Welcome Kirsten! Please can you introduce yourself and your background?
I am a consultant gastroenterology dietitian and founder of The Food Treatment Clinic. I initially started working in the NHS after I graduated with a degree in dietetics from The University of Hertfordshire in 2012. However, after going through digestive problems myself, which turned out to be coeliac disease, I realised that people like me needed much more support than what was currently available. So I decided to open my own specialist clinic in 2015.
Aside from my clinic work, I also work with the media as an official spokes person to The British Dietetic Association and do charity work as a specialist advisor for The IBS Network.
Can you provide us with a short overview of The Food Treatment Clinic?
The Food Treatment Clinic is an online service which provides highly specialised support for those going through all sorts of digestive problems. All programmes are run by specialist dietitians to provide that intense support that is needed.
When you are having to deal with digestive symptoms every day, you need results quickly. What we found is that one off appointments do not provide clients with what they need. Instead, we provide 3 month online programmes which guide individuals through the process of understanding and controlling their digestive problems. The guidance we provide is unique in this way and incorporates not only nutrition advice but also mental and physical wellbeing – resulting in holistic care that gets real results.
At The Food Treatment Clinic, you run a 30 day online IBS programme – could you tell us more about this and what it involves and the expected outcome?
This is a free online programme that anyone can sign up to. Each week you get sent an email with some activities to carry out. The programme is based on the basic principles of IBS and sometimes this is all someone needs in order to feel better.
In this, we cover: ‘how to get an accurate diagnosis,’ ‘how to monitor your symptoms,’ the psychological impact on gut health’ and ‘how to eat for IBS.’
You specialise in digestive health & nutrition, what are some of the common myths around this?
- You have to ‘put up’ with your symptoms: this is absolutely not true, there is ways to help everyones digestive problem.
- The candida diet: candida is a fungal overgrowth that only occurs in someone with a very low immune system e.g. HIV. And, even if you did have this, only anti-fungal medications would work.
- Sugar causes digestive problems: sugar is actually very easily absorbed and causes no issues. People often associate their symptoms to sugar but it is the other aspects of that food e.g. in cake you have FODMAPs and fat – both of which can cause symptoms.
What do you think the most common mistake people make is when following a low FODMAP diet?
They do not address other areas of digestive health such as fibre, exercise, fluid, stress, anxiety, fat, spices, sleep and caffeine.
What tips would you give someone on the Low FODMAP Diet who is trying to ensure they get the right balance in their diet, particularly when it comes to fibre?
- Try using a tracking app such as MyFitness pal to ensure you meet your 30g/day.
- Spread fibre throughout the day, rather than all at one meal.
- Add nuts and seeds to foods to increase the fibre content.
- Opt for salads, soups and stews – these are naturally high fibre meals.
- Aim for 1/2 plate of vegetables with your evening and lunch meals.
- Increase your fibre intake slowly if it is low.
Before someone goes to see a dietitian, do they need to do any preparatory work, e.g. complete a food & symptom diary?
- Food and Symptom diary – also add in mood, sleeping patterns and type of stool (check out ‘the Bristol Stool Chart).
- Make sure you have a correct diagnosis from your GP, including a coeliac disease screen. If you do not have this done prior to your appointment, you will not be able to start a low FODMAP diet.
What is one of your most favourite Low FODMAP recipes?
My own granola (even if I do say so myself!). I love granola, and most in the shop contain high FODMAP fruit or honey. This one is a fuss free recipe: http://thefoodtreatmentclinic.com/?s=granola
What is your favourite Low FODMAP food which you couldn’t be without?
The green part of a spring onion – you would not believe how many things contain onion. This food really is a life saver!
Some amazing insight there from Kirsten! If you are going to see a dietician and need a Food & Symptom Diary to complete, we sell one on our shop, just click here to view.
If you’d like to get in touch with Kirsten your can:
- Book a free 15 minute phone consultation from her website: thefoodtreatmentclinic.com
- You can also sign up to the free 30 day programme on the website: thefoodtreatmentclinic.com
- Or follow Kirsten on Instagram: @thehealthygutdietitian
We hope you enjoyed reading our interview with Kirsten. Keep an eye out on our blog and social for our next interviews!
Interviewed by Bay Burdett, Founder & CEO of Bay’s Kitchen.
Copyright Bay’s Kitchen. Please do not reprint without permission.