Food and I used to have a great relationship; I suppose you could’ve called me a ‘foodie’. I grew up with a chef for a mother and this meant restaurant standard for breakfast, lunch and dinner. So good food has been such a huge part of my life and now thanks to UC that has all changed.
People say to me all the time: ‘’Can’t you just change your diet?’’ Or ‘’I know someone who does this… and they’re cured now… It will cure you too!’’ Or ‘’I’ve found this new diet online, they say it’s really that simple!’’ Well…Firstly there is no cure and secondly it’s far from simple. UC and Crohn’s are autoimmune diseases that aren’t caused by eating junk food, and can’t be cured by going vegan or veggie. As my consultant tells me ‘’you can eat whatever you want, but I wouldn’t go for a vindaloo anytime soon.’’
I know it doesn’t seem to add up… I have a gut problem but what I put into my gut doesn’t necessarily play a role in my disease.
Diet alterations and keeping a record of what you eat work for some, but may not for others; some people find that cutting certain things out of their diet can help, while others find it doesn’t. Much like everything with UC and Crohn’s it’s all down to the individual.
I love to cook and some of my happiest memories involve food so when I was first diagnosed (and oblivious to what UC actually was) it was a huge blow when I read countless articles, blogs and pages telling me I’d have to cut out everything that had a flavour. Some people say cut out wheat, meat, dairy, fruit with seeds, fruit without seeds, nuts, raw vegetables and cooked vegetables. Fizzy drinks, caffeine, fruit juice and booze. At the end of it, you’re left with pretty much nothing. I googled it throughout an inch of its life (the worst thing to do I might add) and put myself under so much pressure. I started basing my UC symptoms on the food I was consuming, when it was actually the disease getting a whole lot worse.
Although there isn’t any certified link between diet and IBD, I have found that there can be certain things that mean I feel like utter crap (pun intended), and unfortunately the only way you’re going to find out what causes you issues to eat it and wait…I know I’m not going for curry anytime soon, or shovelling down a chilli con carne because I have found that rich and spicy foods have a tendency to leave me in a bit of trouble.
My advice is be kind to yourself.
Instead of religiously following the newest diet fad or cutting out everything under the sun I stay away from really rich foods or things that will obviously cause anyone problems; there aren’t many people that feel their best after a curry! I eat smaller portions and more often (only really eating when I’m hungry) so not to put my colon under too much unnecessary pressure. I don’t believe in cutting out the good things in life or the things that make you happy. UC has taken so much from me and caused me so much pain that if I want that giant piece of cake or to eat a whole tub of ice-cream, why not? I have been confined and controlled by so much with this disease in every aspect of my life that I’m not going to let it take away the best things in life…like cake and ice-cream!
While in the flare up situation or in a place where I’m not in remission, there is no way for me to really pin point what foods can trigger discomfort because everything causes some form of discomfort, but I can be kind to my body. I need a balanced diet to ensure I am strong enough to fight the disease, but I’m still very conscious of what I put in so not to make it any worse. I can’t control my UC with diet but I know some people who have found they can, and I can’t stress enough that it is all down to your own individual case.
So, you can follow the newest diet fad or new ‘revelation’ in cutting out everything tasty, but my advice is do what is best for you. It’s good to see what others have tried because it offers some idea into something that may work and could help, but ultimately your gut knows what is best.
So, in this aspect of IBD you really do have to Trust Your Gut!