How to manage gut health at work
by Colm O'Sullivan, on 09/04/21 15:33
New research by a leading gut health charity and PrecisionBiotics reveals 87% of people suffering from poor gut health feel their employers are neither knowledgeable understanding about their symptoms. While 72% have to take up to 5 days off work every year as a result of their digestive issues. If you’re feeling anxious about getting back into the workplace, leading gastroenterologist Dr Simon Smale provides practical advice on how you can manage your gut health at work – wherever your work may be.
“Managing digestive issues in a work environment can be very challenging,” says Dr Smale. “Stress, eating on the run, not having control over your routine, or access to your normal foods, or not having access to a toilet when you have urgency can be a big challenge.”
So how can you best manage your gut health in the workplace?
Dr Smale recommends starting with the basics and the things you can control. So:
- prepare your own gut-friendly food and snacks,
- avoid missing meals (rather than avoiding symptoms it can often make them worse),
- manage your symptoms outside of work as best you can, and
- articulate your challenges to your boss (and explore your legal right to flexibility, where appropriate) .
But what if you’ve done all that and you’re still struggling? “There may be some workplace changes it’s not possible to make, or your boss may not be accommodating,” he says. “Psychological support can often make a big difference here.” A psychologist may be able to help you manage a stressful workload, for example, or build the self-esteem necessary to better advocate for yourself. They may also be able to help you manage the fear of symptoms “Sometimes the fear of having urgency, for example, can be more significant than the urgency itself,” he says. “Ask your GP for a referral to a psychologist or therapist with an interest in gut health. You could also try the Zemedy app, which uses CBT techniques and NHS recognised protocols.”