Are you IBD friendly? Three essential thoughts for cafes / restaurants

Susie commented that she would like some tips to pass on to the management team at her place of work about how they can make their place a little more  Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) friendly. Most of the following are common sense and generally good business sense, but it can helpful to review these issues every so often to make sure standards have not slipped:

  1. Toilets – A clean, well stocked toilet facility is all that is required. More than one stall in both male and female bathrooms is a must. People with (IBD), constipation and other health problems can be on the loo for quite some time. Most people hate it when there is no toilet paper, but because people with IBD often have diarrhea, they really hate the sinking feeling of realising that there is no TP after they’ve completed business…. Soap, towels or air dryers are essential as well for hand hygiene. If you have the luxury of designing a facility, toilets that can have an opening window light in them will enable any smells to dissipate quickly. Failing a window light, a good quality extraction system will help prevent any odour issues.
  2. Food – People with IBD love to eat out just as much as people without IBD. There are some high fibre / high residue foods which seem to be universally problematic for people with IBD. Please do note that this is not about fussy eating and perhaps a little bloating. These foods can cause severe pain as they are too fibrous to pass through the inflamed and narrow parts of the bowel, they literally scrape past sore parts and cause further damage. In some cases, such foods can actually cause a bowel blockage which inevitably means that the person has to go to hospital for emergency surgery. The biggest culprits are mushrooms, sweetcorn and nuts. People with IBD usually know what food they need to avoid during a flare up of symptoms and if you can be a little bit flexible with your dishes that can be really helpful. For example, swapping the mushrooms for aubergine or the sweetcorn for rice.
  3. The ‘Unexpected‘ – People with an IBD may unexpectedly and urgently leave their table and disappear for several minutes. They haven’t scampered without paying the bill, they have just gone to the toilet. They may leave some or almost all the food you prepared for them. This is because they may have an appetite for the food, but not be able to eat a large quantity. They may ask for a child’s or small portion. Sometimes they may return something containing very rare or uncooked meat / fish, blue cheese or the high fibre foods described above.

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