Ursula philpot consultant dietitian with Insighteating has undertaken research into diet therapy for chronic pain which is common in a range of autoimmune, psychological, and functional health problems.
Chronic pain is complex and underpinned by biosocial factors including cognitive, inflammatory, social and emotional drivers. Diet can be helpful as part of a holistic whole person approach to treatment. Mediterranean diet alongside supplementation of key nutrients has been effective in reducing chronic pian, but the big challenge for HCP’S is in getting patients in chronic pain, with limited finances and high levels of fatigue to manage the necessary diet changes.
Ursula’s research has explored patients beliefs around diet therapy for chronic pian. A number of themes emerged including a lack of access to HCP’s who understand chronic pain, managing concurrent weight gain, disordered eating and gastrointestinal problems, and viewing change in diet as something that might be difficult and impact their enjoyment of eating. The role of food and eating for comfort , excitement and to alleviate boredom all play a role.
Diet therapy for chronic pain should consider all these themes and ensure a highly individualised approach by dietitians who are able to adapt around these challenges and support individuals with making changes that include addressing disordered eating and gastrointestinal problems.