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Top Tips from IBS Dietitians

Some top tips from the experts if you suffer from IBS and are thinking of making changes to your diet.  

Catch up on our Instagram live chats with several expert dietitians

As part of IBS Awareness Month, Sasha had the pleasure of speaking to five dietitians with expertise in IBS.

 

  • Anna Hardman - IBS + Diet
  • Bridgette Wilson - FODMAP tips and pitfalls
  • Kaitlin Colucci - Busting IBS myths
  • Kirsten Jackson - Key things to know about IBS
  • Marianne Williams - Patient Webinars

You can watch our Instagram live sessions below, and Sasha has summarised a few of the key tips shared below.

Top IBS tips from the dietary experts

First find reliable sources of information

 

Get the right information from the beginning. There are plenty of great resources out there that are easy to find and access (if you know about them). Be wary of ‘fake news’ and check the reliability of your information (especially online information) - is it from an official source of health body or written by a health care professional with IBS expertise?  

 

Here are a few that we can give the thumbs ups;

Start with simple dietary changes before embarking on the low FODMAP diet

 

50% of people with IBS feel better after making some simple changes to their diet. You may not need to follow a complicated restriction diet for weeks so try these changes first: look at how regular your meals are, how much you are drinking each day, the composition of your meals and ensuring you are having a good diversity of plant based foods and fibre sources but reducing fatty foods, caffeine, alcohol, processed foods.

Think of it a low FODMAP process (not diet!)

 

Think of the low FODMAP diet as a process. It’s a means to an end and definitely not a diet to stay on forever as FODMAPs are prebiotics needed for long term good gut health. It is a process of elimination, reintroduction, and personalization - a stepwise process to follow so you can assess if short chain carbohydrates may be making your symptoms worse. It will also help you identify your personal trigger foods and safe amounts that you can tolerate. And the process does not stop after you have done your challenges, keep trying to reintroduce FODMAPs as your gut may become less sensitive over time.

If you are going to follow the Low FODMAP Diet, do it properly

 

If you do the low FODMAP diet incorrectly, it can make your symptoms worse or you may think the diet is not working for you. The other risk is that you may end up staying on the diet longer to get your symptoms under control. See a dietitian and use the Low FODMAP app designed by Monash University to ensure you follow the diet properly. Avoid falling into the trap of using a list printed off the internet and remember that the Low FODMAP Diet doesn’t work for some people as food is not always the trigger. If isn't working then stop after 4 weeks of trying.

Avoid over restricting your diet

 

Many people suffering from IBS or when starting the low FODMAP diet cut everything out and start to get fearful of food. The guidance is that you shouldn’t don’t start a restrictive diet like this without guidance from a dietitian – they can help give you lots of practical tips related to your personal needs/requirements and ensure your diet is not overly restrictive. Ask your GP for a referral for a gastroenterology specialist dietitian. Not all trusts have access to this service, especially in a pandemic year so visit www.patientwebinars.co.uk for more information or you can find a dietitian privately via BDA freelance dietitians website (search for an IBS or FODMAP trained dietitian).

Keep a diary

 

Do nothing for a week and write down your lifestyle/dietary habits and symptoms that week. Study it and look for patterns or areas that might need work such as fibre or sleep. This helps you have an honest conversation with yourself and to prioritise which goals you should set. Keeping a food and symptom diary can also help you identify dietary triggers useful and what happens when you make any dietary changes. You can take this diary with you when you see a doctor or dietitian to pin point problem areas. Remember to only change one thing at a time to properly understand what impact that change has on your symptoms.

It's a journey

IBS is not something that will go away over night but don't despair you can live well with IBS if you get the right help and guidance. It’s not a life sentence and there is so much you can do manage those symptoms. Reach out to your nearest and dearest for support and don’t stress about it as this will just make your symptoms worse. Be kind to yourself!

Continue to help us raise awareness for IBS

 

Despite this condition being so common, its not often spoken about publicly. So, even through IBS Awareness Month is over, let's continue to strive to 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 and only share reliable sources of inf.  

 

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Sasha Watkins Dietitian

IG: @SashaDietitian

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