Patient's Dietary Beliefs and Behaviours in Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Dig Dis. 2019;37(2):131-139. doi: 10.1159/000494022. Epub 2018 Nov 2.


Background: The inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic lifelong inflammation that may affect the entire gastro-intestinal tract in Crohn's disease and the colon in ulcerative colitis (UC). Diet plays an important role in IBD patients and many of them follow strict diet restriction in order to reduce complaints and prolong remission intervals. The aim of this study was to assess dietary beliefs, dietary behaviour and nutrition knowledge in Dutch adults with IBD to enable considering the patient's perspective on dietary advice.

Methods: A self-administered online questionnaire assessing general characteristics, dietary beliefs and behaviour, nutrition knowledge and sources and dietary advice was devised. The questionnaire was distributed to members of the Dutch Crohn and UC patient association of whom 294 participated in the study.

Results: Fifty-nine per cent of the patients valued nutrition to be either more or equally important compared to medication for their treatment and 62% believed diet to be more important in influencing the disease course. Sixty-two per cent reported to be successful in controlling disease symptoms through dietary adaptations. Avoiding certain foods was preferred over eating more beneficial foods or following specific diets (77 vs. 57% and 48% respectively). Dietary supplements were used by 68% of the IBD patients. Although over 71% had received dietary advice mainly by dieticians, 81% stated that the main source of their nutritional knowledge related to IBD was their own experience.

Conclusion: A subgroup of IBD patients considered diet to be a more important and successful managing tool than medication to relieve their disease symptoms.

Keywords: Crohn’s disease; Inflammatory bowel disease; Nutrition; Patient’s perspective; Ulcerative colitis.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Behavior*
  • Culture*
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Surveys and Questionnaires