IC Elimination-Challenge Diet

With foods, whether it’s an allergy or a sensitivity, the treatment is the same—an elimination-challenge diet. These interstitial cystitis (IC) diets remove the potential problem foods from your diet and add them back one at a time to see if the food really causes a problem.

Most Bothersome Foods
For People with IC

  • Alcohol
  • Artificial sweeteners (aspartame and saccharin)
  • Coffee
  • Citrus juices
  • Cranberry juice
  • Hot peppers
  • Soda
  • Spicy foods

Since sensitivity to specific foods can vary among individuals with IC, it is important to determine your personal IC trigger foods. Making the modifications necessary for the IC diet and changing the foods you eat to help control your IC symptoms can take time. Give yourself plenty of time to discover your ideal IC diet. It may require several weeks of trial and error. You may also find it helpful to work with a registered dietitian to develop the IC diet that is best for you.

Also avoid foods that you know you are allergic to. Pre-existing food allergies, such as an allergy to nuts or grains, can also trigger IC bladder irritation and/or a stronger allergic reaction.

How to Do an Elimination-Challenge Diet

Use an elimination-challenge diet to try to find out on your own what foods cause you trouble, or to test a food that you think causes trouble but doesn’t show up on an allergy test.

Step 1

    • Eliminate suspect foods for four weeks. If you are not sure which foods they might be, start by eliminating the most bothersome foods for IC patients in general.
    • Don’t eat any of the foods or drink any of the beverages you have a positive test for or those that you suspect cause you problems. No cheating!
    • Although standard practice in allergy treatment is to eliminate these items for two weeks, you can get a more definitive answer by eliminating the suspect foods for a longer period.

Step 2

    • Add foods back one at a time—one food per week. Start first with the food you miss the most, and eat all you want for one week. Don’t keep on eating it if gives you a killer flare.
    • Standard practice is three or four days, but a week helps you to better identify suspect foods.
    • Never introduce more than one food at a time.
    • If a food or beverage causes you trouble, stay away from it. If not, keep it in your diet. Then move on to the next food or beverage on your list.

Step 3

    • Kiss your problem foods goodbye—for one full year.
    • It sometimes happens, after you haven’t eaten a problem food for a long time, that you can lose your sensitivity to it and can add it back into your diet. To find out, just go back to Step 2.

IC patient and registered dietitian Julie Beyer, RD, MS, shares her experience and her views on food and beverages that might bother your IC symptoms:

Revised April 13, 2011