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Navigating the Emotional Landscape of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD): Coping with Mental and Emotional Burdens through Diet and Lifestyle Changes

Kelsey Cheyne

Kelsey Cheyne

Executive Director, Canadian Digestive Health Foundation


Inflammatory Bowel Disease, comprising of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, not only affects the digestive system but also has implications on one’s mental and emotional well-being.

The unpredictable nature of flare-ups, chronic pain, and the potential for long-term complications can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and stress for some.

While there is no known cure for IBD, a combination of treatment options can help individuals with IBD stay in control of your disease and lead a happy and rewarding life. Treatment for IBD includes the use of medication, alterations in diet and lifestyle, and sometimes surgical procedures.  CDHF outline’s some tips on coping emotionally with IBD below!

Dietary Modifications:

  • Although there is not one special diet for those with IBD, there are several dietary approaches such as the low FODMAP diet or specific carbohydrate diet that may provide improvement in their symptoms of IBD.
  • Consultation with a registered dietitian is important, and can help develop a personalized nutrition plan, considering individual triggers and sensitivities.

Regular Exercise:

  • Engaging in regular, low-impact exercise has been shown to alleviate stress and improve mood. Tailoring exercise routines to individual preferences and physical capabilities ensures a sustainable approach to incorporating physical activity into daily life.

Establishing a Support System:

  • Building a strong support system is crucial for emotional well-being. Friends, family, or support groups can provide understanding, empathy, and encouragement during challenging times.

Mind-Body Techniques:

  • Incorporating mind-body techniques, such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, and yoga into daily routines can contribute to stress reduction. These practices offer moments of calm and reflection, aiding individuals in managing the emotional burdens associated with IBD.
  • Your health care provider may refer you to a psychologist for strategies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), and Acceptance and Commitment Training (ACT).

Visit cdhf.ca for more information.

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