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On the left, a man is on fire, looking anxious at a burger and fries next to him. On the right, a woman is contently taking a bite of salmon from a plate of salmon, quinoa, and broccoli.

Choosing an Anti-Inflammatory IBS-C Diet

At times, most of us desire sweets, whether that’s in moderation or excess. Processed foods, high in refined flour, sugar or unhealthy fats are still easy to find in kitchens of health-conscious people. While this is entirely normal and okay, if we consume these foods in excess, they can impact our gut’s health, first by displacing nutrient-dense foods and secondly, but the effect of their own ingredients. The average American diet tips the scale on refined carbohydrates, saturated fat, added sugars, and sugar-sweetened beverages, all of which are pro-inflammatory.

Pro-inflammatory vs. anti-inflammatory

You may be familiar with the terms pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory. Foods that are pro-inflammatory, like processed meats, soda, sugar, refined flours, and fried foods, send signals to the body similar to an injury or an infection. Mild inflammation is a normal process of the body, but chronic and sustained inflammation can lead to several diseases like heart disease, stroke, diabetes. These foods also take the place of foods that help create a healthy microbiome and gut. You’ve heard your gut is your largest immune system organ, and what you eat impacts your immunity and chronic disease risk. On the other hand, anti-inflammatory foods like fatty fish, berries, and leafy green vegetables fight against the release of inflammatory signals in the body.4

In general, anti-inflammatory foods are better for our health, and there are so many anti-inflammatory foods that are low FODMAP! By adding such foods to our diet, we boost our fiber intake, and in combination with lots of water throughout the day, can ease constipation. Below are two separate meal plans: a high FODMAP diet that is also more pro-inflammatory and a low FODMAP diet that contains more anti-inflammatory foods.

Breakfast

High FODMAP breakfast

  • 2 eggs scrambled with 2 strips of bacon
  • Apple slices
  • 1 cup coffee (regular or decaf) with whole cow’s milk

Low FODMAP breakfast

  • ½ cup dry oats cooked in 1 cup of water or low-fat lactose free milk
  • ½ cup raspberries or blueberries
  • 2 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup coffee (regular or decaf) with almond milk or lactose-free milk (or regular low-fat milk if tolerated)

Tip: A diet high in refined carbohydrates and saturated fat contribute to an inflammatory response. Replacing foods like bacon with healthy fats such as chia seeds, walnuts or flax meal can help decrease the inflammatory response throughout the body.

Mid-morning snack

High FODMAP mid-morning snack

  • Strawberry mango smoothie with peaches, banana, and low-fat cow’s milk

Low FODMAP mid-morning snack

  • Ginger, lime, turmeric smoothie with spinach, kale, pineapple, and hemp milk or almond milk (make sure it’s fortified with calcium and vitamin D)

Tip: Yes, grated ginger is a great addition to a smoothie, but you can get creative and add this tangy taste to so much more. Ginger pairs well with carrot or sweet potato, soups, tomatoes with sautéed eggplant, sesame tofu stir fry, or curry chicken dishes. You can also couple ginger with herbs and spices like red pepper, cumin, or cinnamon. Did you know ginger is easy to peel and produces less waste by scraping the skin with an upside-down spoon?

Lunch

High FODMAP lunch

  • 1 cup cooked white rice
  • Honey garlic 4 oz steak bites
  • 8 spears asparagus and 8 Brussel sprouts cooked in garlic and butter

Low FODMAP lunch

  • 2/3 cup brown rice
  • Maple mustard 4 oz roasted chicken or tofu
  • 1 ½ cup of sautéed leafy greens in olive oil with toasted pecans or pumpkin seeds
  • 15 steamed green beans

Tip: Animal meat has higher amounts of saturated fat and can induce pro-inflammatory processes in the body. Replacing animal meat with plant protein that is low FODMAP like lentils (up to ¼ cup) and firm tofu can add fiber to one's diet and alleviate constipation. Also, replace honey and garlic with maple syrup, mustard, herb mixture for a lower FODMAP meal.1

Afternoon snack

High FODMAP snack

  • 1 cup low-fat cow’s milk yogurt
  • 1 medium pear
  • 1/3 cup honey-flavored granola

Low FODMAP snack

  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp flaxseed meal
  • ½ cup raspberries and ½ firm bananas
  • 10 walnuts

Tip: Research shows that walnuts may improve gut health and reduce the risk of heart disease. Other nuts like peanuts and tree nuts may also possess anti-inflammatory properties, but it is essential to follow low FODMAP serving sizes. Serving sizes for a low FODMAP diet is as follows: walnuts, 10 nut halves; peanuts, 32 nuts; almonds, 10 nuts; pecans, 10 pecan halves; hazelnuts, 10 nuts; Brazil nuts, 10 nuts; pistachios, not a low FODMAP food; cashews, not a low FODMAP food.2-3

Dinner

High FODMAP dinner

  • 1 100% whole-wheat bun
  • 1 burger
  • 2 slices of onion
  • 2 sachets of ketchup
  • 1 serving of French fries
  • Side salad with ranch dressing

Low FODMAP dinner

  • 2/3 cup of quinoa (red or white)
  • ½ cup of broccoli
  • 1 cup spinach
  • Soy ginger glazed 4 oz salmon with strawberry lime salsa on the side

Tip: Fatty fish, including salmon, are great anti-inflammatory addition to one’s diet because they are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Other fatty fish that contain high amounts of omega-3’s are sardines, herring, mackerel, trout, halibut, and tuna. The American Heart Association recommends eating two fish meals/week that each contain 6 oz of fish.

Dessert or evening snack

High FODMAP dessert

  • 2 scoops ice-cream, vanilla

Low FODMAP dessert

  • Chocolate avocado mousse

Tip: Studies show that peppermint oil possesses anti-inflammatory properties. Asides from this delicious chocolate avocado mousse, a cup of peppermint tea after dinner can be a good routine. Peppermint is low FODMAP approved and great for gut health, possibly relieving IBS-C symptoms.5-6

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