Wednesday, January 15, 2014


So you have IC and are reading everything you can about it and one of the top things recommended as self-care is to make a diet modification. But where do you find out what you should do and what to eat?

If you are active on all the IC social media sites, you have quickly discovered about million different opinions about what you should do diet-wise to help your IC. It is a controversial topic but if you stop and take a moment, you will realize the reason for all the controversy. No two IC patients are alike and just as with all IC treatments, no two IC patients respond the same way to anything.

When I attend my Local Support Group meetings, we go around the room and ask each person to talk a little about their IC, where they are, what treatments they are following, diet etc. No two people in the room are doing the same thing. That's because no two things work for each of us. 

While much more is understood than ever before about IC and the effect diet has on helping improve our symptoms, it is still something we need to understand much more about. Thus, you will often see arguments erupt online over what people "should" be doing with their diet. People swearing they've found the diet that works and that everyone should follow because it works for them.

As far as diet is concerned, recently the American Urological Association (AUA) and the chronic pelvic pain practice bulletin of the American College of Obstetrical Gynecology (ACOG) noted that there is little research on how diet affects the IC population.  As a result, the recommended IC Diet is just that, a recommendation. Everyone is different and you must do the work and do a total elimination diet and then slowly work to figure out what your personal trigger foods are.  The food list is meant to be used as a GUIDE, a place to start. Some people can tolerate foods on the “Caution” list while others can’t eat foods on the “Bladder Friendly” list. We are all different and we each need to figure out what foods work for us. Some have found going gluten free helps them a lot, while for others it doesn’t matter at all if they have gluten products, but following the basic diet helps a lot. 

I have seen so much controversy over diet online recently and this is totally unnecessary. There are many options regarding what diet to try. Many different diet modifications that work for some, while other changes work for others.

Here's the thing. There is no one, perfect solution. But there ARE modifications that can help. We just have to be willing to do the work to find the one that works for us. 

I am not taking a stand on a particular Diet. I will leave that to each individual to figure out for themselves. But what I do encourage every IC patient to do - get educated. READ all you can about Diet changes that are recommended. If someone has found something that works for them and you wish to try it, do so but with caution and research before you do so.

Doing an elimination diet is difficult but generally proves important and worthwhile to most IC patients. Eliminating a lot of the foods that are traditionally known to be bothersome is a good starting place. Do your research. Once you've done the elimination diet, if you notice improvement in your symptoms, then you can VERY SLOWLY begin to try foods, one at a time, to see if they are a trigger for you. This takes time, patience, dedication and a real commitment to figuring out your personal trigger foods.

If you are looking for a place to START your Diet journey, the ICA is the best place to go for information and resources. Here are several links to the ICA website on Diet.

Go to these links and even on each of these pages are additional links. Drill down and read everything you can on what the ICA provides regarding diet modification.

Here's a link to a brief interview with Barbara Shorter,EdD, RD, CDN with some excellent information on IC & Diet.

As I mentioned, there are plenty of other diet recommendations to be found if you participate in any of the many IC social media sites. It is a controversial topic, but it doesn't have to be. Do the work, put in the effort, do your research and find what works for YOU! There are IC Cookbooks available online as well.

There isn't an easy answer but there is help and good information available on how to change your diet to help your IC. Proceed slowly, use caution, do your research and you just may find one of the healthiest ways we have to manage our IC symptoms!

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