IBS Diet Plan from the NHS

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder affecting the digestive system. It causes symptoms like abdominal cramping, bloating, diarrhea and constipation. IBS can significantly impact quality of life and day-to-day activities. While there is no cure for IBS, lifestyle changes like diet can help manage symptoms. This article outlines IBS diet plan from the NHS to alleviate it.


Diet plays a crucial role in managing IBS. Certain foods can trigger or worsen symptoms, while others can ease them. Identifying and avoiding trigger foods is key. The low FODMAP diet is commonly recommended by healthcare providers in the UK to manage IBS through diet. FODMAPs are certain carbohydrates that may not be absorbed properly in the gut, leading to digestive issues. The NHS suggests following the low FODMAP diet strictly for 4-6 weeks under the guidance of a dietitian. The reintroduction phase helps identify specific high FODMAP foods that affect you. Along with lowering FODMAPs, eating regular small meals, drinking plenty of fluids and minimizing intake of fat, alcohol, spices, caffeine and carbonated drinks is also advised.

Title: Steps of the NHS Low FODMAP Diet Plan for IBS

The NHS plan involves three main steps:

  1. Restriction phase: Strictly follow low FODMAP foods for 4-6 weeks.
  2. Reintroduction phase: Slowly reintroduce high FODMAP foods. Monitor symptoms to identify triggers.
  3. Personalization phase: Follow a customized long-term diet low in your personal trigger FODMAPs.

Low FODMAP Foods to Eat in Restriction Phase

Certain fermentable carbohydrates, known as FODMAPs (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols), can impact digestive health. During the elimination phase, here are some common low FODMAP foods permitted:

Grains: Rice, oats, gluten-free bread/pasta, quinoa, corn flakes

Fruits: Banana, blueberry, grapefruit, honeydew melon, kiwi, lemon, lime, orange, pineapple, strawberry

Vegetables: Bok choy, capsicum, carrot, cucumber, lettuce, tomato, zucchini

Proteins: Beef, chicken, eggs, fish, lamb, tofu

Dairy: Lactose-free milk, lactose-free yogurt, hard cheese

Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds

Beverages: Tea, coffee, water

Condiments: Fish sauce, herbs and spices, vinegar, vegetable oil

It’s crucial to strictly avoid other high FODMAP fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and wheat-based foods. Reading labels becomes essential to identify ingredients such as garlic, onion, and high fructose corn syrup. Consider using low FODMAP alternatives like garlic-infused oil instead of regular garlic or onion.

High FODMAP Foods to Avoid in Restriction Phase

Here are high FODMAP foods to completely avoid during the elimination phase:

  • Grains: Wheat, rye, barley
  • Fruits: Apple, pear, mango, watermelon, dried fruit, fruit juice
  • Vegetables: Artichoke, asparagus, cauliflower, garlic, leek, onion, peas, shallot
  • Dairy: Milk, custard, ice cream, yogurt
  • Legumes: Baked beans, lentils, chickpeas
  • Nuts and seeds: Cashews, pistachios
  • Sweeteners: Agave, high fructose corn syrup, honey
  • Beverages: Beer, rum, soft drinks, fruit juice, milkshakes
  • Other: Chocolate, desserts, processed meats

Being very strict in completely avoiding all high FODMAP foods and ingredients is key during the 4-6 week restriction phase.

Reintroducing FODMAPs

After 4-6 weeks of the elimination phase, slowly reintroduce high FODMAP foods one at a time. Try one new food each day and monitor symptoms for the next 2-3 days. Symptoms may develop immediately or take hours or days to appear after consuming a high FODMAP food. Take notes on foods that trigger your symptoms. Common high FODMAP foods to reintroduce include:

  • Lactose: Milk, yogurt, ice cream
  • Fructans: Garlic, onion, wheat
  • Galacto-oligosaccharides: Legumes
  • Polyols: Stone fruits, mushrooms, artificial sweeteners
  • Fructose: Honey, dried fruit, fruit juice

Keep avoiding triggers while adding suitable high FODMAP foods back into the diet. Testing and finding your personal tolerance levels takes patience and time. Work closely with a registered dietitian during reintroduction.

Follow a Custom Long-Term Low FODMAP Diet

After identifying your unique FODMAP triggers, follow a customized low FODMAP diet tailored to your food intolerances long-term. Eliminating just the problematic FODMAPs rather than all of them makes for a less restrictive diet. Focus on including suitable alternatives and adequate nutrition. Work with a dietitian to develop a personalized low FODMAP meal plan based on your preferences and needs. Follow up regularly to monitor symptoms and adjust the diet as needed.

Other Dietary Tips from NHS for IBS:

Along with lowering FODMAPs, the NHS recommends:

  • Having regular small meals instead of 1-2 large meals
  • Drinking at least 8 cups of fluids, especially water daily
  • Restricting intake of alcohol, carbonated drinks, caffeine and artificial sweeteners
  • Limiting high fat foods which can trigger IBS symptoms
  • Avoiding eating too late at night and long gaps between meals
  • Reducing stress and practicing relaxation techniques like meditation
  • Taking regular light exercise like walking, swimming or yoga

Making dietary changes is challenging. Working with a dietitian can help navigate the low FODMAP diet and ensure nutritional adequacy. Patience is key in finding your personal triggers. Combining diet strategies with lifestyle modifications provides optimal relief from IBS symptoms long-term.


Living with IBS can significantly impact your quality of life. The NHS offers well-researched dietary guidelines to effectively manage this challenging condition. The initial step involves following a strict low FODMAP elimination diet for 4-6 weeks under the guidance of a professional. Reintroducing FODMAPs in a systematic manner helps pinpoint your specific trigger foods. Maintaining a personalized low FODMAP diet, tailored to your intolerances, along with adopting healthy lifestyle changes, provides the best opportunity for long-term IBS control. The role of diet in influencing gut health and symptoms is substantial. Through persistent efforts in identifying triggers and finding suitable alternatives, an IBS-friendly diet can contribute to restoring digestive well-being.

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