The 3 Most Important Pillars of IBD Management
1. The Paleo Diet
Food is the trickiest pillar for most to navigate when it comes to treating IBD. Foods that are tolerable for me may trigger symptoms in another person with Crohn’s.
In general, because Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative colitis cause chronic inflammation, it is wise for anyone with IBD to eliminate inflammatory foods.
The major foods I steer clear from are gluten, refined white sugar, most dairy, corn, soy, peanuts, tomatoes and more. Not surprisingly, these are common foods eliminated in the diets of anyone following a healing protocol.
My day-to-day food intake consists of high-quality sources of meat, eggs, fruits and veggies that I can tolerate, as well as white rice and other gluten-free grains such as millet or quinoa. When I am in need of a sweetener, my go-to’s are real maple syrup, raw organic honey, or coconut sugar.
On paper, my diet seems restrictive. Most people who learn about my lifestyle that eat the Standard American Diet (SAD) are shocked and wonder what I eat. But really, the Paleo diet boils down to the main food groups that have been around forever and doesn’t include man-made food products that have little to no nutritional value.
Supplements are the hardest pillar of IBD management for me personally to stick to. Because of my IBD, I do not fully absorb everything I eat. Therefore, it is important to supplement with vitamins and minerals that I am lacking. Occasional blood tests can determine what a person with IBD is deficient in.
Since deficiencies improve with supplementation, the vitamins and supplements will also change with the exception of a few constants. I take fish oil for its anti-inflammatory properties, probiotics to replenish good bacteria, and a multivitamin to fill in the nooks and crannies I’m missing!
Everything I take is with the guidance of my doctor to ensure I am taking the right dosage.
3. Self Care
Self-care is the newest of my health management pillars that I discovered I needed. While every single person should always put their wellbeing first and foremost, it is especially important for people with chronic illnesses.
Crohn’s disease comes with occasional fatigue that can be extremely limiting. There have been times I have woken up wth this “Crohn’s Fatigue,” as I refer to it, and known that anything on my agenda for the day had to be replaced with resting. Other times, fatigue occurs due to nutritional deficiencies and malabsorption or even dehydration. It’s just part of living with IBD.
Now, I put myself first. I will put off tasks that are not urgent, I will cancel plans if needed, and maybe most importantly, I will ask for help.
It took a long time for me to realize I didn’t have to try and keep up with the pace I thought I should be going at. If I feel great one day and have a ton of energy to use, you bet that I take advantage and get stuff done. (Granted, I will probably run out of steam by dinnertime, but I will take extra energy when I can get it!). If the next day my body is totally saying “meh,” then I will take it easy.
Learning to listen to my body has proven to be so crucial not only physically, but mentally as well since I lift the pressure off of myself to do everything.
Do you find these three pillars of health management to resonate with your life? What do you do differently to maintain wellbeing?
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