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An Easy, Dietitian-approved, 1-Week Meal Plan

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Most likely, if you struggle with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you’ve suspected food is to blame for some of your gastrointestinal (GI) distress. You’re not alone. A patient survey revealed that over 80% of people with IBS attribute their symptoms to something they ate.

Food intolerances and dietary restrictions can make meal planning extra difficult for those with IBS. That’s OK, we’re here to help! While there’s no one-size-fits-all IBS diet, there are common food triggers. We encourage you to work with a knowledgeable GI dietitian to identify your individual food triggers; but, in the meantime, we’ve created a one-week IBS-friendly meal plan that will work for many folks with IBS.

This IBS-friendly meal plan omits or limits foods and food groups that are top offenders for IBS, including...

 

Roughage 

Foods high in roughage, or insoluble fiber, are impossible for us humans to break down more than we can chew them. Think of coarse foods, like popcorn, most raw vegetables, whole nuts, seeds, and thick stalks. Once these foods enter our mouths, they travel throughout the GI tract more or less intact. Their coarse nature can worsen IBS symptoms, primarily abdominal pain, diarrhea, bowel urgency, and constipation.

Plenty of people with IBS can tolerate roughage as long as they chew it well, but this meal plan offers low-roughage options to appeal to a wider audience. 

 

Fatty foods

You don’t need an advanced degree in nutrition to know fatty foods, like fried chicken and greasy French fries, can lead to GI distress. Nor do you have to have IBS to suffer the consequences of eating such foods. However, those with IBS, especially IBS-D, are more likely to complain of bowel urgency and/or loose stool after eating greasy meals or meals high in animal fat. Plant fats, such as avocado, small amounts of olive oil, and creamy nut butters, are typically better tolerated.

We need to eat some fat, so you will find small amounts of animal fat on this plan and plenty of plant-based fats. But you won’t find anything super greasy. 

 

Excess sugar

All of us have a threshold for how much sugar we can tolerate. IBS patients tend to be more sensitive than others. Major healthcare organizations recommend that all of us limit our daily intake of added sugar to less than 25 grams per day. My patients with IBS and other GI conditions noticeably benefit from this recommendation. Besides obvious sources of added sugar, such as sugary drinks, cookies and cake, beware of hidden sources, including granola bars, flavored yogurts, cereal, and condiments. 

You won’t find excess sugar on this meal plan. 

Please don’t replace sugar with artificial sweeteners. They can cause IBS symptoms and negatively impact overall gut health.

 

Spicy foods

For some people with IBS, spicy foods can irritate the GI tract. This meal plan opts for fresh herbs and mild spices to flavor foods, so you shouldn’t need to reach for the hot sauce or red pepper flakes.

 

High FODMAP Foods 

Since you’re reading this article, you’re probably familiar with FODMAPs. FODMAPs are certain types of poorly absorbed carbohydrates (sugars and fibers) that are highly fermentable in the presence of bacteria. They can lead to uncomfortable gas, bloating, diarrhea, and other GI symptoms in many people with IBS. 

This meal plan is appropriate for those following a low FODMAP diet.

 

 

A One-Week IBS Meal Plan... Mix and match!

 

Sunday

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Breakfast

German Pancake with Berries

Chocolate Strawberry Overnight Oats

Beginner’s Green Smoothie 

Chocolate Strawberry Overnight Oats

Beginner’s Green Smoothie 

Chocolate Strawberry Overnight Oats

Vegetable frittata

Lunch

Vegetable Frittata 

Chicken Noodle Soup

Egg Salad Sandwich

Chicken Noodle Soup

Salmon Burger

Egg Salad Sandwich

Salmon Burger

Dinner

Whole Roast Chicken with Vegetables

Pasta Primavera

Turkey Burger with Vegetables

Lemon Cod Sheet Pan Meal

Pasta Primavera

Turkey Burger with Vegetables 

Pan-Seared Scallops with Roasted Root Veggies

Snack

Gluten-Free pretzels with Lemony Kale Hummus

Corn chips with Guacamole

Brown Rice Cake topped with creamy peanut butter

Gluten-Free pretzels with Lemony Kale Hummus

Corn chips with Guacamole

Brown Rice Cake topped with creamy peanut butter

Gluten-Free pretzels with Lemony Kale Hummus

 

Breakfast

  • Beginner’s Green Smoothie: In a blender, combine 1 small unripe banana, 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, 2 tbsp all-natural peanut butter, 1 large handful of baby kale, ½ cup frozen grapes, and a dash of cinnamon. Blend until smooth.
  • Vegetable Frittata: This frittata takes a bit of prep time, but it’s well worth it, especially when you have leftovers for Sunday’s lunch. 

 

Lunch

  • Chicken Noodle Soup: Use leftover chicken from Sunday’s Whole Roast Chicken to make this super soothing, easy-to-prepare Chicken Noodle Soup. 
  • Salmon Burger: Make a batch of these to have throughout the week. Substitute canned salmon for a super quick meal.
  • Egg Salad: Enjoy on top of sourdough bread or rice cakes. Serve with peeled cucumber sticks and corn chips for a little crunch. 

 

Dinner

 

Snack

  • Lemony Kale Hummus: From low FODMAP expert, Kate Scarlata, comes this delicious low FODMAP, low roughage hummus.
  • Guacamole: Omit the jalapeno, and be sure to stick to the portion size to keep it low FODMAP. 

 

A Note on Eating Behavior

Finally, let’s not forget about eating schedules and behavior. How you eat is just as important as what you eat. If you’re a super-fast eater, consider slowing down. Chewing and eating slowly are two of the best things you can do to improve digestion and feel your best after meals.




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About Author

Colleen D. Webb, MS, RDN
Colleen D. Webb, MS, RDN

Colleen Webb, MS, RDN, is a registered dietitian and nutritionist with extensive experience in counseling patients with complex gastrointestinal conditions. She created the nutrition education program for patients, doctors, dietitians, medical students, and dietetic interns at the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City, as well as The Ultimate Online Training Education for Registered Dietitians Treating IBD Patients — approved for 10 CPEUs by the CDR. Colleen runs a virtual private practice and is an adjunct professor at New York University where she teaches the graduate-level “Diseased Gut” course.

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