How The Programme Works

HGG is an online 12-week self-care guide, which aims to prepare, educate and arm you with tools to help you to understand and manage your irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

We’ll start off by getting you up to speed with the nitty gritty - what IBS is and your IBS subtype, so you can better understand which changes will help you the most.

We’ll also be encouraging you to get to know your poo type and symptoms, so you can track how these change throughout the programme.

From week one we’ll dive into different topics like eating habits, food intolerances, fibre, stress and exercise, so you can learn more about how these affect trigger IBS symptoms.

At the end of each week we’ll ask you to choose which action steps you’re going to make - this is the important part! We’ll be asking you to commit to making some lifestyle changes which might not be easy - but we’re here to support and guide you.

Alongside the weekly lessons, you’ll have access to a library of recipes (which include meat and fish, vegetarian and vegan meals). The recipes are designed to give you a healthy balance, whilst limiting some of the foods we know can aggravate symptoms.

As you move through the programme, you’ll also have the option to create your own meal plan using the recipe library and our clever meal planner tool.

Learn what works for you

At regular points during the programme, you’ll get a chance to review your symptoms, and see what’s changed. And, at each review point, we’ll talk about next steps - including whether you might benefit from trying a diet low in fermentable carbohydrates (aka FODMAPs - more about these later!). We’ll help you decide whether a low FODMAP plan may be right for you, or, if your symptoms are feeling manageable at this point, we’ll get you to continue on your journey of weekly lessons. During the final four weeks, you will enter the final phase. This is where you will get a clear idea of your triggers, simply what doesn’t agree with your tummy, and how to keep your symptoms under control. Lastly, week 12 is your send off, this is where we will ensure you are ready to continue on your journey towards a happier gut!

It’s Flexible!

This is an entirely self-paced course - so you can work through the weeks at your own pace. If you need to repeat a week or spend a bit longer on a topic, no problem!

At the end of each week, you’ll find space in the HGG workbook to write down the action steps which will be most meaningful changes for your symptoms. There’s also space for your thoughts and reflections on the week - this is a really helpful way to look back on your journey and learn about what’s working for you.



Before you start...

“It’s really important that you’ve been to see your G.P. (doctor) and have had a diagnosis of IBS before you start this programme. Although it is tempting to self-diagnose, the symptoms of IBS (which include bloating, tummy pain and a change in your poo) are the same as those we see in conditions like coeliac disease and inflammatory bowel disease. If these go undiagnosed, they can lead to more serious health problems, so it’s important to make sure you’re starting with the right diagnosis. A visit to your G.P. will help get you on the right path to managing your symptoms. You will most likely be sent for a blood test, which will help your doctor to determine whether your symptoms are down to IBS. They will ask some questions about your symptoms and poo habits, and how long these have been going on. I know it might feel embarrassing to discuss these symptoms with your G.P., but I promise they’ve heard it all before. If you don’t know where to start, you might it helpful to take a symptom diary with you, to help describe what you’ve been experiencing."
Laura

Who is this programme for?

  • You have been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome
  • You are ready to make some lifestyle changes to help manage your symptoms
  • You have been advised to change your diet, but have no access to a dietitian
  • You are confused about IBS and want some support!

Please note, this programme is not suitable if..

  • You have not visited your G.P. to discuss your gut symptoms
  • You are underweight, or have lost more than 10% of your body weight in the last 6 months
  • You have or have previously had an eating disorder

Did you know?

15% of the world’s population (1 in 7 people) is affected by IBS

So what is IBS?

You can have IBS for years and never know. I had it for a long while but always dismissed it as some sort of stomach cramps, until they began to become regular and eventually it became the norm. At the time, little was known about IBS and it’s symptoms which made it harder to talk about and for people to realise it needs to be dealt with. Thanks to technology, intelligent researchers and people speaking up, we now know that this is not something you have to put up with and IBS is now considered a serious condition”.

Madeleine

Irritable bowel syndrome can be described as a group of symptoms (syndrome), which mostly come from the bowel (the large intestine). Importantly, none of the gut shows any signs of disease in IBS (this is a positive thing!) but the way in which the gut functions is altered. Remember that the gut is a muscular tube, which contracts and relaxes in waves, in order to push food through the digestive system.

In IBS, the motility (movement) of the gut changes, causing symptoms and changes in bowel movements (pooing!).

If the motility is sped up (the contractions get faster), you can experience symptoms like diarrhoea and needing to empty your bowels urgently, as food and liquids move through your digestive system faster than normal. If motility slows down (fewer contractions), you can experience constipation and bloating.

To say the bowel is irritated is quite a good description as it can feel like that - but it doesn’t really cover exactly what’s going on. More recently IBS has been renamed a functional gut syndrome, which is more helpful, as is describes a gut which is functioning differently to normal, which is exactly right!

So just remember - in IBS, there’s no disease, but gut is functioning differently to normal, causing symptoms like bloating and tummy pain.

IBS is NOT

It may also help by mentioning that IBS is not:
  • an anatomical or structural problem (the gut ‘looks’ normal’ and there is no disease present in IBS)
  • a physical or chemical disorder
  • something made up in your head
Something important to note is that IBS is not simply caused by food. However, food can be a trigger for many people with IBS - in fact studies show that nine out of 10 people with IBS feel that food aggravates their symptoms. We are all individual though, and what may be a trigger for one person, may be fine for someone else.
“At one visit the doctor actually made me cry as he made me feel a little silly. It was another year after that visit until I went back to see another doctor who was more understanding and actually diagnosed me.”
Charlotte P

Commonly Missed Symptoms of IBS

IBS is a invisible condition (it’s not one we can’t see under a microscope!), and it’s rarely talked about, which is surprising given that it is so common - affecting up to 1 in 5 people at some point in their lives.

IBS can affect people of all ages, but it’s most common in people aged 20-30, and is twice as common in women as men. However we are also seeing it affect more people in their later life.

As symptoms fluctuate it can mean that we don’t get diagnosed, as we may easily dismiss the symptoms as a problem tummy that we just learn to put up with. Another reason is that IBS leads to confusion is because there are some less obvious symptoms of the condition. These include:

  • Lack of energy, fatigue and tiredness
  • Backache
  • Feeling sick
  • Bladder problems
  • Pain during sex

When We Asked IBS Sufferers..

1/3 said that lack of energy was the most challenging thing about having IBS

Q: I’ve been diagnosed with IBS and feel so confused, what now?

We know that a diagnosis of IBS can feel a bit like a nothing-y conclusion - something you get told when the doctors have ruled out everything else that could be wrong - and that can feel very frustrating. However, we want to encourage you to think of your diagnosis as a positive sign - as it means you can now move forward with learning to take control of your symptoms.

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