be grateful appreciated…

    • 2013/08/27 at 9:12


      • Yorktest (Author)
        2013/08/27 at 11:08

        Hi Clare
        Just give us a call on 0800 074 6185 and one of customer care team will be able to help you.

    • alan john dening
      2013/08/28 at 19:20

      I read with great interest from the `screen` references to I.B.S. I suffer `bloating` & the need to pass `wind` after eating(ALMOST AFTER EVERY MEAL) .I suffer tiredness both physical & mental . Energy was my `pass` word, sadly no more . I wish for further information re. foods to eat/eliminate from my diet.

      Alan Dening

    • Judith Kennedy
      2014/03/12 at 11:14

      Your symptoms sound more like diverticulitis than IBS. Maybe it’s worth looking at. I realise that this comment is a long time after your IBS diagnosis so maybe you are sorted!

      • jan gartside
        2014/07/23 at 15:59

        I have both I B S and diverticular disease is there any dietry help out there please???? Pain every day is so very exhausting.

        • Yorktest (Author)
          2014/07/28 at 9:06

          Hi Jan,

          We’re so sorry to hear you are experiencing pain every day. IBS is a condition we speak to many people about and our friendly and knowledgeable team would love to help. Please call us on 0800 074 6185.

  6. Gwen Thorpe
    2013/07/12 at 1:46

    Interesting reading. I have suffered IBS for years, but never as severely as now, since having an operation to remove my gall bladder and stones five months ago.. Finding it hard to avoid stress as the condition itself is very stressful . I am surprised to hear that some of the foods and drink that I always thought of as healthy may be what is causing my pain and bloating.
    I have been keeping a diary of my food and drink intake for about a month now, but I am still no nearer to finding out what suits me and what as yet does not.
    I shall now try eliminating the foods that I at first thought “healthy” and see how I get on eating the foods I thought were “bad” for me. LOL

    • songbird
      2013/10/31 at 17:09

      I had my gall bladder removed in may, and as a result have suffered badly to severe with i.b.s, iv have kept a food diary but can not pin point anything in particular that would be causing it, its distressing and causing me panic attacks, hopefully we can all find a solution :)

  7. 2013/08/03 at 12:03

    This topic looks awesome! Go on with the good job and pls upload more information like this!

  8. 2013/10/08 at 20:10

    have iost 2 days from work cos of ibs need to sort it asap site was useful thanks

  9. Ken Pell
    2013/10/10 at 15:18

    I have had ibs for some 20 years and my stool for a short period time goes a bit loose but then goes back to normal but for the last 6weeks has been loose all the time I have a lot of sugar,bread,milk,and fruit(apples pears,,oranges plus I have been very stressed ,suggestions PLEASE

  10. Anne Allan
    2013/11/02 at 16:04

    At the beginning of my journey to find out about the allergies I have.. last straw was nearly passing out in a fish restaurant after a curry which gave. catastrophic dihoreah and left me in a state of collapse. Three days later and I do not feel well. Would welcome advice. Have made a doctor’s appointment

    • Anne Allan
      2013/11/02 at 16:06

      Any advice would be good thanks

  11. Stephen Stares
    2013/11/13 at 14:48

    I have had IBS for many years and was interested to see the comment about carbohydrates. If my IBS gets too much my Wife does me a very unhealthy fry up and I can feel the pain ooze away as I’m eating it. Lettuce wipes me out as does bread. Interestingly enough my Daughter recently got herself into a bit of a state with moving house and I was stressed because of this and I have been eating bread for the last month or so. Result, bad bloating and pain in my left side which sometimes creeps all the way along and sometimes goes into my back.

  12. Michelle Parker
    2013/12/13 at 14:36

    I’ve had ibs for few years now and it’s very stressful I cnt go anywhere on less there’s a toilet I’ve found stop eating junk n grease food n bread chesse helps but I min I’m ok but it starts up again I’m only 28 and it stops me doing a lot of things :(

  13. maria
    2013/12/29 at 11:45

    Can you share what foods you have eliminated ,it will be greatly appreciated

  14. Helpful hint
    2014/02/24 at 19:11

    Hi I have found that ‘iceberg’ lettuce and milk. So only use lactose free milk and not much of any of the other types of lettuce either. My daughter has ulcerative colitis and this has been the best change of diet for her also.

  15. AnnIe B
    2014/03/02 at 13:45

    I found the blog interesting and am wondering if taking vit B,E and D has made my IBS worse.I stopped the B last week as I thought it was giving me bloating and diarrhoea,still getting pain in side but diarrhoea is better.Should I stop all its?

  16. 2014/03/12 at 20:53

    I have been recently diagnosed with IBS – January 2014 it is so difficult because I have so many triggers and my job is stressful. I live of movical, senna and lactose so as to avoid being constipated. I also suffer with plies. I am trying to work out what foods to take so as to relieve my symptoms and flare ups. HELP any advise welcome

  17. Martha Duncan
    2014/05/08 at 12:03

    Do steroids cause problems for IBS sufferer?

  18. susan williams
    2014/10/14 at 13:04

    I have found the FODMOPS diet very good and this has helped me immensely. Unfortunately I have an added complication in that I also have diverticulitis. Having both IBS and Diverticulitis can cause me difficulties as food for one is not good for the other. Can you give me any helpful hints. Could you tell me if figs can be eaten.

    • Yorktest (Author)
      2014/10/15 at 9:57

      Hi Susan,
      Thanks for your comment. It’s great that the FODMAP diet has helped you notice an improvement in your health but, as you have discovered, it isn’t always a one size fits all solution and some recommended foods can still be problematic. We all react individually to different foods which is what makes awareness of food intolerances such a powerful tool for wellness. At YorkTest, we use the general FODMAP diet as a base for our IBS diet programme but elaborate on it further, taking your individual intolerances into account to provide you with tailored nutritional support which is so important when it comes to questions of what you can and can’t eat – such as the figs.

      With your particular medical situation being a little more complex than most, we wouldn’t like to recommend specific foods without greater knowledge of your health, diet and intolerances, all factors our Nutritional Therapists take into account during our consultations.
      If you’d like to have a chat with our friendly team, please call 0800 074 6185


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