it’s been super stressful around here lately….packing, cleaning, moving, unpacking, more cleaning….’discussions’ with the builders on trim colors, furniture shopping….*sigh*. all good, all fun, all such blessings, but all stressful for me. and my body doesn’t handle stress well.
as a sufferer with IBD, crohns, or colitis, you may well know that stress can be a MAJOR trigger when it comes to our delicate G.I.’s. and for me, it most definitely is just that. usually, my symptoms or a ‘flare’ will happen after a stressful time period. for example, when we packed up, moved across the country, lived in a new city, paul was in graduate school, i had to find a new job, quitting my first job there, finding a new job, being the sole provider for us while pauly was in school, hoping he would find a job, waiting on call backs from his interviews, and then packing up and moving back across the country: no flares. totally symptom free. it was glorious. but then…living back home where we are familiar with everything and everyone and love every inch of this state and our home: one of my worst flares to date. …..makes total sense….(read: WTF?!!)
if you have read my previous posts on my battle with UC you will know it was then (right after we moved back to MN) that i sought out natural medicine to help calm my symptoms and heal my colon. it was also at this time (a little before we moved back, actually) that i got really serious about my diet. i decided to try becoming a vegetarian because i had read that often times UC sufferers do well with cutting out meat (fatty, red meat especially). these meats are hard for anyone’s colon to break down and digest, but with UC-ers it’s extra taxing on our guts. ……and you know…it really worked. i noticed a LOT fewer stomach aches and pains, i slept MUCH better, and i just felt really good. it was then that this thought popped into my head: “huh…maybe what i put into my body…..(wait for it…) actually affects how i feel…….” (insert angelic chorus!) and i am not kidding when i say that this thought has changed my life. (and pauly’s…but we will get to that later…)
through the support of some friends, i really started to dig into the idea healing myself with healthy food (and natural medicine). i started paying more attention to how i felt after eating certain foods, and then started adjusting my diet accordingly. now listen: i said i started paying attention, meaning, i did NOT overnight become a vegan. just to be extra clear. this has been a lifestyle change, and one in which, i am still in process. but this slow life change (notice i did not say ‘diet’) has led to other areas of ‘health-seeking’, if you will. i started seeing a natural pathologist for my flares, and found out exercising on the regular is actually a good thing too….(who knew…) one good healthy choice begets, another good healthy choice, begets another and so on and so on…
so now on days when i eat cookies and don’t work out, i know 1) this isn’t how most of my days go, so i don’t need to beat myself up about it 2) i know what healthy choices to make to get myself back on track and 3) i can look back and see how far i’ve come as motivation to keep going. but again: at first i did beat myself up for making poor eating choices..i didn’t have any idea what healthy choices to make to get on track…and i couldn’t look back on any progress to keep going…. all i could do at the beginning is make the next healthy choice. sometimes only one a day. (or, let’s get real, sometimes none a day….hello PMS?!)
so, anyway… what i have been learning lately (over the past 2 years or so..) is that life causes stress, yes. but junky foods stress my body too. and food stress, as well as environmental stress, is proving to have the same affect on my UC and really my body in general…..does that make sense?
so when people ask me (and a LOT of people do) ‘do you really think your diet is linked to your symptoms?’ or ‘do you really think your diet helps alleviate your flares?’ my answer is always: ‘without a doubt. i really do believe that.’
so get out there and eat something delicious and nutritious! for the health of it!