There are so many occasions that revolve around food. Heck, most do. Whether it is birthday celebrations, anniversaries, graduations, family reunions, etc the focus usually involves a meal of some kind. With Mother’s Day this coming weekend and Father’s Day right around the corner, my mind can’t help but get really overwhelmed. It seems like every month it is someone’s birthday or some reason to celebrate and while that is definitely great in so many ways, it has always been a source of stress for me. Not the celebration part of it (that I LOVE!), but the fact that I have to worry about food so much.
There have been countless times when I have declined invitations to various events or special occasions simply because I did not want to be put in an uncomfortable situation. Depending on what point I was with my illness, I either didn’t want to have to deal with going to the bathroom, was worried about the bag potentially leaking, constantly freaked out that something was going to happen to the kock pouch if I put too much food in it, was uncomfortable because I was such a picky eater and couldn’t handle the comments, or usually some combination.
While I may lean more towards the worrier side of things, these are such common fears among people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Crohns Disease and ulcerative colitis changes the way many people look at food. This obviously depends on the severity of illness and of course, the individual themselves. However, I can say with absolute certainty that at least one point in an IBD patients’ life, they had to concern themselves with this. And for many, these are daily struggles that take its toll on your mind and body in so many ways.
I wanted to bring this up today because as I was laying in bed in the middle of the night, I began to think about the upcoming weekend. I thought about my grandmother’s first mother’s day without my grandfather. I thought about celebrating the day with her and my mom and what brings them both joy is going out to dinner. I also began to think about how many occasions I missed because the very act of going out to dinner more than once a month or once every other month is a pain in the butt for me. I would prefer not to if I had a choice. And even though I do know it is my decision, I want to be a part of things and if that means going out to eat in order to be with my mom and grandmother on mother’s day than that is what I know I have to do.
If you have someone in your life who suffers from Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, please keep in mind that he/she may not be bowing out of certain events because they don’t care about you or want to be involved in your life. The fact that food is such a focus of our lives is difficult for someone with any type of digestive issue so it is important to be sensitive to that. The people in my life, who understood my situation to some degree and didn’t care, were the ones that made my life dramatically easier. I never ever wanted anyone to not enjoy going out to eat or alter their plans because of me. I always preferred going out to dinner with friends or family who did not care whether I ate or not. Let me repeat: I always enjoyed going out to eat with the people I cared about whether I ate or not. It allowed me to be a part of things while I did what was best for my own body. And at the end of the day, I was a much happier person because I was comfortable.
We all have to find what works for us in every aspect of our lives. This is especially true in terms of diet and lifestyle management. I have done so much trial and error in the food department. I want so badly to enjoy going out to eat but I am so far from there yet. My parents desperately want me to just go about my business as an ostomate and eat like every other person. And I have tried. Believe me, I have tried. It doesn’t work for me. Do what makes you comfortable.
And to the people who love someone with UC or CD, please please keep your food comments to yourself.