Finding The Foods Triggering My Husband’s IBS

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My hubby has some serious digestive issues and we’re getting to the bottom of it (no pun intended), with an elimination diet. Image courtesy of and dream designs.

Although eating low carb has provided much relief to my husband’s Irritable Bowel Syndrome – D, he’s decided to go on an elimination diet to discover which foods and beverages are causing the trouble.

So last week we start taking away specific foods he typically consumes that might over stimulate his gut – coffee, caffeine, alcohol, broccoli, cauliflower, onions and dairy.

His money is on coffee as the main culprit. My honey does have a java monkey on his back. I’ve notice him drinking four 12-ounce cups when he’s home (2 in the morning, 2 in the afternoon). At work? Who knows for sure, although he’s pegged his total daily consumption at 20 cups.


What Is An Elimination Diet?
Basically you eliminate all the suspect foods/drinks from your diet for a period of time. Some people do 4-6 weeks, others prefer 12 weeks. The idea is you should show signs of improvement within 2 weeks of removing these items from your diet. After a period of time, you add one of the eliminated food items back into your diet for a couple of weeks. If all goes well, you add back another food, then another.

At some point you should discover which food is the cause of your misery. At that point you need to figure out if cutting back or completely eliminating it from your diet makes sense. Easy peasy, right?

Maybe … provided you see results after removing those items from your diet. If not, then you need to cut out more things. Just because you don’t see improvement after the initial foods are cut doesn’t mean that those foods aren’t a problem for you. There could be multiple foods or a specific combination that is over-stimulating the gut.

It really is one big science experiment, and patience is the name of the game.

Coffee, Dairy And Cabbage, Oh My!
We picked these foods and beverages because:

  1. He admitted to drinking 20 frickin’ cups of coffee a day … nuff said!
  2. For IBS sufferers, alcohol can cause abdominal cramps and diarrhea.
  3. Broccoli, cauliflower, onions, cabbage, cream cheese, hard cheese, and heavy cream are big parts of our LCHF diet. We’re removing the dairy because he could be lactose intolerant. And these veggies are known to cause gas and bloating.

It is very possible that my hubby needs to do a super low carb diet (under 10g). I think he likes the idea because he prefers meat and fat anyway.

He Starts Today
This is the first week where all targeted foods and drinks are completely out of his diet. He got a head start on coffee 5 days ago. Although he suffered through 2 days of headaches, he’s now turned into the Energizer Bunny. No mid-morning or afternoon naps. No fighting sluggishness with snacking. No excessive yawning. Now he’s a ball of energy and eager to help around the house.

Why didn’t I take his coffee away sooner?

IBS Research…One Huge Rabbit Hole
As for me, well I’m researching IBS-D, gluten-free vs. wheat-free, prebiotics and probiotics, and FODMAPs.

FODMAPs are a collection of short-chained carbs and sugar alcohols found naturally in some foods. Foods high in FODMAPs are hard for the small intestine to absorb. They are fermented by bacteria and attract water, altering how quickly the bowels move.

Finding a list of foods low in FODMAPs is much harder as it seems. Thanks to the Internet, no list is consistent. Ugh!

IBS research seem like one big rabbit hole.

I’ve already eliminated all grains and cereals (I know not all grains and cereals have gluten, but they do have carbs … too damn many) about 3 years ago. But I don’t control what he does when he leaves the house.

I have to look at my soy sauce, alternative flours, canned foods, oils, over the counter drugs, and seasonings. All of which can be cross-contaminated at the plant. If they don’t say “gluten-free” then I’ll replace them.

As for my cooking, I worked on a stricter menu for us that keep the carbs under 20g/day. I also built in fasting days too as both the hubby and I are doing two 24-hour fasts a week.

Why the fasting? Well, as I explained before, the fasting helps deal with our insulin resistance. My previous high carb diet damaged our insulin receptors, so the pancreas pumps out more insulin than needed. Since eating increases insulin, the best way to lower it is to fast. Seriously, if you haven’t yet, I suggest you read Dr. Jason Fung’s series on fasting, obesity and diabetes. Or you can check out his lecture.  Plus if he’s fasting the hubby’s IBS symptoms disappear. Another bonus.

Yet another video I watched last night included an interesting connection between insulin resistance and gut health. Although clinical trials are ongoing, it is looking like there’s a connection.

So now I’m turning my attention to studying our intestines and the role nutrition plays. My first book for 2016 is Gluten Freedom.

Are there any foods you’ve eliminated from your diet?

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