Purpose: A growing body of scientific evidence supports the role of food and diet in the pathogenesis and management of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). However, little is known about the role of food and diet from the perspectives of pediatric patients and their parents. This study aimed to explore how children and adolescents with IBD and their parents coped with the illness through food and diet in their daily lives.
Methods: We conducted semi-structured interviews with 28 children and adolescents with IBD, 26 parents and one grandparent.
Results: Two major themes, dietary strategies and family food practices, were identified through thematic analysis. There were three types of dietary strategies: food avoidance and moderation; following a specific diet; and healthy eating. For family food practices, two subthemes were identified: impact on grocery shopping, meal planning, and cooking; and maintaining routine and normality.
Conclusions: Our findings have important implications for the clinical care of pediatric IBD. Notably, IBD not only influenced the food practices of the pediatric patients, but also their parents and other family members. Healthcare professionals should consider the family unit when giving nutritional advice or developing nutritional guidelines. Personalized nutritional counselling and ongoing nutritional assessment are also warranted.
Senior Scientist, CHEO Research Institute