I have been trying to figure out a new way of eating. I am a vegetarian who cannot eat veggies! Sounds a bit ridiculous but I don’t want to give up my intense moral beliefs because of IBD. Or I should say, I didn’t use to. I am actually considering it a bit more these days.
My parents never liked that I was a vegetarian but always supported me. I stopped eating red meat when I was nine years old and then eliminated poultry and fish from my diet a few years later. It was a moral decision, not health related. I love animals beyond belief and every time I would eat chicken or something, I would look at my dogs and become disgusted.
My doctor always thought my way of eating was absurd as well but given that he always told me I could go out and eat anything I did before I was diagnosed (which clearly was not the case), I never cared about his opinion when it came to my diet. Everything else, yes. Diet, no.
As most of you already know, I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis when I was 13 so my parents played a huge role in my day to day life (and still do to a large degree.) We probably have had more conversations about food, dietary changes, and weight than a dietician has with her clients weekly. So as you can imagine, this topic has pushed me over the edge quite often. It has only been recently where I think my parents and doctors have allowed me to kind of go about my business and eat what I want, when I want and sort of figure things out for myself since I have certainly had enough trial and error to know what works for my body by now.
If I had a nickel for every time my dad said the phrase “if you would just eat grilled chicken your life would change dramatically” I would actually be a millionaire. Not exaggerating. He always says it with a smile and my parents couldn’t be more understanding so I know they have the best intentions when they advise me about my diet, or anything else for that matter.
I notice a pattern with myself. When I am told what to do or how to manage my life or body, it gets me frustrated and I retreat back to what I know is best for me. I cling to my normal routine because it is what allows me to feel safe and secure when there are so many other things that are difficult to predict. I find it upsetting when others tell me what I should be eating, the time of day they feel eating would be beneficial for me, or really weigh in on anything related to the dietary aspect of my life.
I may have stubborn parts of my personality but the rationale behind this is simple. No one is telling me anything I don’t already know. I know it is better for me to eat throughout the day. I know it would be better for me to eat meat, or poultry/fish at least, so I can have some variety in my diet. I know that IBD has made it very difficult for me to be a vegetarian. I know all of these things so hearing about it from other people (regardless of their intent or the fact that they are telling me accurate things), it makes me feel like they don’t understand the emotional struggles that come into play.
So here I am today. I have seen that I do need to make some adjustments to my diet. It bothers me that I can’t eat veggies but I have come to accept it and look at them as the doorway to the ER which I will never step foot in. But, I do want more variety. I want to be able to go out to eat and not have to only order something in the plain carbohydrate family.
I have been toying with the idea of incorporating fish into my diet. I can’t stand the thought of it because I know that if IBD never entered my life, I would absolutely be a vegan.
However, I am slowly starting to come to terms with the fact that this is my body now and I need to do what I can to keep it strong and healthy to the best of my ability. It doesn’t mean I need to compromise my beliefs and I have existed fine with the foods I do eat. I just do recognize that I need to make some changes.
I wanted to share this post today because while these issues might not be the particular ones you are struggling with, I think the general theme is something many can relate to. IBD affects us in so many ways and unfortunately, we get to know and understand how our body and minds operate a lot better than most people. We notice patterns as time goes on and we eventually will always do what we feel is best for our lives. It is always a process and one that cannot be pushed upon us by anyone. At the end of the day it is all about YOU – your life, your body, your mind, your heart, and your soul. You have to live with the choices you make. You have to live with the consequences of them all. So you should be the person who decides them and on your time table.