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Living with - Irritable bowel syndrome

There's no single diet or medicine that works for everyone with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). But there are lots of things that can help if you have been diagnosed with it.

General tips to relieve IBS symptoms


  • cook homemade meals using fresh ingredients when you can

  • keep a diary of what you eat and any symptoms you get – try to avoid things that trigger your IBS

  • try to find ways to relax

  • get plenty of exercise


  • do not delay or skip meals

  • do not eat too quickly

  • do not eat lots of fatty, spicy or processed foods

  • do not eat more than 3 portions of fresh fruit a day (a portion is 80g)

  • do not drink more than 3 cups of tea or coffee a day

  • do not drink lots of alcohol or fizzy drinks

How to ease bloating, cramps and farting

  • eat oats (such as porridge) regularly
  • eat up to 1 tablespoon of linseeds a day
  • avoid foods that are hard to digest – like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, beans, onions and dried fruit
  • avoid products containing a sweetener called sorbitol
  • ask a pharmacist about medicines that can help, like Buscopan or peppermint oil

How to reduce diarrhoea

  • cut down on high-fibre foods like wholegrain foods (such as brown bread and brown rice), nuts and seeds
  • avoid products containing a sweetener called sorbitol
  • ask a pharmacist about medicines that can help, like Imodium (loperamide)


If you keep getting diarrhoea, make sure you drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.

How to relieve constipation

  • drink plenty of water to help make your poo softer
  • increase how much soluble fibre you eat – good foods include oats, pulses, carrots, peeled potatoes and linseeds
  • ask a pharmacist about medicines that can help – for example, laxatives

Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:

  • diet changes and pharmacy medicines are not helping
  • you need to avoid lots of different foods to control your symptoms

They may refer you to a dietitian or specialist for advice. You GP may also suggest other treatments to try.

Content supplied by the NHS and adapted for Ireland by the HSE

Page last reviewed: 31 March 2021
Next review due: 31 March 2024

This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 123.