Treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome with food, and go for a lasting resolution. If you have diarrhea, oily stools, gas or gut pain, my version of the Elimination Diet and Low Fodmaps Diet for IBS is worth a try.
NOTE: THIS WON’T BE EASY BUT THE PAYOFF CAN BE HUGE!
IBS at its simplest is just two things: incomplete digestion and improper absorption of food (they’re different). Inflammation of the gut and yeast or bacterial overgrowth are part of IBS. They may have started after antibiotics. Or from a lifetime of grains and sugars…
Elimination diets such as Low FODMAPS, GAPS, Paleo and The Specific Carbohydrate Diet all help but I never found any of them to achieve the permanent improvement you need. My diet combines parts from all four. Try it on whatever digestive or bowel issue you have. (See below for exceptions).
Treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome with Food
The Plan: Eliminate ALL possible trigger foods as fast as possible – add things back in a controlled order to find your personal triggers. Only the SCD diet does this mandatory reboot as the first step, but it allows homemade yogurt which I do not.
Theory #1: Animal protein is the easiest food to digest. Plain meats, eggs and seafood are broken down by stomach acids. They don’t require a lot of enzymatic work in the small intestine (where “irritation” takes place).
Theory #2: Carbohydrates are the hardest foods to digest, requiring a lot of enzymatic work.
Theory #3: Some carbs are easier than others. See my list below.
Theory #4: No processed or pre-made food is allowed. You’re going to be cooking plain foods at home – that’s THE only way to get well.
Carbohydrate Structure is Everything
Digestion breaks food down to the smallest possible units. A banana is a simple carbohydrate structure. Digestion (enzymes) dissolves banana’s bonds easily.
The more complex the carbohydrate structure, the more likely larger food fragments will be left unbroken. It is these undigested food fragments that cause gut problems (including gas, bacteria and yeast).
Starter Steps to Stop Irritable Bowel
STEP#1: Eliminate the worst complex carbs: all grains and pseudo grains (rice, wheat, corn, gluten, oats, quinoa) and beans (Pinto beans, Soy). Most people going Whole 30 or Paleo are astounded at how fast their gut and bowels improve off grains and beans! Yet this is just the first step not the full road to recovery.
STEP #2: Stop all dairy except Ghee (clarified butter). Dairy is a common trigger food even if you never suspected it. You can try Butter, Cream and aged Cheese again later….
STEP #3: Stop tubers and roots such as Potato, Sweet Potato, Cassava and Plantain. Their carbohydrate structures are very complex, leaving those undigested food fragments that cause bacteria, yeast and leaky gut. You will add some back later (as tolerated) as your gut needs them to feed the microbiome.
Next, Avoid Sugars
If it takes you a few weeks to complete Steps #1, #2 and #3 that’s OK. This is your new normal! Enjoy improvements so far in pain, weight, gas, heartburn and bowels. Or, get it done in a week. Then….
STEP #4: Stop sugars. Corn Syrup, Sugar, Agave, Coconut/Date/Palm Sugar, Honey and sugar substitutes. Some trigger one person. Some trigger others.
Vegetables and Fruits are the Key Now
Everything you’ve done so far is to get to this point.
Your gut is happier now, but to drive out inflammation and infection and start to balance your Microbiome, digestible veggies are the key. The problem with Low FODMAPS lists is they don’t get you first to the safe place. You simply play around with a long list of veggies and never get to the starting point where you can test your triggers.
The Starter Veggies…
Do this in this order. It won’t work if you skip steps! Keep DETAILED food dairies recording WHAT you ate, HOW MUCH of it you ate and when, and all symptoms. NOTE: Himalayan Salt is your only condiment. Avoid herbs and spices for now. You can eat all the plain meats and seafood you like, grilled, broiled or stewed plain. Eggs are fine for most people (but not if you’ve lost your Gall Bladder). Fats? Stick with Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, Ghee and Avocado Oil in moderation.
EASY STARTER CARBS: Cooked Spinach, Winter Squash, Summer Squash, Green Beans, Cooked Peeled Carrot, Banana, peeled homemade cooked Apples and Pears, and pure Grape Juice. If this does not stop loose stool, start over with only 2 of these at a time. The cooked apples and pears may be a real issue for those who really do have a FODMAPS problem. Some people guess they have FODMAPS issues but don’t at this time….
1 to 3 WEEKS LATER IF GUT IS HAPPY: Add cooked Lettuces, Watercress, Mushrooms. No raw foods!
2 to 5 WEEKS LATER: if your symptoms are gone, really gone, start adding other foods one at a time. One food every 2 to 5 days. If you’re gassy or get loose stool, stop and go backwards for a bit. Then try a different new food…..
Avocado (1/4); Bok Choy; Peeled Cooked Beet; Swiss Chard; Cooked Peppers; Snow Peas, Olives; Celery; Parsley; Peas; Lemon and Lime Juice; Fruit and Vegetable Juices where all fiber has been extracted can be tried in small amounts (diluted); Nut Butters can be cautiously tried.
If anything triggers any symptom, leave out for now and retry in a few months. Or eat less of it. Avocado is a trigger for me if I eat more than 2 bites a day… If most of these trigger you, then go back and stay on the Starter foods longer.
1 to 3 WEEKS LATER: If you feel great, tackle these biggies (cooked) one at a time. Slowly.
Kale; Collard; Cabbage; Broccoli; Cauliflower; Onions; Garlic; Daikon; Raw Fruits, or the cooked peeled apples and pears.
When trying a new food, add only 1/4 serving at a time, and not too much in one day.
Why this Works to Treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome with Food
Most bowel problems start with antibiotics, grain and dairy-based diets and sugar. Candida, Leaky Gut and inflammation will be reduced by eating clean unprocessed food you can actually digest. No undigested foods the gut wants to expel – hence the diarrhea and gas. Once you’re feeling better you can try different types of Probiotics and Fermented Foods. Not at first but don’t wait too long to add them. They are a “food” to experiment with on their own!
Don’t Use this Diet If…..
If you have Cancer, serious infections, Anorexia, OCD or other diagnosed or undiagnosed medical issues such as Fibroids or Endometriosis causing pain. If you are severely constipated, this diet may help you or may make it worse so do what you need to do to keep the gut moving daily until the gut starts working again. Exercise and water help too!
DO Use this Diet If….
You have bloating, gas, oily stools, frequent stools, suspect SIBO, Low FODMAPS/SCD/GAPS didn’t work well enough or you want to lose some weight. Reducing inflammation and absorbing what you eat will provide more nutrition and start to heal gut damage and infection.
For More Info on SCD and FODMAPS
Go here for one look at the SCD Diet and here for FODMAPS. There are many other pages and sites too…. Notice I put foods in at different stages, like Onions which are the WORST Fodmaps food but SCD suggests them earlier on. I put them at the end as I have seen them be a key. On the other hand, Fodmaps allows potato, rice and tofu. I tolerate potato and parboiled rice quite well now, and they are good prebiotics for the good bacteria in my gut.