So, it’s finally here! Part three of my food/body image/other stuff series. Sorry I haven’t posted in awhile (aka 2 weeks). Anyway, this post is going to wrap up the two previous topics into one magical IBD-Food-Body image thing… The other two posts are linked at the bottom of this page if you missed them. As I mentioned in a previous post, our society tends to put a lot of attention on the food we eat and how we look. There are posters, commercials, magazines, articles, books, and even tv shows that revolve around eating and weight. These topics are also integrated into our social lives; most people go out to eat to spend time with friends and family. However, with IBD, these fun social gatherings can cause anxiety, discomfort, and embarrassment. That isn’t to say that people with Crohn’s don’t like going out to eat, or can’t go anywhere. But, special diets and stomach pain can make these fun outings become sources of unneeded stress.There’s also the recent craze about “healthy” eating. But what does healthy even mean? for people living with Crohn’s disease and other digestive conditions, “healthy” is not exactly living off of kale/chia seed/organic/super fiber/raw/10 calorie smoothies. Maybe it’s eating through a tube, or eating only liquid food, or eating gluten free, or dairy free, or maybe it’s eating anything you want. The point is, “healthy” isn’t the same for everyone, and that’s okay. However, the issue with this is that while “being healthy” is hard enough when you have a 3 page list of foods to avoid, feeling good about yourself is even harder. Being happy with yourself is hard enough for a “normal” person, so throwing a kid with stomach problems and growth issues isn’t going to make things any easier. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
be live “healthy” – Crohn’s Disease Style:
- Notice how be is crossed out. Sorry, but sometimes you’re going to feel sick even when you’re doing everything right, and that’s okay. We can’t control everything all the time. Instead, try to live healthfully, whatever that looks like for you.
- Listen to your doctor. If your GI doctor has suggestions/instructions for what you should and should not be eating/doing, LISTEN TO THEM! Although it seems like eating 3 pieces of popcorn won’t kill you, for some reason 3 always turns into 10, and then 20, and 50, and then you realize that this is very bad, but you don’t have a popcorn extracter, and then you go into panic mode, and nobody wants to see you in panic mode, and…. Okay you get the point. Listen to your doctor. It’s not worth the risk, and yes, I’ve risked it.
- Ask questions! I admit, I’m pretty bad at this myself. Whenever a doctor says “any questions?”, I kinda just say no. Which is fine, if there aren’t any questions, but most of the time, there are. The thing is, if you don’t ask, you won’t get an answer, and don’t we all want answers? While it’s good to follow your doctor’s suggestions, that doesn’t mean they are permanent solutions. Maybe three months ago, your doctor told you you couldn’t eat apples, but you really want to. So, just ask! While it’s disappointing to hear “no”, it would be even worse if the answer was “yes” and you didn’t even ask!
- Study! No, you don’t have to annotate articles about the correlation between diet and Inflammatory Bowel Disease. But, you should become familiar with your personal needs. This way, you know what to say when someone asks “what can you eat”, and you aren’t awkwardly standing there like a confused penguin.
- Tell the world! Okay, maybe not the entire world, but you should let your close friends/family know what’s going on. That way, they won’t feel horrible when they serve food you can’t eat, and you won’t feel awkward/upset when there’s nothing for you to eat. Having people to support you is one of the best things you can do.
- Accept it. This one should be way at the top. If you don’t accept your condition and it’s implications, no one else will. It’s hard at first, but you have to realize that your kinda stuck with it for life. You can’t just ignore it (see 2); you have to accept that it’s there if you want to move forward.
- Stop thinking about it! Just because IBD requires you to think a little more about your body and what you eat, it doesn’t mean you have to constantly focus on it. While you can’t ignore everything, you also can’t let it define you. After you have a good understanding of you needs, you probably won’t think much about it at all!
- Snacks! You. Need. Snacks! Whether you are trying to gain weight or follow a special diet, snacks are a must! (Even if you have none of these problems, who doesn’t like snacks?) Who cares if you’re the only one in the entire school who eats in class? When everyone else is counting down the seconds until lunch, you’ll be comfortably munching. If you’re school has special food rules, talk to the nurse/principal about your IBD so that you are able to do what you need to do.
- Stay calm. Whether it’s happened to you 20 times or never before, it’s going to happen again. You know what I’m talking about, right? It’s those annoying advice givers telling you that becoming a vegan rice farmer in Japan will cure all of your ailments. Those well-meaning family members who won’t let you eat something no matter how many times YOU tell them it’s okay! (Seriously, I would think I know myself better than you do, okay?). But in reality, they are just trying to help. While they may not be doing it in the most ideal way, it’s not fair to get angry. Simply say something like “that’s an interesting idea”; you don’t have to listen to them! or ‘my doctor says that ____ is okay for me to have”, or sneak behind them and take it 😆
- uhhhh, have fun? Just because you have Crohn’s doesn’t mean you can’t do “normal” person things. If you can’t eat, ask your friends to go to movie instead of dinner. If you are too tired to go out, it’s okay to cancel plans or hang out at home. Whatever you do, don’t let your condition rule your life. You may not be able to control how you feel, but you can control how you feel about how you feel (that’s a lot of feelings) 😀