Book Review The Complete Idiots Guide to Eating Well with IBS Kate Scarlata RD

This book is a comprehensive guide to eating with irritable bowel syndrome. It is very user-friendly, you can dip in for a quick read or take your time. I liked the summaries at the end of every chapter and the hints and tips are very useful. The book contains lots of recipes all with nutritional breakdown and a gut fact attached to each one! Covering the fact that healthy eating – with foods that are tolerated – is very important.  The foods that can be problematic are covered and Kate does explain, in user-friendly terms, the reasons why these foods can result in symptoms, but also adds that everyone’s symptoms are individual, so it’s advisable to use the advice accordingly. She also explains how to use a food and symptom diary to identify problematic foods, which is extremely useful for those people who are managing their IBS symptoms themselves.

The book is published for the American market, red flag symptoms are discussed, however one area that does differ in the UK is the identification of people with coeliac disease. Please note that everyone (children and adults,) who have IBS should be, or have been, screened by serological testing (blood tests – endomysial antibody (EMA) IgA and/or tissue transglutaminase antibody tTGA) for coeliac disease, in the UK. At the time of the writing of the book, the emphasis on testing IBS patients for coeliac disease was geared more toward those with IBS-D in the US, the author (in her private practice) however, recommends that all of her IBS clients be tested for coeliac prior to altering their diet. These are guidelines from the National Institute of Clinical Health & Excellence (NICE) available here:-

I have seen patients’ whose main symptom of coeliac disease is constipation, so everyone is at risk and should be tested. Ask your GP and eat wheat, barley and rye (bread, pasta, chappatis, some breakfast cereals) before your test, see above guidelines. Read what Coeliac UK have to say here:-

Other differences I noticed was histamine intolerance was mentioned in the book – this is not well recognised in the UK, but it can be identified by your dietitian by using elimination diets and is likely to be covered somewhat in an additives free diet (benzoate additives for example, but substances that promote a histamine response are also found naturally in some fermented foods.) It is also advised for people on certain antidepressants – the MAOI (Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitor) diet, to help people avoid dangerous rises in blood pressure, this diet is rarely seen now in general dietetic practice.

Other food intolerances are also mentioned, it is important to see a state registered dietitian if you suspect you have histamine intolerance as identifying these rare intolerances can be challenging.

This book is certainly worth considering if you want to buy a book to help you manage your IBS symptoms, I particularly liked the chapter on travelling and eating out, often areas where it is difficult to acquire advice. The book also discussed lifestyle factors and other areas outside the area of Low FODMAP foods, which is also included, and as such it should contain advice that can help most people with IBS who feel that their diet, or eating in general is problematic.

This book was provided free of charge by the author.

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I am a state registered dietitian. My speciality is dietary treatment of gut disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome, crohns disease, ulcerative colitis, coeliac disease, lactose & fructose malabsorption and multiple food intolerances. I have had lots of experience in other areas of dietetics and I wished to start this blog to spread the word about evidence based dietary treatments and dispel much of the quackery that is common with these diseases. All information on this site is of a general nature and is based on UK based treatments and guidelines. Please see your healthcare practitioner should you need more country specific information.

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