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Medically reviewed This article has been reviewed by one of Sidekick’s medical doctors.

Ask a Health Coach: Expert Advice on Managing Ulcerative Colitis

Living with Ulcerative Colitis (UC) can be a daily challenge, especially given its unpredictable nature, but understanding how to manage it can greatly enhance your quality of life. We sat down with Jonna, a Sidekick health coach, who specializes in gastrointestinal conditions to glean valuable insights into effectively managing UC. Here are the highlights from our conversation.

Hi Jonna! Thank you so much for joining us on Living Well. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Absolutely! I’ve been a health coach specializing in digestive health for over four years. Through my work, I aim to empower individuals to take control of their health by providing them with the tools and knowledge they need to manage their conditions effectively.

Can you explain what ulcerative colitis is?

Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a form of inflammatory bowel disease that primarily affects the colon and rectum. It is characterized by periods of remission interspersed with flare-ups of intense symptoms, such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, and rectal bleeding. Each person’s experience with UC can vary greatly, making personalized management strategies essential. The unpredictability of the condition can be particularly challenging, as symptoms can flare up without warning.

In your experience working as a coach in Sidekick’s UC program, how does ulcerative colitis differ from other inflammatory conditions?

Unlike Crohn’s disease, which can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract and involves different layers of the bowel wall, UC specifically affects only the lining of the colon and rectum. This distinction is crucial in how we approach dietary recommendations and symptom management.

Finding a nutrition plan that works for you is a big part of managing UC. What dietary changes can help manage UC symptoms?

Diet plays a key role in managing UC symptoms. It’s not about a one-size-fits-all diet but understanding how your body reacts to different foods. Keeping a food diary can be incredibly helpful. For example, many find that reducing high-fiber foods during flare-ups decreases symptoms. It’s also beneficial to stay hydrated and limit dairy intake if lactose intolerant.

What effective tips can you offer people living with UC for dealing with flare-ups?

Firstly, it’s important to recognize the early signs of a flare-up, such as increased frequency of bowel movements or abdominal pain. Adjusting your diet temporarily can help manage these symptoms. Moreover, stress management is vital since stress can exacerbate symptoms. Techniques such as mindfulness meditation or gentle yoga can be beneficial.

How important is mental health in managing UC?

Managing UC is as much about mental health as it is about physical health. The chronic nature of UC can lead to anxiety and depression, which in turn can trigger more severe symptoms. Engaging in regular mental health practices, talking to a therapist, or joining a support group can provide significant relief.

Can you share a success story from your experience?

One of my clients, diagnosed with UC several years ago, struggled with frequent flare-ups. By closely monitoring her diet, identifying specific triggers, and incorporating regular mindfulness exercises, she has significantly reduced her flare-ups and now leads a much more comfortable and confident life.

What advice would you give to someone newly diagnosed with UC?

Firstly, understand that UC is a manageable condition, and many people live full, active lives with the right approach. Educate yourself about your condition, work closely with your healthcare providers, and consider consulting a health coach who can provide personalized guidance and support.

If you’re living with Ulcerative Colitis and looking for tailored support, consider joining the Sidekick program. Our dedicated team of health professionals is ready to guide you through each step of your journey with UC, helping you to manage your symptoms and enhance your quality of life. Visit our website to learn more and sign up today: Sidekick Therapeutics.

About the author

Molly Perkins

Editor of Living Well