A new study has revealed just how much irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) dominates every aspect of sufferers’ lives
More than 12 million people in the UK are thought to live with IBS and new research by Field Doctor, in conjunction with The IBS Network, shows that just over half (54%) live in constant fear of inadvertently eating something that will trigger their IBS symptoms.
They find constantly having to exert the will power to avoid their favourite foods is a continuous drain, (49%) and two-fifths (40%) worry about having to meticulously monitor everything they eat.
The respondents also shared the foods that are most likely to trigger their symptoms. Onion, garlic, beans and pulses and high fibre foods – ingredients common in healthy home cooking, are common culprits. They also highlight the need to avoid fizzy and caffeinated drinks, high fat processed foods and sweeteners.
Avoiding these trigger foods leads to almost 3 million with the condition to cook their own meals, separate to partners and others in their home, but even then, many (39%), feel their diet is constant trial and error.
Many of the foods that can trigger their symptoms, including bread; fruit (particularly fruit with stones); vegetables, such as onion; cereals; nuts; legumes, and food additives, are high in FODMAPs.
Therefore, a low FODMAP diet, which is approved by National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) as a treatment for IBS can help sufferers manage their condition.
New in 2021 is the first certified low FODMAP ready meal range from Field Doctor that makes it convenient for sufferers and helps them follow a more normal eating plan.
Aside from the increased time to plan and cook, the rewards are diminished as those with the condition describe their diet as bland (21%) or unenjoyable (27%).
Worryingly, the impact of IBS is severe and goes beyond what the food sufferers eat.
A quarter (23%) of IBS sufferers feel they are on constant lockdown, only ever leaving their homes for a limited amount of time.
Almost four times as many (45% v 13%) say their symptoms have got worse during the pandemic, with two-thirds (64%) believing this is down to stress.
Well over half (55%) say it has had an impact on their mood and, sadly, a third of those with IBS (30%) report suffering from depression because of their illness.
As we move out of lockdown and start to look forward to enjoying a meal in a restaurant, or with family and friends, spare a thought for those with IBS. Eating out is the cause of stress for over half of those surveyed (52 per cent) and more than 1 in 10 (12%) completely avoid social gatherings at restaurants because of their condition.
Almost a fifth (16%) never eat at friends’ houses and further highlights how the condition limits the lives of sufferers, a fifth (19%) have been forced to miss major social engagements such as family weddings.
Registered Dietitian Sasha Watkins, co-founder of Field Doctor, said: “The survey shows how food dominates IBS sufferers lives and how restricted many of their diets are likely to be as a result.
“This means that sadly, many are missing out on the pleasure of food and potentially some nutrients as well. Which is why at Field Doctor we have created the first known range in the UK of low FODMAP meals that can help IBS sufferers and others with gut sensitivity, enjoy food and a healthy balanced diet again”.
Alison Reid, CEO of The IBS Network, said: “Sadly, the outcome of the survey comes as no surprise. We talk to people every day who have been living with the diet limitations of their condition for many years.
“The charity is constantly looking for ideas which will help its members improve their quality of life and learn to live well with IBS.
“Food plays an important part in all our lives which is why we are excited to introduce Field Doctor to our IBS community.”
Top 10 trigger foods to avoid
- High fat processed foods
- Beans and pulses
- High fibre foods (breads, cereals, pasta)
- Fried Food
- High fructose foods (apples, mangos)