The Ultimate IBS Trigger Foods List

Great IBS trigger foods list to get you on track. The best way to treat IBS symptoms!

IBS Trigger Foods List Plus Some Amazing Alternatives

This IBS trigger foods list is perfect for any person with IBS to use as a general guide.

This list includes some of the most common triggers for people with IBS.

While it would be great to have a list that caters to each person’s specific triggers, it’s not possible to do so.

The most random of foods could be a trigger to you or myself.

Trigger foods are what cause an IBS flare (all those horrible, intense symptoms that hit you out of nowhere).

A trigger food doesn’t necessarily mean you’re allergic to it, but make sure you are certain by talking to your doctor first.

A trigger food is just a food that irritates your gut basically, and those triggers can vary drastically from person to person with IBS.

Health care professionals from Web MD say that “when you know the things that can make your IBS symptoms flare up, called triggers, you can make a plan to avoid them.”

This is one of the first steps I took when I was diagnosed with IBS and unfortunately determining the triggers was the most difficult task for me.

I had little information on IBS or IBS trigger foods at the time and everything was one big guessing game.

The times haven’t changed much in the world of IBS to be completely honest.

Information is still lacking, but we have taken some baby steps in the right direction, meaning we have a little more knowledge on how trigger foods take a toll on our gut and what those common triggers are.

Here is the IBS trigger foods list I’ve compiled based on personal experience and extensive, current research on the most common IBS triggers.


For Quick Flare Up Relief, Try These!

If you just want to skip all the trigger food talk and want a quick, fool-proof way to treat your symptoms, I can’t recommend the Heather Tummy Care products enough.

If you’re experiencing a flare up and need that quick fix, these are must-haves!

Heather’s Tummy Care makes high quality and healthy products to help with IBS symptoms, they’re specifically made for people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome.  

I’ve been using this brand of products for over seven years and they’re amazing! (I stumbled upon them on a google search).

My two favorites are the Fennel Tea and the Tummy Tamer Capsules which are both below.

The Tummy Tamers are peppermint oil capsules that help relieve IBS symptoms, especially bloating and cramps.

The capsules also include ginger and fennel, making these super effective!

The Tummy Fiber is a perfect option for you if you have IBS C (constipation), this is the reason I did not list this as one of my favorites, I don’t have IBS C, but rather, IBS D.

Fiber is very important in proper digestion, especially if you have chronic constipation.

Finally, we can’t leave out the fennel tea, another great option for cramps and bloating.  I’ve found this to be especially helpful if you have IBS D (diarrhea).

The tea would be great either way though, it will help ease cramps and discomfort.  It’s also helpful for bloating symptoms.

Heather's Tummy Tamers - Peppermint Oil Capsules with Ginger and Fennel (90 ct)Heather’s Tummy Tamers – Peppermint Oil Capsules with Ginger and Fennel (90 ct)Heather's Tummy Fiber CAN Organic Acacia Senegal (16 oz) for Irritable Bowel SyndromeHeather’s Tummy Fiber CAN Organic Acacia Senegal (16 oz) for Irritable Bowel SyndromeHeather's Tummy Teas Organic Fennel Loose Tea CAN (16 oz) for Irritable Bowel SyndromeHeather’s Tummy Teas Organic Fennel Loose Tea CAN (16 oz) for Irritable Bowel Syndrome


Avoid Processed Foods

Creating an IBS trigger foods list is a great start to treating your IBS symptoms. Triggers cause IBS flares which are painful and keep you from your daily grind.So, nobody really wants to be told to ditch the doughnuts, potato chips, and other packaged foods, they’re super yummy!

BUT, and this is a huge but, processed foods are full of icky, grimy, nasty ingredients and difficult to digest carbs.

Reach for clean and healthy foods as much as possible (I know you want the doughnuts, but it’s not worth it!).

Forget the boxed junk full of chemicals you can’t even pronounce!  Stick with ingredients you know well (those chemicals shouldn’t be in our food to begin with).

Clean diets are becoming more and more popular and that’s because clean eating is one of the healthiest ways to eat.

Clean eating is a natural way of eating, the products you consume are full of nothing but natural occuring ingredients.

I find that junk food and very processed foods leave me feeling bloated and contribute to cramps.

You’ll fully notice the difference in how you feel if you start a clean diet for several weeks and then try reverting back to processed foods.  I don’t recommend doing this, but my point is, you may feel fine eating that stuff now, but if you were used to eating healthy, these foods would make you feel terrible.

I’ve witnessed those changes myself.

Ditch the processed foods by sticking with a Clean diet or start with a Low-FODMAP diet, both wonderful in helping IBS symptoms!

The Low FODMAP diet will focus more on just cutting out particular types of carbs, which are tough for the body to digest.


Clean Eating: IBS Safe Foods

Clean eating is a great way to take control of your health, just be sure not to eat any IBS trigger foods, even if they’re clean.

For example, onions and garlic are clean foods, however, they mess me up big time, so I avoid them either way.

The best book on clean eating!  

There are tons of great recipes for clean eating, you’d be surprised!

It’s all about creativity!  You will be so surprised by the recipes you can make, and you can replace your old, processed favorites with new, clean favorites.


Forget Your IBS Trigger Foods List With These Great Low-FODMAP Books

Many of the common triggers on this IBS trigger foods list can be eliminated and possibly re-introduced through a low-FODMAP diet.

This could be a quick way for you to determine triggers.

I have used this diet myself.  I actually didn’t try it for many years, and when I finally did, I discovered new triggers that I had no idea were in fact triggers.

FODMAPs are a particular set of carbs that are hard to digest.  Each letter in FODMAP stands for one of those carbs.  Eliminating these could potentially wipe out your IBS symptoms.

Below are my three favorite books on the low FODMAP diet.

IBS: Free at Last! FODMAP Elimination DietIBS: Free at Last! FODMAP Elimination DietThe Complete Low-FODMAP Diet: Managing IBS and other disordersThe Complete Low-FODMAP Diet: Managing IBS and other disordersLow-FODMAP diet Slow Cooker CookbookLow-FODMAP diet Slow Cooker Cookbook

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 Goodbye Dairy! Hello OPTIONS!

Creating an IBS trigger foods list is a great start to treating your IBS symptoms. Triggers cause IBS flares which are painful and keep you from your daily grind.Based on my own experiences, dairy can be quite cruel to the body.

To be frank, we adults don’t actually need it.

Believe it or not, the majority of people in the United States cannot properly digest dairy products.

Dairy is a no-no for many groups of people (IBS sufferers, those with acne-prone skin, etc.)

Cows are pumped full of hormones and other yucky things that I just can’t fathom!

I encourage you to do your own research and speak with your doctor about dairy and how it fits into your lifestyle.

Ingredients like milk and cream can cause abdominal cramping and diarrhea.  

Cheese can cause constipation which can also cause abdominal pain and cramping.

I personally love dairy products.  Cheese, ice cream, chocolate milk, yum!!  However, I have significantly cut back my dairy intake, consuming little to none daily.


Awesome Alternatives To Dairy

Almond Milk is a game-changer!  Great for cereal, smoothies, recipes and much more.

I regularly use almond milk in smoothies and baked goods.

Check out this 12 pack below, it’s nice to stock up and it doesn’t have to be refrigerated until it’s opened.

I find that almond milk is more convenient than dairy milk.

Almond Milk has a longer shelf life as long as it’s unopened.

I’m an ice cream fanatic, but dairy just isn’t my friend.  Why give up my favorite food when I can make my own dairy-free ice cream!

OR if you’re out at the store, look for the Lactaid vanilla ice cream.  What a life-changing product!  It tastes just like regular dairy vanilla.

The book below is full of amazing recipes for the whole family and you don’t have to sacrifice your gut this time! YAY!

Almond Breeze Almondmilk, Unsweetened Original, 32 Ounce (Pack of 12)Almond Breeze Almondmilk, Unsweetened Original, 32 Ounce (Pack of 12)Dairy-Free Ice Cream: 75 Recipes Made Without Eggs, Gluten, Soy, or Refined SugarDairy-Free Ice Cream: 75 Recipes Made Without Eggs, Gluten, Soy, or Refined Sugar


Eat Gluten In Moderation

IBS Trigger Foods List  Gluten is difficult to digest and many IBS sufferers have major symptoms when overindulging in breads, cakes, muffins, etc.  Eat these in moderation.

So while this is on the IBS trigger foods list, you don’t necessarily have to avoid this fully.

I’m sure you’ve seen gluten-free options popping up more in more in super markets and in restaurants, this makes it super easy to cut back.

A few years ago I was having a lot of very bad flare ups and decided to go on a year-long gluten-free diet.

It was very successful and I was able to slowly introduce gluten products back into my IBS diet with minimal issues.

I feel like this gave my body a bit of a break from harshly digesting foods all of the time.  I also cut back on dairy a lot during this time.

A lot of products containing gluten, include the FODMAP carbs which are said to worsen IBS symptoms.

In my case, I was consuming too much dairy and gluten, and my body was having a tough time digesting all of it.

Balance is key.


Just Forget The Fried Nastiness

When I say nastiness, I mean the ingredients, I LOVE fried foods, they taste good, but they aren’t so nice for the body or the gut.

IBS Trigger Foods ListFried foods can leave you feeling bloated, cramped and very uncomfortable.

Just last week I was in Disney World where I consumed some fried food.  Well let me tell you, I was in pain for two days straight and had to take my last day at the parks like a champ and pretend I was all good when in fact, I WAS NOT (not to mention the 90 degree heat on top of it all).

Learn from my mistakes.

Fried food is NEVER a good idea, your heart will also thank you later and can keep you living a longer life.

All of the fat and grease can seriously irritate your gut and it’s not worth it!  Leave the fried foods out of your IBS diet.


Say NO to Caffeine and Coffee: It’s Irritating and Just Plain Addicting!

IBS Trigger FoodsBefore we get all dramatic, I know coffee is absolute life for some of you (and you may never consider decaf to be coffee).

I can’t even count on my hands how many people have told me “I could never give it up, I don’t know how you do it?!”

Thanks for the kind words…that definitely makes me feel better (rolls eyes).

Nine years later and I still find myself reminiscing about iced vanilla lattes.  Yup, I didn’t say living without it was easy.

We can’t have everything in life though, a saying that has helped me ride out this storm.

Not only is caffeine off the list of IBS friendly foods, but so is the coffee bean itself.

I often get asked if it’s the caffeine from the coffee that irritates my gut.  Not at all.  I can personally handle caffeine just fine, but there’s something in the bean itself that can send IBS cramping through the roof!

Coffee stimulates the G.I. tract which can cause more contractions of the muscles in your gut.

There are actually tons of people out there without IBS that experience GI distress after drinking coffee.

This was the very first thing I added to my own IBS trigger foods list nine years ago when I was diagnosed with IBS due to cramping.

Now I enjoy tea lattes, with dairy-free milk! (if it sounds bad, it’s really not, quite good actually).


Artificial Sugars Should Have Never Hit The Market

“Artifical sugars should have never hit the market”, Isn’t that the truest statement ever!!

If you’re still carrying around your little artificial sugar packets (I don’t care if you have IBS or not), please wake up.

I mean this in the nicest way, I want you all to be healthy, just stop consuming it right now.

I’ve worked in a restaurant and I have seen folks use this stuff in alarmingly large amounts and I wanted to grab it out of their hands for their own sake.

IBS Trigger Foods List Artificial Sugars are completely unnatural and can cause a lot of abdominal cramping.

I know many people reach for artificial sugars because they are trying to watch their weight or can’t have actual sugar, but that doesn’t mean that artificial sugars are a healthier option.

Here’s a crazy fact:

Health Line tells us that “in 2014, Israeli scientists made headlines when they linked artificial sweeteners to changes in gut bacteria”.  Hold up, what??

That’s not all, Health Line also said “Mice, when fed artificial sweeteners for 11 weeks, had negative changes in their gut bacteria that caused increased blood sugar levels”.

So, essentially, this stuff can cause negative changes in our guts and increase our blood sugar levels in the long term.

This is extremely scary to learn, I know many diabetics that use these artificial sugars in place of real sugar and they have no idea this is negatively effecting them.

It’s also scary to realize that this FDA-approved substance can create or magnify issues like IBS.

Artificial sugars are just as bad as regular sugar.

Regular sugar comes with its own downfalls as well and I’d somewhat consider this an item on the IBS trigger foods list as well.

Besides the obvious calories in sugar, it has been linked to contributing to many health conditions, so limiting intake is ideal.

I have since found a new favorite alternative to both sugar and artificial sugar.


The Mother of All Sweeteners

Swerve was life-changing for me.  The taste is the closest to regular sugar out of all the sweeteners I’ve tried.

This is also made to be easy to digest and it measures and bakes just as real sugar would.

Is it pricey? Yes.

Would I tell you about this product if I didn’t love it? No.

Bottom line, it’s worth the money.  The health benefits go beyond avoiding IBS symptoms.

This is low carb and zero calorie as well.

Swerve Granular Sweetener (12 oz, Pack of 3): The Ultimate Sugar ReplacementSwerve Granular Sweetener (12 oz, Pack of 3): The Ultimate Sugar Replacement


Cut Back or Cut Out Alcohol

IBS Trigger Foods ListRemember those bad hangovers?  Try throwing IBS into the mix.

I know that this can be hard to give up for some.  Alcohol is a great way to wind-down and de-stress.

I used to drink regularly and went out to bars on weekends with friends.

But, alcohol is a big one to avoid in your IBS diet.  It’s at the top of almost every IBS trigger foods list.

I would recommend cutting back on consumption and see if it helps your symptoms at all.

I don’t miss those next-morning cramps from too much drinking.

I find that a small glass of wine is tolerable for me.

Wine is my favorite alcohol of choice because it seems to affect my IBS the least and doesn’t bloat me as much as other drinks.


Extra Tidbits of Info

Drink plenty of water, water is great at flushing the body of waste and toxins, and keeping the GI tract running smoothly.

Each person’s body is different and this does not mean that the triggers listed here will affect everyone.

Additionally, this does not guarantee that the alternatives listed are IBS-friendly foods for everyone and will not cause any IBS symptoms.

You may have additional triggers to your own body that aren’t listed here.  This is simply a common IBS trigger foods list that will give you a good head-start on creating an IBS diet that works for you. 

This IBS trigger foods list is a good general starting point, but you should consult your doctor before making any changes. Please refer the Grumpy Stomach disclaimer before making any changes to your diet or lifestyle.


The Top Food Journal To Make Your IBS Trigger Foods List

The food journal was my very starting point once being diagnosed with IBS.

This is one of the easiest ways to determine patterns in symptoms and beginning your own IBS trigger foods list.

Health Journal: Discover Food Intolerances and Allergies: (A Food Diary that Tracks your Triggers and Symptoms)Health Journal: Discover Food Intolerances and Allergies: (A Food Diary that Tracks your Triggers and Symptoms)

Meet the best food journal out there!

This food journal to the left is unique, it allows you to track much more than just food or beverages.

With this journal you can also track intolerances, allergies and more.

There is also space to record medications, vitamins and supplements.

If you’re in need of a food journal to get you started, I seriously recommend this one here.

A great IBS trigger foods list that includes common triggers along with some alternatives that are IBS-friendly.
Great IBS trigger foods list to get you on track. The best way to treat IBS symptoms!
Your simple IBS trigger foods list, great beginner's guide.

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Photo Credit 5: By Paul at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Photo Credit 7: By Suat Eman at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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18 Comments

    • I agree Barbara, Anyone would be better off without processed foods, artifial sugars, etc. Unfortunately for us IBS sufferers, not only is it unhealthy and can cause health complications, but it also causes those awful symptoms like cramping and abdominal pain from the IBS. We get hit twice as hard. I never thought about eating foods in excess until I started having IBS symptoms, I used to eat whatever I wanted. I’m so glad I don’t do that anymore.

  1. I cured my IBS! All i had to was simply start tracking all of my symptoms and what I ate and share this information with my doctor and he created the correct eating plan for me. No more IBS! I used Symptomlog.com to track it all. What a god send!

  2. I have been gluten, dairy, sugar, soy, nut, fruit and wheat free for 16 years now thanks to all my issues, which include IBS. However an IBS pill company emailed me the other day and sent me some of their product. I have been taking it for 3 days now and um, HELLO YES! It’s TOTALLY helping. We shall see how the rest of the month turns out but right now – HECK YES!

  3. I would love to do this for my husband, but he is a very stubborn man. Hopefully I can secretly introduce foods that he might love that aren’t triggers. I agree about the processed foods. One of his struggles seem to be soda and not enough water intake. I feel like if he drank more water he’d have less flare ups. But talking to him is like talking to a brick wall sometimes.

  4. these are all great tips thank you! i totally agree with you about dairies, now i know why i always have this bloated feeling. i had to cut down on unhealthy, processed foods from now on..

  5. Whoa, having IBS can be quite difficult when it comes to food options. Glad to know that there are alternatives to dairy, sugar, and the like. 🙂

  6. Hey Sarah,

    Such a well-structured and informative post! I don’t suffer from IBS, but I am SUPER gluten sensitive and I am going to give some of those products you recommend for flare-ups a try.

  7. This is so interesting. I have never heard about IBS trigger foods. I am so intrigued in learning more about it now!

  8. You did a thorough job of outlining what those with IBS can do to lower the triggers that lead to so much pain and suffering. Honestly, I think we all need to eat better and let all crappy, processed food go.

  9. Back in 2004 I had my gall bladder out and ever since then I have large amounts of stool.. all day.. 5-10 times a day. Was given tests for all kinds of things.. all negative.. going to try the no caffeine thing, the dairy free route ( somewhat) cut down on bread, .. and the gassy veggies.. and high sugar foods.

    • A lot of people who have had their gall bladder removed experience digestive issues going forward. There are a number of problems you could be having that can’t be detected by a test and are diagnosed based on symptoms. For example, there is no test for IBS, it is diagnosed solely based on symptoms of the patient. Be sure to seek out a doctor that is willing to work with you to get to the bottom of this, don’t give up. Have you tried keeping a food journal to see if any particular foods spark a reaction? Great place to start.

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