What to Eat

A balanced diet with a wide variety of items from all food groups is the best diet for IC/BPS.

What to Eat

The nutrients in foods help strengthen your immune system, heal wounds, stimulate nerve transmission, keep your blood flowing normally, and promote overall health. A balanced diet with a wide variety of items from all food groups is the best diet for interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome (IC/BPS). It is also the best diet for everyone. The only the difference is that those with IC/BPS should limit some foods and beverages.

Restricting  too many foods and beverages can affect your well-being in a bad way. So it is very important to replace the nutrients provided by bothersome foods and beverages with alternative options. Fortunately, it’s easy to find foods and beverages that substitute for the ones that must be restricted to help manage bladder symptoms. To get the nutrition you need:

  1. Aim for a variety of foods.
  2. Eat in moderation—often restaurants serve larger portions than you will need. So, ask for a doggie bag!
  3. Drink adequate fluids—pee and then peek, your urine should be a pale yellow color.
  4. Watch you intake of sugar, salt, alcohol, and fat (specifically saturated fat, trans fats, and cholesterol from animal and processed products). These recommendations hold true for everyone.
  5. Check the Nutrition Facts label and ingredient lists for the amounts of saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars in the foods and beverages you choose, as well as for your IC/BPS trigger items.


  • Go with whole fruit more often than juice.
  • Select unsweetened fresh, frozen or canned fruits.
  • Drink 100% fruit juice (e.g., pear nectar).
  • Choose vitamin C-rich options, often.
  • Select low fat and fat-free dairy, such as skim milk or 1 percent.
  • Eat low-fat yogurt* without added sugar or artificial sweeteners.
  • Eat fresh, frozen or canned vegetables—skip the added sauces, fats, or salt.
  • Vary your choices—eat a rainbow of colors (green, orange, red, purple, and yellow).
  • Enjoy at least two 3-ounce servings of cold-water oily fish (high O3FAs) per week (salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines).
  • Go meatless—make an entrée with beans, veggie burgers, nut butters, eggs, or low-fat cheese.
  • Remove the skin from chicken and turkey.
  • Choose lean meats and trim visible fat.
  • Check food labels and go with meat and cheeses that are low in fat.
  • Bake, roast, broil, or grill—instead of frying.
  • Select high fiber foods, such as legumes and whole grains.
  • Use whole-wheat flour or other whole grains (oats, barley, and quinoa) in cooking and baking.
  • Limit the amount of fat you add when cooking and serving grains, beans, and starchy veggies.
  • Snack on small amounts of whole grain cereal or whole grain crackers or popcorn.
  • Limit added butter, oil, margarine, mayo, and salad dressings.
  • Cook with olive oil and canola oil.
  • Pick trans fat-free products.
  • Snack on nuts and seeds, in small amounts.

*Some people with IC/BPS find yogurt to be bothersome.