Why I Don’t Drink Coffee – Low-FODMAP Diet

The Low-FODMAP diet has cast a bright ray of light on the woes of many who suffer from a myriad of digestive disorders.  As you might have learned already, everyone’s digestive system is different when it comes to what types of foods or drinks that can be tolerated.  Not everyone following the low-FODMAP diet has the same reactions to foods.  High-Fructan foods might be the only cause of one person’s pain but high-lactose might the culprit for another.

After researching the low-FODMAP diet for almost two years and speaking with thousands of people, I have seen complaints across the board for what works and what does not work.  Even though coffee is allowed on the low-FODMAP diet, I’d like to focus today on why I don’t drink it.  If you or someone you know has IBS, gastritis, Crohn’s disease, colitis and ulcers, this post is for you.

No Coffee Low Fodmap DietNo Coffee For Me

Let it be known that you can have coffee on the low-FODMAP diet but just stay away from chicory-based coffee substitutes which are a source of HIGH fructans.

By giving up coffee, I have less OH MY GOD WHERE’S THE BATHROOM moments, and believe me I am much more at ease now and don’t have to worry about what hour I leave the house.  My body is also calmer and relaxed.  I don’t need coffee for energy (I once thought I NEEDED it to get by) and the first fluid to enter my body everyday is water – and a lot of it.  Believe me, I do miss my beloved Peet’s French Roast coffee or trying coffee in different countries.  The smell now is the only thing I miss the most!

Here are some things to know about coffee for those of us with digestive disorders:

  • Caffeine in coffee is just as bad for the body because it speeds up every system in the body, and it has a stimulating effect on the intestines and can increase diarrhea – like very rapidly – that’s all I have to say about that.
  • When you drink coffee first thing, you are actually throwing acid on acid.  Your stomach produces large amounts of hydrochloric acid (HCl) after you’ve drank coffee, which can lead to irritation of your stomach and lining.
  • “De-caffeinated coffee does away with the caffeine, but it still contains acids that can increase stomach acid production.” Amber J. Tresca, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Expert.
  • “In 2007, Consumer Reports tested 36 cups of decaffeinated coffee from six coffee standbys, including Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts. Compared to the caffeine found in a regular cup (generally around 100 milligrams), the decaf samples had less, but some packed in over 20.” 12 Surprising Sources of Caffeine, Health.com
  • Coffee can cause heartburn -who likes that?
  • “Coffee produces a laxative effect in susceptible people through stimulation of rectosigmoid motor activity, as soon as four minutes after drinking. Even modest doses of coffee can have this effect, whether or not the body is ready to dispose of the
    feces, resulting in loose stools. Studies show that decaffeinated coffee has a similar stimulant effect on the GI tract proving that the laxative effect is not only due to caffeine.” Effects of Caffeine and Coffee on Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Crohn’s Disease, & Colitis Reviewed by Meri Rafetto, RD, Theresa Grumet, RD, and Gerri French, RD, MS, CDE.
  • If you have a damaged GI tract, the acid in coffee can prevent healing, and, regular or decaffeinated makes no difference!
  • Caffeine has a diuretic affect, which often dehydrates the body.  You know how your always told to get enough water?  You need it especially if you drink coffee.  Dehydrating the body can mean hard stools that are difficult to pass…and who wants to be constipated?

Where else can you find caffeine?  In much-loved chocolate (stick to low-FODMAP recommendations), coffee-flavored ice cream or frozen yogurt (try a different flavored lactose-free ice cream or yogurt), energy drinks (these also tend to have high fructose), tea, and some medications like painkillers.

Please share your comments below and tell me what works for you.  Everyone is different and we all handle foods and drinks in various ways.  However, it never hurts to consider cutting out coffee for a while to see if there’s any difference in your symptoms. Life has been wonderful for me without coffee!

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Other Sources: International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders.


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I'm Colleen Francioli, a certified nutritionist and author with a focus on helping people with IBS, other functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs) and food intolerances. I once suffered from IBS and have since found life balance with the low-FODMAP diet, an elimination diet developed in Australia, proven to help relieve symptoms of IBS.

5 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Drink Coffee – Low-FODMAP Diet”

  1. I am still so frustrated.I started having problems in October,have been to a couple doctors,have had a colonoscopy.My gastro doctor says the bleeding in my stool is from inflamed intestines.He put me on a type of sulfur pill for 30 days.I stopped taking them because they make me sick to my stomach.I have been being very careful what I eat but am still learning the FODMAP diet.Any suggestions?Zara

    1. I say keep up with the diet and give it time. Consider working with me or another FODMAP trained professional to help you along with the diet. Just sticking to eating the right foods instead of pills might be the trick. The diet does not work for around 15% of people so you still have a very good chance of it working for you. Take into consideration your stress level as well and your environment. There are also different things you can do to help with inflammation, anywhere it occurs in your body. Did your doctor test you for IBD and rule out ischemic colitis, infection, IBS, or diverticulitis? And October was when it all began? Again, I think you will benefit from working along with someone like myself. Doctors can only do so much. There may be a few things at play.

      1. Thank you Colleen.The doctors did rule out infection from Blood and Stool samples.The Colonoscopy told him I had inflamed intestines.I have purchased a couple books on The Quiet Gut and FODMAP diet and I am happy to say I have not had stomach pain for a few days now.I am trying to be very careful with what I eat.

    1. Hi Claudi, Typically the elimination phase of the diet is 2-6 weeks. The time needed depends on how quickly your body starts to feel better and adjusts to low-FODMAP foods. Then there is the challenge phase which you will challenge 10 foods over a few weeks.

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