If your favorite meal leaves you cramping, bloated or feeling gassy, it’s time to have a talk with your doctor as you may have a food intolerance. Let’s face it, food intolerance can have a huge effect on your life. Whether your stomach cannot tolerate dairy or you suffer heartburn after certain meals, having a gastrointestinal condition makes you more aware of the foods being put into your body.
Gastrointestinal conditions may turn your favorite meals into your worst enemies. But they don’t have to stay that way. When you start to notice that certain foods upset your stomach, set up an appointment with your primary care physician to discover what could be causing the problem. By discussing your symptoms and going over your meals with a doctor, you can hopefully prevent future problems.
Don’t know where to start? First, take a look at what you are eating whenever you feel the gastrointestinal symptoms including diarrhea, bloating, gas, heartburn, indigestion or cramping. Once you start to pinpoint which foods cause these issues, you are one step closer to determining whether you have a GI disease or food intolerance. Plus, if you already have an idea of what foods make your stomach and/or intestines throw a fit, it will help your doctor make a more accurate diagnosis the first time around.
It’s easier to begin your journey to recovery if you have a starting line. Research your symptoms and the food you are eating to begin narrowing down your condition. This information will be useful to your primary care physician when you suggest you are having gastrointestinal issues. It will also make the conversation easier, because you already have some talking points to cover.
What are GI Diseases?
A few GI conditions that you might have include IBS, acid reflux disease, and food intolerances such as sucrose intolerance. While you and your doctor may have heard about IBS and acid reflux, sucrose intolerance is a rare GI disease that some physicians may be unfamiliar with. It might seem scary to have this kind of discussion with your doctor, but it’s an important conversation to have.
Just like lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose, sucrose intolerance is a condition where your body cannot digest table sugar (sucrose) and may cause mild to severe gastrointestinal symptoms. This is a big deal as so many foods contain sugar (sucrose). Tell your doctor about the symptoms you’ve been having, how often they are occurring, and what meals they are usually associated with. If you are experiencing diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, changes in weight and similar symptoms, you could have an intolerance to sucrose. To help determine if you have this food intolerance, keep track of the amount of sucrose in your diet and present your findings to your doctor.
Determining a Diagnosis
If you are being treated for IBS but your symptoms still persist, your primary care physician will most likely refer you to a specialist known as a gastroenterologist. If, after meeting with you, the doctor still thinks you may have sucrose intolerance, you may be asked to take some tests, such as an upper gastrointestinal endoscopy with biopsy. There are other tests, like the sucrose hydrogen breath test, that could help your doctor make a proper diagnosis.
Once you have the correct diagnosis, you can begin working on a treatment plan, which sometimes includes a new diet. This diet will be personalized to your needs, so you and your doctor or dietitian will be working together to craft the perfect meal plan. By choosing the right foods, you can fight back against GI diseases and food intolerances. This is where keeping a food log comes in handy. Keeping a journal of the foods you eat after being diagnosed can help track your treatment progress.
The more details you jot down along your food journey, the more accurate your treatment plan can be. This way, you know exactly what foods you can and cannot eat based on your symptoms. This discussion doesn’t stop at the diagnosis. Tell your doctor or dietitian what you eat and what symptoms occur with certain meals so they can alter your diet as necessary. The road may be long, but you and your doctor or dietitian can find a way to create a diet that works best for you.