Interview with Vanessa Hummel, APD, IBS Dietitian
Hi, please tell us about yourself and practice.
Hi, I’m Vanessa Hummel an Australian-based IBS and FODMAP expert Accredited Practising Dietitian and Accredited Nutritionist.
I help women who are diagnosed with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) eliminate bloating, constipation and diarrhoea so they can live their lives again.
I’ve been in the nutrition industry for 10 years, first as a nutritionist, and then went on to become an Accredited Practising Dietitian.
I’m a virtual dietitian and I’m so passionate about IBS because I struggled with it for years. I struggled with painful bloating, stomach pain and alternating constipation and diarrhoea.
When I first started getting these symptoms 20 years ago, I was just like my clients and felt confused and overwhelmed because I had no idea what I should be doing to improve my symptoms or where to even get started.
After almost 10 years of what seemed like endless tests, that all came back normal, I was finally referred to a dietitian and that’s when my life changed. This is actually what inspired me to become an IBS dietitian, so I could help other women with IBS who feel confused and overwhelmed to overcome their symptoms.
I have been diagnosed with IBS, GERD, endometriosis, fibromyalgia, non-coeliac gluten sensitivity & food intolerances to dairy, soy & natural food chemicals, which never would have happened if I had not have worked with a dietitian.
You specialize in digestive health & nutrition, what are some of the common myths around this?
The most common ones I see are that people have to eliminate gluten and dairy to improve their gut symptoms and decrease inflammation.
This just isn’t true. The only time these need to be avoided are if you have a food allergy or coeliac disease. They also do not cause inflammation, unless you have either of those conditions.
With IBS what we find is that it’s actually the carbohydrates, or, sugars, in foods that also have gluten and dairy that cause symptoms. These are mainly lactose and fructans.
A lot of gluten free foods can still also be high in carbohydrates called FODMAPs, which is one of the reasons that I see a lot of my clients still getting symptoms, even though they have cut gluten and dairy from their diet.
What do you think the most common mistake people make when trying to treat their digestive issues?
The most common mistake I see people make is cutting foods randomly from their diet, which is often due to results from food intolerance tests. This causes them to have really restrictive diets and remove foods unnecessarily.
What people often don’t realise, is that there are actually no tests that can be done to diagnose food intolerances, except for a lactose breath test. The gold standard is to follow an elimination diet to identify the specific foods that cause symptoms.
Restrictive diets remove a lot of really important nutrients for gut health, particularly fibre which helps to feed your gut microbes.
This can then increase symptoms such as bloating, constipation or diarrhoea, independent of IBS and cause inflammation within the gut. It can also have a negative effect on mood, concentration and sleep.
What tips would you give someone to manage digestive issues?
Some of my tips are:
- Make sure not to cut foods out unless it’s absolutely necessary.
- Don’t search “Dr. Google” unfortunately there is so much misinformation available online.
- Focus on adding diversity to your diet my making sure you are eating plenty of prebiotic rich foods such as fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, nuts and seeds.
- If you are struggling with managing your symptoms get the support of an Accredited Practising Dietitian or Registered Dietitian that specialises in the area, such as myself. I show my clients step by step how relieve their symptoms, so they don’t feel stressed or overwhelmed.
Before someone goes to see you, do they need to do any preparatory work, e.g. complete a food & symptom diary?
No, I like to keep things nice and easy for my clients and we have a really in-depth chat during their first coaching session.
While a food and symptom diary can be helpful, I find it can cause a lot of stress and anxiety, particularly if you don’t know what you are looking for and this can actually increase symptoms too.
What is one of your favorite gut friendly recipes?
That’s a tough one because I have so many! But one of favourites is my low FODMAP banana & strawberry smoothie. It’s not only easy, but super nutritious, and of course gut friendly with probiotics and prebiotics.
The recipe is available on my blog at https://vanessahummel.home.blog/2019/09/25/gut-lovin-banana-strawberry-smoothie/
Where can people find you?
People can find me mostly on Instagram @ibs.relief.dietitian
- Website: www.vanessahummel.com
- Instagram: @ibs.relief.dietitian : https://www.instagram.com/ibs.relief.dietitian
- Facebook: @ibs.dietitian.australia : https://www.facebook.com/ibs.dietitian.australia