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Frequently Asked Questions About IBS + Diet

Watch our first instagram live session with top dietitian Anna Hardman

Watch the full instagram live session

Last Wednesday 7th we had the pleasure of chatting to Anna Hardman. Anna is a highly-skilled registered Dietitian, with specialist areas of gastroenterology (i.e IBS), weight loss and disordered eating. She has over 10 years’ experience delivering nutritional education, advice, and support to a wide range of different client groups both adults and children.


You can watch our Instagram live session below, and Anna wrote a little summary about the 10 questions she answered on the night.

Frequently asked questions about ibs + diet

1. I have just been diagnosed with IBS, does this mean I have a food allergy?


No, having IBS does not mean you have a food allergy, a food allergy is when your immune system reacts to a food that you have eaten. Allergies are often diagnosed by a clinical history, including a specific IgE blood test and skin prick tests. People with IBS are sensitive to foods, this is known as an intolerance, this is where your body reacts to certain foods but it is not related to an immune system response.

2. How does fibre in my diet, affect my IBS?


Fibre has many benefits to our health and is an essential nutrient for a normal functioning gut. It can help to bulk up our stools, improve the time taken for the stool to move through your gut and there is also a link to a reduced risk of chronic disease such as bowel cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. It is recommended everyone, even if you have IBS to aim to have 30g of fibre per day. Remember to increase your fibre gradually to avoid gastrointestinal symptoms. Remember to drink plenty of fluids to allow the fibre to do its job. However, whilst we know that fibre can regulate our bowels and help with constipation for some people with IBS it can be a trigger.

3. I suffer really badly with bloating, and excessive wind what should I do?


Passing wind between 16-20 times per day can be normal. However if you are suffering from excessive wind and bloating you may find it beneficial to limit your intake of gas producing foods, for example fizzy drinks, beans, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and also sugar free mints and chewing gum. Try and eat regular meals, avoid large portions sizes. You may find it useful to add linseeds (up to one tablespoon per day) into your diet.

4. What foods can help with constipation?


If you are suffering from constipation, you may find it beneficial to increase your fibre intake. You don’t want to do this suddenly, as it may make your symptoms worse. For example try a high fibre breakfast cereal such as porridge oats, try and aim for 2 portions of fruit and 2-3 portions of vegetables per day, incorporate wholegrains into your diet. Avoid eating extra wheat bran. You may find adding linseeds golden linseeds into your diet can help with your symptoms, try adding one tablespoon per day to yoghurt or salads for example. Make sure you are drinking 6 to 8 cups of fluids per day (excluding alcohol), and try and be active for at least 150 minutes per week.

5. I have IBS-Diarrhoea, how should I alter my diet?


Avoid high fat foods, such as chocolate, butter, cakes, pizza and fried foods. Limit your caffeine intake from tea, coffee, energy drinks and other soft drinks. Try and make sure you drink plenty of water to replace lost fluids. Try and avoid hot and spicy foods, and sugar free foods or drinks which may contain sorbitol, mannitol and xylitol. You may find it beneficial to keep a food diary, to see if there is a pattern with your dietary intake and bowel changes.

6. What dietary supplements can help with IBS?


Before taking any dietary supplement it is recommended that you discuss this with your GP. There are some supplements, which have been proven to help people with IBS. These included peppermint oil capsules, which can specifically help with stomach pain. For people who are constipated, golden linseed may help, the linseed acts like a gel and can help to soften the stool. There is a wide range of probiotics on the market, be careful which ones you choose as there are certain probiotics which can help with specific IBS symptoms, it is recommended that you try them as per manufactures guidance for 4-6 weeks if no improvements discontinue. If you are making drastic changes to your diet you may be taking out key nutrients and putting yourself at risk of nutritional deficiencies, therefore it is important you discuss this with your GP or a registered dietitian.

7. How do drinks affect my IBS?


If you are suffering with bloating, you might want to avoid fizzy drinks. Try and reduce your intake of caffeinated drinks, try to have decaffeinated where possible. Alcohol can have a varied effect on your gut health, try not to exceed the recommended 14 units per week and aim to have 2 alcohol free nights per week. Try and stay hydrated aiming for a least 6-8 glasses per day of fluids.

8. Is it always about what I eat?


It is not always about the foods we eat, it can also be about the way that we eat. If you’re feeling anxious, rushed or on the go when eating whilst trying to digest meals this can affect IBS. Try and take your times with meals, sit down, don’t rush and chew your meal well and enjoy each mouthful.  

9. I’ve just been diagnosed with IBS, should I follow a low FODMAP diet?


If your symptoms persist after following the above general lifestyle and dietary advice discussed. A low FODMAP diet, otherwise known as a diet low in fermentable carbohydrates has been found to have a positive impact on symptoms for some people with IBS. The low FOMDAP diet, is a process of reducing the fermentable carbohydrates and re-introducing them to find out which group or groups are causing the symptoms. It is not a diet for life, and it is recommended to be carried out under the supervision of a trained Dietitian.

10. What would you say are your 5 top dietary tips for someone who is suffering with IBS?


1. Stick to a regular routine, aim to eat three regular meals, try not to skip meals, eat late and consume large portion sizes.
2. Limit caffeine and fizzy drinks and alcohol. Aim for 6-8 cups of fluids per day.
3. Cut down: high fat and manufactured foods, try to cook fresh where possible.
4. Make one change at a time and make the right changes according to your symptoms
5. Try and keep a food and symptom diary, if you need further help consider seeing a specialist Dietitian

Help us raise awareness for IBS this month


Despite this condition being so common, its not often spoken about publicly. So this April, lets change that - the more voices the louder we can shout about it. Share a post on social media, talk openly about your IBS journey, encourage people you know with symptoms to get a proper diagnosis or medical support. 


We’ve teamed up with IBS Network, the national charity supporting people living with irritable bowel syndrome, this month. For every meal low FODMAP meal sold in April we’re also going to give 10p to The IBS Network to support their work.  


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Anna Hardman Specialist IBS Dietitian

IG: @YorkshireDietitian

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