There has been a growing awareness of the relationship between eating disorders and IBS in recent years. While the two conditions may seem unrelated at first glance, a closer look reveals a connection that impacts both physical and mental health.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the complex interplay between eating disorders and IBS, exploring how they can influence each other and providing tips for how to manage these two challenging conditions.
Understanding Eating Disorders
Eating disorders are serious mental health conditions that affect millions of people worldwide. In Canada alone, almost one million people are living with a diagnosable eating disorder. Plus, millions more are struggling with their relationship with food and a preoccupation with weight.
Eating disorders don’t discriminate. They can affect people of all ages, genders, classes, races, ethnicities, and abilities. Eating disorders are not a choice. Many factors can contribute to their development, including genetics, mental health, and cultural factors related to food and what kind of body types are deemed desirable.
Common eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder. These eating disorders are characterized by unhealthy relationships with food, body image, and eating habits. You can’t always tell if someone has an eating disorder. Many people who have eating disorders look healthy but may in fact be very ill.
The Impact of Eating Disorders on the Gut
Studies have shown that people with eating disorders often experience gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms like bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. In fact, up to 90 percent of people with anorexia or bulimia have functional GI symptoms. These symptoms can mirror those of IBS, making it challenging to diagnose and manage both conditions at the same time.
Eating Disorders and Stomach Emptying
Studies of people with anorexia have shown that the emptying of the stomach slows down when food is chronically restricted. This is a condition called gastroparesis. This can lead to feeling full more quickly after eating, which can make it more difficult to eat enough. This then feeds into the disordered eating, as a person may further restrict food if it’s uncomfortable to eat.
Eating Disorders and the Gut Barrier
The gut has an important barrier that keeps dangerous substances and bacteria from entering the gut. Normally, it is just “leaky” enough to allow nutrients to enter. However, studies have found that extreme food restriction can make the gut leakier.
It’s thought that for people with anorexia, stress and the lack of nutrients causes the gut to become leakier, which can be detrimental to overall gut health. However, this has only been shown in animal studies, and more research needs to be done in humans.
Eating Disorders and the Gut Microbiota
Finally, research shows the chronic food restriction can have an impact on the gut microbiota. One study found that people with anorexia nervosa had increased numbers of mucous-degrading bacteria in their gut. Since these bacteria feed off the mucous layer of the gut barrier, this can lead to a leakier gut and poorer gut health.
Eating Disorders and IBS: The Connection
IBS is a chronic disorder of gut-brain interaction characterized by abdominal pain, bloating, and altered bowel habits like diarrhea and constipation. Emerging research highlights a significant overlap between eating disorders and IBS.
It appears that altered eating patterns and the stress associated with eating disorders can trigger IBS symptoms or make them worse. Conversely, the physical discomfort of IBS can contribute to the development of disordered eating habits as people avoid certain foods to try to find relief from their digestive issues.
An eating disorder commonly associated with IBS is avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID). This eating disorder involves food restriction resulting from a fear of negative consequences associated with eating certain foods. A study found that almost 20 percent of adults at an outpatient GI clinic screened positive for ARFID. Plus, IBS patients were twice as likely as patients without IBS to screen positive for ARFID.
Managing concurrent eating disorders and IBS requires a multidisciplinary approach. Here are some strategies to consider:
Seek Professional Help
Consult with healthcare providers, including mental health professionals, dietitians, and gastroenterologists, to create a treatment plan that is unique and tailored to you.
Address Mental Health
When treating eating disorders and IBS, treating the underlying eating disorder is crucial. Therapy and support groups can provide much-needed tools to improve body image and your relationship with food.
Stress can worsen IBS symptoms, as well as trigger eating disorder behaviours. Mindfulness, relaxation techniques, and stress-reduction strategies can be helpful.
One type of relaxation technique that is effective for managing IBS is gut-directed hypnotherapy. This is a treatment that addresses the miscommunication between the brain and the gut that is common in people with IBS. In the case of one of Keren’s clients, gut-directed hypnotherapy helped them feel calmer and less anxious. This resulted in a significant improvement in their digestive symptoms.
Get Nutrition Guidance
A registered dietitian can help people with both eating disorders and IBS develop a balanced and sustainable eating plan to support gut health while fostering a healthy relationship with food.
While many people focus on restricting certain foods when they have IBS, if you’re also trying to manage an eating disorder, food restriction is likely not appropriate. In this case, working with a dietitian to develop an eating plan that nourishes you while relieving IBS symptoms is crucial.
Consider Medication if Other Strategies Are Not Successful
In some cases, medication may be needed to manage IBS symptoms or underlying mental health conditions. Needing medication does not mean you’ve “failed” to manage your condition – it just means you need another tool from the IBS and eating disorder care toolbox.
The link between eating disorders and IBS is complex and multifaceted, but understanding the connection is crucial for seeking effective treatment and management. If you or someone you know is struggling with these conditions, it’s important to seek professional help.
Keren is a registered dietitian with experience working with people who are struggling with GI symptoms. Click here to book a free 15-minute discovery call to see if you would be a good fit for working together.
The low FODMAP diet has gained popularity as an effective way to manage the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It involves avoiding foods high in fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols (FODMAPs).
While many people experience significant relief from their digestive issues by following this diet, some may find the low-FODMAP diet not working as expected. In this blog post, we’ll explore common reasons for the low-FODMAP diet not working and provide troubleshooting tips to help you find relief from your IBS symptoms.
Problem 1: Incomplete Elimination of FODMAPs
One of the most common reasons for the low-FODMAP diet not working is not properly eliminating all high-FODMAP foods. FODMAPs are present in a wide range of foods, and even small amounts can trigger symptoms in people who are sensitive to them.
- Re-evaluate your food choices. Review your diet to ensure you haven’t accidentally included any high-FODMAP foods. Hidden sources of FODMAPs can be found in sauces, condiments, and processed foods. If you’re struggling to figure out where the FODMAPs are hiding, try downloading the Monash FODMAP app. The app allows you to search for foods and will tell you if they are high, moderate, or low FODMAP.
- Check portion sizes. Even low-FODMAP foods can become high-FODMAP in large quantities. Use the Monash FODMAP app to identify which portion sizes are appropriate.
- Be mindful of your FODMAP “bucket”. Think of your FODMAP tolerance like a bucket. You can fill it up to a certain amount without getting symptoms, but once you fill it too much, it overflows. In the case of FODMAPs, you may find that throughout the day, small amounts of FODMAPs add up and “overflow” your FODMAP bucket. Be mindful of the cumulative effect of eating even moderate FODMAP foods.
Problem 2: Stress and Anxiety
Stress and anxiety can make IBS symptoms worse and make it seem as though the low FODMAP diet isn’t working. When you’re stressed, your gut becomes more sensitive, which can potentially lead to worsening symptoms.
- Practice stress-reduction techniques. Try to incorporate relaxation exercises, meditation, or yoga into your daily routine to manage stress and anxiety. Reducing stress can help improve the effectiveness of the low FODMAP diet.
- Consider Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that looks at the connection between thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. It teaches you how to evaluate and modify your thoughts and behaviours to make them more helpful. A meta-analysis looking at the effects of CBT on IBS symptoms found that CBT effectively reduced IBS symptoms, improved quality of life, and improved psychological states.
- Try Gut-Directed Hypnotherapy. Gut-directed hypnotherapy (GDH) is a technique that uses relaxation and focus to communicate with your gut. It helps the mind and body work together to make your gut feel better without making any changes to your diet. It may help with pain, bloating, and other IBS symptoms, and research shows that it is just as effective as the low-FODMAP diet. However, it is not a quick fix and does not work for every person with IBS.
Problem 3: Overlooking Non-FODMAP Triggers
While FODMAPs are a common trigger for digestive symptoms, other factors can also make your symptoms worse. Some non-FODMAP IBS triggers include:
- Fatty foods
- Spicy foods
- Carbonated drinks
- Certain medications (such as antibiotics, NSAIDs, and some antidepressants)
- Hormonal changes
- Vigorous exercise
- Limit potential non-FODMAP triggers. Reduce or eliminate non-FODMAP trigger foods from your diet to see if it helps get your symptoms under control.
- Keep a food diary. Record your food intake and symptoms to help you identify patterns and potential triggers that may not be related to FODMAPs.
- Engage in moderate-intensity physical activity. Moderate exercise can have a beneficial effect on IBS symptoms for many people.
Problem 4: Unbalanced Gut Microbiota
The gut microbiota is the trillions of microbes that inhabit your gut. Studies show that IBS is associated with changes in the gut microbiota. Plus, the low-FODMAP diet may inadvertently impact your gut microbiota, which could hinder its effectiveness.
- Consult a registered dietitian: A dietitian with experience teaching people about the low-FODMAP diet can help you create a balanced meal plan that supports a healthy gut microbiota.
- Consider probiotics. Some strains of probiotics may be beneficial for people with IBS. It’s best to discuss the use of probiotics with your healthcare provider, as there are many different types available and not all of them have been shown to help with IBS.
Problem 5: You’re Not Getting Enough Fibre
One of the most common problems seen when a person is following the low FODMAP diet is not eating enough fibre. Fibre is essential for promoting bowel regularity and helping your gut microbiota thrive.
- Focus on low-FODMAP, high-fibre foods. You can maintain a healthy fibre intake on the low FODMAP diet by choosing foods that are both low in FODMAPs and rich in fibre. These include quinoa, oats, and chia seeds. Looking for more inspiration? Check out my blog post about low-FODMAP, high-fibre foods.
- Increase fibre gradually. If you’re new to the low-FODMAP diet or have been avoiding high-fibre foods, it’s important to gradually introduce higher-fibre foods into your diet so your digestive system has time to adapt. Start by incorporating small servings of low-FODMAP, high-fibre foods and gradually increase your portions as tolerated.
- Increase soluble fibre. Soluble fibre is easier to digest and may be better tolerated by people with IBS. Foods rich in soluble fibre include unripe bananas, potatoes, and oatmeal.
Problem 6: Other Medical Conditions
It’s important to ensure that other causes of digestive symptoms have been ruled out before beginning the low-FODMAP diet. Conditions such as celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and food sensitivities can mimic IBS symptoms and require different dietary and medical approaches.
- Seek medical evaluation. Consult with a healthcare provider to rule out other underlying conditions and to get appropriate testing and diagnosis.
The low-FODMAP diet can be a valuable tool to help you manage digestive symptoms. However, many factors can lead to the low-FODMAP diet not working for everyone or every situation. In fact, a study has shown that the low-FODMAP diet only works for around 70% of people. If you happen to fall into the group of people who don’t find relief from the low FODMAP diet, you may need to try other strategies.
If you’re not experiencing the expected relief from the low-FODMAP diet, try not to get discouraged. Troubleshoot possible reasons outlined by this blog post and consider working with a registered dietitian who can help tailor your dietary approach to your specific needs. Remember that individual responses to dietary changes can vary, and finding the right solution may require patience and persistence.
Low-FODMAP diet not working for you? Click here to book a free 15-minute call with Keren, a Monash FODMAP-trained dietitian. During the call, she will discuss your concerns and help determine if you’re a good fit for working together.
In a time marked by a growing emphasis on holistic wellness and personalized healthcare, it’s no surprise that health trends have emerged to satisfy these desires. Among these trends, food sensitivity testing has gained significant popularity, promising to uncover hidden sensitivities that could be contributing to various health issues. One such issue is FODMAP intolerance.
But are food sensitivity tests worth it, and can they actually identify FODMAP intolerance? In this blog post, we will review the differences between allergies, intolerances, and sensitivities and address the limitations and potential harms that can come from relying on these tests for dietary guidance.
Food Intolerances vs. Food Allergies vs. Food Sensitivities – What’s the Difference?
While these terms are often used interchangeably, they’re actually different conditions. Here’s a run-down of what food intolerances, food allergies, and food sensitivities are.
When a person has a food intolerance, it typically refers to their body’s inability to process or digest a certain food or group of foods. They are often dose-responsive, meaning a certain amount of the food has to be eaten before symptoms arise.
One of the most common food intolerances is lactose intolerance. If a person has lactose intolerance, their body lacks the enzyme (known as lactase) needed to break lactose down. This can lead to unpleasant digestive symptoms like bloating, gas, and diarrhea.
Another common food intolerance is FODMAP intolerance. FODMAPs are a type of carbohydrate that are not digested in humans. Because they’re not digested, they enter the colon and get fermented by the gut bacteria. This can lead to unpleasant symptoms like gas, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation. It’s thought that people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) have a FODMAP intolerance.
Food allergies are a more serious reaction and involve the immune system. Allergies are IgE-mediated. IgE is a type of antibody that your immune system makes when it’s exposed to an allergen. About one to two percent of adults and fewer than ten percent of children have food allergies.
When a person eats something they’re allergic to, their immune system produces an overblown response to the food. One of the best examples of a food allergy is a peanut or seafood allergy. Exposure to peanuts or seafood can be potentially life-threatening for people with allergies to these foods because it can lead to low blood pressure and difficulty breathing.
If you think you have a food allergy, you should consider allergy testing, especially if you have severe symptoms. If you are allergic to something, you must avoid that food completely and carry an Epi-Pen with you for treatment if you are accidentally exposed.
Many people experience symptoms after eating food that are not related to food intolerances or food allergies. Some of the common symptoms of a food sensitivity include joint pain, stomach pain, fatigue, rashes, and brain fog. While there are still a lot of unknowns when it comes to food sensitivities, it appears that when certain people eat certain foods, their immune system is triggered.
One of the most common triggers of food sensitivities is gluten. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) affects between three and six percent of the general population. However, unlike celiac disease (which can be diagnosed through a blood test and intestinal biopsy), there is no reliable test for NCGS.
Understanding Food Sensitivity Tests
Food sensitivity tests are often ordered by naturopaths or other alternative healthcare providers. Here are some of the most popular food sensitivity tests:
IgG (another type of antibody) testing is one of the most popular food sensitivity tests. Some popular IgG food sensitivity tests include Life Labs Food Sensitivity Testing and Dynacare Food and Digestive Health. However, these tests are unreliable because IgG production is a normal immune response to several commonly consumed foods.
In other words? If you eat those foods often, you’ll get a positive result for them on your IgG test. It’s not telling you what you’re sensitive or intolerant to – it’s simply telling you what you’ve recently eaten.
Because of a lack of scientific evidence to support its use, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology and the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology have both recommended against using IgG testing to diagnose food sensitivities.
KBMO Fit Test
The KBMO Fit Test is a delayed food sensitivity test that tests 176 foods, food colourings, food additives, and microbes used in food production. According to the company, the tests measures IgG, Immune Complexes, and the most common food-related pathways in the body.
Measuring these parameters supposedly enables the test to identify food sensitivities, inflammation, and “leaky gut” from a single test. However, this test has not been studied in rigorous trials, and no scientific evidence supports its use.
The MRT test, also known as the Mediator Release Test or the LEAP test, is a food sensitivity test that measures the inflammatory response to food and food chemicals. It is said to be more accurate than traditional IgG or Immune Complex tests because it measures the actual inflammatory response in the body.
While it was previously used by dietitians, the Commission on Dietetic Registration discontinued support for its use in 2016, citing insufficient evidence for its ability to diagnose food sensitivities.
Hair Strand Test for Food Intolerance
The hair strand test for food intolerance measures the mineral content of a person’s hair. It’s thought that if a “harmful” food is eaten, it will show up in the mineral makeup of the hair. However, it has not been scientifically validated. Plus, hair grows slowly, so it’s not a good indicator of what is currently happening in the body.
Regardless of which type of food sensitivity test you’re looking at, there simply isn’t enough scientific evidence to support their use in diagnosing food sensitivities. Plus, none of these tests are designed to identify FODMAP intolerance specifically.
Potential Harms of Food Sensitivity Tests
Still not convinced that you don’t need to do a food sensitivity test? Let’s review some of the downsides and potential harms of using these tests to diagnose food sensitivities:
- You end up with a short list of “safe” foods and a long list of foods you’re told to avoid. Avoiding many commonly eaten foods could lead to malnutrition and nutrient deficiencies.
- These tests can create a lot of anxiety about what you “should” and “shouldn’t” eat. In extreme cases, this could lead to disordered eating behaviours.
- They’re expensive. If you’re experiencing bothersome symptoms and taking time off work, expensive tests can put a huge dent in your savings.
- They can mask something that might actually be wrong (for example, an undiagnosed true allergy or Celiac disease).
Alternatives and Evidence-Based Approaches
When you have unexplained symptoms, it’s important to seek medical care to rule out any serious causes of your symptoms. If you suspect you have a food allergy, you need to consult with an allergist who can run evidence-based tests to determine what you’re allergic to.
If you’re struggling with digestive symptoms and have ruled out causes such as inflammatory bowel disease, Celiac disease, and colorectal cancer, you may have IBS. People with IBS have extra-sensitive guts and may be sensitive to foods high in FODMAPs.
If you suspect you may have a FODMAP intolerance, an elimination diet such as the low FODMAP diet can be instrumental in helping you determine which foods you don’t tolerate. However, this diet is very restrictive and should be done with the guidance of a healthcare provider who has experience with the low FODMAP diet.
Overall, medical experts and researchers agree that food sensitivity tests aren’t accurate or worth your money at this point in time. If you’re struggling with bothersome symptoms that you suspect may be related to an allergy, consider meeting with an allergy doctor to complete IgE allergy testing.
If you’re struggling with gut symptoms and suspect you have a FODMAP intolerance, working with a registered dietitian who can guide you through the low FODMAP diet can be helpful in determining which specific foods you’re sensitive to. Keren is Monash FODMAP trained and has completed and passed the Monash University Online FODMAP Course.
Click here to book a free 15-minute call with Keren to discuss your concerns and determine if you’re a good fit for working together.
Living with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can be challenging because it often involves navigating several dietary restrictions and uncomfortable symptoms.
One of the most common treatments for IBS is the low FODMAP diet. However, the low FODMAP diet is quite restrictive and often leads to not getting enough fiber. That’s why you need to incorporate high-fiber, low-FODMAP foods into your diet.
In this blog post, we will review the importance of fiber for people with IBS and introduce a range of high-fiber, low-FODMAP foods that can be safely incorporated into an IBS-friendly diet.
Understanding IBS and the Role of Fiber
IBS is a common digestive disorder that causes symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation. While the exact causes of IBS are unknown, several factors, such as diet, stress, and imbalances in the gut microbiome, are believed to play a role in its development.
Fiber, a type of indigestible carbohydrate found in plant-based foods, plays a crucial role in maintaining gut health. It adds bulk to stool, promotes regular bowel movements, and feeds your good gut bacteria, which increases the diversity of your gut microbiome (this is a good thing!).
One of the most important functions of fiber is the formation of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). When certain gut bacteria feed on fiber, SCFAs are produced as a by-product. SCFAs play an important role in regulating metabolism, the immune system, and cell growth. They are also used as a source of energy by the cells of the large intestine.
When a person does not eat enough fiber, the diversity of their gut microbiome decreases. It also leads to a shift in the gut bacteria, who start using proteins and the mucous layer of the gut as fuel. This can lead to the production of harmful molecules, which can cause inflammation and damage to the gut wall.
For people with IBS, getting enough fiber can improve symptoms by improving how waste moves throughout the digestive tract, reducing bloating, and promoting overall gut health.
Soluble vs. Insoluble Fiber
There are two main types of fiber – soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water. There are two types of soluble fiber – viscous and non-viscous. Viscous soluble fiber forms a gel in the digestive tract. This can help reduce diarrhea, as the viscous soluble fiber absorbs excess water from the stool. Non-viscous soluble fiber is rapidly fermented by the gut bacteria, which can lead to gas production.
Insoluble fiber bulks stool and helps waste move through the digestive tract more quickly. This type of fiber can help with constipation.
Fiber and the Low FODMAP Diet
The low FODMAP diet is a widely recommended approach for managing IBS symptoms. FODMAPs stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols. They are a group of carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed by the body and can trigger IBS symptoms in certain people.
While some high-fiber foods are also high in FODMAPs, it is possible to incorporate fiber into a low-FODMAP diet by choosing high-fiber, low-FODMAP foods. This ensures that people with IBS can reap the benefits of fiber without making their IBS symptoms worse.
How Much Fiber Do I Need?
The amount of fiber you need depends on your gender and your age.
Amount of fiber needed per day:
| ||Age 19 – 50||Age 51+|
|Male||38 grams||30 grams|
|Female||25 grams||21 grams|
If you haven’t been including a lot of fiber in your diet, it’s important to start slowly. Increase your fiber intake too fast, and you’ll likely have some uncomfortable gut symptoms.
Start by increasing your fiber intake by a few grams per day. After you’ve done that for a few days, increase by another few grams. Continue this pattern until you’re consistently able to hit your daily fiber goal.
In addition to starting slowly, it’s also important to drink plenty of water as you increase your fiber intake.
Click here to download our free monthly fiber tracking worksheet.
High Fiber, Low FODMAP Foods to Try
Fiber Content of Low FODMAP Foods
| ||Fiber (grams)||Serving Size|
|Quinoa||2.7||½ cup, cooked|
|Oats||3.5||¾ cup, cooked|
|Kiwi Fruit||2.1||1 medium kiwi|
|Oranges||3.1||1 medium orange|
|Carrots||1.5||1 medium carrot|
|Green beans||1.6||½ cup|
|Potatoes (skin on)||4.0||1 medium potato|
|Canned lentils||7.0||½ cup (this is a low FODMAP serving size)|
|Chia seeds||3.7||1 tablespoon|
When cooking quinoa, the ratio of quinoa to water is 1:2. For example, add half a cup of quinoa to 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
Try tossing quinoa in salads, enjoying it for breakfast (topped with fresh berries and peanut butter), or use it instead of couscous, rice, and pasta.
Oats will have different cooking instructions depending on what kind of oats they are. Some types of oats you might see include steel-cut oats, whole flake oats, quick oats, and instant oats.
Oats can be used in hundreds of different ways. Try making your own DIY granola bars, layering them with berries and peanut butter for overnight oats, or blending them into flour to make pancakes.
If you can’t find fresh raspberries, frozen raspberries are just as nutritious (and keep for longer!).
Try tossing a few raspberries onto a yogurt parfait, blending them into smoothies, mixing them with your overnight oats, or baking them into a low FODMAP muffin.
If you’re struggling with constipation, kiwi is the fruit for you! Research shows that eating two kiwi fruit per day helps waste move through the gut, improving constipation.
It’s thought that kiwi helps relieve constipation due to its high fiber content and because it contains an enzyme called actinidin, which breaks protein down and stimulates the large intestine.
The easiest way to eat kiwi fruit is to cut it in half and scrape the flesh out with a spoon, but it also tastes delicious as part of a fruit salad or in a constipation-busting smoothie!
In addition to their high fiber content, oranges are packed with vitamin C, which helps support a healthy immune system.
Enjoy sliced oranges and vanilla yogurt for a creamsicle-inspired snack, or add to a wrap with chicken, bell peppers, onions, and ginger for an Asian-inspired chicken wrap.
Carrots have numerous health benefits, but perhaps the most well-known is their importance for vision and eye health. This is due to their high content of alpha- and beta-carotene. They also contain high amounts of vitamin C, which is important for immune health.
Try shredded carrots in your overnight oats, steam them and serve as a side dish, or slice them and add them to a stir-fry. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, try baking shredded carrots into carrot ginger muffins.
Like many colourful vegetables, green beans are packed with vitamin C and beta-carotene. They’re also a good source of folate and potassium, which can help regulate blood pressure.
Try adding chopped green beans to a casserole or roasting them with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Ah, the humble potato! It gets a bad rap by people who promote low-carb diets, but it’s a wonderful source of nutrients, especially if you leave the skin on.
Try a baked potato topped with lactose-free plain Greek yogurt, green onion tops, diced tomatoes, shredded cheddar cheese, and lean ground beef. Or, if you’d prefer potatoes as a side dish, nothing beats smashed potatoes with some butter, salt, and pepper.
Canned lentils are considered low FODMAP at half-cup serving size. Canned lentils are lower in FODMAPs because the FODMAPs leach into the fluid they’re canned. By draining and rinsing the canned lentils before use, you get rid of a lot of the FODMAPs, making canned lentils an excellent high-fiber, low-FODMAP choice.
Try using lentils as a substitute for beef in your spaghetti Bolognese recipe, use them in a comforting lentil soup or use them to make a vegetarian chilli.
Small but mighty, chia seeds pack a serious nutrient punch. In addition to their high content of low FODMAP fiber, they’re also rich in plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and B vitamins.
One of the easiest ways to add chia seeds to your diet is to sprinkle them over cereal or into a smoothie. If you have a bit more time on your hands, try making chia seed pudding by mixing chia seeds with your milk of choice and some maple syrup and letting it sit overnight in the fridge.
Incorporating high fiber, low FODMAP foods into your diet is a fundamental step towards managing your IBS symptoms and promoting overall gut health. To get you started, we’ve created a 3-day low FODMAP meal plan that you can sign up for here.
If you struggle to get enough fiber with IBS, consider consulting with a registered dietitian to create a personalized IBS management plan. To speak with Keren, click here to book a one-time, free consultation for us to discuss your nutritional needs and see whether we’re a good fit.
Living with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can be a lonely and frustrating experience. The unpredictable nature of IBS symptoms can greatly impact a person’s quality of life. Fortunately, with the guidance and expertise of a dietitian for IBS, people can find relief and regain control over their gut health.
Unfortunately, the cost of a dietitian often prevents people from seeking the care they need. If this is the case, you’ll need to see a dietitian covered by insurance. This article explores the many benefits of working with a dietitian for IBS management, as well as tips for finding a dietitian covered by insurance in Canada.
Benefits of Seeing a Dietitian for IBS
There are many benefits of seeing a dietitian for IBS management. Registered dietitians undergo extensive training in university, completed a supervised, year-long internship, and are required to complete continuing education activities to maintain their competency and license.
Here are five of the main benefits of working with a dietitian for IBS.
Dietitians Use a Personalized and Targeted Approach to IBS Management
IBS is a highly individualized condition, and the things that trigger symptoms for one person may not affect another person. A dietitian for IBS understands this and will tailor their treatment approach to meet your specific needs.
Your IBS dietitian will work closely with you to identify trigger foods, develop personalized meal plans, and recommend lifestyle changes that are aligned with your goals and preferences.
IBS Dietitians Have In-Depth Knowledge and Expertise
IBS dietitians are well-versed in the ins and outs of IBS. They understand the complex relationship between diet, lifestyle, gut health, and IBS symptoms. A dietitian will practice from an evidence-based perspective, using scientific evidence to guide their recommendations.
If you’re interested in following the low FODMAP diet to manage your IBS, a dietitian can help.
The low FODMAP diet can be a restrictive diet and requires careful implementation and monitoring to ensure you’re getting the nutrients you need to thrive.
As a Monash FODMAP-trained IBS dietitian, Keren can guide you through the different phases of the low FODMAP diet, provide meal planning assistance, and help you understand food labels and hidden sources of FODMAPs. More importantly, an IBS dietitian can help you strategically reintroduce FODMAPs into your diet so you can identify your specific trigger foods.
Dietitians Can Provide Emotional Support and Empathy
Living with IBS is not just physically draining – it can be emotionally draining as well. A dietitian for IBS management understands the emotional challenges that accompany an IBS diagnosis and can provide much-needed support and empathy.
An IBS dietitian can be a trusted ally who listens to your concerns, offers guidance, and helps you maintain a positive mindset during your IBS journey. Plus, they can be an important advocate for connecting you with other healthcare providers who can help with IBS management.
IBS Dietitians Take a Holistic Approach to Wellness
While diet plays an important role in managing IBS symptoms, it is not the only factor that influences symptoms. Other factors like lifestyle, stress, sleep, and exercise can all impact gut health.
A dietitian for IBS management will help you address these interconnected aspects of IBS and can help you develop strategies to manage stress, get better sleep, and incorporate exercise into your routine.
Dietitians Can Help You Save Money in the Long-Term
Even if your dietitian is not covered by insurance, working with a dietitian for IBS management will likely save you money in the long term. By working with a dietitian, you can avoid expensive diets and supplements that don’t work and instead focus on strategies for IBS management that are backed by science. Plus, by getting your symptoms under control, you may be able to avoid costs associated with IBS symptoms (such as having to take time off work or medical costs).
Is My IBS Dietitian Covered by Insurance?
The cost of seeing a private practice dietitian in Canada is not currently covered by provincial health insurance plans. However, a report published in 2020 found that between 60% and 70% of Canadians with employer benefits had coverage for dietitian services.
As of July 1, 2023, the Public Service Health Care Plan will include $300 per calendar year for dietitian services, with no prescription required. If you don’t have employee benefits, dietitian services are a medical expense that can be claimed on your taxes in most provinces.
If you’re not sure whether you have coverage for dietitian services, get in touch with your employee benefits program to confirm coverage before your first visit with a dietitian. Some important questions to ask about your insurance coverage include:
- What is the dollar amount of my coverage for dietitian services?
- Do I need a referral from a doctor to qualify for dietitian service coverage?
- What does my plan cover (e.g., initial assessments, follow-up visits)?
- Are there any limits on the number of follow-up visits I can attend?
- Are group sessions covered? Group sessions are a more cost-effective option if they are covered by your insurance plan.
How Can I Find a Dietitian Near Me?
To find a dietitian near you, use the Dietitians of Canada “Find a Dietitian” tool. It allows you to find Canadian dietitians based on health concerns, language, and location.
Client Success: Grace’s Story
Grace (name has been changed to protect privacy) was a vibrant woman in her 50s who had been struggling with persistent constipation. She attended a free community education program and was advised to increase her fibre and fluid intake to combat constipation.
Grace diligently followed these recommendations, but ended up in severe pain, leading her to the emergency room. After various tests, doctors diagnosed her with IBS but didn’t provide much guidance on managing the condition.
Feeling overwhelmed and lost, Grace researched her condition and learned about the low FODMAP diet. She decided to seek the support of a dietitian for IBS management and found Keren.
Keren assessed Grace’s nutritional, medical, and lifestyle history and found that Grace’s high-fibre diet might be triggering her symptoms. Keren educated and guided Grace to follow the low FODMAP diet. Over several weeks and visits, Keren worked closely with Grace to guide her through the three phases of the low FODMAP diet.
Gradually, Grace’s symptoms began to subside, and she learned which foods to avoid, and which foods worked well for her. Today, Grace manages her IBS effectively with her personalized diet plan. She feels confident about her food choices and no longer lives in fear of her symptoms.
Working with a dietitian for IBS management can be a game-changer for people seeking relief from IBS symptoms. Their expertise, personalized approach, and emotional support can empower you to take control of your gut health. They can be a trusted partner who understands your unique challenges and helps you navigate IBS management.
Keren is registered with Telus Health for eClaims. eClaims is a service provided by Telus Health that allows your healthcare providers to submit insurance claims on your behalf. This can reduce your out-of-pocket expenses.
Eating well with IBS shouldn’t be difficult or time-consuming. If you’re looking for expert advice on your IBS diet, check out my coaching or my personalized meal planning services. I also offer a one-time, free consultation for us to discuss your nutritional needs and whether we’re a good fit to work together.
Irritable bowel syndrome, commonly known as IBS, is a chronic condition that affects the large intestine. It’s widespread, affecting between five and ten percent of people worldwide. IBS is a disorder of gut-brain interaction, meaning that it affects the way the gut works rather than being caused by physical abnormalities in the digestive tract.
Living with IBS involves living with many bothersome symptoms, including abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation, to name a few. IBS can be challenging to manage and significantly impacts someone’s quality of life.
Even though so many people live with IBS, there’s still a lot of stigma surrounding it. Many people living with IBS may not feel comfortable talking about it. If someone you care about has been diagnosed with IBS, there are many ways you can support them. Read on to learn about seven of the best ways you can support a loved one living with IBS.
Educate Yourself About IBS
One of the most important things you can do to support someone living with IBS is to educate yourself about the condition. While it’s impossible to truly understand what a person goes through unless you’ve lived it yourself, working to understand the disease can help you better understand the challenges your loved one faces and how you can support them.
You can start by reading up on IBS, talking to healthcare professionals, or attending support groups. Here are a few websites to get you started:
Be Empathetic and Understanding
Living with IBS comes with plenty of challenges, both physical and emotional. To support a loved one with IBS, being empathetic and understanding toward them is crucial.
One of the biggest challenges with IBS is that it tends to be an invisible illness. Because it’s less visible than other illnesses, people tend to minimize the distress of someone living with IBS.
To understand what your loved one with IBS is going through, imagine the worst stomach flu you’ve ever had. Were you uncomfortable? Embarrassed? Exhausted? Scared to eat? Remembering how bad that experience was can give you an idea of what it’s like for someone who lives with those symptoms constantly.
To support your loved one living with IBS, be patient, listen to their concerns, and offer emotional support. By seeking to understand what they’re going through, you can help them feel validated and supported.
Accommodate Their Dietary Needs
People living with IBS may have specific dietary requirements, and certain foods may trigger their symptoms. For example, many people with IBS find symptom relief by following the low FODMAP diet. The low FODMAP diet excludes certain carbohydrates that can worsen digestive symptoms in people with IBS.
As a supportive person, try to accommodate their needs as much as possible. This could look like helping them prepare foods that are easy on their digestive system or avoiding eating certain foods (such as high FODMAP foods) when you’re together.
Offer to Help Out
Living with IBS can be exhausting, and chores can pile up, especially when a person is experiencing an IBS flare-up.
If your loved one is struggling, you can offer to run errands, help with chores, or cook for them. You might also offer to drive them to their doctor’s appointment. This can help relieve some of their stress and make their life more manageable.
Encourage Them to Seek Professional Help
Although IBS is a chronic condition (i.e., it doesn’t go away), many treatments can help a person manage their symptoms.
If your loved one is open to suggestions, encourage them to seek professional help and explore their treatment options. A healthcare professional can provide personalized advice on dietary changes, medication, or other lifestyle modifications to promote symptom management.
For example, a registered dietitian can help a person identify their personal IBS triggers and develop a plan to ensure they get all the nutrients they need while avoiding those trigger foods. Click here to get in touch and book your free 15-minute discovery call with Keren, a registered dietitian specializing in gut health.
Be Supportive During Flare-Ups
IBS symptoms can flare up anytime, and your loved one may experience sudden and intense discomfort. During these times, try to be supportive and offer practical help wherever possible.
If your loved one needs to cancel plans at the last minute due to an IBS flare-up, try to be understanding and flexible. Try to switch to a low-key activity like watching movies at home. IBS can feel very isolating, so coming up with activities that a person can participate in even if they’re feeling unwell can go a long way to helping them feel cared for and included.
Remember, a person living with IBS doesn’t have control over when their symptoms get worse. As a friend or family member, it’s essential to be flexible with plans to accommodate unexpected flare-ups.
Follow Their Lead
While it can be tempting to be overprotective of your loved one living with IBS, your loved one is the person best equipped to make decisions regarding their IBS. They know their body best and have likely had many years of trial and error that have taught them what works and what makes their symptoms worse.
While you may be trying to help, avoid giving your loved one unsolicited advice about managing their IBS. Instead, be supportive of how they try to manage their symptoms and be there for them when they need a helping hand.
IBS can feel very isolating, so it’s important to show empathy, understanding, and patience to your loved ones living with IBS.
By educating yourself about the condition, being supportive during flare-ups, and offering practical help whenever possible, you can help your loved one manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. Remember, a little bit of kindness and support can go a long way in helping someone with IBS feel valued and supported.
Do you have a loved one living with IBS and struggling to find foods they can eat without triggering symptoms? A registered dietitian trained in IBS management can help. Click here to book a free 15-minute discovery call to learn how a registered dietitian can be a helpful partner in IBS management.