Irritable Bowel Syndrome/Foods to follow


QUESTION: Dear Heather,

I'm not sure that I have IBS as the only symptoms I am experiencing are gaseousness, smelly gas, abdominal cramps, and problems going to the bathroom (it's a very awkward type of constipation that is very forced, even if  I use a stool for my feet to help).

My anus has started to hurt very badly as a result of my problems with the toilet. I did see a doctor yesterday and she was saying it's a type of virus that's been going around because everyone has been experiencing similar symptoms. She prescribed a medicine to take after dinner only, and told me to just monitor what I eat for about 2 weeks or more.

I'm a very healthy eater, and I think this might be irritating my system right now. I eat a lot of fibre (I love eating all veggies in addition to whole grain bread, pasta, etc.) and high pulse foods (like onions and beans, etc.) I love love love apples, pears, brussel sprouts, broccoli - I think you get the idea...

The reason I am looking at IBS is because the doctor suggested I try to follow their way of eating to help with what I'm going through.

So as a general guide, what food (fruits, veggies, protein, etc.) should I be consuming and what foods should I be avoiding?

Any resources or information that you can share is really appreciated :)

God bless

ANSWER: Hi Kim - I'm so sorry for all that you're going through. I hope you're feeling better soon.

I wouldn't assume you have IBS - you'd need some tests, other disorders have to be ruled out, your symptoms need to fit the Rome Criteria, etc. There is full info about all of this, plus questions to ask your doc, here

In the meantime, eating safely for IBS will help calm and stabilize your gut, and won't hurt you don't have IBS. You want to focus on soluble fiber safe foods here

The high insoluble fiber foods you listed eating a lot of are great for your overall health - but can be IBS triggers. Be cautious with them until you're feeling better - more info here

You can also just click through those links I gave you to more comprehensive IBS diet info, including trigger foods to completely avoid, HOW to eat, etc. And there is an IBS diet cheat sheet you can download and print here

If you really need to break a cycle of pain/bowel dysfunction and attacks, check here


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi Heather!

Thank you so so much. I've been following as carefully as I could since I last sent you my email but online info hasn't helped much. The only that's been helping me manage most of the symptoms was this FODMAP which I found on pinterest, but i'm still experiencing awkward bathroom visits and lots of wind in the tummy in addition to the bloating still being there.

I will definitely check out the resource you sent but a very quick question - is the FODMAP chart also ok to follow or is it different to the resources you've just shared?

Also, this weird bug, how long do you reckon I might be stuck with it? It's very painful and hard to deal with, plus I'm struggling with most of my clothes due to the very bloated tummy of mine.

Thank you for any answers you can share and bless you!

Hi Kim - yes, it's perfectly safe to follow the FODMAPS charts, just be sure you aren't eliminating all foods with FODMAPS forever. You need to follow the elimination diet in stages, to find specific FODMAPS you're sensitive to, and only exclude those foods. It can take some time to figure this out and you may want to work with a dietitian.

FODMAPs are not the same thing as the eating for IBS dietary info I gave you. If you have IBS, you'll need to start with the eating for IBS foundation and then if you need to add in the FODMAPs. They're not the same approach.

What concerns me is that you've made all these dietary changes and still have lots of symptoms.

I'd follow up with your doc. Bloating can stem from many other disorders, not just IBS. It may be from the bug you had, but if it's hanging around for weeks that's a concern.

If bloating is the big problem, there are suggestions here


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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