If you are struggling with Irritable Bowel Syndrome or other digestive symptoms, you may wonder if registered dietitians can help.
Dietitians are nutrition experts who can help you create a plan to improve IBS symptoms. They can provide valuable guidance when it comes to creating a diet tailored to your food sensitivities and provide support and advice on coping with Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
A properly designed diet can often help lessen or even reduce digestive problems. If you are interested in working with a dietician, here is what you need to know.
What is a GI dietitian?
GI or Gastrointestinal registered dietitian (RD) has expertise in how the digestive system works and how certain foods can impact gastrointestinal symptoms.
They are certified to provide medical nutrition therapy (MNT) and diet therapy and create personalized diets for GI disorders. A GI dietitian will help you identify which foods affect your digestive symptoms.
A registered dietitian specializing in digestive conditions can help patients find relief from non-celiac gluten sensitivity, food intolerances, Crohn's disease, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), celiac disease, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, lactose intolerance, functional constipation, and IBS C or IBS D.
Some patients with functional gastrointestinal disorders also develop disordered eating behaviors to avoid abdominal pain. Dietitians are trained to recognize eating disorders and take these into consideration when treating patients and recommending ways to manage and reduce IBS symptoms.
A GI dietitian will focus on helping you identify and understand your food triggers. They can advise on avoiding specific foods that cause gastrointestinal symptoms and suggest healthier eating habits or lifestyle changes for improved digestive health.
Is Irritable Bowel Syndrome a nutritional disorder?
No, Irritable Bowel Syndrome is not a nutritional disorder. It is a typical gastrointestinal (GI) disorder that results in abdominal pain, changes in bowel habits, and other symptoms such as bloating, constipation, and diarrhea.
While diet may play an essential role in managing the severity of symptoms associated with IBS, it is not considered a nutritional disorder. However, certain dietary changes may help to reduce and manage symptoms of IBS.
This is compared to celiac disease, a nutritional disorder resulting from an inability to process gluten. The gut lining of those with celiac disease becomes damaged when exposed to gluten, whereas in IBS, this is not the case.
Which diet is the most effective for IBS treatment?
The low FODMAP diet is the most effective diet for treating Irritable Bowe Syndrome (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols). These are short-chain carbohydrates found in many healthy foods, that ferment in your digestive tract.
This diet eliminates foods high in fermentable carbohydrates, which can lead to symptoms like bloating, gas, abdominal pain, and altered bowel habits.
The diet consists of three phases; it starts with the elimination phase to improve symptoms and get symptom relief. The elimination phase is crucial during the low FODMAP diet to calm your digestive tract.
Then follows the reintroduction phase to understand which high FODMAP foods are causing Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms. This is done through an oral food challenge; you ingest a small number of high-FODMAP foods and monitor your symptoms.
Finally, the maintenance phase includes reintroducing multiple high-FODMAP foods while managing IBS symptoms. This phase of the low FODMAP diet is tailored to make dietary changes manageable long-term to have lasting symptom relief and get your daily nutrient intake.
It is best to work with a GI RD specializing in the low FODMAP diet to help you with the low FODMAP diet's elimination, reintroduction, and maintenance phases.
While the low FODMAP diet may not be recommended for everyone, an RD can help determine if this plan is right for you.
Do you need a dietitian for a low FODMAP diet?
Yes, it is crucial to work with a dietitian when following a low FODMAP diet to ensure that you follow the diet safely, achieve optimal results, get adequate nutrition during the intervention and address any potential deficiencies for long-term health.
Suppose the dietitian believes that following a low FODMAP diet is your best course of action. In that case, they will also guide how to get started and provide dietary recommendations based on your personal preferences to make the process easier.
Suppose you already have other dietary restrictions, such as a gluten-free diet. In that case, the dietitian may recommend a less-restrictive version of the low FODMAP diet, commonly referred to as a "FODMAP‐gentle" diet.
It is important to note that following the low FODMAP diet is not a one-size-fits-all approach and individualized guidance from a dietitian nutritionist is essential for successful symptom management.
A trained dietitian can also help minimize IBS symptoms with lifestyle changes such as eating smaller, more frequent meals instead of large ones. As well as noticing carbonated beverages
Can IBS cause nutrient deficiency?
Yes, Irritable Bowel Syndrome can cause nutrient deficiencies due to nutrients being poorly absorbed in the small intestine.
Common nutrients that may be deficient include iron, vitamin B12, calcium, and magnesium. Additionally, inadequate intake of essential fatty acids can lead to malnutrition in those with IBS.
To get proper testing and treatment, it is crucial to speak with a doctor or dietitian if you suspect you may be experiencing any nutrient deficiencies.
Additionally, following a well-balanced diet rich in essential nutrients, including lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and plenty of fruits and vegetables can help ensure adequate nutrient intake.
Healthy fats such as avocado, nuts, and seeds are an important source of essential fatty acids and can help reduce inflammation. And dietary fiber from fruits, vegetables, and legumes helps to bulk up stools and keep them moving through the digestive tract. Working with registered dietitians can ensure that you get enough nutrients while managing your IBS symptoms.
Getting adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals such as B12, calcium, iron, and magnesium from your diet is also essential. Supplements may also be necessary for those with IBS who cannot meet their nutritional needs through diet alone.
What's the difference between an IBS Nutritionist, GI Registered Dietitian (RD), and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)?
A nutritionist helps individuals develop an eating plan tailored to their needs and goals. Additionally, a nutritionist can provide advice on lifestyle changes that can help improve the symptoms associated with IBS. The title of nutritionist is not protected, so anyone can call themselves a nutritionist without proper training. Therefore, a nutritionist's services are never reimbursable by insurance, as they're not a recognized healthcare profession.
A GI Registered Dietitian (RD) is a healthcare professional specializing in diagnosing, treating, and preventing digestive health disorders. They may provide medical nutrition therapy (MNT) for people with IBS and other gastrointestinal issues such as heartburn and ulcers.
Additionally, they are knowledgeable about food allergies and sensitivities and nutrition-related conditions. IBS patients may receive reimbursement for telehealth services rendered by RD's with a referral after medical diagnosis by a medical doctor (MD).
A Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) is a healthcare professional who specializes in the science of food, nutrition, and dietetics. They may provide medical nutrition therapy (MNT) for people with IBS and other digestive and nutritional health disorders.
RDNs also provide counseling, education, and support to help individuals make lasting changes to their diet and lifestyle. Patients with IBS may be reimbursed for telehealth services rendered by a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RD) with a referral from a medical doctor (MD).
Overall, Registered Dietitians (RD)s and Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDN) specializing in gastrointestinal disorders all have the required knowledge of food, nutrition, and dietetics that can help individuals manage their IBS symptoms.
Speaking with your healthcare provider about which health professional may be best for you is essential.
You can browse a list of specialized IBS dietitians, that're vetted and experienced in gastrointestinal symptoms, here.
How do I choose a dietitian?
When choosing a dietitian, it is important to consider factors such as experience, qualifications, and specialties. Look for someone with experience with IBS patients and the appropriate credentials (e.g., RD or RDN).
Additionally, ensure your dietitian understands your individual needs and goals and can provide evidence-based advice and support. This can be done through a few questions, such as:
- What experience do you have with IBS?
- How many IBS patients have you worked with?
- What are your professional credentials?
- Can you provide me with references from past clients or peers?
Finally, finding a dietitian, you feel comfortable with is important. This is the individual who will be guiding you through your journey to better health, so it is crucial that you feel like you are someone who understands and respects your individual needs and goals.
At Nutrive, all dietitians are credentialed and experienced in working with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and other digestive conditions. You can learn more about providers on their profiles, and most dietitians offer free discovery calls.
How to pay with my insurance for a dietitian?
Many insurance providers cover medical nutrition therapy (MNT) for services provided by RDs and RDNs. You will need to check with your insurance provider to find out if your insurance covers MNT.
If your insurance does cover MNT, you will need to obtain a referral from your medical doctor (MD) before you can be reimbursed for the services of an RD or RDN.
If your insurance does not cover MNT, there are other options. Some dietitians may offer discounts, flexible payment plans, or sliding scale fees for those who are not able to use insurance, as well as accept out-of-network payments.
Additionally, some employers offer reimbursement programs for nutrition services. It is always worth checking with your employer to see if they offer such a program.
Finally, if you have any questions about coverage or payment options for medical nutrition therapy services, please feel free to reach out to us. We are here to help and match you with a dietitian covered by your insurance.
Dietitians personalize treatment and improve outcomes.
With the proper support, understanding, and guidance, IBS symptoms can become manageable. And working with an RD or RDN can be an integral part of successful symptom management during and after the low FODMAP diet to prevent flare-ups.
An RD or RDN can develop an individualized treatment plan based on your specific needs and preferences while providing counseling, education, meal planning, and support to help you make lasting changes.
By working with an RD or RDN, patients can feel empowered to take control of their health journey and improve their overall well-being.
It's also helpful to remember that you are not alone in this journey. Many people are affected by IBS. Destigmatizing your condition to friends and family and connecting with others who understand your experience can make you feel less lonely.
Take care of yourself as best you can and with dedication and resilience, living with IBS can become more manageable.
If you're interested in finding a dietitian but don't know where to start - We are here to help and match you with a provider covered by your insurance!