taming the beast

okay, so christmas is over, valentines day is gone, and my 14 day detox is finally finished!  which means?? my gut has taken one serious beating over the last few months. holiday stress, sugary foods, moving to a new house, detoxifying, and now the stress of the adoption process all point to me having one giant ulcerative colitis flare…..or at least it used to. but because i’ve basically made my digestive track my B in life, times like these don’t worry me much at all.

with the help of my naturopathic doctor, Nate Champion (and…have we talked about how great the name “champion” is for a doctor?!), i have been completely symptoms free for almost 2 years. i’m off all my pharmaceutical medications, and with the help of diet, lifestyle, and supplements, i can now approach ‘what would be flares’ with confidence. the beast that used to instill fear and trembling, as officially been tamed. :) too dramatic? have we met? ( you can read all about my journey under “my journey with ulcerative colitis” at the top of the page.)

like i’ve said before, stress is the biggest trigger for me and my UC. and my symptoms usually flare after the stressful event has come and gone….like a maniacal little monster poking a stick at my inability to cope well under stress….. but now, i know my body and what to look for in terms of signs of stress and flares, and i take the necessary steps to soothe my gut and immune system  to keep things under control. then, i just live my life….and it’s glorious. it’s a lot of work at times, but SO much better than feeling awful.

my doctor now has a blog where he talks more in depth of his work and study of crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and IBD, and i’ve added a button on the side of my blog as a link to that site.  please check them out if you have more questions about what naturopathic medicine is all about, or if you have specific questions about your gut health! (actually,  your health in general. he and his wife work together on women’s issues, infertility, gut health, and mental/emotional health resources as well.)

very good! stay healthy, my friends!

yes, i really do believe this

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!

amen and amen.

amen and amen.

how is my gut? i’m glad you asked.

it’s been a while since i have posted about my journey with ulcerative colitis (UC)….so i thought i would now….at the beginning of my blog i wrote a few posts about my background with UC, my journey thus far, and my new road of healing myself through naturopathic medicine. you can remind yourself of that journey here and here if you would like :) i just thought i would give a quick update on things and also start the conversation about what specifically i have been doing lately to take care of myself.

first of all, i am OVER JOYED!!!!!!! to say that i have been completely symptom free from my UC for over a year now! and i have done so entirely through naturopathic medicine. i won’t go into the oh-so-pleasant details here….but let’s just say, everything is running reeeeeeeeeeeally well. in addition to being symptom free, i have also found great peace around my battle with this disease. it is a beautiful feeling knowing that natural, God given, foods and vitamins and minerals actually can and DO make a difference in how we feel and how our bodies function. i am living proof.

a few food updates: well. i did it. i actually gave up caffeine. NO MORE DIET COKE OR COFFEE. since last february, you guys! i guess this is only truly miraculous if you really knew me prior to my bitter break up with these delicious nectars… but just trust me, it was ugly for a few days. lots of weeping and gnashing of teeth, but since giving it up i feel better, sleep better, don’t snack as much…well….not as much…. and i know that i am not putting any harmful, and/or at least non-beneficial chemicals into my system. i now enjoy copious amounts of green tea (unsweetened), and la croix water by the costco crateful. baby steps.

i have been trying to post more recipes on this little blog-o-mine too. these are our biggest ‘go-to’ meals, and the ones that leave both pauly and i feeling full and healthy at the end of dinner. in the next few weeks, i am going to post my daily meal plan just so you can really see what happens in a typical day for me….buuuuut…i might wait till after halloween……let’s be honest…..

so this is a start of what’s been up lately with all things my intestines. i’m sure you are all so glad to know.

really, honestly, though, i am so so thankful for the freedom i am having with my disease now, and am forever trying to find new ways to treat my body right. i’m not perfect (hence all the peanut butter cup wrappers in my garbage can right now….) but i am trying and i think that is all any of us can ask of ourselves. ABT. always. be. trying.

getting the y(uc)k out, part 2

i realized in my last post i didn’t put a link to the center where i go for my naturopathic uc care. you can learn more about the center and my doctor, Dr. Nate Champion (ps. how great is the name “Champion” for a doctor?!) here. they offer care for both physical and mental/emotional healing, with many incredible psychologists on staff. i swear this is not a sponsored post for them :) i just reeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaallllly believe in what they do.

so, i am having a hard time describing my treatment at Partners in Healing (my clinic), because it’s so unique from any other clinic i’ve visited….. because of the doctors ability to meet with patients for extended visits, each patient’s care plan is completely individualized, and tailored to meet patients’ specific individual needs. i will tell you a little about my plan, but it could be different for each person depending on their level of need. so, i am going to simplify this. if you would like to know exactly what i take and why i would love to personally email that to you (treasureandheart@gmail.com) but my guess is most people would like to know the basics, as well as my diet. so that’s what i am going to focus on.

my naturopathic medicine regime:

each day i take a high powered probiotic. this is recommended for everyone, with or without UC, as it is great at restoring the good bacteria to your gut. it keeps you regular, helps cut down on…what’s the nice way to say this…intestinal discomfort, and helps boost your immune system. i take one specifically ordered through my doctor, but you can find good ones at your health food stores i am sure.

i also take a few different digestive aids, helping my colon more easily break down the food i eat, and better process it as well.

i take a daily multi vitamin…if you are looking for one be sure to do your research. again i order mine through my doctor, but he warned me that a lot of the over the counter ones at walgreen etc are not really doing you that much good. as with most things in life, it’s better to spend a little more money to get a good quality product.

i take a fish oil pill as well twice a day. again, a really good, clean, organic one. you really need to be careful to buy quality..

on days (read: ALL WINTER) when there is less sunlight, and i am therefore getting much less vitamin D, i will also take a few drops of liquid form vitamin D.  it helps to boost the immune system as well as reduce inflammation in the body.

i also had a comprehensive food allergy test done, and try to avoid the foods listed as causing higher inflammation for my body. it has really really helped.

i know this seems like a lot of things, but it has worked for me. scouts honor i went from the worst flare to date, and starting seeing results with 2 days of starting my process. that’s not to say i was healed overnight. no. there were good days and bad days, and some tweaking of my meds, and days i wanted to quit. but i am thrilled (understatement of the CENTURY) to report that i have been completely symptom free since october of 2012!  thank you Jesus! really.

my diet:

here’s the thing…as you have seen from my recent posts, i am not perfect at this by any means….but i am trying…each day i want to try to make a healthy choice as often as i can (and want!). each time i visit with dr. champion i am renewed in my passion for clean eating and living. i am actually starting a detox/cleanse through him on friday so i will be blogging more about that as well.

as a vegetarian (occasionally we eat salmon, but really very rarely), we eat a lot of beans, nuts, soups, salads, gluten free whole grains…i try to post many of our go to recipes here as possible. it’s SUPER easy to make food, that is good and good for ya!

i am currently trying to cut diet coke and coffee out…..oy….say a prayer to the patron saint of crazy bi$#@es. this could get ugly. during my detox i will be eliminating sugar for a week too. yikes. sorry pauly. it’s going to get real up in here.

okay i don’t want to make these posts too long, so that’s all for now, but email if you have specific questions. also, if you are interested in natural healing for any sickness (i use Dr. Champion now for common colds, the flu, yeast infections, ear infections….) you can call his office. he does phone consults, as well as in person visits. or if you don’t live here he can recommend a naturopathic physician in your area. again, shameless plug for my doctor, but i wouldn’t be doing it if i hadn’t experienced the results for myself, and truly believe this method of healing works!! just trust me :)

getting the y(uc)k out, part 1

so this cheesy title has double meaning: 1) getting rid of the junk foods in my life that are keeping my health less than what it could be and 2) what has helped me overcome my symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis. * Also i just realized that this title could seem like i am using yuck in place of the less than favorable “f” word.but i can assure you this is an unintentional, albeit, hilarious coincidence. :)

here’s the deal, i have been meaning to write about my UC since i started blogging, but it seemed like such an undertaking to document my life with it thus far. however, i realized i don’t need to do it all in one shot, so this may be broken up into many blogs, and i think i will always write about my current progress with it.

a little back story: i was diagnosed with UC when i was 8 years old. yuck. throughout my almost 20 year battle i have sought and accepted traditional pharmaceutical medicine to treat my symptoms. (if you would like to know more about symptoms of UC you can check it out here).  i was always told that i can only hope to ride out my flares, as they are called, and hope that the medicine i needed to take (12 pills a day) would keep my symptoms at bay for a while in between each flare. i would have a flare, feel really awful for a while (up to 2 years at a time..), then my symptoms would subside and i would have months or even years without any flares….and then the cycle would repeat. it was exhausting, and scary, and defeating, and hopeless…

Last year in december i was having another flare, but this time it was really affecting me emotionally. more than before. i was really tired mentally, emotionally, and physically. just tired of fighting it. tired of worrying about this turning into cancer someday, but most importantly, tired of not being able to enjoy or appreciate life like i wanted to because of my fear, worry, and symptoms.  it was a really low moment for me with my battle with UC. i don’t remember ever being that discouraged before. there were many nights that pauly would sit up with me as i would cry and process and struggle with all my anxiety and frustration around my disease.

i was praying and praying that God would just heal me, (as i have since i was little) but He works in mysterious ways :) i was on the internet one night trying to find natural remedies hoping that maybe that route would work to heal my colon. i liked the idea of trying to heal my colon, not just survive flare to flare.

i had become a vegetarian about 2 years prior and saw how much that lifestyle change helped ease my digestive issues. i was already moving in the way of natural medicine, i guess, but didn’t really realize fully what it meant. i knew that certain foods upset my symptoms, and that certain foods made me feel better but other than knowing that, i didn’t give it much thought.

so back to that night on the internet, i happened to stumble upon a section of a hospital here in the twin cities that also offered naturopathic doctor services. i called the next morning to a woman name dr. nita champion to see if she would have an opening to see me. after speaking with her for a few minutes, (longer than any doctor had ever spoken to me about my symptoms in my life!) she told me i would be a great fit for her husband, dr. nate champion. he has ulcerative colitis himself, healed his body completely through natural medicine, and now works for a clinic that offers support to others with UC, crohns, and other IBD conditions. it was unreal. i called him immediately and set the appointment.

on my first visit, dr. champion took 2 hours (2 hours!) with me to talk not only about my physical symptoms, but also how it was affecting me emotionally. he completely understood what i was going through, having gone through it himself. it was like nothing i have ever experienced before with my UC. i bawled on the way home, calling paul and telling him that i think this was really going to work, that i felt reassured that i was going to be okay for the first time in years.

in a few upcoming blogs i will talk about what specifically i did to get my symptoms under control, but i don’t want this to get too long. :) so that’s the beginning at least…..