Delicious? Off Limits.

November 25, 2009

Today I feel: not my best, but swinging back up from a bad few days.

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Before I was diagnosed with Crohn’s, the doctors thought I was lactose intolerant, and they actually diagnosed me as such for a while. I believe this was somewhat after I was on an “ice cream diet” to gain back the six pounds I lost since becoming sick (I stopped wanting to eat once it became clear to me that eating led to stomach pain). Anyway, I am not lactose intolerant, and thank god for that because milk is my number one comfort food. Even so, really creamy things do tend to exacerbate my Crohn’s, as do really greasy things, and anything that can generally be described as “rich”. Which is nice, because that’s most of the really good stuff.

When I started out there were a lot of foods that were absolutely off limits for me, partly because my disease was in no way under control yet, and partly because I was ten. At nearly twenty, I still don’t always make the absolute ideal food choices (but who does, really?) so the restriction was probably good. At the beginning it was no nuts or popcorn of course, but also no apples, grapes, hotdogs, basically nothing with a skin on it. Back in the day I remember my mother peeling those tiny little breakfast sausages for me on Christmas, and my sister in the back of the car peeling me some grapes or de-kerneling popcorn. It was really sweet, but thankfully now I’ve been given the go-ahead for skin. The doc says I can cheat with popcorn (bagged is fine, the kernels aren’t as thick as movie-theater popcorn) and nuts as long as I’m careful, which translates to chewing them to a pulp and not eating too many at once, which is excellent because I love pistachios.

The doctor doesn’t have as much to say about my rich foods, though, probably because it’s an inconvenience thing more than an emergency room complete with stomach pumping kind of event. Unlike Boston’s beloved Mayor Menino, I have never been rushed to the hospital for eating Cracker Jacks and Fenway Franks, and in this I count myself lucky. As long as I follow the rules, I should be fine, right?

Well, not really. Donuts generally lead to me running to a bathroom multiple times within minutes, as does ice cream and pizza. Honestly, I am not a fan of this. But it’s a lot harder for me to remember not to eat these sorts of food than it is to not get popcorn at a movie, since they’re not technically off-limits, they just aren’t the best idea.

I haven’t been eating much ice cream lately- it doesn’t occur to me to eat it very often, and I’ve been trying to eat somewhat healthier.  Generally, this has been really good for me in all aspects of life. I feel better, I have more energy, and my Crohn’s is a little easier to manage. But when I came home from college this past weekend, my sister took me out to ice cream. That was really sweet of her, and the ice cream was delicious, as usual. But after a little while I could feel it in my gut. After another ice cream outing two days later with the same result I put two and two together. My body isn’t used to having such rich food in it anymore, and so it reacts worse to ice cream now than it would have if I ate it all the time.

I don’t think the answer to this is to eat ice cream all the time, because it still isn’t good for my belly in any way, it just doesn’t shock my body as much when it feels bad that way all the time. And I’m not willing to totally give up rich, delicious food, especially not this close to the holidays. I think the answer is all things in moderation, and definitely not before I get on a bus. If I’m going to be at my house for a while, it’s okay to have a little of that ice cream or whatever else. Key word being a little.

I think I’m getting better at making good food decisions for my health, Crohn’s and otherwise. Tonight my family is celebrating my 20th birthday with dinner out, since I’ll be at school on my actual birthday, but I decided to go to sushi instead of Chinese. Seaweed, vegetables, and rice (I don’t eat fish)? No problem. At 20, I think it’s good to finally be able to choose Cheerios over a donut and soup over pizza.

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