The Eating for IBS diet was developed by Heather Van Vorous, who has suffered from IBS since she was a child. It is based on using the differences between soluble and insoluble fiber to ease the symptoms of IBS. The diet is described in detail in Heather's book Eating for IBS.
Foods high in soluble fiber form the basis of all meals and snacks, and are the first thing to eat on an empty stomach. Safe foods include rice and pasta, oatmeal, fresh white breads, rice cereals, flour and corn tortillas, carrots, yams, potatoes and sweet potatoes.
Insoluble fiber foods can also be eaten, but with care. They are not eaten on an empty stomach, and are only eaten in small portions alongside soluble fiber foods. Foods high in insoluble fiber include whole-wheat flour, bread, cereal and bran, whole grains in breads, cereals and granola, muesli, seeds, nuts, beans and popcorn.
Then, there are the trigger foods which are to be completely avoided. These include red meat, dairy products, egg yolks, fried food, and coconut milk. The diet should be low fat but not fat free. Finally, supplements such as peppermint oil and acacia fiber are used to further minimize symptoms.
The diet also has its own 10 commandments - the rules that you should never break if you want to keep symptoms at bay.
The 10 Commandments of Eating for IBS
Always eat soluble fiber first, eat soluble fiber whenever your stomach is empty, and make soluble fiber foods the largest component of every meal and snack.
Minimize your fat intake to 25% of your diet, max. Focus on heart-healthy mono-unsaturated oils. Read labels and at restaurants, ask.
Never eat high fat foods, even in small portions, on an empty stomach or without soluble fiber. Better still, don't eat them at all.
Eliminate all triggers - red meat, dairy, fried foods, egg yolks, coffee, soda pop, and alcohol - from your diet.
Never, never, never eat insoluble fiber on an empty stomach, in large quantities at one sitting, or without soluble fiber. Cook, chop, or puree insoluble fiber foods to make them safer.
Eat small portions frequently, calmly, and leisurely.
If you're unsure about something, don't eat it. It's not worth the risk.
Food is fun and eating should be pleasurable. Take the time and make the effort to eat safely, and then enjoy yourself.
Remember that you have absolute and total control over your diet. No-one can force you to eat something you know you shouldn't.
Practice creative substitution, not deprivation. Use soy or rice replacements for dairy, two egg whites to replace a whole egg, try low-fat vegetarian versions of meat products or use skinless chicken breasts and seafood, replace some oil with fruit purees in breads or cakes, use veggie broth instead of oil in sauces, bake with cocoa powder (it's fat free) instead of solid chocolate. Use herbs, baking extracts (vanilla, peppermint, maple, etc.) and mild spices generously to heighten flavors.
REVIEWS OF THE EATING FOR IBS DIET
Review by Erin
I started out having stomach pain and diarrhea in 2009. I went to the doctor and he gave me anti-diarrheal meds. I still had really bad diarrhea so I went back and he said I either had gallstones or IBS. I had an ultrasound done and they found gallstones. I wasn't given any other options apart from surgery, so I had the surgery in April 2010. Then my diarrhea was worse than ever. I would go to lunch at work and spend 30 minutes in the restroom after I ate. It got to where I didn't want to eat at all when I was at work. If I went to a restaraunt then I would not make it through a meal without running to the bathroom.
I went to a digestive disease specialist and he did an EGD and found a small hiatal hernia. He gave me Dexilant but didn't really tell me why I had to use it. Then I went back and said I still had problems and I had a colonoscopy (I was 26 then). They tested me for celiac and other diseases and found nothing. I went back a third time and he just prescribed Hyomax for cramps.
I gave up after that until I found another doctor in September 2011. He diagnosed me with IBS and prescribed Welchol. He said to start out taking one pill a day and to increase until my BMs were to my satisfaction. I was on them until May 2012 but stopped taking them because of being constipated and bloated. My husband also didn't like me being on pills that were really meant for people with high blood pressure.
I just dealt with the IBS until August when I found Heather's Tummy Fiber. I found it in my health food store and took half a teaspoon a day for five days and increased it by half a teaspoon until I was happy. I also got her book Eating for IBS. The author is Heather Van Vorous and she has IBS. She gives you an actual diet and recipes to follow that are good! I have been eating the way she instructs and now I can go places and eat with everyone else and not have to run to the restroom!
None of the doctors gave me any tips on what to eat. She tells you what to stay away from and what to eat safely. It is amazing to have normal BMs and to not have spasms and bile gurgling in my stomach. I take one and a half to two teaspoons a day of the tummy fiber (which is organic from the acacia tree) and I take peppermint oil pills if I need them for sudden spasms. I also drink peppermint and chamomile tea and a kind called Eater's Digest. Heather's website is Helpforibs.com, and you can get the books, powder, tea, etc from there.
It feels great to go out with friends and go to work without the fear of an IBS attack. If you are tired of taking meds and tired of your doctors not giving you a diet to help your stomach, please look at this website! It really has changed my life. I have been on the diet for almost one month and I highly recommend it. The powder is odorless and tasteless and her recipes are easy and good.
Review by Kysha
I've been experiencing IBS for almost six years now. I was finally diagnosed with it in May of this year. Since then I only have IBS attacks when I've eaten too much of something I shouldn't have. On the good side, I've lost almost 60lbs and I feel great! I am so thankful to Heather for her contribution to the IBS world. I honestly believe it saved my life.
Review by Gina
Heather van Vorous's diet saved my life. Three years ago I was absolutely miserable with all the pain and I was sick all the time. After being diagnosed with IBS by my doctor, I began researching and came up with Heather's diet. It works incredibly well for me! My attacks are not nearly as bad as they used to be, and when they do come, they're few and far between. If you are like me where your biggest triggers are red meat, dairy, egg yolks, alcohol, artificial sugars and soda, try this diet! You will not be disappointed.
Review by Naomi
I tried the soluble fiber diet as described in Eating for IBS. I have had IBS for 15 years and this is the first two weeks of my life that it has cleared! Unbelievable, so many doctors and nutritionists have told me to stay off wheat! So I always avoided it like the plague and stuck to vegetables only (insoluble fiber) and wondered why I was having major attacks, and was still overweight. No doctor could explain this phenomenon and just tried to give me medication. I have lost three pounds in two weeks and have never eaten so much in my life. I can eat a whole loaf of bread in a day and gain nothing and have no bloating whatsoever! It has changed my life.
Review by Wy
I have tried the Eating for IBS diet and it does work. It is important to follow the guidelines as closely as possible and then incorporate your own do's and don'ts. For example, some people with IBS can eat certain spices that others can't. I have had my problems sticking with this diet because I have a very busy and unpredictable lifestyle, but I can honestly say that when I have been able to stick with it, it has worked remarkably. Heather's teas are great too.