Thursday, December 5, 2013

{Crohn's Awareness} :: My Diet

While diet and even stress can aggravate Crohn's Disease, they are not known to specifically cause it. Paying special attention to your diet can help reduce symptoms, as well as promote overall healing. It's important for Crohn's patients to maintain good nutrition because we often have a reduced appetite, and it is often difficult for our bodies to absorb necessary nutrients. For example, Vitamin D and B-12 are specifically absorbed in the small intestines. Since my ileum is often inflamed, I have both of those vitamin deficiencies.

Since I have both a Vitamin D and a B-12 deficiency, I have to take extra supplements. My body just doesn't absorb those vitamins in the foods I eat. I take a daily multi-vitamin, as well as extra Vitamin D. I also get a B-12 injection once a month to help with my energy level {seriously, those shots are the best!}

When I am having a flare, I have to follow a strict low-residue diet. This basically means a lot of soft, bland foods and no high-fiber foods. So, hello mashed potatoes and smoothies! Thankfully, I have not had to be on a low-residue diet in several months. But I can often avoid a lot of pain and/or discomfort if I eat low-residue for a few days. This just helps things to pass through my intestines a little easierm causing as little irritation as possible.

On a day-to-day basis, I have changed my diet to help manage my Crohn's symptoms. I was already eating fairly healthy before I was diagnosed, but I am definitely more stringent now. And while I certainly miss certain food items, it really hasn't been that huge of an adjustment. Again, "trigger" foods are different for every Crohn's patient, so there is a lot of trial and error to identify yours.

Here is the list of foods I have cut out of my diet:
  • Greasy foods
  • Fried foods
  • Spicy foods
  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Corn
  • Beans
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Caffeine
So that cuts out most {if not all} fast food and Mexican food. So sad! I eat a lot of chicken :) But it has certainly been a sacrifice worth making. And plus, a lot of items on my list aren't good for you anyway, so I guess it definitely could be worse!

I have learned that I can find an option to eat at most restaurants. It may not always be the most appealing option, but I can usually find something to eat. It's harder when we go to someone's house. It's just hard to be "that person" that has to specify dietary restrictions. I don't like being high maintenance, but I feel like my diet is. Thankfully, people are gracious, but I feel like I will always struggle with making those special requests. Mike has been really helpful and protective of this for me, which I really appreciate. Somehow I feel better when he makes the request on my behalf.

I do struggle with enough caloric intake, since I can't have a lot of the high fat foods and don't necessarily want to get all of my calories from sweets. It's definitely a learning process, and I know that I will get better at it with more time.

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