For those who do not know, I was diagnosed at 19 years old with Ulcerative Colitis. When I was a child I never had any gastrointestinal issues. I played softball my whole life and was quite active. I can not honestly say I maintained a good diet, as that would be false. My mother was a great cook, but fast food was also very frequent for the menu. Not to mention all the tons of candy and sugar I consumed when playing ball. Its amazing to me how resilient our bodies are when we are young. When I look back I wonder how my colitis didn’t develop sooner. I learned I come from a family of autoimmune disorders. Genetics seems to follow us all. Sometimes thats a good thing if you get like beautiful hair or skin. In relation to disease it feels more like a curse. My grandmother had Rheumatoid Arthritis and my mother has psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. I guess only fitting I would develop something. After all I got migraines like them. These thoughts are what I thought most of my life.
In college I would go to McDonalds, Taco Bell, Hardees, ya know all of the “best” fast food chains. I recall at the time being so naive. Not understanding how after eating I would end up directly in the bathroom. This went on for years.. After all I was put on medicine ( pills) for my colitis. I thought it should have been “fixed.” I even had a doctor tell me after I initiated the drugs that I would wake up one day and it would be like a bad dream. Seemed my bad dream turned into a nightmare. I lost 25 pounds in my first year of flares and looked pretty emaciated in comparison to my previous build. Not until a few years later and rounds of steroids for three months and the trial of 6mp. I finally woke up. The 6mp sent me into pancreatitis and that pain was definitely a red flag that these drugs were killing me slowly. I realized that my diet was killing me as well. I stopped eating at fast food chains. Sugar is pretty much lethal to ulcerative colitis and greasy food . I also learned from a family member about a product called Ambrotose. (no i’m not endorsing it or in the market to persuade anyone out there.) I will say though that with those few simple modifications, my days got a lot better. I still take colazal as a maintenance therapy. I have not had a big flare in probably 3 years now.
Diet.. I’m in the process now of modifying my diet even further. As I mentioned in my first post, Learning is a continuous process.I am certainly not perfect(starbucks addict here). I’m trying to cut out meat and dairy more than I ever have. I highly recommend Wild Cow if you are looking into vegan options. Best veggie burger I have ever had. I have been incorporating more vegetables and fruit in my diet. I go to whole foods a lot to eat, although I can not afford like most cant to buy groceries solely from there. I take a good probiotic. The american diet is extremely detrimental I feel to our normal flora and probiotics are recommended for everyone ( by me:) . I have had many patients say to me, “Oh honey I eat yogurt sometimes”. Most of the yogurts on the market are full of more sugar than anything. I’m not knocking yogurt, it serves a good purpose, but I do feel a correlation of dairy being an insult to an already unhealthy gut. Also Fish oil and Vitamin E are are two vitamins I have included daily. Fish oil serves so many purposes and vitamin E as well. Pinterest has many articles on them both and their health benefits. I have not touched a coke product in a few months now which I’m very proud of myself for. Getting off of Diet coke was difficult to say the least. Aspartame , I call it rat poison is in my opinion another leading cause of cancers. I drink spring water mostly and when I need some caffeine I have tea. For my vice as we all have one is Coffee.. No I have not been able to put my cup of morning buzz down. I however do not put any sugar in it and use a non fat milk . The struggle is real hah..
Stress.. is also lethal to your gut. Think about it for some of you, when you get nervous about something or upset what hurts? Some may get a headache, but my stomach hurts pretty much immediately. Thats how I channel my stress and I feel most people do. I would put myself in the category of an internalizer. I don’t eat to cope with my stress, I don’t smoke or drink to cope, but I have spent years keeping things that bothered me repressed. I feel that aside from genetics it’s on top of the list of causes for disease and cancers. When we internalize we are burying the problem. I will talk about that in future posts because I think it applies to several if not all dysfunctions and habits we get ourselves into while running away from the elephant in the room so to speak.
What to take away from this post perhaps is we all need balance in our lives, not easy I know. Single parenthood creates very little balance most days. I’ve learned you have to create it. We create our own reality and we can have lemons or we can make lemonade. Despite the stress, we all have to find an outlet. I suggest Exercise, a Hobby, reading, writing, dancing, creating. Anything that is a diversion for your everyday stress is essential to your vitality. I play guitar and enjoy singing. I don’t think there is any better modality of therapy for me than those two things. Some people say art and music are right up there with prayer. I believe that. Everyone has to find something that brings them a little bit of peace. Even though we don’t realize it, by doing what we love we are releasing our stress , we are letting out the burdens that we carry and we are bringing happiness to our soul even if its for that short amount of time. It is essential. Happiness is after all what we are all craving and I truly believe happiness is the cure for what ails us. Thanks for reading.