There are few things that can put the kibosh on a delicious meal faster than a digestive disorder. Just ask the millions of people coping with common conditions, like food intolerances, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) or Crohn’s Disease. The truth is, living with any or all of these disorders can make it feel like you’re gambling almost every time you eat; will this go down smoothly or not?
And, let’s face it; the symptoms that accompany these conditions can be uncomfortable enough to make even the toughest of people swear off any and all questionable foods. The fact remains, though, you’ve still got to eat; and preferably something tasty.
Thanks to these 4 tips you don’t have to choose between delicious munching and managing your digestive disorder—you can have both.
Keep these simple changes in mind:
1. Know your nutrition needs.
Dietary changes can help ease the symptoms of many digestive disorders. For some conditions, such as ulcerative colitis, nutrition is a very important part of managing the disease.
Different digestive disorders have different nutritional requirements:
- For gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): Avoid eating or drinking things that make heartburn worse. Common culprits include coffee, spicy foods, alcoholic beverages, and greasy foods. It can also help to eat smaller meals more frequently.
- For celiac disease: It is very important to avoid foods and drinks with gluten. Gluten is a protein found in barley, rye, and wheat. In people with celiac disease, gluten triggers an immune reaction that damages the small intestine.
- For Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis: Your doctor may recommend a special diet, such as a dairy-free diet, depending on your symptoms. Your doctor may also recommend supplements if you have trouble absorbing nutrients.
- For irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): Large meals can trigger cramping and diarrhea, so eat small meals throughout the day. Low-fat, high-carbohydrate foods, such as rice and pasta, may be easier to digest.
2. Keep a food diary.
Writing down what you eat can help you learn which foods cause you trouble. This is especially helpful for disorders such as IBS and Crohn’s disease, for which certain foods can trigger serious symptoms. A food diary is also a key part of diagnosing food allergies.
In your food diary, write down everything you eat and drink during the day. Record how much you consume and at what time. In the same diary, write down what symptoms you have and when they occur.
3. Stop smoking.
Smoking contributes to many digestive diseases, including cancers of the digestive system. Here are a few ways smoking affects digestive diseases:
- If you have GERD, smoking can make symptoms worse. That’s because smoking weakens the muscle that keeps stomach acid from backing up into the esophagus.
- In peptic ulcer disease, smoking delays the ulcer’s healing process and increases the risk that ulcers will return.
- People with Crohn’s disease who smoke tend to have worse and more frequent symptoms.
- Smoking damages the liver’s ability to process medications, which can affect the treatment of other digestive disorders.
4. Partner with your health care team.
Unfortunately, many digestive disorders can’t be cured or completely prevented; however, simple lifestyle changes and expert care can make a huge difference. In addition to utilizing the latest diagnostics and treatment options, the providers with GMG Primary Care work to understand your unique health needs and provide the most effective care possible. As the health provider that knows you best, your GMG primary care provider will help you to enjoy a more carefree diet—and life.