Eating for IBS: 175 Delicious, Nutritious, Low-Fat, Low-Residue Recipes to Stabilize the Touchiest Tummy

Eating for IBS: 175 Delicious, Nutritious, Low-Fat, Low-Residue Recipes to Stabilize the Touchiest Tummy

3.5 16
by Heather Van Vorous

IBS is one of our nation's most untalked-about ailments, but millions of people - mostly women - suffer from the debilitating condition, one that must be controlled primarily through diet. Contrary to what may sufferers believe, eating for IBS does not mean deprivation, never going to restaurants, boring food, or an unhealthily limited diet. It does mean cutting


IBS is one of our nation's most untalked-about ailments, but millions of people - mostly women - suffer from the debilitating condition, one that must be controlled primarily through diet. Contrary to what may sufferers believe, eating for IBS does not mean deprivation, never going to restaurants, boring food, or an unhealthily limited diet. It does mean cutting out such trigger foods as red meat, dairy, most fats, caffeine, alcohol, and insoluble fiber. Heather Van Vorous, who has suffered from IBS since age 9 and gradually learned how to control her IBS symptoms through dietary modifications, collects here 175 recipes she has created over 20 years. IBS sufferers will be thrilled to discover that they can enjoy traditional homestyle cooking, ethnic foods, rich desserts, snacks, and party foods - and don't have to cook weird or special meals for themselves while their families follow a "normal" diet. Eating with IBS will forever revolutionize the way people with IBS eat - and live.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) afflicts as many as one person in five, most of them women. It is difficult to diagnose, as it can be confused with several other intestinal disorders, and many doctors do not know how to treat it with diet. Van Vorous, a food writer specializing in recipes for people with bowel disorders and lactose intolerance, teaches continuing education classes on eating for IBS. She herself has been a sufferer since the age of nine and has learned how to control her symptoms by choosing foods that prevent attacks and by avoiding trigger foods. In addition to the recipes, she gives travel and restaurant advice, daily menus, and shopping ideas. Although she recommends avoiding meat entirely, several of the recipes include chicken or fish. No dairy products or egg yolks are used, however, so these recipes will be of interest to vegetarians and those with lactose intolerance. Recommended for health collections. Carol Cubberley, Univ. of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Heather Van Vorous draws upon her experience as one suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) for more than 20 years and who has gradually learned to control her symptoms through dietary modifications in Eating For IBS. Heather showcases 175 delicious, nutritious, low-fat, low-residue recipes that combine the taste and satisfaction of homestyle cooking with the dietary necessities imposed by this discomforting condition. From Fresh Mint-Leaf Lemonade, Brown Sugar Banana Bread, and Chinese Sweet Corn and Crab Velvet Soup, to Tandoori Spiced Mango Shrimp, Garden Veggie Lo Mein, and Brer Rabbit Carrot Cake, Eating For IBS is a "must" for all IBS sufferers, and offer mealtime dining that will please even the most dedicated gourmet palate.

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Eating for IBS: 175 Delicious, Nutritious, Low-Fat, Low-Residue Recipes to Stabilize the Touchiest Tummy

Strategy, Strategy, Strategy

Question - What is the single most important principle to eating for IBS?

Answer - Organize every meal along the lines of easily tolerated, high soluble fiber staples.

French or sourdough bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, fat-free flour tortillas, baked corn chips (Tostitos), pita bread, oatmeal, soy foods, polenta, etc. must form the foundation of every meal and snack. Think of vegetables, fruit, seafood, beans, nuts, egg whites, and chicken breasts as secondary ingredients to be used in smaller quantities for flavor.

Tips, Tricks, and Helpful Hints for Eating and Cooking

  • Eat soluble fiber first whenever your stomach is empty
  • Chew thoroughly. This will help prevent you from eating too fast and swallowing air, which can cause problems.
  • Eat at a leisurely pace - if you must eat in a hurry, serve yourself half portions.
  • Eat small portions of food, and eat frequently - the emptier your stomach is, the more sensitive you will be.
  • Avoid eating large amounts of food in one sitting as this can trigger an attack
  • Avoid ice-cold foods and drinks on an empty stomach. Cold makes muscles contract, and your goal is to keep your stomach and the rest of your GI tract as calm as possible.
  • Avoid chewing gum, as it causes you to swallow excess air, which can trigger problems.
  • Drink fresh water constantly throughout the day (not ice cold). Limit the amount of water or other fluids you drink with your meals, as this can inhibit digestion.
  • Eat green salads -tiny portions, non-fat dressing-at the end of the meal, not the beginning (tell people you're French).
  • Peel, skin, chop and cook fruits and vegetables; lightly mash beans, corn, peas, and berries. Finely chop nuts, raisins and other dried fruits, and fresh herbs. Nuts in particular can be quite tolerable when finely ground. To keep dried fruit from sticking to your knife when chopping, spray the blade with cooking oil first.
  • Use only egg whites (2 whites can substitute for 1 whole egg), and try to buy organic.
  • You can almost always reduce the amount of oil called for in recipes by at least 1/3.
  • Use non-stick pans and cooking spray, as this will dramatically lessen the amount of oil you cook with. Remember, with IBS the less fat the better, period...

Think Substitution, Not Deprivation

  • Substitute soy, rice, or oat milk for all dairy milk (check the ingredients to be sure there is no oil added). Try a wide variety of brands and flavors as the difference in taste can be dramatic. Some brands are truly wretched and some are delicious. My favorite is VitaSoy lite vanilla. It's helpful to keep two types of soy/rice milk on hand: unsweetened for cooking, and vanilla for drinking.
  • Use soy or rice substitutes for cream cheese, sour cream, ice cream, and other dairy products (check the ingredients to be sure the items are low-fat).
  • Many meat-based recipes such as tacos, sloppy joes, chili, etc. can be easily adapted to IBS guidelines by substituting TVP (textured vegetable protein, a soy food available in health food stores) for the ground beef. Simply eliminate the cooking oil and season the TVP as you would the meat. When well prepared most people honestly can't taste the difference. In addition, there are many vegetarian cookbooks available that replicate traditional American homestyle recipes with vegan substitutes for the dairy and meat ingredients. Try out several of these books from your local library and buy your favorites.
  • Find a well-stocked local health food store and try a wide variety of vegan versions of deli meat, hot dogs, burgers, chicken wings, etc. There are tasty versions of just about every fast food and junk food on the market - just check the ingredients for a low fat content.
  • Use only fat-free salad dressings, mayonnaise, etc.
  • Substitute cocoa powder for solid chocolate.
  • If you have a weakness for a particularly deadly food (mine's cheesecake), try slowly eating just one to two measured tablespoons after a satisfying meal of high soluble fiber foods. I've found this to be a pretty foolproof method for occasionally treating myself.
  • Watch out for hidden fat in seemingly safe foods: biscuits, scones, pancakes, waffles, restaurant French toast, crackers, mashed potatoes, store-bought dried (usually fried) bananas. Powders, Pills, and Potions
  • Take Metamucil or Citrucel (NOT sugar-free) every day. This may be the single greatest aid you'll ever find for controlling IBS.
  • Carry Fibercon capsules (soluble fiber in a pill form) with you to have on hand when you have to unexpectedly wait too long between meals, or eat at a restaurant. Take two pills with a large glass of water. Fibercon in general is not as effective as Metamucil or Citracel, but it is easier to carry in your purse or wallet and does provide some measure of protection in emergency situations.
  • Peppermint is a smooth muscle relaxant, and can be very helpful in preventing/relieving IBS spasms. I consider it a wonder drug. Try drinking lots of strong, hot mint tea throughout the day. It's inexpensive to make your own with dried peppermint leaves from bulk spice counters at health food stores. You can also try peppermints such as Altoids. I swallow them whole with meals as I would a prescription anti- spasmodic pill. You may wish to try Colpermin, a brand of enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules, which are not available in the US but can ordered from the UK (see Directory of Resources). They're perfectly legal and do not require a prescription. The directions state to take the capsules between meals but most IBS sufferers I've received feedback from have had better luck when they take them right before eating. However, be careful if you have GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) or suffer from heartburn as mint in any form can worsen these symptoms.
  • Take a multi-vitamin, multi-mineral supplement everyday. An additional 1500 mg. of calcium daily may also help, as calcium plays a critical role in regulating muscle contractions; it also has a slight constipating effect. Women taking extra calcium may want to consider an iron supplement, as calcium can block the absorption of iron from foods and lead to anemia (take the calcium and iron supplements at different times of the day)...

Be Active! But Rest When You Need To

  • Try to be in motion after each meal. Go for a short, leisurely stroll around the block. Climb up and down a few flights of stairs at work. If you're at home, simply doing the dishes and cleaning up immediately after a meal should help. If you're at work, try to do things you can accomplish while standing. The point is to not become immobile on a full stomach, particularly while sitting down (and NEVER lying down). You want to be gently active.
  • Try to get 30-60 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise every day. Exercising regularly will help your whole body function better.
  • Daily practice of yoga, meditation, or tai chi can significantly reduce stress-related attacks
  • Make sleep a priority. When you're tired your body simply cannot function properly, and this makes you more susceptible to attacks. In addition, sleep loss markedly decreases your ability to handle stress, and stress is a universal trigger. Try to take every opportunity you have to catch up on sleep by taking regular naps, setting an earlier weekday bedtime, and sleeping in on weekends...

What to Eat When You Can't Eat Anything

We've all been there. There are some days when it seems like everything you eat triggers an attack. When this happens, you need to give your body a break and stick to the safest foods possible.

  • French or sourdough bread (not whole wheat or multi-grain)
  • Toasted plain bagels
  • Toasted plain English muffins
  • Pretzels (salted or unsalted)
  • Fat-free Saltines
  • Fat-free fortune cookies
  • Plain angel food cake, homemade or from a mix
  • Arrowroot crackers
  • Cold fat-free cereal such as Corn Chex, Kix, Rice Chex, Rice Krispies, Honeycomb, or Corn Pops, eaten dry. At all costs avoid bran, granola, and whole wheat choices, as well as cereals with raisins, other dried fruits, or nuts
  • Homemade dried bananas
  • Plain cooked pasta (not egg), sprinkled with a little garlic salt
  • Lots and lots of strong hot peppermint tea

Meet the Author

Heather Van Vorous has had IBS for more than twenty years, beginning in childhood. She's now a food writer specializing in healthy gourmet and ethnic recipes, with a special interest in cooking for people with bowel disorders. Her work has received several thousand letters of accolade from patients and physicians alike, and generated many guest appearances on radio and television shows. She currently has a healthy cooking show in development for broadcast on both the web and cable access television stations. Heather now teaches classes on eating for IBS and works with corporate HR departments to offer employee IBS education programs.

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Eating for IBS 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have been suffering from IBS for 11 years. I spent 10 of those eleven missing work, school, and outings with friends because of the pain IBS caused me. At one point I was having IBS attacks every day. Doctors told me it was in my head, it was an ulcer, it was a spastic colon, it would go away now that I knew about it. They were wrong. It is IBS and it will not go away. But you can live with it. As soon as I found this book, I immediately followed the diet and got immediate results. I don't hurt anymore. I lost weight. I can plan a day without needing to know where the nearest restroom is. My life is normal. And this book is the reason why. This book saved my life, it can save yours too.
Megan-Rae More than 1 year ago
I am a 19 year old female who has suffered through the pain of IBS, but thanks to this book I am able to eat deliciously healthy food. By following this cookbook my episodes have been reduced drastically and I feel amazing. The food tastes so good that instead of being sad about missing out on eating things like chocolate and dairy, I am just excited to eat. Along with the recipes in this book it is also important to drink plenty of water. The other things that have helped me include benefiber in the morning, along with probiotics (from advocare). I also do yoga because not only do I get some exercise, but yoga is also very helpful with digestion. On the days where I am not doing so well I drink either ginger tea or peppermint tea, both of which either aid in digestion or calm a person's stomach. I highly recommend this book to anyone who suffers from IBS or even if someone is looking for a healthy diet. For the recipes that include chicken, don't forget to buy ORGANIC chicken. Also stay away from foods with preservatives. I also recommend going onto the author's website which includes even more information and products for those suffering from IBS. It is an amazing website that provides a wealth of information for people suffering form IBS. I hope you find a good combination of techniques to help with whatever you are suffering from. Good luck on your search!
Guest More than 1 year ago
After 23 years of looking for nutritional information, I found it. Heather Van Vorous tells it all in understandable terms and by using examples. There are no books out there on how to eat for Ulcerative Colitis. I can't wait to restock my pantry and freezer and get on with my life, which used to be active. Thank you.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the first advice for IBS I've ever read that actually WORKS! And it is so common-sense, clear, and simple. I have eliminated almost all of my symptoms and I am very hopeful that my severe attacks are a thing of the past now. I noticed a huge difference within the first two days of following this diet. Oh- and did I mention that the recipes are absolutely delicious? And easy? And range from simple quick snacks to gourmet dinners worthy of holiday guests? This book has literally changed my life, and definitely for the better. I predict a best-seller!
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Its been helpful -- but I had to be careful because it gave me permission to eat some of the foods I love which I wasn't eating before so I have to tweek it a bit for my own use.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Heather knows what she's writing about! My husband & mother in law have benefitted immensly from the techniques, tips & recipes found in this book (both suffer from IBS). I don't suffer from it, but I love the food, I love this book, and I highly recommend this to anyone that is affected by IBS symptoms. Also, if more information is needed, the author has a wonderful, supportive & interesting online newsletter. This book is a wonderful bargain, too!
VeganNatasha More than 1 year ago
I have severe IBS and after doing tons of research on the subject and reading one book after another I finally found one that works. This book explains how you have to eat soluble and insoluber fiber . Before reading this I had no idea how two eat these to fibers. Most of the info in this book is correct however it is not vegan. Anyone that knows anything about nutrition knows that animals products are toxic not to mention cruel and not natural. So eating them when you are already sick with IBS takes a toll on the body and will just make you more sick. So avoiding them are a must. This book touches on the vegan subject but just barely. Following the information vegan style in this book will help all IBS sufferers. It also doesn't mention how metamusil is not for IBS sufferers that have major gas and bloating which I found out the hard way. This diet is high carb which can cause weight gain ( it happened to me)but it helps IBS so you have to do what you gotta do. Overall though this book is fantastic for IBS and I reccommend it .
Guest More than 1 year ago
When you see a health related topic that has spawned an entire industry you can be sure of two things: A lot of people are suffering and there is little or nothing, beyond the obvious, that can be done about it. (Diet books are a perfect example). So, to minimize ABS, simply avoid the following: Coffee, bacon, fried food, greasy food, vinegar, pepper, orange juice, grapefruit juice, red wine, all Thai food, all Vietnamese food, all Korean food, all spicy Chinese food, all acidic Italian food and Mexican food. Japanese seems to be a toss up because wasabi--a sort of horseradish--does not smolder the way chili pepper does. Of course everybody's different but much of this is a no-brainer, since stuff like greasy spice burgers are tough on everybody--not to mention, unhealthy. And be aware that 'mild' in a Thai restaurant translates to 'incendiary...but less so than our other entries'. Some will say this is a long list but you know the alternative....and loading up with white rice and bread may or may not help--while giving way too many carbohydrates and possible constipation. I realize that some things cut both ways (no pun intended) like alchohol or mint or fiber. Just depends on which book you read. But do you really need a book to tell you to avoid pickles and pepperoni? Reaseach suggesting IBS sufferers are worriers, agitated, 'high strung' or whatever is encouraging. But short of a brain transplant I wouldn't count on being able to calm your digestive system to a point where you can eat anything you want. Last point, I did follow the Heather's book, it was my 'food bible' for almost two months. The only thing that resulted was a gain of 15 pounds. The recipies in the book are high starch, high carbs. (And of course, polenta, pasta (except whole wheat), French bread, white rice, are high in starch and low in nutrition value)