If you have been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, you will be very much aware that what you eat can result in symptoms and quality of life can be affected by the difficulties experienced in managing such a tricky condition. Irritable bowel syndrome is a condition that affects how the gut functions - this is the reason it is often referred to a 'functional' bowel problem, which some people may feel is a better term to describe it than irritable bowel syndrome. A few years ago a diet was developed in Australia to help to identify the food intolerances that people may experience; this diet was called the low fodmap diet. The diet was then researched at Kings College London to see if it would have the same effect for the UK. The results showed that it was effective and it was then advised for treatment of IBS. It is a learning diet, the first stage - the reduction phase - helps to reduce symptoms to allow for the second stage the re-introduction phase. This second stage is where you will learn about what foods affect you, and it personalises the diet. You will then follow a fodmap modified diet long term. Other foods can also produce symptoms such as fats, caffeine, alcohol, and fizzy drinks - sometimes just reducing these can help. Dietitians are the only practitioners with training and up to date information about the low fodmap diet.
However, if you have digestive problems and have not been given a medical diagnosis, I would advise you to see your doctor and do not alter your diet before you visit. For some conditions – coeliac disease is an example, you need to be eating gluten to get a definite diagnosis, and while this can result in ongoing symptoms, it is crucial for your continuing health that it is diagnosed successfully. In all cases of diagnosed IBS, coeliac disease should be ruled out, as the symptoms can be very similar. Weight loss and malnutrition can also be shared with gastrointestinal conditions, so again an assessment with a qualified practitioner that can provide advice on how to prevent further weight loss and malnutrition is beneficial. Please do get in touch if you would like to discuss the dietary treatment of your condition.