Dietary management can be an effective treatment plan for interstitial cystitis. Experts recommend avoiding potential triggers such as caffeine and citrus juices. However, trigger foods may vary for each person.

Many people with interstitial cystitis rely on alternative treatment because the condition currently has no cure. Diet alone may not improve the symptoms, but consuming certain foods and avoiding others can provide some relief.

Usually, healthcare professionals will recommend specific dietary strategies and interventional therapies for people with the condition.

This article outlines how diet can affect interstitial cystitis. It also covers foods to eat and avoid and an interstitial cystitis meal plan.

A bowl of bananas, blueberries and nut butter which people with interstitial cystitis can eat.Share on Pinterest
Nadine Greeff/Stocksy

Studies suggest that certain foods can worsen bladder pain related to interstitial cystitis. These trigger foods can intensify symptoms of interstitial cystitis by changing the potassium content of urine and activating pain receptors in the bladder.

A 2023 study that assessed diet sensitivities among people with interstitial cystitis or other pelvic pain and a control group without the condition found that:

  • About 70% of people in the interstitial cystitis group had more than one food sensitivity.
  • People with symptoms of interstitial cystitis were more sensitive to certain beverages and spicy foods than other groups.
  • Compared with white participants, Black participants with interstitial cystitis reported greater sensitivity to non-caffeinated and alcoholic drinks and a higher rate of urinary urgency.

According to the American Urological Association, specific dietary changes can help people manage or avoid interstitial cystitis flare-ups.

A person with interstitial cystitis can include the following foods in their diet:

Consuming certain foods can increase a person’s risk of interstitial cystitis symptoms.

The Interstitial Cystitis Association notes that foods and beverages that trigger symptoms vary for each person with the condition.

According to the Global Interstitial Cystitis/Bladder Pain Society, dietary modification is a vital treatment plan for people with food sensitivities. This may include limiting or excluding foods and drinks that change the pH of the urine, such as:

  • Certain fruits: oranges, grapefruits, lemons, pineapples, and strawberries
  • Some vegetables: tomatoes and tomato products, pickles, chili peppers, and sauerkraut
  • Processed sandwich meats: Bologna, ham, salami, and cold cuts
  • Soy foods: tofu, edamame, tempeh, and soybeans
  • Cultured dairy products: yogurt
  • Chocolate: chocolate bars, chips, and candies
  • Condiments: chiles, vinegar, horseradish, salad dressings, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and ketchup
  • Beverages: alcohol, coffee, carbonated drinks, and citrus juices (including orange, grapefruit, cranberry, and pineapple juice)
  • Food additives: monosodium glutamate (MSG) and artificial sweeteners

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, while no research links a specific food or beverage to interstitial cystitis, some studies indicate links between diets and symptoms.

A 2015 review that examined how diet affects interstitial cystitis found that:

  • Consuming certain foods and beverages can trigger symptoms within 2–4 hours.
  • Avoiding foods that irritate the bladder can improve symptoms by 50%.
  • Eliminating bladder irritants from the diet and maintaining a steady water intake can significantly benefit people with interstitial cystitis.

Research from 2017 that evaluated the clinical efficacy of dietary modifications in females with interstitial cystitis showed that strict adherence to the interstitial cystitis diet could alleviate symptoms in 3 months.

Learn more about other ways to calm an irritated bladder.

On an interstitial cystitis diet, a sample menu could include the following:


  • omelet with mushrooms and spinach
  • oatmeal with bananas, nut butter, and blueberries
  • avocado toast with hard-boiled egg


  • rice, asparagus, and baked salmon
  • brown rice,grilled chicken, and broccoli
  • wrap with cream cheese, chicken, avocado, and spinach


  • pork chops with mashed potatoes and green beans
  • tuna salad sandwich
  • stuffed bell peppers with ground beef


  • sliced apple with peanut butter
  • celery sticks with peanut butter and raisins
  • almonds with low fat cheese

A person should contact a healthcare professional if their symptoms do not improve after they have made dietary changes to manage the condition.

Also, a person should speak with a healthcare professional immediately if they experience any of the following symptoms:

Research suggests that avoiding specific foods and consuming others can improve symptoms of interstitial cystitis. Making certain dietary changes can help a person manage interstitial cystitis symptoms and prevent flare-ups.

Triggers can vary from one person to another. Health experts recommend that a person take note of their symptoms after every meal to find out what irritates their bladder.

A person should speak with a healthcare professional if symptoms do not improve after a dietary change.