Journey of food

I remember talking to be gastroenterologist when I was first diagnosed and asking him whether diet played an important part in my IBD.

He said that when I was well I shouldn’t have a problem eating everything but when I was flaring to keep an eye out on what affected me and to stay clear of it.

I had asked if there was a specific diet I should follow and he said that because everyone is so different it’s hard to say what I should do, just that I should avoid things that were high in fibre and to maybe keep a food diary to see what my triggers were.

When it comes to the diet aspect of IBD I think health practitioners, and patients, can get a little confused. IBD affects us all so differently so there is no “one size fits all” approach, which can prove tricky.

It’s about finding out what affects you personally, and that can change over the years, I know that from personal experience.

Some people can change their diet and are lucky enough to alleviate some of their symptoms if not completely get rid of them. Some people have tried everything known to man on the diet scale and it has done nothing to help them. Same for different supplements, but I’ll tackle that another time.

I hate giving advice about diets and IBD, and on this blog I try to stay away from saying “You should try this” because to be honest, though we have the same disease, it attacks our bodies in different ways.

The only thing I can do is share my own experiences.

In the beginning I stayed away from a lot of dairy, nuts, caffeine, veggies that were hard to break down and hot sauce, which killed me because I LOVE spicy food.

I once had a particularly bad episode with popcorn so stayed cleared of that for quite some time.

Once I had my stoma, I pretty much ate whatever I wanted and had no problems. Sure if I ate something particularly bad it would go through my system quicker but I never bled. Apples were a big no no. I just couldn’t seem to digest them. If I ate something fatty then it would go through super quick but TinTin seemed to like pizza, noodles, pasta, bread, basically anything quite stodgy. And strangely enough, a Big Mac and chips. God know what they put in that burger but TinTin loved it. I could even drink when I had TinTin. Not cider though, always had problems with cider and wine could make it pass through quickly but if I took loperamide before I went out and before I went to sleep I wouldn’t tend to have many problems.

Apart from the time I got REALLY drunk and leaked in my bed but that was most probably the after-drink kebab that set that one off!

It was only once I had my Jpouch that I really started to look into my diet because my Jpouch unfortunately just wasn’t working. I was going to the toilet loads, I was bleeding and the gas that I had was unreal. Not in a “oh my god I can’t stop farting” kind of way, because I can’t actually do that unless I’m on the toilet. So if we’re in a group and there’s a bad smell, you can’t put the “Ew Stephanie Farted” line on me because I can’t.

The gas was in a “oh sweet Jesus this pain feels like there are giant, hot, balls rolling around my tummy” and they’d gurgle away and get more frequent and urgent until I went to the toilet.

So I looked into diet in an attempt to calm it down.

I have found that not eating wheat has helped tremendously with my bleeding, and sugar. Sugar is actually evil for my pouch but damn I can’t help but have some sweets or chocolate now and again.

It’s defiantly settled over the months. In June it will be two months since I had my pouch connected and I can eat a lot more than what I could in the early stages.

I went a year without ice cream, the combination of sugar and dairy was just death. Yes, death. I’d eat it and be locked in the bathroom for about a day. Totally not worth it, but I can occasionally have ice cream now which is awesome. Do you know how hard it is to be in Australia in summer and not have ice cream? It’s pretty impossible.

I couldn’t eat eggs for a while, but that’s better these days too. I just can’t have eggs every day. It’s almost like I can eat something once and then I need to let my intestine cope with it and then I can have it a few days later. I can’t overload it, it seems.

I tried different diets too. The FODMAP diet and the Paleo diet. I’ll explain these diets in a different post so that you have more of an understanding in case you ever wanted to try it, but I found that though they were helpful, listening and finding out what affects my body helped the most.

So what kinds of things to I eat now?

Well my breakfast is usually oats with a few raisins, almond milk and cinnamon.

Lunch is rice noodles or if I’m out and about sushi with no soy sauce, because soy sauce contains wheat.

Dinner can be loads of things, gluten free pasta tomato sauce, with chicken and some veggies, or what really sits well with me is chicken breast, mashed potato and broccoli.

I would be lost without rice cakes, great snack! And I put a small amount of peanut butter on them or butter and marmite.

I do still have sweet things, and occasionally, though I shouldn’t, wheat. I don’t have them all the time because I know that if I do, I’ll be in pain, going to the toilet heaps, bleeding and it’s not worth it.

If I’m honest, I do eat more sweet things than I should but we all have our battles and it’s still something I’m trying to overcome!

What are your diet staples? Have you found any diets to be really helpful for you or do diets not help in anyway?

Diet issues

Living in London Town, there were all kinds of foods that I couldn’t eat without having painful tummy rumbles. I can’t list them because there are so many but just to get an idea, most fruit and veg was out, caffeine, anything sweet and wheat. At one point I’m sure I was living off rice, tuna, rice, tuna and erm rice and tuna.

Food plays such an important role in my life these days and my relationship with food is a tricky one. I used to HATE eating because food is so complex for me. I went through many a phase where I was like “SCREW YOU J POUCH” and ate what I wanted.

This never, ever has a good outcome. I’ll be fine for a few days, albeit my tummy rumbles were in full force with everything I ate, but the pouch eventually would win. I’d feel run down, exhausted, I would have been bleeding heavily and I’d be feeling very dizzy because I would have been going to the bathroom heaps, therefore losing salts and electrolytes and feeling pretty dehydrated.

Now I know what you’re thinking, if I know it’s going to be so detrimental to my health why am I eating it?

Sometimes I just want to feel normal, and I miss the convenience of eating anything I want. I miss going for lunch and grabbing a sandwich rather than having to plan all my meals beforehand. I miss going to dinner and not having to make a fuss about what I can or can’t have. I miss going to a friend’s house and not have to give them a list of what I can or can’t eat.

What I miss the most? Easy food shopping. I now lose precious hours of my life in the supermarket. I detest food shopping because I have to check everything. Did you know that there is wheat in soy sauce? Neither did I.

There is no way I can go into a supermarket and spontaneously think of what I would like for dinner. I am so envious of all the people who are going through the aisles, they see something they quite like and it goes in the basket. I’m sure I’ve disturbed some people by looking at them with such green eyed jealousy, that they have cautiously backed away slowly, not making any fast movements for fear that I might pounce on them, or God forbid, strike a conversation with them.

Food shopping is a mission for me, I have to plan my food shops and if I don’t? Oh boy. I’ve gone into the supermarket once for a weekly shop and ended up leaving with some chicken and potatoes. That’s it! The thought of traipsing through the aisles without a list became so daunting I just picked up my “safe foods” and left.

I’ve even gone in once for a snack and left because the task was just too overwhelming/daunting.

So how do I cope these days? Well since coming to Australia and taking some amazing supplements, having a lot more sunshine and in general being more relaxed, there are a few more things that I can tolerate which makes shopping easier. Imagine my disbelief when I found I could finally eat broccoli and cauliflower without feeling like I was trying to pass eggs through my intestines.  I literally cried into my food when I found I could eat spinach again, in small doses mind you, don’t want to over do it.

Lists and pre planning. These are my best friends when it comes to food shopping and meals. Going to a restaurant with friends? Check out the menu or call ahead to see what you can eat.

Yes, it is a pain in the backside, yes it takes the fun out of food but with the glorious thing called the internet it doesn’t mean that your meals have to be boring!

If you’re strapped for time, take a day to cook your food for the week so you can just heat it up when you don’t have the time to cook from scratch. When making certain foods, make them in a big batch so you can freeze a portion or two and heat it up another day.

It does take time and effort to plan all your meals but it is worth it. Also I found when I was being really good and sticking to my diet, I found that in the long run I could tolerate more foods because clearly my intestines were healing.

As it stands, I’m on the brink of a flare because I’ve been stressed and not sticking to my diet, which is completely backwards because I know that when I am stressed I need to stick to it even more. I’m lucky though because I can recognise when things are getting bad and tighten the reigns so I don’t flare completely.

I know it seems hard but it is worth it in the end!

What are your diets like? How do you cope with food?

Hummus for all

Hummus. God I love that stuff. However, since being diagnosed with Irritable Pouch Syndrome/Chronic Pouchitis I have had to give up the good stuff, as you can imagine, hummus will make me look like I’m 9 months pregnant and keep me in the bathroom for an extremely long time.

Since coming to Australia I have been doing heaps of research. The Boys mum has been super amazing. She is really helping me to overcome this and been giving me ideas and tips. She has been reading books about food and IBD and this is where I came across this recipe to try.

In this book “Crohn’s and Colitis Diet Guide” by Dr. A. Hilary Steinhart and Julie Cepo, just in case you wanted to have a peek! It says “Legumes Are Worth Including in your diet.” To which I laughed out loud and shook my head.

Oh naïve authors. You clearly do not know what happens when an extremely damaged intestine comes into contact with legumes (peas and beans).

When a normal person eats these foods, they become a little gassy. When I eat these foods my gut sounds like I have a dying, gurgling cow trapped and the passing of wind through the gut is so painful, it feels like said cow is expanding and trying to burst out of my body.

However, as I read on, I found out something interesting.

“The outside skin of a bean is insoluble fibre, while the inside contains more soluble fibre. Some people “pinch” or peel off the outside skin to target the soluble fibre”

What does that mean? Because I for one stayed well away from ALL fibre. Fibre, for me, meant increased toilet trips and, yup, you guessed it, the dying; gurgling cow.

“Insoluble fibre is best known for bulking up stool and relieving constipation. It increases faecal weight and speeds up the passage of material through the intestines. Soluble fibre slows stomach emptying and passage of material though the intestines, helping to form or gel loose bowel movements.”

And so began my journey to create hummus, I figure I might as well try it with the insoluble fibre removed.

Now this could still put me in the bathroom for an epically long time, and invite the cow round for tea but, as always with this disease, you need to try it to see what effect it will have.

Why am I putting this on my blog if it doesn’t work? Well that’s because if it may not work for me, it may work for you. You never know until you try.

Hummus Recipe

1 can of chickpeas

¼ cup of Tahini

¼ cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 garlic cloves, sliced

2 pieces of bottled roasted bell pepper thinly sliced

1 tsp cumin

¼ salt, or to tate

How do you remove the insoluble fibre from the chickpeas, I hear you ask. You have to “pinch” them off.

It was an arduous task but such is my love for hummus that I didn’t really mind standing at the counter, pinching each individual chickpea.

I then boiled my chickpeas for about an hour. The canned variety are technically already cooked but I wasn’t taking any chances and decided to cook them as well.

In a food processor I blended the spices, salt and pepper, chickpeas, lemon juice garlic and tahini blitz it all together. Then I put a little bit of water in there to get a smooth conscistency and blitz again, adding more water depending on how you like your hummus.

In go the red peppers for another blitz and bam.

This is the end result.

Boy did I enjoy that hummus and you know what? I had no problems with it either!

*does a little dance for I can now eat hummus*

I’m going to try a black olive variation as well, I’ll be sure to add a picture to my gallery when I do make it 🙂

If you try the recipe, let me know how it goes!


The cake is watching me

When I was given the hefty list of foods that I was not allowed on the fodmap diet, my first thoughts were “Oh my God no bread,” followed by “Oh my God no cake.”
I do enjoy a slice of cake. It is a common pass time of mine to catch up with a friend over a piece of cake and a cup of tea.
Sometimes I wonder why I am not the size of a house, and then I realise that it’s because I poo everything out at an alarming rate. Did you know that for a normal person 
Being on this diet I have found out many things. Mainly, how utterly appalling my self control is.
I know I’m not meant to have that piece of cake. That glorious piece of cake that is staring me down singing “you know you want me” and dancing in a seductive way with a fork, is on the “Not allowed list” It has wheat, and most importantly an epic amount of sugar in it.
Yet I am there, five minutes later, feeling guilty that I shoved that piece of cake into my mouth and I damn well enjoyed it.
However my J Pouch is not impressed. I have learnt the hard way that on top of the fodmap diet no no’s, sugar is out.
I always thought that wheat would be my biggest problem to cut but in fact its sugar. It is everywhere and I never realised I how much I had until I tried to cut it out.
It’s everywhere and trying to exclude it is so hard. So far I have only managed 4 days tops to exclude it and then I cave.
I managed to last nearly 2 weeks without wheat and all the other crazy no no’s and I got really upset and everything went out the window.
Being on the fodmap diet I have learnt that if I want to eat I have to take lunch with me. There are very limited foods I can pick up on the go and in a rush.
Even though I know that this diet is what could be the key from keeping me off antibiotics I am finding it difficult to stick to it. Having UC, the ops and now all the problems with the J Pouch, I have adopted the Fuck It mentality. I have missed out on so much and my illness prevents me from doing so many things that I do end up eating things that I shouldn’t. Why can’t I eat that piece of cake? UC has robbed me of so many things so why can’t I eat the cake just like everyone else.
I have been doing a lot of research recently regarding diet and Jpouch and have found some interesting information regarding UC and diet.
When I was diagnosed one of the first things I asked was “Should I change my diet?” I was told that I should be fine, and that when I am in remission that I can eat what I want and to just “listen to my body” when I am in a flare and not eat too many fruits and vegetables.
IBD takes the “one size fits all” and stamps all over it. It’s different for so many people; no wonder the doctors don’t recommend you start cutting certain foods out because what will flare me won’t flare you.
I wish they had recommend trying different diets, or at least planted the seed of researching different foods that could aggravate my UC. Especially now I am having the same symptoms I had with my UC except without an intestine.  
I hope that the gastroenterologists are starting to seek alternatives, to realise that though it is completely necessary to control the flare, that there could be an underlying problem that diet could help to address.
I hope that people with IBD see this blog and decide to do some research on what works for them. Sometimes doctors are so focused on getting the flare under control they don’t consider any other alternatives than those dreaded steroids, when a few changes in diet could relieve a lot of pain that some of us IBD sufferers have.
In the mean time I’m going to try harder to stick to this diet. What’s the point of preaching to everyone if I don’t heed my own advice?!
So Mr Cake, you and I will cross paths occasionally, I only ask that you stop doing that sexy dance with the fork because it makes me want you just that little bit more!