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How to Avoid Sugars (and Hidden Sugars) in your IBS Diet

Updated on July 18, 2016

You Can Control Your IBS Sugar-Sensitivity Problems with a Little Help

If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, you have probably discovered that sugars and artificial sweeteners are triggers. Eliminating them from your diet can often be difficult. Food labels may be confusing, but here are some tips that should help.

(c) Copyright Kathy Steinemann

Sugars and artificial sweeteners are well-known triggers for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). However, they are not that easy to spot, no matter how carefully you read food labels.

If sugar aggravates your IBS, check labels for the total grams per serving. That will give you an idea of how much is in a typical helping.

One teaspoon of refined white sugar contains about four grams. One cup of unsweetened apple juice has about 25 grams (over six teaspoons) of sugar, which is why fruit juices are so often identified as a trigger.

Some experts say that sucrose (plain, white table sugar) is tolerated better than any other type of sweetener, while fructose is a big IBS trigger. You will need to figure out what works best for you. Since maple syrup contains mostly sucrose, you might be able to tolerate it.

Honey is likely to irritate your bowel, due to high levels of fructose and glucose.

Unfortunately, many food products have natural as well as artificial sweeteners. Knowing what to look for can save you many a trip to the bathroom. Here is a rather lengthy list. Some of the items are obvious; others might surprise you.

• amazake
• apple sugar
• barbados sugar
• bark sugar
• barley malt
• barley malt syrup
• beet sugar
• brown rice syrup
• brown sugar
• buttered syrup
• cane juice
• cane juice crystals
• cane sugar
• caramel
• caramelized foods
• caramel coloring
• caramel sugars
• carob
• concentrated fruit juice
• confectioner's sugar
• corn sweeteners
• corn syrup
• date sugar
• dextran
• dextrin
• dextrose
• diastase
• diastatic malt
• disaccharide
• d-tagatose
• erythritol
• ethyl maltol
• evaporated cane juice
• florida crystals
• fructooligosaccharides (FOS)
• fructose
• fruit juice
• fruit juice concentrate
• galactose
• glucitol
• gluconolactone
• glucose
• glycerin
• glycerine
• glycerol
• glycol
• golden sugar
• golden syrup
• grape sugar
• hexitol
• high-fructose corn syrup
• honey
• inversol
• invert sugar
• isomalt
• jaggery
• Karo syrup
• lactose
• levulose
• light sugar
• lite sugar
• malt
• malt dextrin
• malt syrup
• malted barley
• maltitol
• maltodextrin
• maltodextrose
• maltose
• mannitol
• mannose
• maple syrup
• microcrystalline cellulose
• molasses
• monosaccharide
• nectars
• neotame
• oligofructose
• oligofructan
• pentose
• polydextrose
• powdered sugar
• raffinose
• raisin juice
• raisin syrup
• raw sugar
• refiner's syrup
• ribose rice syrup
• rice malt
• rice sugar
• rice sweetener
• rice syrup solids
• saccharide
• sorbitol
• sorghum
• sorghum syrup
• sucanat
• sucrose
• sugar
• syrup
• trisaccharide
• turbinado sugar
• unrefined sugar
• white sugar
• xylitol
• xylose
• yellow sugar

Be very careful to monitor serving sizes. Unless you buy individual-sized products, most items you purchase will contain several servings.

If a single serving contains less than .5 grams, it can legally be labeled as "sugar-free". If you buy something with 20 servings, it means that the package could contain almost 10 grams of sugar and not show that information on the label.

Try to stick with natural things like plain, unsweetened yogurt and any fruits you are able to tolerate. Yogurt is good for IBS sufferers (even some who are lactose intolerant). However, consuming vanilla yogurt instead of plain will irritate a sensitive bowel due to the added sugar.

Be sure to take a look at Kathy's latest books:

The IBS Compass: Irritable Bowel Syndrome Tips, Information, Fiber Charts, and Recipes. This book will assist you in your search for the latest IBS research and information.

IBS-IBD Fiber Charts: Soluble & Insoluble Fibre Data for over 450 Items, Including Links to Internet Resources - helping you to monitor fiber intake. Load a copy on your smartphone and take it with you to restaurants and grocery stores.

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