Do You have Celiac Disease and Suffer from IBS?


Woman Stomach Ache

Last month was Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) awareness month and this month is Celiac awareness month. Since so many celiacs (myself included) have suffered from or suffer from IBS, I thought now would be a fitting time to write this.

North America has very high rates of IBS—a chronic gastrointestinal (GI) disorder involving motility problems (how things move in our intestines) and sensitivities to what’s going on there (ouch)!

In terms of symptoms, abdominal pain and painful bowel movements that are often irregular (constipation and/or diarrhea) are common. Gas, bloat, cramps and nausea are also common symptoms. These symptoms are usually chronic as they can come and go for months or even years.

In terms of diet, experts propose the best way to manage the uncomfortable and often painful symptoms of IBS is to follow one that is absent of junk foods, soda pop, low in caffeine, high in fibre and low in fat (not heart-healthy fats like omega 3’s though). You should try eliminating foods that cause you discomfort. The foundation also suggests you understand what FODMAPs are (small carbohydrate (sugar) molecules found in everyday foods) and avoid them as necessary as they can cause uncomfortable symptoms in those with IBS. Keeping a food journal can help you understand what foods are causing some of your symptoms.

I too have suffered from IBS in the past as a result of celiac disease. According to my gastroenterologist, diet is imperative for overall health. She said we need to start cooking our own food using whole food ingredients and stop relying on the packaged, processed, synthetic-filled “garbage” that’s making us sick. She’s a fan of eliminating gluten-containing grains and additional grains for those with digestive disorders. She is against dairy consumption and said she can’t understand why consume animal milk! I find it interesting that about half of all celiacs have trouble with dairy.

Of course, lifestyle plays a big role in IBS, as well as most chronic conditions. Make sure you get enough exercise on a regular basis as it aids movement in your colon. Exercise helps promote a better night’s sleep and not getting enough is also linked to IBS. Stress can induce IBS so find ways to best manage day-to-day stress you experience.

In terms of treatment options, there are medications available (ask your doctor) that can help manage the pain and diarrhea associated with IBS. If you suspect you may have IBS, a nutritionist can be extremely helpful in getting your gut back on track through diet and supplements like probiotics, which have been shown to be effective in restoring the integrity of gut bacteria. Also, consult with your health provider to determine what treatment options are best for you.

Lisa Cantkier is a passionate holistic nutritionist and a lifelong celiac who is committed to helping others live well with food allergies/intolerances and special diets. For more information, visit

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