What Chinese Food Can You Eat with IBS: A Guide to Gut-Friendly Chinese Cuisine

When it comes to satisfying your craving for Chinese food, having Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) can be quite a bother. The notorious reputation of Chinese cuisine as being greasy, spicy, and loaded with MSG can be scary for those suffering from IBS. But the good news is that you don’t have to give up your love for Chinese food. There are several dishes you can enjoy guilt-free, even when you have IBS.

Surprisingly, some of the most popular and delicious Chinese dishes are perfect for IBS sufferers. Dishes like steamed dumplings, stir-fried vegetables, and plain white rice are not only safe to eat but also healthy and flavorful. In fact, many Chinese dishes are loaded with vitamins and minerals that can help regulate digestion and alleviate IBS symptoms. So, you don’t have to miss out on your favorite Chinese food in fear of triggering an IBS flare-up. All you need is some guidance on what to order and what to avoid.

Introduction to IBS and its symptoms

IBS, also known as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, is a common digestive disorder that affects the large intestine. It is a chronic condition that is characterized by a group of symptoms including bloating, abdominal discomfort, diarrhea and constipation. These symptoms may vary in intensity and frequency from person to person.

While the exact causes of IBS remain unknown, there are various factors that are believed to contribute to its development. These include genetics, increased levels of stress, bacterial infections and certain food intolerances.

There is currently no known cure for IBS, however, there are numerous dietary and lifestyle changes that may help to alleviate symptoms. For people with IBS, it is important to identify trigger foods that may exacerbate symptoms and avoid them. This can be achieved through trial and error and, in some cases, with the help of a healthcare professional.

Common Triggers of IBS Symptoms in Chinese Cuisine

Many individuals with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) report that their symptoms are triggered by certain foods. Understanding these triggers and avoiding them can reduce symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, and diarrhea. When it comes to Chinese cuisine, there are several common triggers that individuals with IBS should be aware of.

  • Spicy Foods: Many Chinese dishes include chili peppers or spicy sauces, which can trigger IBS symptoms in some individuals. Capsaicin, the compound that gives peppers their heat, can irritate the lining of the stomach and intestines, leading to symptoms such as abdominal pain and diarrhea.
  • Fried Foods: Deep-fried dishes such as spring rolls, egg rolls, and fried rice are staples in many Chinese restaurants. However, they can be problematic for individuals with IBS. Fried foods are high in fat, which can be difficult to digest and may contribute to symptoms such as bloating and diarrhea.
  • Soy Sauce: Soy sauce is a common ingredient in Chinese cuisine, but it can be a trigger for IBS symptoms. Soy sauce is high in sodium, which can lead to water retention and bloating. Additionally, some individuals with IBS may also be sensitive to the gluten in soy sauce.

Other potential triggers of IBS symptoms in Chinese cuisine include:

  • Artificial Sweeteners
  • MSG (monosodium glutamate)
  • Lactose (found in some dishes with dairy products)
  • Large Portions (which can contribute to overeating and indigestion)

If you have IBS, it is important to pay attention to how your body responds to different foods. Keeping a food diary can help you identify triggers that contribute to your symptoms.

Food or Ingredient Potential Trigger of IBS Symptoms
Spicy Peppers or Sauces May irritate stomach and intestines, leading to abdominal pain and diarrhea
Fried Foods High in fat, which can be difficult to digest and may contribute to bloating and diarrhea
Soy Sauce High in sodium, which can lead to water retention and bloating; may contain gluten, which can be a trigger for some individuals
Artificial Sweeteners May cause bloating and diarrhea in some individuals
MSG (monosodium glutamate) May trigger symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, and diarrhea
Lactose (found in some dishes with dairy products) May cause symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, and diarrhea in individuals with lactose intolerance
Large Portions May contribute to overeating and indigestion, leading to symptoms such as abdominal pain and bloating

By avoiding these common triggers and paying attention to your body’s responses to different foods, you can manage your IBS symptoms and enjoy Chinese cuisine without discomfort.

Foods to Avoid When Dining at a Chinese Restaurant with IBS

For those with irritable bowel syndrome, dining out at a Chinese restaurant can be a bit tricky. Chinese cuisine is known for its bold flavors and unique ingredients, many of which can irritate the digestive tract and exacerbate IBS symptoms. To help prevent discomfort and minimize the risk of symptom flare-ups, it’s best to avoid the following foods when dining at a Chinese restaurant:

  • Deep-Fried Foods: While deep-frying is a popular cooking method in Chinese cuisine, it can wreak havoc on the digestive system. The high-fat content of deep-fried foods can cause bloating, stomach pain, and diarrhea in those with IBS. Avoid dishes such as fried rice, egg rolls, and fried wontons.
  • Spicy Foods: Spices are a staple of Chinese cuisine, but they can be problematic for those with IBS. Spicy foods can irritate the digestive tract and cause diarrhea, particularly for those with IBS-D (diarrhea-predominant). Steer clear of dishes with chili peppers, Szechuan peppercorns, and hot mustard.
  • High-Fiber Vegetables: Vegetables are generally a healthy food choice, but for those with IBS, certain high-fiber vegetables can be problematic. Fiber can be difficult to digest, and too much fiber can cause abdominal pain and bloating in those with IBS. Avoid dishes with broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and peppers, opt for lower-fiber options such as bok choy, bean sprouts, and bamboo shoots.

By avoiding these foods when dining out at a Chinese restaurant, you can reduce the risk of IBS symptoms and enjoy a delicious meal without discomfort. If you’re unsure about a particular dish, don’t be afraid to ask your waiter for recommendations or to make substitutions to suit your dietary needs.

In addition to avoiding certain foods, there are other tips that can help make dining out with IBS easier. For instance, you may want to eat smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day to help keep your digestive system on track. You can also try taking digestive enzymes or probiotics before eating to help support healthy digestion.


While dining out with IBS can be challenging, it’s not impossible. By being mindful of the foods you eat and making smart food choices, you can enjoy a delicious meal without worrying about symptom flare-ups. If you have any concerns or questions about your diet, speak with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian for personalized guidance and support.

Foods to Avoid with IBS Foods to Choose Instead
Deep-Fried Foods (fried rice, egg rolls, fried wontons) Baked or steamed options (steamed rice, dumplings, spring rolls)
Spicy Foods (chili peppers, Szechuan peppercorns, hot mustard) Milder options (garlic, ginger, hoisin sauce)
High-Fiber Vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, peppers) Lower-fiber options (bok choy, bean sprouts, bamboo shoots)

Use this table as a quick reference guide when ordering at a Chinese restaurant. Keep in mind that everyone’s IBS triggers may be different, so pay attention to how your body reacts to different foods and adjust your diet accordingly.

Low-FODMAP Chinese foods for IBS sufferers

If you suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), you know how challenging it can be to enjoy food without experiencing uncomfortable symptoms. Chinese food is known for its unique flavors, spices, and aromas, but it can also contain high-FODMAP ingredients that trigger IBS symptoms like bloating, gas, and diarrhea.

  • Rice: Rice is a staple in Chinese cuisine and a great low-FODMAP option for IBS sufferers. You can enjoy steamed or boiled rice as a side dish or as a base for stir-fries and curries.
  • Vegetables: Many Chinese dishes include a variety of vegetables that are low in FODMAPs, such as bok choy, carrots, eggplant, peppers, and spinach. These vegetables can be stir-fried, steamed, or boiled and added to dishes for flavor and nutrition.
  • Protein: Lean meats, poultry, and seafood are also low in FODMAPs and can be included in Chinese dishes. Examples include chicken, beef, shrimp, and fish that are steamed, grilled, or stir-fried with low-FODMAP vegetables and sauces.

While some Chinese dishes may contain high-FODMAP ingredients like garlic, onions, and soy sauce, there are ways to modify recipes to make them low in FODMAPs. For example, you can substitute garlic-infused oil for fresh garlic, use green parts of scallions instead of white parts, and choose soy sauce alternatives like tamari or coconut aminos that are low in FODMAPs.

Another way to enjoy low-FODMAP Chinese food is to make your own dishes at home using low-FODMAP ingredients. You can find recipes and ingredients at Chinese grocery stores, health food stores, and online sources.

Low-FODMAP Chinese Ingredients High-FODMAP Chinese Ingredients
Plain Rice Fried Rice
Bok Choy Cabbage
Carrots Garlic
Spinach Onions
Chicken Breast Chicken Thighs with Skin
Shrimp Squid
Coconut Aminos Soy Sauce

By choosing low-FODMAP Chinese ingredients and modifying recipes, IBS sufferers can still enjoy the delicious flavors of Chinese food while avoiding trigger foods that exacerbate their symptoms.

Gluten-free Chinese foods for those with IBS and celiac disease

People with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and celiac disease often have trouble digesting foods that contain gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. For those who love Chinese food, finding gluten-free options can be challenging. However, it is not impossible. Here are some gluten-free Chinese foods that you can eat if you have IBS and celiac disease:

  • Rice dishes – Rice is a staple in Chinese cuisine and is usually gluten-free. You can enjoy steamed rice, fried rice (as long as it does not contain soy sauce), and rice vermicelli dishes.
  • Stir-fries – Many stir-fries are made with gluten-free ingredients such as vegetables, meat, and seafood. Just make sure to ask for no soy sauce or use a gluten-free soy sauce substitute.
  • Hot pot – Hot pot is a fun and interactive way of eating in which you cook your own food in a pot of simmering broth. Most hot pot restaurants offer gluten-free options such as thinly sliced meats, seafood, and vegetables.

Below is a table of gluten-containing and gluten-free commonly used Chinese ingredients:

Gluten-Containing Ingredients Gluten-Free Alternatives
Wheat flour Rice flour, cornstarch, tapioca flour, potato starch
Soy sauce Gluten-free soy sauce, tamari sauce, coconut aminos
Wheat noodles Rice noodles, mung bean noodles, sweet potato noodles, zucchini noodles
Wheat dumplings Rice dumplings, wonton skins made from rice flour or potato starch

It’s important to note that cross-contamination can occur if gluten-free foods are prepared using equipment or utensils that have been in contact with gluten. When dining out, it’s always best to communicate with the restaurant staff and ask about their gluten-free options and preparation methods.

Vegetarian and Vegan-Friendly Chinese Dishes for IBS Patients

For IBS patients who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, options for Chinese dishes can be limited, as many classic Chinese dishes contain meat or seafood. However, there are still a variety of delicious vegetarian and vegan-friendly Chinese dishes that can be enjoyed while not triggering IBS symptoms.

  • Vegetable fried rice: Easy to find on most Chinese restaurant menus, vegetable fried rice is a great option for IBS patients who want a filling and flavorful dish. Made with rice, mixed vegetables, and a small amount of oil, this dish is moderate in fiber and easy to digest.
  • Stir-fried mixed vegetables: Another classic vegetarian Chinese dish, stir-fried mixed vegetables usually includes a variety of vegetables such as broccoli, bok choy, carrots, and snow peas. This dish is typically cooked with a small amount of oil and soy sauce, making it fairly low in fat and gentle on the digestive system.
  • Buddha’s delight: Also known as Lo Han Jai, Buddha’s delight is a traditional vegetarian dish that is popular during Chinese New Year. It typically contains a variety of ingredients such as mushrooms, tofu, bamboo shoots, and water chestnuts cooked in a flavorful sauce. While this dish can be high in fiber, it can also be a good source of protein and vitamins for IBS patients who follow a plant-based diet.

In addition to these vegetarian options, there are also vegan-friendly Chinese dishes that IBS patients can enjoy. While some dishes may contain animal-based ingredients, such as fish sauce or oyster sauce, these can often be substituted for vegetarian or vegan alternatives.

Here is a table outlining some of the most popular vegan-friendly Chinese dishes:

Dish Name Ingredients
Mapo tofu Soft tofu, soy sauce, fermented black beans, garlic, ginger, Sichuan peppercorns, green onions, vegetable broth
Vegan hot and sour soup Mushrooms, bamboo shoots, tofu, vegetable broth, rice vinegar, soy sauce, chili paste, Sichuan peppercorns
Braised eggplant Eggplant, soy sauce, oyster sauce or vegetarian oyster sauce, sugar, garlic, ginger, green onions

Overall, while IBS patients who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet may have limited options when it comes to Chinese dishes, there are still a variety of delicious and safe dishes that can be enjoyed. From vegetable fried rice to vegan mapo tofu, these dishes offer a mix of flavors and ingredients that are gentle on the digestive system and won’t trigger IBS symptoms.

The benefits of incorporating traditional Chinese medicinal herbs into your IBS-friendly diet

If you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), you know that finding foods that do not trigger symptoms can be a challenge. Many traditional Chinese medicinal herbs have been shown to aid in IBS symptom relief and can be a great addition to your IBS-friendly diet. Here are seven benefits of incorporating traditional Chinese medicinal herbs into your IBS-friendly diet.

  • Improved digestion: Traditional Chinese medicinal herbs can aid in digestion by promoting the production of digestive enzymes and increasing the flow of bile.
  • Reduced inflammation: Many of the herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine have anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce inflammation in the gut.
  • Less bloating: Certain herbs can help reduce bloating and gas by promoting the production of digestive enzymes and reducing water retention in the gut.
  • Improved gut motility: Traditional Chinese medicinal herbs can stimulate the muscles in the gut, which can help move food through the digestive system more efficiently.
  • Reduced stress: Stress can exacerbate IBS symptoms, and many traditional Chinese medicinal herbs have been shown to have a calming effect on the body.
  • Antibacterial properties: Some herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine have antibacterial properties, which can help reduce the number of harmful bacteria in the gut.
  • Improved immune system function: Traditional Chinese medicine views the gut as the center of the body’s immune system, and many herbs have been shown to boost immune system function.

Herbs commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine to aid in IBS symptom relief

There are many herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine, and some are specifically targeted to aid in IBS symptom relief. Here are a few commonly used herbs:

Herb Benefits
Peppermint Reduces bloating, gas, and abdominal pain.
Ginger Reduces inflammation and nausea.
Cinnamon Aids in digestion and reduces inflammation.
Turmeric Reduces inflammation and aids in digestion.
Aloe vera Reduces inflammation and aids in digestion.
Ginseng Boosts immune system function and has anti-inflammatory properties.

While traditional Chinese medicinal herbs can be helpful in aiding IBS symptom relief, it is still important to work with a healthcare provider to develop an individualized treatment plan. Some herbs may interact with medications or exacerbate other health conditions, so it is important to proceed with caution and seek professional advice.

IBS-safe hot pot and other communal Chinese dining experiences

For those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Chinese food may seem like an impossible cuisine to enjoy. However, with some knowledge and preparation, it is entirely possible to have a delicious and IBS-safe meal at a Chinese restaurant. Communal Chinese dining experiences, like hot pot, can be particularly challenging for those with IBS due to the variety of ingredients and potential for cross-contamination. Here’s what you need to know to enjoy an IBS-safe hot pot meal, as well as other communal dining experiences.

IBS-safe hot pot ingredients and tips

  • Choose a plain soup base: Avoid spicy or heavily seasoned soup bases as they can irritate the digestive system. Stick to a plain broth, such as chicken or vegetable, and add flavor with fresh herbs or citrus if desired.
  • Stick to lean meats: Fatty meats can be difficult to digest, so opt for lean meats like chicken or beef. Avoid processed meats like hot dogs or sausage, which can contain high levels of FODMAPs (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols).
  • Choose low FODMAP vegetables: Certain vegetables can trigger IBS symptoms in some individuals, so it’s essential to choose low FODMAP options. Safe vegetables include bok choy, carrots, green beans, and spinach.
  • Avoid beans and tofu: While they are common hot pot ingredients, beans and tofu are high in FODMAPs and can exacerbate IBS symptoms.
  • Use separate utensils: Shared utensils can lead to cross-contamination, so use separate utensils for cooking and eating. Also, ask the server for a clean ladle if the soup base needs to be refilled.

Other IBS-safe communal Chinese dining experiences

While hot pot is a popular communal Chinese dining experience, there are other options that can be IBS-safe, such as:

  • Dry pot: Similar to hot pot, but without the soup base. Choose lean meats and low FODMAP vegetables for a customizable and flavorful meal.
  • Dim Sum: These small dishes are ideal for sharing and offer a range of lean meat and vegetable options. Stick to steamed over fried dim sum, and avoid dishes with high FODMAP ingredients like onions or garlic.
  • Tapas-style dining: Some Chinese restaurants offer small plates or tapas-style dining options. Choose dishes with lean meats and low FODMAP vegetables, and avoid dishes with high FODMAP ingredients like garlic or mushrooms.


While it may seem challenging to enjoy Chinese food while living with IBS, with some preparation and knowledge, it is entirely possible. Hot pot, dry pot, dim sum, and tapas-style dining can all be IBS-safe, as long as the right ingredients and precautions are taken. Remember, it’s always essential to communicate your dietary needs with the restaurant staff and ask questions about the ingredients and cooking methods.

How to Make IBS-Friendly Chinese Food at Home

Living with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) can be a real challenge, especially when it comes to food choices. The good news is that you can still enjoy Chinese cuisine without triggering your IBS symptoms. Here are some tips on how to make IBS-friendly Chinese food at home:

Ingredients to Use

  • Rice noodles: Unlike wheat-based noodles, rice noodles are gluten-free and easier to digest.
  • Protein: Opt for lean meats like chicken, turkey, and fish. You can also use tofu as a vegetarian option.
  • Vegetables: Stick to low-FODMAP vegetables like carrots, bok choy, bell peppers, and green beans.
  • Herbs and Spices: Use ginger, garlic, scallions (green parts only), and chives for a burst of flavor.

Preparation Techniques

It’s not just about the ingredients, but also about how you prepare them. Here are some IBS-friendly cooking techniques to follow:

  • Stir-fry: This technique involves cooking small pieces of food quickly over high heat, using minimal oil. It’s great for vegetables and protein.
  • Steaming: Steaming is a gentle cooking method that requires less oil and preserves the nutrients in the food. Try steaming vegetables and fish.
  • Boiling: Boiling is necessary for rice noodles, but you can also boil chicken and vegetables for a simple soup.

Recipes to Try

Here are some easy IBS-friendly Chinese recipes to try:

  • Rice Noodle Stir-Fry with Chicken and Vegetables
  • Steamed Fish with Ginger and Scallions
  • Vegetable and Tofu Soup

IBS-Friendly Chinese Food Swaps

If you’re eating out at a Chinese restaurant, you may need to make some swaps to keep your meal IBS-friendly. Here are some options:

Swap For: Reason:
Wheat noodles Rice noodles Gluten-free and easier to digest.
Fried rice Steamed rice Less oily and easier to digest.
Sweet and sour sauce Soy sauce with ginger Sweet and sour sauce often contains high-FODMAP ingredients like garlic and onion.

By choosing the right ingredients, preparation techniques, and swaps, you can enjoy delicious IBS-friendly Chinese cuisine at home or at a restaurant. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different flavors and recipes to find what works for you!

Tips for eating out at Chinese restaurants with IBS

If you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), you know how difficult it is to find food that won’t trigger your symptoms. Eating out at restaurants can be especially stressful, especially at Chinese restaurants where the food can be rich and high in fat. Here are some tips to make dining out at Chinese restaurants a little less daunting:

  • Research the restaurant in advance: Before heading out to eat, do some research on the menu and the restaurant’s reputation for accommodating dietary restrictions. Many Chinese restaurants offer gluten-free options, so be sure to ask if that is a concern.
  • Ask for modifications: Don’t be afraid to ask for modifications to your meal, such as steaming instead of frying or skipping certain sauces or spices. Most Chinese restaurants are happy to accommodate dietary restrictions.
  • Choose vegetables: Vegetables are often a safe option when dining out with IBS. Order steamed or stir-fried vegetables and ask for them to be cooked without garlic or onions if those trigger your symptoms.

If you’re unsure if a dish contains any trigger ingredients, ask the server. Don’t be afraid to customize your meal and explain your dietary needs. Remember to be polite and grateful, as accommodating dietary restrictions may be more challenging for some restaurants than others.

What Chinese food can you eat with IBS?

While everyone with IBS is different and has varying triggers, there are some Chinese dishes that are generally safe to eat:

  • Steamed dumplings: Many Chinese restaurants offer steamed dumplings, which are a great option for those with IBS. Be sure to ask for them to be made with rice wrappers instead of wheat, and avoid any dipping sauces that may contain garlic or onions.
  • Stir-fried veggies: As mentioned earlier, stir-fried vegetables are a safe and nutritious option at Chinese restaurants. Order them without garlic or onions if those bother your stomach.
  • Steamed fish: Steamed fish is not only a healthy option, but it’s also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. Be sure to ask for it to be prepared with minimal seasoning and avoid any sauces that may contain trigger ingredients.

Chinese Food Ingredients to Avoid with IBS

Here are some common Chinese food ingredients that may trigger IBS symptoms:

Ingredients to avoid Reason why it triggers IBS
Garlic It contains fructans, which are carbohydrates that are difficult to digest for people with IBS.
Onions Like garlic, onions are high in fructans that can trigger IBS symptoms.
Soy sauce Soy sauce contains wheat and is high in sodium, which can be problematic for those with IBS.
Oyster sauce This sauce contains oysters, which can be problematic for those with allergies. It also contains high amounts of salt, which can be an issue for those with sodium sensitivities.

Remember, every person with IBS has different triggers. Be sure to listen to your body and pay attention to what foods make your symptoms worse. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and modify your meal to accommodate your dietary needs.

What Chinese Food Can You Eat with IBS?

1. Can I eat rice?
Yes, you can eat rice. Rice is a safe and plain food that is easy on the digestive system and can help relieve IBS symptoms.

2. Can I eat noodles?
It depends on the type of noodles. Stick to rice noodles or wheat noodles, and avoid noodles made with high-fiber or high-fat ingredients.

3. Can I eat vegetables?
Yes, you can eat cooked vegetables like bok choy, carrots, and spinach. Avoid raw vegetables, stir-fried vegetables with high-fat sauces, or vegetables high in fiber like broccoli.

4. Can I eat meat?
Yes, you can eat lean meats like chicken, fish, or shrimp. Avoid high-fat meats like beef or pork.

5. Can I eat spicy food?
It depends on your tolerance. Spicy foods may trigger IBS symptoms, so it’s best to start with mild spices like ginger and gradually increase if tolerated.

6. Can I eat soups and broths?
Yes, you can eat clear, non-spicy soups and broths. Avoid creamy soups or soups with high-fat content.

7. Can I eat desserts?
Yes, you can eat desserts in moderate amounts. Try fresh fruit, like lychee or mango, or desserts made with simple ingredients like rice flour, sugar, coconut milk, and fruits.

Closing Thoughts on Eating Chinese Food with IBS

Eating Chinese food with IBS can be challenging, but it’s possible by choosing safe and plain foods and avoiding high-fat or high-fiber ingredients. Don’t be afraid to ask your server or cook about the ingredients and how the dish is prepared. Remember to always listen to your body and avoid foods that trigger your IBS symptoms. Thank you for reading and we hope you come back again for more helpful tips and information.