Objective: Gastrointestinal disturbances as a result of changes in eating patterns have been described in eating disorders. Many patients who experience irritable bowel syndrome report changes in eating patterns as a way to cope with their symptoms. Little is known about the consequences of these practices. The aim of this study was to explore whether repeated eating restriction (defined as not eating ≥4 hours while hungry) is associated with motility disturbances.
Methods: Of 17 patients with irritable bowel syndrome, subjects were divided into those who habitually restrict their eating (n = 8) and those without eating restriction (n = 9) (age range 15–21, mean 19.2; 64.7% girls). Whole-gut transit time was measured by radiopaque markers, gastric sensitivity was measured by water load test (drinking max of 800 mL of water in 5 minutes or until full), and gastric dysrhythmias by an electrogastrogram.
Results: Restrictors drank less water (mean 464.4 mL) than nonrestrictors (mean 613 mL; P = 0.02). No difference was found in gastric dysrhythmias (62.5% vs 77.8%; P = 0.5). Whole-gut transit tended to be slower in the restrictors (mean 51.0 hours) than in nonrestrictors (mean 37.5 hours), but this was not significant.
Conclusions: Eating restriction appears to be associated with increased gastric sensation. More data are needed from larger studies to determine whether eating behaviors are associated with other motility disturbances.