Posted 2/9/2006 12:02 PM (GMT -7)
What kind of IBS do you have? If you have IBS with constipation, I would actually not recommend that you drop the fats unless you notice that they do actually make you sicker. I say this because I have no gall bladder--and thus no regulation of my fat digestion--and I have IBS with diarrhea, and when I went on a very low fat diet, I got SEVERELY constipated. My mother said that everyone needs some fat to keep their guts working. When I got off my diet and started eating some fat again, I went back to being more normal.
Even if you have diarrhea, you may find that cutting out fat doesn't help much if any. Everyone has different triggers. Caffeine and alcohol are quite common. I think here we're probably split here on the dairy, as a lot of us can eat yogurt. Fat is probably a toss up as well. I can have fat as long as I take my medicine and get about the same amount every day. Too little or too much gives me C or D. Some people eat a normal amount, others avoid it. The other common culprit is fruit, especially apples. I think they do just about everyone in. Also raw vegetables of all kinds are bad for a lot of people, with the really tough stuff, like broccoli, califlower, lettuce and bell peppers being the worst. Oh, and NEVER, EVER, EVER eat ANY sugar-free product, and that includes gum and mints. Sugar alochols are bad on regular people's guts; they are murder on ours.
The best thing you can do is to keep a food diary. Write down when you eat, everything you eat and how much of it you eat. Then write down when you get sick, how bad it is, how long it lasts and any observations (like "I belched spaghetti sauce all night long" or "I pooped out carrot bits") and hopefully you will start to see a connection and can get rid of things that seem to set you off. Also, make sure you write down any times you feel anxious or stressed and why because that can cause stomach problems quicker than any food. The other thing is to eliminate only ONE food group at a time (see below) and see if you have any improvement over the week in which you have stopped eating/drinking that group. If you aren't any better, then whatever you gave up probably isn't a trigger. One warning, though, sometimes something that hasn't bothered you in the past, will bother you one day out of the clear blue sky. If that doesn't reoccur, then you can go back to eating that item again. However, our guts are quite dynamic and you may find that one day it decides to refuse something it previously handled and you can't have that food item again.
You may want to try systematically eliminating the following foods to see if you get any relief:
All fruits and fruit juices
All carbonated beverages
All dairy, including "hidden" dairy, which is usually listed on ingredients as "casein"
All wheat, including "hidden" wheat, which is often also listed as "gluten"
All acidic items like coffee, colas, citris fruits and tomatoes.
All raw vegetables
All forms of caffeine (although chocolates, thankfully, don't seem to do anything to me, although I can't handle coffee, black tea or cokes)
All artifical sugars, including Sweet N' Low, Splenda, Equal and sugar alcohols (never consume sugar alcohols anyways)
High fructose corn syrup
All fried foods, especially fast food
All natural sugars, including cane sugar, high fructose corn syrup, molasses and maple syrup
All meats, but you may want to cut out the red meat first, then the pork and see if you can't handle fish and chicken which are the best meats
All spicy foods, including sausage, chili, peppers, Thai, Mexican, Indian, etc.
Obviously you don't cut all of these things out at once. If you don't notice anything in particular setting you off after keeping a food diary for a couple of weeks, then try eliminating each of these categories at a rate of one a week. If you don't get better, add it back in and move down to the next one. If you see a little improvment, keep avoiding that one and try a second category as well. Sometimes IBS is caused by food allergies, so completely avoiding all forms of milk and/or wheat is a way to test to see if you have all allergy to those things. If you get better after giving them up, you may want to see if you can handle the small amounts that occur in processed foods, or if you have to stay away entirely. Lactose intolerant people almost always can handle having casein in their food, since that doesn't contain the lactose they can't digest; yogurt too usually does not have lactose in it.