Talking to Loved Ones About IBS or GERDPublished on Friday, February 10, 2023 by
Talking to a loved one about IBS can be a difficult conversation, especially if you feel like your condition is not seen or understood.
One way to approach the conversation is through education. Often, we don’t know what we don’t know. Start by providing some basic information about IBS & GERD, such as its symptoms and potential triggers. This can help your loved one understand the condition better.
Awareness is Key
It can also be helpful to explain to your loved ones why you need their support. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is not an uncommon condition, affecting about 10-15% of the population worldwide. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) affects about 20% of the U.S. population.
Sharing basic knowledge of the variety of symptoms, including stomach pain, bloating, diarrhea or constipation from IBS, or reflux and heartburn from GERD is a good place to start. This can enlighten your loved ones, allowing them to better understand what you are experiencing. Also, keeping them in the loop of changes you will need to make can go a long way in preventing misunderstandings or awkward situations. Maybe you can even share some new recipes and learn together.
“Awareness is the first step towards change.” ~ Unknown
Five Ways to Understanding & Support
Remember that you have a community and resources right here with Foodguides. Share this site with them! Unfortunately, many people with IBS & GERD feel as if their condition is not taken seriously by their loved ones, or that they are not being seen or understood.
If this is you, you can do a few things to help them understand and support you better.
- Educate them about the condition: One of the most important things you can do is to educate your loved ones about IBS and what it entails. Explain the symptoms you experience and how they affect your daily life. Share information from reputable sources, such as the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) and Food Guides, so they can learn more about the condition.
- Communicate your needs: It's important to let your loved ones know how they can help you when you are experiencing IBS symptoms. For example, you may need them to be more understanding and patient if you need to cancel plans or leave early because of your condition.
- Be honest and open: Share with your loved ones how you are feeling and the impact that IBS has on your life. Let them know that you need their support and understanding.
- Encourage empathy: Encourage your loved ones to put themselves in your shoes and imagine what it would be like to live with IBS. This can help them understand the challenges you face and be more supportive.
- Seek professional help: Consider seeing a therapist, counselor, or coach, who can help you work through the emotional and psychological aspects of living with IBS/GERD. They can also help you communicate better with your loved ones and improve relationships.
Take Care of Yourself
It's important to remember that living with IBS/GERD can be difficult, and it's not uncommon to feel unseen or misunderstood by loved ones. However, with education, communication, and empathy, you can help them understand and support you better. Having them in your corner can feel like a burden is lifted and that you are not in this alone. Remember to take care of yourself, both physically and emotionally, and seek professional help if needed.
I see you, and YOU are beautiful!
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2019). Definition & Facts for Ger & Gerd. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Retrieved January 26, 2023, from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/acid-reflux-ger-gerd-adults/definition-facts
- Facts About IBS - About IBS. (2022, April 29). International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders. Retrieved January 26, 2023, from https://aboutibs.org/what-is-ibs/facts-about-ibs/
Deanna Salles-FreemanLife & Health Coach