Food and IBD: friend or foe?
After I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, my whole perception of food changed. Food went from being something I rarely thought twice about, to having to micro manage everything I put in my body. It was a change that I never saw coming and something that I still struggle with today and will have to continue to manage for the rest of my life.
In the beginning, this whole diet change was very difficult because I was so used to not worrying about it. I always tried to eat healthy but aside from that, food was never really on my mind. I can hardly say that now. This is something difficult for me to talk about but I feel as though I need to get it out and show others who are struggling with this that they are not alone. Remember how I talked about confessions in another post? Well, here is another one of mine- food is always on my mind. Literally, there is very rarely a time when I am not weighing the pros and cons of eating something or planning out what exactly I eat and when depending on my schedule for that day. It is exhausting, frustrating, and extremely stressful to say the absolute minimum.
This concept of food and its relationship to IBD has been widely talked about but really only in the context of trying to control and manage IBD symptoms through various types of diets. However, what I am referring to is different. I am trying to manage the output into the ileostomy bag and prevent blockages, but I am not concerned with flare ups. Because I feel such a need to basically pretend like I don’t have a bag, I don’t eat during the day. I know this sounds weird and some people will wonder how in the world I manage to do that. Shockingly though, I have been doing it for so many years that I can’t remember what life was like when I would eat like a “normal” person. By that, I mean, real meals that are spread out throughout the day with couple snacks/desserts. I seriously have no idea when the last time I ate like that was.
Ulcerative colitis changed so many things for me in my life; Food and my perception of food being one of the main struggles I have had to face and continue to daily. This need I have to micromanage everything for fear that I will end up in the hospital with a blockage, or the output will be so much that I will be running to the bathroom constantly, has caused other issues for me as well. I have a very love/hate relationship with food. I am either barely eating or only eating at night, or if I know I am going to be home all day and have a lot of anxiety, I binge. Food is comforting. We all know that. And while I have tried everything under the sun to work through some of my eating issues, I haven’t been able to tackle them. In a lot of ways, since I know my body so well, I am content with how things are. I have started to accept that food is and always will be a source of stress for me and the goal is to minimize that stress as much as possible.
I have heard absurd statements from people saying that anyone with IBD cannot have an eating disorder or have food related issues. My question to those people is “how could it NOT when the focus is all about food?” Bottom line is a diagnosis of IBD will unfortunately cause your outlook on food to change. I am not even remotely saying this diagnosis will lead you to where I am, because the severity of my disease has dictated a lot of my actions and thoughts about food. But, what I can say is that my outlook is very different.
This is my “new normal” and something I have come to accept.