Background: We investigated dietary beliefs and behavior in a large population of adult inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients and evaluated their impact on patients' social life.
Methods: A questionnaire of 14 items was administered to all consecutive IBD patients followed at the Nancy University Hospital Department of Gastroenterology from February to July 2011.
Results: A total of 244 patients participated in the survey; 15.6% (n = 38) of patients believed that diet could initiate the disease, while 57.8% (n = 141) believed that food can play a role in causing a relapse. Forty percent (107/244) of patients identified food as a risk factor for relapse. Seventy-three percent of respondents reported having already received nutritional advice. The majority of respondents (47.5%, n = 116) reported that the disease had changed the pleasure of eating. Only one-quarter of patients had a normal diet in case of relapse. Almost two out of three patients (66.8%, n = 163) reported not eating certain foods they usually like to eat in order to prevent a relapse. Dietary beliefs and behavior had an impact on their social life for one-fifth of patients. Excluding food was associated with refusing outdoor dining for fear of causing relapse (P = 0.006) and not sharing the same menu as the other members of the family living under the same roof (P = 0.002).
Conclusions: The majority of IBD patients are avoiding certain foods. Dietary beliefs and behavior have a strong impact on their social life.