Kicking colitis out!
Since 2010 when I was diagnosed with colitis, I started to change my lifestyle to see if I could help my symptoms. I used to eat quite normally, always knowing that food didn’t agree with me. I always suffered stomach aches after eating, I was tired, sometimes physically sick, constipation, diarrhoea and blood in my stools. By gradually testing different things, I’ve learnt what makes the colitis better and what makes it worse. Right now, my colitis is the best it’s been for years and I know that’s due to the changes I’ve made to my lifestyle. Through these lifestyle choices I’ve irradicated all symptoms apart from the occasional flare up, which is usually due to a period of excess such as a big night out of drinking, or a very stressful situation. My lifestlyle suggestions may look overwhelming, time consuming or even boring but I have a great life and do everything I want to, because I am in control and healthy.
I believe that by making small, gradual changes to your lifestyle, you can control your disease, your IBS and many other complaints. Go on, make yourself better!
• Regular exercise – I choose to go on short runs, do bodyweight training and practice yoga. I used to overdo it running marathons and half marathons. I thought I was helping my body but in fact I was making it more tired. Once I stopped, I realised I was over exercising and making myself more ill. I’ve learnt that my body needs time to rest and recover.
• Sleeping properly – I’m very restless and struggle to lie in on weekends. I’ve realised the importance of this extra sleep now and allow myself time on weekends to really catch up. When I’m asleep my body’s healing. On a week night my normal bed time is around 10pm.
• Taking my pills daily – Honestly, my pills annoy me because they’re an admission that something’s wrong with me. I was very reluctant to take colitis drugs at first but I’ve been assured these only tackle my colitis and aren’t absorbed into the bloodstream. If taken daily, they also reduce chances of developing colon cancer which is high risk to those with IBD. I take pentasa 2g a day, vitamin d, multivitamin, probiotic, magnesium and bisoprolol and ramipril for my heart.
Nutritional changes I’ve made:
• Drinking lots of water; 2-3 litres a day
• Drinking less caffeine; this is bad for my heart rate
• Eating very limited sugar; sugar’s bad for the gut, feeds all disease and controls my highs and lows
• Only eating foods in my ‘good foods’ list
• Avoiding all grains; these trigger my colitis symptoms
• Refusing antibiotics; these are bad for the gut and thought to contribute to the development of Crohns and Colitis
• Eating much smaller meals through the day; giving the body less to digest at once, keeping energy levels up through the day
• Eating dinner before 7pm; allowing my system to digest properly before bed, so that when I’m asleep my body properly heals and rejuvenate, it’s not working on my dinner!
• Having limited cold food or drink; this shocks the body and makes it hard for the gut to work properly
• Chewing food properly; giving the stomach a head start on digestion
• Never eating under stressful conditions such as at desk at work
• Drinking a glass of orange juice with some meals; to maximise my body’s absorption of iron
Tactics that help me maintain this lifestyle:
• Communicating with my friends and family – Letting them know how I’m feeling, about things I’m testing or changing. If they know about them, they accept my changes and support me in my choices
• Doing a job I love – it can still be stressful but loving what I do eases the pressure
• Keeping a journal – this helps me understand how I really am, how I feel and helps me track trends in my disease
• Practicing yoga – simply because there’s nothing like a good stretch and some deep breathing to help make you feel better
• Planning and prepping food – just setting aside 1 hour a weekend to plan the week’s food and do a shop. It’s cheaper, healthier and keeps me in control. It stops hunger pangs, energy lows and snacking on bad things