For those suffering from severe diarrhea or predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) a simple meal can be torture. Will this make me sick? Will I make it to the bathroom? Should I just stay home? Can I eat this? These questions and more fill the head of the person afflicted with IBS. A key to living with IBS is learning what foods trigger the condition.
Author and nutrition expert Joy Bauer has developed an elimination diet, which is extreme and should not be followed for longer than one week. It’s designed to help people who suffer from severe, persistent diarrhea-predominant IBS determine which foods may be aggravating their condition.
If you have occasional symptoms from IBS, the elimination diet plan is not appropriate or warranted.
This plan is very low in dietary fiber and is based on the few foods people with this type of IBS can tolerate best. Fiber (and nutrition) will be slowly increased as you introduce new foods.
Every day, choose one option for each of the three meals: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Then, one or two times per day, choose from a variety of suggested snacks. Eat slowly and thoroughly chew your food. Approximate calories have been provided to help adjust for your personal weight-management goals. If you find yourself hungry (and if weight is not an issue), feel free to increase the portion sizes for meals and snacks. Stick with flat water as your beverage, and try to drink at least eight cups throughout each day.
After following this plan for one week, you can start experimenting by adding new foods. You should add one new food every two to three days (it’s best to stick with one portion of a new food per day). Keep an IBS diary and write down everything you eat — and everything you feel. Pay close attention to how you feel after eating each new food, which will help you determine if it can be permanently reintroduced into your diet. If any food bothers your stomach, stop eating it and add it to your list of problem foods. Move on to the next food category. You can always retest a problem food at a later date.
At the end of this tough assignment, you will have identified most of the foods that aggravate your IBS. Let’s hope it’s a short list. For the sake of good nutrition and food variety, here’s Bauer’s suggested order for reintroducing new foods:
- Dairy (fat-free and reduced-fat milk, yogurt, cheese, etc.)
- Sweet potatoes
- Wheat products: Start with white versions of bread, crackers, and pasta. In the future, you can slowly test small amounts of whole wheat varieties.
- Oats, oatmeal, and barley
- Brown and wild rice
- Cooked vegetables (non-cruciferous)
- Fruit (peel fruits with tough outer skins at first)
- Whole nuts and seeds
- Garlic and onion
- Starchy beans and lentils
- Cooked cruciferous vegetables
- Raw vegetables
- Ketchup, soy sauce, and other condiments (test one at a time)
- Dried fruit and all-fruit jams
- Fruit juice, sugar and honey
- Coffee or tea