Diet Modification & IC

Many people find that eliminating acidic, spicy, and sugary foods, as well as dairy products from their diet helps to control symptoms.

The Interstitial Cystitis Association (ICA) provides a list of foods that may be problematic:

  • Beverages – hard liquor, beer, wine, carbonated drinks, coffee, tea, cranberry juice
  • Carbohydrates and grains – rye and sourdough bread
  • Condiments – seasonings, mayonnaise, miso, soy sauce, salad dressings, vinegar
  • Dairy products – aged cheese, sour cream, yogurt, chocolate, milk
  • Fruits – apples, apricots, avocados, bananas, cantaloupes, citrus fruits, cranberries, grapes, nectarines, peaches, pineapples, plums, pomegranates, rhubarb, strawberries, fruit juices
  • Meats and fish – aged, canned, cured, processed, or smoked meats and fish, anchovies, caviar, chicken liver, corned beef, meats containing nitrates or nitrites (e.g., ham, bacon)
  • Nuts
  • Others substances – tobacco, caffeine, diet pills, junk food, cold and allergy medication containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, vitamins that contain fillers (especially aspartate), tofu
  • Preservatives and additives – benzol alcohol, citric acid, monosodium glutamate, aspartame (Nutrasweet®), saccharine, artificial ingredients and colors
  • Vegetables – favabeans, lima beans, onions, tomatoes

Most IC patients have the least amount of trouble with rice, potatoes, pasta, vegetables, and chicken. Foods from the above groups that may be tolerable include the following:

  • Beverages – decaffeinated and acid-free coffee and tea, certain herbal teas
  • Carbohydrates and grains – breads other than rye and sourdough, rice
  • Condiments – garlic
  • Dairy products – cottage cheese, white chocolate
  • Fruits – melon other than cantaloupe, pears
  • Nuts – almonds, cashews, pine nuts
  • Vegetables – fresh, homegrown potatoes and tomatoes

Some find that over-the-counter dietary aids such as Prelief, which helps to make food less acidic, allow them to eat many foods that would otherwise be intolerable.

Smoking worsens symptoms for some people; symptoms improve for many after quitting smoking.

Publication Review By: David M. Kaufman, M.D., Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 09 Jun 1998

Last Modified: 22 Sep 2015