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Leslie J. Bonci

UPMC Media Relations 

University Of Pittsburgh Medical Center Sports Nutrition Director Leslie Bonci Authors American Dietetic Association Guide To Better Digestion

PITTSBURGH, October 10, 2003 Leslie J. Bonci, M.P.H., R.D., director of sports medicine nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), has authored the book, American Dietetic Association Guide to Better Digestion to help people with digestive disorders eat properly and better manage their condition.

Some digestive disorders can be embarrassing and debilitating. While medical treatments and prescriptions can offer relief, one of the most important ways you can help yourself is to choose the right foods to eat, Bonci says in her book.

Boncis user-friendly guide shows readers how to analyze eating habits and map out dietary plans to manage and control uncomfortable symptoms of digestive disorders such as food borne illnesses, gastroesophageal reflux disease, ulcers, inflammatory bowel diseases, irritable bowel diseases, diverticular diseases, celiac disease, lactose intolerance, gas and bloating, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea and constipation.

It is important to realize that taking care of your gastrointestinal tract is not just about taking a pill. Magazine and television ads may try to sell us on pills or liquids as cure-alls for diarrhea, heartburn, gas or constipation, but what you eat, your lifestyle habits and your response to stress are just as important as the medication you may be taking, said Bonci.

Her book offers several key guidelines that anyone with a digestive disorder should follow.

  • Don't suffer silently. Many individuals choose to self-diagnose and self-treat their problem because they are too embarrassed to seek guidance. But a health care professional can provide important information about diseases and managing symptoms.
  • Make healthy and appropriate food choices. A primary goal of eating is to attain a balanced and varied diet. People with certain digestive disorders may automatically assume that there are certain foods they should avoid because of other peoples experiences. Being attentive to your own body's reactions to food types and quantities is more important that comparing your eating habits to those of other people.
  • Be attentive to personal eating behaviors. How you eat is just as important as what you eat. Spacing out smaller meals and snacks throughout the day and taking the time to eat slowly is easier on the body. Eating rapidly or while distracted by other tasks can be harder on the digestive tract.
  • Lifestyle strategies can ease management of a digestive condition. Don't shy away from exercise for fear that it will make symptoms worse. Engaging in physical activity that you enjoy is good for the whole body and not just the gut. Stretching and flexibility exercises can help by soothing the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Stress management strategies can reduce discomfort from digestive disorders. Stress can cause pain in the stomach or gut. It is important to take the time to de-stress and relax, employing whatever method works for the individual. It is especially important to relax after eating.

Bonci has been practicing dietetics for 20 years, working with hundreds of patients with digestive disorders. She is a national media spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association and nutrition consultant for various organizations including the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, University of Pittsburgh Department of Athletics, Notre Dame Department of Athletics, University of Texas Department of Athletics and the U.S. Olympic Canoe and Kayak Team. She is a board member of the Intestinal Disease Foundation, the Pennsylvania Educational Network for Eating Disorders and the Cancer Caring Center.

The book is published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., and is available in bookstores nationwide.

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