Even though no two IBD patients follow the same diet, there are some universal foods that the majority of people who suffer from Crohns disease and ulcerative colitis patients are told to stay away from. Those foods are: nuts, corn and popcorn. There are obviously a tremendous amount more on that list but those (in my mind) are the only ones I look at as “standard.”
My doctor always wanted me to do anything and everything if I was feeling well. And he also never restricted me food-wise because he didn’t want me to feel different. So when he told me I needed to avoid those three foods for the rest of my life, I took it very seriously.
When I went to the movies last weekend, my boyfriend asked me if it would be insensitive if he got popcorn since I obviously couldn’t have any. I loved that he asked because it was very considerate. It also made me think about this topic a little more.
For me, I adjusted many years ago to the fact that I couldn’t eat like everyone else. I didn’t always like it and still don’t but I have fully come to terms that if I try to eat like I did prior to ulcerative colitis or even before I had my entire large intestine removed, I will wind up in the hospital. No ifs ands or buts. It will happen and in order for me to protect my body and mind from being traumatized in a hospital setting, I better damn well eat what I know I should and avoid those things I have to.
Which brings me to my point. I am someone who could care less what other people eat around me. I am a vegetarian and have had many friends ask if it was okay if they ate meat when they were with me. The latter is a little different since being a vegetarian is a personal choice as opposed to something I have zero control over. Regardless, I react to both of those situations the same.
We all have to be able to co-exist in this world and it helps if we try to make it as easy for each other as possible. I am very cautious about doing or saying something to someone if I know the subject is a little sensitive for them. Over the years, my friends and family have learned that eating is probably the most sensitive subject for me since so many occasions revolve around food.
Most patients who suffer from inflammatory bowel disease want to be treated the same as everyone else. They don’t want special accommodations unless they are very simple. They don’t want anyone worried about making something special for them or not eating because they don’t want to exclude them. Family and friends who constantly ask and wonder what someone is eating and how much just cause frustration for the patient. Of course, none of that is intended but it happens often.
I can understand how there are many people with Crohns or ulcerative colitis who feel angry at the fact that they can’t fully enjoy food or the same types of things they used to eat. Some would prefer to avoid social situations that revolve around food because it is too upsetting. In some ways, it acts as a reminder that your body isn’t the same as most and there is little, if anything, you can do to change that fact.
I wanted to write about this today because I think this is one of those topics that really depends on the individual. I tend to be under the belief that the longer you have IBD the easier it gets to be around other people eating and drinking things you can’t. The main reason I feel this way is not because Crohns or ulcerative colitis become easier with time. I just feel that with time come a lot of experience with your body which allows the reality of what you can and cannot handle or partake in to become clearer to you. For example, I restrict my diet and am OKAY doing so because I know firsthand what happens when I don’t do that. I have had too many years of issues so now, I understand the reality of my life.
If you are a loved one of a person with Crohns or ulcerative colitis, take the time to ask someone if you are eating something you know for sure that person cannot enjoy. Feel them out and if it seems like you eating it in front of them wouldn’t be good for your friend’s mental health then eat something else and enjoy that particular food a different time. It doesn’t mean you won’t ever be able to have that particular food around your loved one; it just means for the time being it is better if you grabbed something different.
As a patient with Crohns disease or ulcerative colitis, how do you feel when others eat food around you that you can’t enjoy? Does it make you angry? Upset? Or, not care?