Weight Fluctuations and Inflammatory Bowel Disease

by Jennifer Mitchell Wilson B.S. Dietetics, Dietitian, Health Professional

Weight fluctuations are very common in patients with IBD.

This can be very frustrating for patients in a society that is so weight conscious.
In this blog we will discuss some of the reasons for weight fluctuations and how to minimize those swings as best possible.

One reason for weight fluctuation in IBD patients is due to the inability to eat normally, especially in times of flare ups.
This can cause patients to loose a significant amount of weight.
It can be helpful to compile a list of foods that are "safe" during flare ups and either have them on hand or have someone who can get them for the patient when they are too sick to do so themselves.

The body needs adequate nutrition to fight the injury and inflammation of IBD.
Patients should always try to stick to a healthy eating plan even when they don't want to eat.
Nutrient dense foods like fatty fish, peanut butter or tapioca pudding can help provide nutrients during flares.
Other safe foods might include: bananas, rice, applesauce or toast.
Most patients know which foods work for them and which don't.
Please remember to hydrate
Water or electrolyte drinks can be essential when diarrhea is a problem.

Some of the medications used to treat IBD can cause weight fluctuations.
For example, steroids can often cause weight gain in patients.
While it can be very frustrating to gain weight on a medication do not stop taking it unless your doctor has directed you to do so.
The issue can be minimized by maintaining healthy eating and moderate exercise as directed by your physician.
Hydrating properly can help to flush out some of the swelling that steroids can cause.

When you have a disease that can cause such weight fluctuations it can become quite a pet peeve to have people comment on your weight.
It is helpful to come up with something to say ahead of time to respond to those types of comments.

Remember, your health is more important than the number on the scale!
If you continue to have huge problems with weight fluctuations please speak with your physician or get a referral to a dietitian.
They may be able to better help you identify the cause and remedy the issue.

Jennifer Mitchell Wilson
Meet Our Writer
Jennifer Mitchell Wilson

Jennifer Mitchell Wilson is a dietitian and mother of three girls. Two of her children have dealt with acid reflux disease, food allergies, migraines, and asthma. She has a Bachelor of Science in dietetics from Harding University and has done graduate work in public health and nutrition through Eastern Kentucky University. In addition to writing for HealthCentral, she does patient consults and serves on the Board of Directors for the Pediatric Adolescent Gastroesophageal Reflux Association.