Diet = the food you eat
Nutrition = science of how food and the body affect each other
IBD is due to interaction between genes, environment and your immune system. Westernised culture and developed nations are associated with an increase in IBD. If nutrition is poor, treatments are less likely to work and nutrition is something children and families can act on.
There is no one diet that will help all young patients, but a well-balanced diet containing essential nutrients should be encouraged. Poor diet coupled with inflammation in the bowel can lead to rapid weight loss in a child with Crohn's or colitis.
While they are unwell, children may feel as if they have just eaten a big meal, so they might only want to (or only be able to) eat small amounts of food. If a certain food appears to make a child’s symptoms worse, then it should be taken out of the diet. However, it is not a good idea to make drastic changes to a diet without the supervision of a doctor or dietitian, as avoiding too many foods will lead to further malnutrition.
Chemists sell several drinks that contain all the nutrients that children need. These milkshake-style drinks may help when there is a loss of appetite, but advice should always be sought from a doctor, IBD nurse or dietitian.
Watch Dr Natalia Nedelkopolou, Consultant Paediatric Gastroenterologist, Sheffield Children's Hospital, talk about diet as a treatment option for Crohn's disease.
Watch Ruth Stanley, Paediatric Gastroenterology Dietitian, Great North Children's Hospital, talk about diet and nutrition in IBD.