Irritable Bowel Syndrome/IBS and Sugar


I have been suffering with IBS symptoms for the past 6 months and have been seeing an acupuncturist.  I do have food allergies to gluten, almonds, all dairy.
It was finally turning around partially due to the Acacia Senegal but then I blew it by eating too much candy this past weekend.  My symptoms are now back.  Do you know anything about sugar aggravating IBS Symptoms?

Hi Liz – the good news is that plain old sugar is not a GI irritant or stimulant, so not an IBS trigger. The bad news is that candy typically is.

Check here for a full article about sugar and IBS, and the specific types of sugar (especially fructose) you need to be cautious with.

Candy is not typically made with fructose, but it can contain lots of other IBS triggers. The fat content of anything with solid chocolate, nuts, or coconut will be sky high. Added fats can make things even worse – so always read ingredients.

Plain old sugar type candies – gummies, jellies, licorice, etc. – are usually safe, though certainly not a health food.

For a sweet treat that is also safe for IBS, it’s safest to do a little GI friendly baking and make something like Peppermint Fudge Cake. You’ll do tricks like substitute high fat solid chocolate with fat free baking cocoa, eliminate dairy, keep the fat content overall low by replacing oils/butters with applesauce, etc. Delicious results that are also safe for your tummy! There’s a recipe here and the cookbook Eating for IBS has an entire chapter of safe desserts.

Hope you are feeling better soon.


Irritable Bowel Syndrome

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Heather Van Vorous


I can address questions regarding diet, cooking, recipes, and non-pharmaceutical supplements (soluble fiber, herbal, probiotics, etc.) for IBS. I can supply information sources about diagnostic guidelines, symptoms, and the medical pathology of IBS, but I cannot give a diagnosis or analyze test results a patient has obtained. I would prefer not to answer questions about prescription drugs and diagnostic tests. PLEASE DO NOT TELL ME YOUR SYMPTOMS AND THEN ASK ME TO DIAGNOSE YOU!


I'm the founder and CEO of, an organization dedicated to serving people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. My goal is to offer education, support, and help that allows people with IBS to successfully manage their symptoms through lifestyle modifications.

I'm the author of Eating for IBS, the only explicit dietary guide and cookbook for people with bowel disorders. Eating for IBS then led to my second book, The First Year: IBS, a comprehensive view of the disorder and every way to successfully manage it. Together, these works have become the two best-selling, best-reviewed IBS books in America.

My writing has led to an ongoing Canadian clinical research study of the groundbreaking dietary guidelines for Irritable Bowel Syndrome in Eating for IBS; this work also led to my inclusion in the 4th edition of Who's Who in Medicine and Healthcare. Today's Dietitian has featured my IBS dietary guidelines, and my work has reached gastroenterologists and internists. I'm the author of "Heather's IBS Newsletter", which is free to subscribers and is published twice monthly. As a result, I've become recognized as the foremost patient-expert on IBS in America. I've personally had IBS since age 9.

I now teach classes on managing IBS through lifestyle modifications, I developed the Heather's Tummy Care line of organic medical foods for the dietary management of IBS, and I'm planning to work with corporate HR departments to offer employee IBS education programs. I host Heather Cooks!, the Seattle television cooking show for good digestive health, which is now available on DVD and also on the HelpForIBS YouTube Channel.

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