Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

IBS is one of the most common problems of the digestive system, typically causing pain in the abdomen, bloating or an altered bowel habit. About one in five people have the long-term condition which can develop at any age, with most people having their first symptoms between the ages of 15 and 40. Symptoms vary from one individual to another and can be worse for some than others.

IBS symptoms

  •  Diarrhoea
  •  Low abdominal pain which may ease after opening the bowels
  •  Wind and/or bloating
  •  Passing mucus
  •  Feeling the need to open the bowels even after having just been to the toilet
  •  A feeling of urgency

Although women are more likely to get IBS and to have more severe symptoms the exact cause is unknown. As symptoms often occur after eating it is not surprising that food is blamed. True food allergies are rare and are not likely to cause IBS. However, IBS can be caused by food intolerance.  The only reliable way to identify the problem foods is by following an elimination or exclusion diet. It is advisable never start a food-avoidance and exclusion diet (where you avoid eating a class of food, such as dairy products or red meat) unless you are doing so under the supervision of a registered dietitian.


Treatment for IBS

If you feel your symptoms are due to food intolerance, there is a diet which can help you identify your personal triggers and is highly effective in treating the symptoms of IBS (it helps approximately 75% of patients). It involves excluding foods that are typically difficult to digest by people with IBS and is called the low FODMAP diet. FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligo-, Di- and Mono-saccarides and Polyols which are the technical names for the poorly absorbed food types (all of which are sugars).

Previous IBS diets have focused on excluding wheat and dairy without fully understanding the cumulative effects of the above different types of sugars, therefore this diet is succeeding where others have failed. It also recognises that everybody is different and identifies the IBS sufferer’s personal trigger foods.

If you know that you have IBS and your GP has ruled out other more serious conditions such as coeliac disease then this treatment is likely to help you. However, if you have more serious symptoms than those associated with IBS you should seek medical advice. For example, you should see your GP as soon as possible if you have any of the following:

  •  Bloody or black stools
  •  You’re awakened by your symptoms
  •  Unintended weight loss
  •  A family history of colon cancer
  •  Your symptoms started after the age of 50

If you do not have any of the above, and your GP has ruled out other more serious conditions, the low FODMAP diet is likely to help you.


How many sessions will I need?

The treatment comprises of an initial questionnaire assessment followed by either one or two sessions with your dietitian here at The Chelmsford:


1. Initial assessment

  •  A questionnaire which will cover medical and symptom information.
  •  Completion of a Food Symptom Diary for approximately 5 days (including a weekend) to establish a diet history


2. Dietary Advice

1 hour consultation: Individual advice will be given depending on findings from completion of the questionnaire which could include:

  •  Learning about which foods to avoid and reintroduce after an 8 week exclusion to identify triggers and help remove your symptoms. OR:
  •  Advice on improvements you could make to your diet in line with healthy eating guidelines.


3. Ensuring a balanced diet after eliminating problem foods (optional)

30 minute consultation: Once you have identified your triggers and eliminated your problem food(s) you can have an optional consultation to analyse your food intake and make sure your diet is meeting your nutritional requirements.


“I am more than happy with my decision to seek professional advice from a Registered Dietitian as I found that it was the first time, in 30 years, that I felt that someone understood fully the debilitating and lifestyle limiting symptoms which i had been suffering for so long. Although, I have done a lot of research myself into IBS, Wendy was able to take the time to give me a lot of new information and make very well informed suggestions.”Shirley from Chelmsford.

“The Dietitian’s advice was excellent. Couldn’t quite believe that FODMAP’s had caused all the symptoms”. Nigel from Ipswich.

“I am very happy with the service I received. Any queries I had were always answered promptly and I always felt that I could contact Wendy at any time”.  Sandra from Colchester.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Consultants