Sunday, February 22, 2015

If You're the Next Person to Say This, Be Ready to Lose an Eyeball

I just came across a short read that everyone (with or without IBD) should take one minute to read. After 13 years of living with IBD, I've heard it all, not excluding the 11 items mentioned on this list. I think that often people are nervous and just don't know what to say and end up saying the wrong thing. We've all done that, and I try to be understanding of "foot-in-mouth" disease. But the one thing that really hits me on this list is all the mention about dietary concerns. I have been told hundreds upon hundreds of times (not once by an actual expert in Inflammatory Bowel Disease) that I brought this disease and all its flares upon myself by my diet. It's the single most infuriating/obnoxious/ignorant thing you could possibly say to me. And not that it's any of your business, but the following are just a small sample of dietary approaches I have taken:

1. Gluten Free for 6 months: didn't do shit
2. Vegetarian for 1 year: didn't do shit
3. Dairy free for 6 months: didn't do shit
4. No food at all: I have been on eleven different fasts lasting anywhere from 7-14 days (it's amazing how I saw my symptoms get aggressively worse during this time, despite the fact that I would be only on IV fluids)
5. Caffeine free for 7 years: didn't do shit
6. Aloe pill supplements for 3 years: didn't do shit
7. Fish oil for 4 years: didn't do shit
8. I haven't drank a sugary drink (other than perhaps some fruit juice when on the verge of passing out) since I was eleven
9. I eat almost exlusively organic, and have since college ended 8 years ago
10. Refined sugar has been very near absent from my diet since the age of 12. You can call me "salt tooth" if you'd like, but sugar has never been my thing
11. No alcohol for 2 years (Since college, I drink sparingly)

I've tried many combinations of the aforementioned methods, as well as many others. As the article does mention, I cannot eat raw fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds or corn during a flare as they make my symptoms much worse. Alcohol during a flare is a no-no, as is caffeine. But I would be willing to bet that I live a healthier, more active lifestyle than most people that offer me this super dumb advice. My lifestyle has always been accompanied by exceptionally healthy eating habits. Sure, I'll have a piece of cake for a celebration but that is far from a daily norm.

I have one close blood relative with IBD, and many other relatives with related autoimmune disease. It's genetic (note: in my case, but not in all). So, do me two favors:

1. Read this quick article about what to never say to me
2. Understand that I by no means brought this disease on myself, as I would have to be clinically insane to willingly sustain such chronic suffering

I'd like to sign off by saying that of course diet plays an exceptionally important role in ALL of our lives. Dietary changes have helped alleviate the symptoms of almost ALL diseases and it cannot be understated how crucial the role our diet plays in preventing and treating all illness. But unfortunately it does not cause nor cure everything. My yogi friend who eats religiously healthy did not cause her heart disease. My vegetarian-since-birth bestie did not bring thyroid cancer upon herself, and my 85 year-old grandfather who chain smoked for 25 years and ate nothing but refined sugar and carbs and never exercised more than walking between his house and his driveway was blessed with a long and full life (who would have thought- RIP Pops, you know I say this with the utmost respect).

Let's stop beating one another up and start doing things that matter, like looking for the real cause of IBD and then looking for a real cure.

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