The Take Control Approach: How Kirsten found a way to manage her IBS symptoms
Updated: May 6
Managing IBS is not an easy task. Juggling work, social life, relationships, hobbies and on top of all that trying to take control over a very sensitive gut is a lot to handle.
Why not ask someone for help? Someone who knows the struggle and can help you figure out what works and what doesn’t work for your unique body.
Kirsten Jackson is an IBS UK consultant dietitian who specialises in helping people with IBS getting to a place where they no longer have food anxiety.
After having Coeliac disease for years before being diagnosed, she had a very disrupted gut and ended up with IBS herself. A few years of struggling later she finally found a way to manage her IBS symptoms through her ‘Take Control approach’.
How do you deal with IBS flare-ups?
I know my IBS really well, which is key to managing and long-term condition. So I know what my symptoms are being caused by immediately (99% of the time stress!). I am then able to just take a double check on my mental health routines of good sleep, meditation and exercise which I have usually neglected if I end up in a flare-up. I also avoid FODMAPs during this time until my gut settles.
Why did you choose to become a dietitian?
I love science and I get a real buzz out of helping people so the 2 elements led me to dietetics.
If you could change one thing about IBS, what would it be?
The fact that there is no cure.
How do you feel about having a sensitive tummy?
I have actually turned this one around in my head to be positive. My tummy tells me when something isn’t right in my lifestyle - nutrition/sleep /mental health or movement. For other people, they may go for years neglecting these elements with no real drive to make changes and this could lead to some real detrimental effects later in life.
What’s your favourite thing about working with people who have IBS?
The change you can make to their life. It isn’t about controlling their symptoms, it’s about what that means to their life ...like being able to go out for dinner or have extra energy to excel in their career. Things that others take for granted.
What are your top 3 tips for someone who struggles with IBS?
1. Work with a dietitian - it is VERY complicated and a dietitian can make it simple for you.
2. Get an accurate diagnosis
3. Don’t skip the basics - like sleep, daily movement and hydration
What do you do to relax after a busy day?
Now that I have a baby this is different every day. Some days I don’t get to relax at all and others I have time for myself so it is about being flexible. For example, on Sundays, I work 8.00 am till 10 pm so I take a ½ day off the next day and go swimming or read. On a more regular day, I read before bed, meditate or go to the gym.
What’s your favourite food?
Chocolate. Ironically I am lactose intolerant but I always say this is the food I would take the hit for! So worth it.
What’s next for you and ‘The IBS Dietitian’?
To write a book on the ‘Take Control approach’.
Where can people connect with you?
Do you feel like you could use some guidance? Don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We can provide all kinds of advice: nutrition, lifestyle, exercise, stress management. Please let us know!