Irritable bowel syndrome in children: Dietary concerns

My five-year-old son suffers from Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Although he is on medication, he still continues to have episodes. He suffered a setback when our twins arrived, and again when I started to take in other children to care for. The doctor says that he shouldn't have any fiber. What kind of diet should I be giving him?

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Sue Gilbert

Sue Gilbert works as a consulting nutritionist. For many years she worked with Earth's Best Organic Baby Food, integrating nutrition and... Read more

Have you asked your doctor and insurance provider about consultation with a registered dietitian? That person is the best one to go to for advise on a therapeutic diet for your son. They can sit down with you to discuss not only food preferences, but also other lifestyle factors that may impact your son. Then they can help devise a specific diet plan that you may take home to follow.

In general, most Irritable Bowel Syndrome sufferers need a diet that is soft and low in fiber, yet contains enough bulk to aid in elimination. A soft diet for your son would include foods such as the following on a daily basis:

  • 2 to 3 cups of milk
  • 2 ounces of very tender ground meat, fish or poultry
  • one egg
  • 3 to 4 vegetables including potato, and tender chopped or strained dark green or deep yellow vegetable such as squash, carrots, spinach,
  • 3 servings of fruit to include 1 serving of vitamin C rich citrus juice, 1 banana, and 1 serving of cooked fruit without skin or seeds or strained cooked fruit
  • 1 serving of enriched whole grain cereal (Cream of Rice, Cream of Wheat, Puffed Rice, Corn flakes, etc)
  • 3 servings of enriched whole grain bread

You may also include soft cheeses, soups, butter and vegetable oils, plain cookies and cakes, puddings, ripe avocados, orange sections without membranes, pasta, and all beverages

You will want to avoid such foods as cereal with bran, coarse dark breads and crackers, sharp cheeses, dried fruits or nuts, rich desserts, fried foods, and most raw fruits.

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