There are several important points to consider before beginning this journey:

  1. The goal of nutritional therapy is remission and healing, not being med-free. The greatest threat posed by IBD is not related to the risk factors and side effects associated with pharmaceuticals, but rather the damage that can occur if the disease is allowed to go unchecked. Nutritional therapy is just one tool in your arsenal, and you need to decide with your physician which tool or combination of tools will best manage your disease. Adding medications to nutritional therapy is not a failure; adjustments are simply part of the normal process to attain remission.

  2. Resolution of symptoms is not always indicative of reduced inflammation or mucosal healing. Nutritional therapy should be administered under the supervision of a qualified medical health care provider familiar with your medical history, and should be monitored using the same tools and evaluation standards as pharmaceutical therapy: bloodwork, fecal calprotectin, and endoscopy.

  3. Nutritional therapy is a significant undertaking that involves commitment, sacrifice, and persistence. It is not easy. It is not a quick fix. It is not right for everyone and it is okay if it is not right for you. Therapeutic diets require a significant time commitment and can be demanding financially, emotionally, and socially. However, choosing a healthy lifestyle focused around a well-balanced diet of whole foods has benefits beyond managing this disease. Preparing your own food can be a rewarding experience of mastering new culinary skills and discovering different cuisines with a variety of herbs and spices, broadening your palate and providing a greater appreciation of food as a source of both enjoyment and nourishment. Many have found the use of a therapeutic diet to be very empowering, as it provides the opportunity to play an active role in managing disease. With the guidance of your medical team, consider the pros and cons, and then choose the therapy or combination of therapies that is the best fit for your health and your life situation.

  4. Nutritional therapy is healthy when it is balanced and nutritionally complete. Consulting a dietitian can help ensure that your diet is well balanced, incurring very few medical risks associated with its use. Although these diets are often termed exclusion diets because they restrict certain elements, they work best by embracing the great diversity of healthy whole foods that are included, with emphasis on fruits and vegetables. When disease is active, many foods may not be tolerated initially, requiring slower introductory phases. If you are unable to advance to the broader diet, your current management plan may not be adequately controlling disease and should be re-evaluated with your physician and/or dietitian, even in the absence of symptoms.

  5. *** Do not take medical advice from the Internet. *** The links to resources are meant to provide support for the lifestyle change involved when adopting nutritional therapy and are not intended to provide medical advice. Always consult your medical team before modifying your therapy. Links are provided to sources that many have found helpful; however, the personal views of those behind the websites, blogs, and forums are their own and not necessarily the views of NTforIBD or your physician.