…hasn’t been keeping the doctor away. But I have learned that what I eat greatly affects how I feel. There will be a lot of posts about food because of what I’ve learned over the years. Some people with colitis say that food doesn’t affect them at all. I’ve learned that I’m not one of those people.
What else have I learned? Basically, I’ve learned what I should and should not eat. Note that this is different than what I can and cannot eat. I can eat whatever I want; however, I shouldn’t eat whatever I want. Through trial and error, some input from a naturopath years ago, and some advice from a friend who pointed me towards some very helpful cookbooks, I’ve developed a list of what works and what doesn’t work for keeping me feeling good. And feeling well.
I’ve learned that potatoes aren’t good. I knew about nightshades not being good for arthritis. I knew that potatoes were a nightshade. I just never made the effort to get off them. I learned a few years ago that if I eat even a couple of bites of potatoes, I won’t be able to get up from the table without great discomfort in my knees. And any inflammation in the body, wherever it is located, can set off my colitis. So basically, I avoid potatoes. Except for stealing one of my husband’s fries when they look particularly good or when I just can’t resist a potato chip. Which is rarely. I don’t usually miss potatoes but then again, I never was a huge potato lover before I gave them up. Well, except for potato chips. That was hard. Really hard. (Cue sympathetic violins.)
I learned that I react the same way with peanuts as I do with potatoes. Yup – I avoid them as well. I wasn’t much of a peanut eater before, either. I don’t miss peanut butter that much but I DO miss Oh Henry chocolate bars. And Snickers. And Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. And now I have a craving. Although I won’t indulge. It isn’t worth it.
I miss dairy. Really miss it. And sometimes I have it even when I know that I shouldn’t. Dairy affects my gut a bit, and it really affects my respiratory system. When I indulge, I struggle with my breathing. For days. Laboured and painful and tight. Which means that my lungs are full of inflammation. And inflammation anywhere in my body can set off my colitis. (Oh wait, did I already mention that?) When I do indulge, I know that I’ll be suffering because of it. That means that I make sure it is worth the consequences. Really good cheese. None of the mass-produced cheddars and mozzarellas. Definitely no cheese slices. None of the crappy ice cream. All high quality, more expensive stuff for me when I have it. Häagen-Dazs and Ben and Jerry’s it is. On the rare occasion. And béarnase sauce. Oh man – that’s one of my favourites. All reserved for a special treat on a long weekend, or a special celebration like a birthday or an anniversary. Sigh.
Wheat. I miss it as well. Not as much as dairy except for some things. Wheat, I have learned this year, is one of the worst things for me. I suffer for days afterwards. It really seems to set off my gut problems. Celiac disease runs in my mother’s family. I know of aunts, cousins, and nieces with problems. My mother had a sensitivity but never had a confirmed diagnosis. I do know that she felt better when she didn’t eat it. So I work hard at staying away from wheat. No bread. No pancakes. No bagels or croissants or Shredded Wheat or cookies or cakes. Another sigh.
Corn. And salads. Let’s just say that when what you eat comes out looking the same as it went in, it is a sign that your body can’t process it, so you shouldn’t have it. I shouldn’t have it.
Sugar. I have cravings for sweets. I’ve worked hard in the last couple of months to reduce the sugar that I eat. Honey is fine. Processed sugar is not. The easy part of that is that most items that I used to indulge in that contain sugar also contain wheat or dairy, so giving up those also meant that I was giving up sugar. There is so much hidden sugar in things as well. I haven’t totally given it up because I still eat pickles and mustard and other condiments that do contain sugar. For the most part, I don’t eat it. Let’s say it’s 90% gone.
While an apple a day isn’t keeping the doctor away, avoiding these foods is keeping the colitis flare at bay. While the flare isn’t totally gone, I do know that the 6 weeks in July and August this year where I was very strict and ate very clean, I felt a ton better. My gut. And my arthritis. Big improvement in how I was feeling. So why oh why oh why did I quit being so careful in September? And October? More about that in future posts. And time to get back on track.
Next time, I’ll tell you about what I should eat and what worked really well for me in the summer when I was being so careful. And by then, I plan to report that I’m back to being diligent about what I put in my body. Stay tuned.