Developing a fear of food is a common issue for those suffering from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Reading a menu or trying to create a meal plan can become a daunting task when each ingredient comes with its own set of anxieties.
The first thing I suggest to any Crohnie trying to figure out what is “safe” to eat is…START A FOOD JOURNAL! There are so many diets out there claiming to heal IBD but if you take a quick peek in the support groups, you’ll see that success has been found with just about every diet you can think of. From vegans to carnivores and everything in between.
This just goes to show how unique we all are. How personalized our diets need to be to meet the needs of our individual bodies. A food journal allows you to track your reactions to the foods and drinks you consume. Over time, patterns will begin to emerge. You’ll start to see the foods that cause you the most problems. You’ll see the foods that make you feel sluggish or energized. The foods that feel like they take forever to digest or the foods that run right through you. Individualizing your diet will help open up the culinary world. You will be able to cook food that makes you feel great and doesn’t cause you to worry. You’ll be able to go out to eat and know your “safest” choices based on the ingredients and their preparation.
Paired with an elimination diet, a food journal can help you identify your “safe” foods and your “trigger” foods much faster than stumbling through a standardized diet. Be as specific as possible. Some important things to track are the time and what you ate. How hungry you were when you began to eat. How your body felt while eating. How you felt after eating. Your bowel movements (time and consistency). Did you feel sluggish or energized after you ate? Also, what is your stress level around mealtime?
It’s also important to remember that just because an ingredient prepared a certain way causes digestive upset does not mean that that particular ingredient is totally off limits. Sometimes, preparing an ingredient in a different way can reduce the reaction to it.
Keep a running list of a) the foods you feel are safe to eat, b) the foods you aren’t sure about and c) the foods you absolutely avoid. Be detailed here too. How was it prepared? Can you eat it one way and not another? Does combining it with something else change the reaction? Having this list will make it easier to share your dietary needs with friends and family. It will also make meal planning and eating out less stressful. Over time, your food sensitivities may change. Keeping this list up to date will keep you from having to remember how you last reacted to something.
If you consistently keep your food journal, you’ll be able to navigate the culinary world with less anxiety. Just because you have IBD does not mean that you have to miss out on delicious cuisine. You can be a foodie too! Start your food journal today!
Want to see a template food journal and ingredient list? Click here!
Need help getting started? A life coach is a great resource for guidance, encouragement and support. Schedule your complimentary consultation and let’s talk about how you can improve your life through lifestyle changes!
If you’re looking for a supportive IBD community, you’ve come to the right place!