If, like me, you’ve suffered from Ulcerative Colitis (UC), you’ve tried every diet and supplement known to man.** UC is such an insidious disease and it logically makes sense that since it involves only your colon that your diet should make a difference. Research today is focusing on the microbiome, and I have participated in the American Gut Project through the University of San Diego. I received my report that broke down my personal microbiome and it is incredibly detailed. But there’s so much data being discovered that researchers don’t yet know how to interpret the data.
So it’s with a great deal of relief that once my colon was removed I was told I could eat whatever I wanted. In fact, that was the message the very day after my surgery! OK, while in the hospital they kept me on a low-residue diet while I was healing, but after that I was free to plunge ahead in the food aisles.
But wait. I’d done my homework and studied the Diet and Nutrition Guidelines from Ostomy.org, and I knew that it was important NOT to just eat anything and to introduce foods gradually. I kept on a low residue diet probably longer than I needed to (about six months) and then started very slowly with mushy vegetables and iceberg lettuce. Since then I’ve gotten comfortable with not-so-mushy, but cooked, veggies, more fruits (minus skins, for example, apples and peaches), and whole grain breads. I still avoid whole kernel corn, fresh veggies and greens, mushrooms, nuts and some whole beans. These items are a small price to pay to avoid any problems with a blockage.
Everyone is different, and when I’m asked about foods when I meet with patients in the hospital, I tell them it’s important to pay attention to your own body, but don’t push it. I always refer them to the Diet and Nutrition Guidelines because I think they are a good, reasonable resource.
*And now for my own personal perspective on food and UC. I know my observations are not shared by everyone, but if you truly have UC, I feel that food doesn’t really make a difference. Yes, there are lots of stories about diets (specifically the SCD diet) that have helped people get into “remission”, but I feel that remission has different meanings for different people. Does it mean you’re only on the toilet 6-7 times a day, instead of 20-30? Does it mean that you’re no longer bleeding, but you can live with the mucus? Does it mean you no longer have any pain, but maybe all your other symptoms? Does it mean you can get up at 6:00 in the morning, and no longer have to plan your day after 10:00 am? If your “diet” improves your symptoms enough for you to compromise your feelings about all your other symptoms, and you can live with them, then that’s great. But I don’t think diet alone will take away UC.