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What Vegetables Can I Eat With IBS?

author image Janet Renee, MS, RD
Janet Renee is a clinical dietitian with a special interest in weight management, sports dietetics, medical nutrition therapy and diet trends. She earned her Master of Science in nutrition from the University of Chicago and has contributed to health and wellness magazines, including Prevention, Self, Shape and Cooking Light.
What Vegetables Can I Eat With IBS?
String beans for sale at a market. Photo Credit: mktordonez/iStock/Getty Images

Irritable bowel syndrome can cause abdominal discomfort, bloating, constipation, diarrhea and gas. Science has yet to find a cure; however, making some changes in your diet may bring relief from IBS symptoms. While there is no official diet for this gastrointestinal disorder, one dietary approach appears to help relieve IBS-related symptoms. The foods you eat using this approach, including vegetables, are least likely to trigger symptoms.

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Potential Key to Symptom Relief

FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. These are a group of carbohydrates that are typically poorly absorbed and quickly fermented by bacterial colonies living in your intestines. Foods containing fermentable carbohydrates can trigger gastrointestinal symptoms in some people with IBS. Some people with IBS benefit from sticking with foods low in fermentable carbohydrates and limiting or avoiding high FODMAP foods.

Low Fermentable Carbohydrate Vegetables

Eat vegetables low in fermentable carbohydrates to reduce the risk of gastrointestinal symptoms related to IBS. The University of Virginia Health System recommends that you limit vegetables to one to three servings per day. Vegetables low in fermentable carbohydrates include alfalfa, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, green beans, bok choy, carrots, chives, cucumber, eggplant, fennel, bell peppers, okra, parsnip, radish, rutabaga, scallions, acorn squash, tomato, turnip, sweet potato, white potato, butternut squash, yam, zucchini and water chestnuts. In addition, leafy greens such as spinach, arugula, endive, lettuce and Swiss chard are low in fermentable carbohydrates.

Clinical Support

A study published in the September 2013 issue of the "International Journal of Clinical Practice" determined the efficacy of a low fermentable carbohydrate diet. After being placed on a low FODMAP diet, participants experienced significant improvement in most symptoms, such as abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence and diarrhea. The diet had a high rate of adherence, about 75 percent. The authors concluded that a low fermentable carbohydrate diet is effective for managing IBS symptoms.

Following the Diet

Evidence supports the use of a low fermentable diet in the management of IBS symptoms. Following this type of diet requires guidance from a registered dietitian who has received training in the low FODMAP diet. The diet is implemented in two phases, restricting high FODMAP foods and then reintroducing them to assess tolerance. If you try the diet without the guidance of an expert, you may choose the wrong foods, find it too restrictive and not experience gastrointestinal relief. A registered dietitian can guide you through meal planning and help maximize the amount of foods you can eat.

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