This year I moved to one of the largest and busiest cities in the world, attended a prestigious ballet school, got my first real job, and learned a lot about myself in the process. I wrote cover letters, edited and re-edited resumes, auditioned for intensives and performed onstage, all while blogging regularly.
But while I was doing all of these great things and learning so much, I was also going through some health issues. Recently, a colonoscopy confirmed I have a form of Ulcerative Colitis. In some ways I feel lucky, because my colitis isn’t nearly as bad as it could be. I chalk this up to my staying away from processed food, sugar, and dairy, three of the biggest triggers for the disease. However, the diagnosis has still affected my life and, notably, my diet.
I debated writing about this on my blog because, to be frank, it’s not pretty. UC is a type of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (the other one being Crohn’s) that affects all or part(s) of the digestive tract. This can cause many debilitating symptoms like fatigue, sensitivities to different ingredients, stomach pain, amenorrhea, weight loss, and irregular bowel movements to list a few. Because it’s a highly individual disease with no permanent cure (yet), there are countless therapies and medications and supplements to keep it in remission and as a result everyone deals with it differently.
Because my UC has forced me to re-evaluate my diet and lifestyle and listen to my body more than I ever have before, in a way, it’s a blessing. I mean, obviously auto-immune diseases aren’t a walk in the park, but the fact that I have one forces me to focus on how to correctly fuel my body, and not just in terms of how many calories I need or the ratios of different macro nutrients.
It’s taught me so much already, and my journey is just beginning. I am determined to find ways to fight my inflammatory response with natural supplements and dietary alterations as opposed to medication. As Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
As always, I will be documenting everything here, on my blog. I hope that through my experimentation, I can help any of you out there who are struggling with IBD or simply interested in fighting inflammation naturally in your own bodies, because that’s definitely not an issue reserved for those with Crohn’s or Colitis. The large amount of processed foods, grains/gluten and sugar in the average American diet makes it easy to inflame your body, and chances are that even if you are unaware, someone you know probably suffers from IBD.
It’s easy to see my diagnosis as a setback, or ask why me, but I’m trying to dwell on the positive. My dietary restrictions will force me to get creative with ingredients, and healing myself of this disease will allow me to learn even more about my body. Maybe my story will inspire others to do the same. I suppose it would be easier if I were naturally in peak physical condition, but life is what you make of it, and I intend to make mine extraordinary. Change is inevitable. In the words of Bowie, “Turn and face the strange.” It’s the only way to truly move forward.
Sous Sus Chef