• inflammatory bowel disease;
  • irritable bowel syndrome;
  • lived experience;
  • negative dietary behaviours

The purpose of this research was to explore the dietary lived experiences of university-aged women suffering from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). This paper will address the decision-making process used by these women when contemplating the consumption of dietary temptations, despite the associated negative consequences. This phenomenological study was guided by heuristic inquiry. A purposive sample of eight women, between the ages of 18 and 23 years, who were living with IBD or IBS were recruited via postings and word-of-mouth. The findings indicate that these women occasionally felt compelled to give into dietary temptations, despite the consequences to their health. The decision-making process they used when considering these negative health behaviours involved three personally controlled parameters. These three parameters included: assessing the cost–benefit relationship before engaging in these behaviours; having a physical and/or psychological reliance on medications to treat resulting symptoms; and through controlling the timing and surroundings in which they indulged in these negative dietary behaviours. The practical implications for health-care professionals treating patients with IBD or IBS are discussed.