Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) impacts 10-15 percent of adults worldwide with symptoms ranging from stomach pain, bloating, and gas to diarrhea, bowel urgency, or constipation. Digestive issues impact different people in different ways. Some patients suffer quietly for years, struggling with what to eat and how to best prevent flare-ups, while others develop a sudden onset of digestive issues, sometimes as a result of other health issues.
Erin struggles with IBS, but that hasn’t always been the case—she has the unique experience of living both with and without a digestive condition. As a Registered Dietitian and the leader of our Care Team, she has an added layer of empathy when it comes to working with people suffering from digestive conditions.
In her unique position as both a member of the GIThrive program and of GIThrive’s Care Team, Erin says she is “hyper-aware of the impact digestive issues play in living a good life.” She believes that “everybody deserves to have a stellar support system and the best evidence as a guide to achieve optimal health”—which is why she not only uses the GIThrive platform for her own health, but has also been working to help people suffering from digestive issues as a member of the GIThrive Care Team since 2018.
In this blog, Erin shares a bit about her background, some insight into what she likes to eat to manage her symptoms, and her perspective on why GIThrive is so special.
Erin was raised in Western Montana and later attended Texas Tech, where she decided to pursue a career as a dietitian: “I loved chemistry and nutrition. I have a tender heart and love helping people find ways to live their best lives.”
Erin later returned to Western Montana to raise her own children. When she isn’t managing the GIThrive Care Team, she can be found hiking, camping, or stand-up paddle boarding with her husband and twin teenage daughters. While Erin and her family are near well-known destinations like Glacier National Park, they prefer adventuring in the “hidden gems that only the locals know about.”
After struggling with chronic appendicitis and a burst appendix, Erin had to learn to manage her own gastrointestinal (GI) condition. Though dealing with GI issues is a struggle, the silver lining for Erin is a more holistic understanding of others’ conditions: “I’m thankful to have experienced both a well functioning digestive system AND a GI condition in my lifetime. I think it gives me a unique perspective for understanding and helping GIThrive Members.”
Erin has experienced both sides of the GIThrive program and attributes Member success to the whole-person nature of GIThrive: “At GIThrive, we have dietitians who are also health coaches. Instead of focusing only on education and providing diet advice, we approach our Members from a holistic perspective. We look at the whole person and learn what makes our Members tick—their lifestyle, family, activities, jobs—and how each of those things impact their health journey. We help our Members form goals that are truly meaningful for them as individuals. I think this is a much more enjoyable process than simply being given a diet prescription with education.”
What Does a Dietitian Eat?
Members benefit from talking about all things food with their Care Team Dietitian. So, what does the expert actually eat every day? Erin sticks to balanced foods she knows she can tolerate and enjoy: “My favorite restaurant is a local build your own bowl restaurant. I’ve tried to branch out, but I end up ordering the same thing every time—half brown rice, half crisp greens, chicken, sweet potatoes, and black beans topped with coconut curry sauce, cilantro, and a lime wedge.” As for snacking? Even dietitians do it: “I couldn’t live without nonfat Greek yogurt. I often have it with fruit—pears and cinnamon or berries with cashews.” Yum!
Whether it’s food, lifestyle, or treatment plans, Erin knows everybody is unique: “Each person is different. Each condition is different. There’s no one size fits all approach to GI conditions. We have to form mini-experiments to see what works best, based on the latest research for the condition or symptom.”
The Good News
Each Member’s GIThrive Care Team specialist tailors their approach to the whole-person needs of that Member. Every day, Members like Erin log in to GIThrive thanks to their employers to find customized resources and support to improve their painful, expensive, and difficult digestive health conditions.
For more information on how employers can provide this benefit to their employees and how it works, click below.