5 Tips to Enjoy Alcohol with IBS

Published on: 12/11/2023

Can You Have Alcohol on a Low FODMAP Diet?

That’s a question I get a lot and the short answer is: yes! Alcohol can be part of the low FODMAP diet, as there are some low FODMAP alcoholic beverages. However, FODMAPs are not the only trigger when it comes to alcohol and gut symptoms. Let’s look at how alcohol can affect IBS symptoms and how you can consume it without triggering gut symptoms.

How Does Alcohol affect IBS?

Although we need more research on this topic, some studies – and anecdotal evidence – tell us that about one-third of people with IBS feel alcohol is a trigger for their symptoms. Alcohol is a “gut irritant”, which can either slow or speed up motility and trigger constipation or diarrhea. As the holidays are approaching, you might be wondering not just about how all those holiday meals and desserts may be affecting your gut, but whether it’s ok to celebrate with alcoholic drinks.

5 Tips to Enjoy Alcoholic Drinks with IBS

First of all, it’s good to know your tolerance. Ideally, you want to test how alcohol affects you by reintroducing it during a time when you feel your best in regards to your IBS, so you can notice whether it makes your gut symptoms worse. With the guidance of an expert dietitian (like me!), you can figure out whether it is a trigger aside from FODMAPs.

If you find alcohol is a trigger, it might be best to avoid it for a while and go for a mocktail instead (you can always retest it at a later time). On the other hand, if you find you tolerate it, these tips will come in handy in helping you not overdo it and avoid unpleasant gut symptoms.

1. Choose low-FODMAP alcohol options

If you consume alcohol at all, opt for red/white wine, beer, vodka, gin, and whiskey in moderate amounts. Avoid rum, sticky wines, cocktails with lots of fruit juices (most are high-FODMAP), apple cider, and eggnog (unless you make your own with low-FODMAP ingredients)⁠. Check the Monash FODMAP App for the most up-to-date list of alcoholic beverages.

2. Drink in moderation

It’s best to limit alcohol consumption to one drink a day. What does “one drink” look like? Five ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor. Moreover, alcohol can lower our inhibitions and lead to overeating, which can be a recipe for digestive distress.⁠

3. Drink with a meal

Food slows down the release of alcohol from the stomach and reduces the potential for digestive symptoms.⁠ If you can’t eat a proper meal, try to have at least an appetizer or a snack to avoid drinking on an empty stomach.

4. Hydrate!

Have some water before, during, and after your drink. Alcohol has a diuretic effect and staying hydrated can reduce the negative effects of alcohol. Plus, it helps you avoid drinking too much. Sneaky idea: pour the water into a wine glass or make a fun “mocktail” like a virgin mojito.⁠

5. Avoid carbonated drinks

Many carbonated drinks use high-FODMAP sweeteners such as high-fructose corn syrup. But even those that don’t could be problematic. The carbonation may trigger bloating as you are ingesting extra air. Moreover, the gas in the bubbles increases the rate of alcohol absorption in the blood.

In summary, alcohol is a known gut irritant and can be a trigger for people with IBS. Nonetheless, most people with IBS can enjoy a drink or two and don’t have to feel left out on social occasions. Choosing low FODMAP options, drinking in moderation, hydrating, and drinking with a meal can help you tolerate it better and avoid unwanted gut symptoms.

Want to learn more?

Check out more IBS Diet Basics

Published December 14, 2021. Updated, December 11, 2023.

Jacqui portrait

I’m a registered dietitian with a passion for helping women with IBS find their way back to eating without fear of painful gut symptoms and without unnecessary diet restrictions.

Learn More About Me


Free Guide

Jacqui portrait

Discover how to find relief from bloating so you can feel comfortable in your favorite clothes without restricting your diet!

Download the Free Guide


Pin It on Pinterest

Share This