Around Christmas time, I cant help but remember being diagnosed with this disease. Four years ago, I was so unwell. My Christmas dinner was so tiny, I didn't have enough energy to decorate the Christmas tree - I had to sit down between each decoration because of the pain. We all knew something was very wrong but we didn't know what it was. We still carried on with Christmas.
This is my fifth Christmas with Crohn's disease. Two out of these five I have been unwell. The last couple of months I have been expecting this Christmas to be the same, because I was not feeling well. I have had a lot of pain recently, stronger pain. The Blood tests have shown my inflammation is only slightly raised, so the doctors are not keen to do much about it.
This lead me to try the low residue diet. The theory is that anything that is high in insoluble fibre - the parts we do not digest, will cause pain to the area's which are already inflamed and sore. The basis of this diet is to switch to white bread, pasta and rice. To remove skins from fruits and to cook vegetables well, and to avoid seeds and nuts.
I believe that this diet has improved my symptoms, and I have not been feeling as much pain or going to toilet as much. Soon, I will start trying to re-introduce foods that I was previously eaten, maybe switch back to brown bread to see if this makes me feel worse or if I can handle it.
I know that a lot of people with Crohn's disease worry about food at Christmas. People tend to eat a lot, and a lot of rich foods. Maybe, this is something that those of us with this, or similar illnesses just know without needing to think about it. (I don't know how 'normal' people think). Sometimes just looking at rich foods give me stomach ache. I always crave plain things, with not much flavour. Cold yogurts which I imagine is cooling down my intestines. Most people feel like Christmas is a time you can really indulge and not have to feel guilty about it, and for those who usually try and stick to a healthy diet, its nice to have an excuse to eat the things you normally wouldn't! I think that is something people who are not well still really want to do at Christmas, and if it is an occasion when we are unwell, it can really bring things down.
However, Christmas is a time to be thankful for everything that we have. To spend time with family and friends, to celebrate life - whether or not you are religious. I am pleased to say that this Christmas, I will allow myself to indulge! I feel happy that I can remember that Christmas four years ago and see how far I have come. I am still fighting, But I am learning more and more about my illness, I am realistic about the life I can lead, and the goals I can achieve!
I wish everyone a very happy Christmas, and a wonderful new year! I hope your 2012 is happy and healthy, and you achieve your goals and dreams!
Disclaimer - I am not recommending or advising anyone to follow the low residue diet without the help and guidance of a medical professional. I am a Nutrition Student and understand the risks I am taking, and do not plan to make these changes long term. I will also tell my doctor about these changes I have made when I next see him. Please remember that everyone with Crohn's disease is effected differently, and anything that works for me may not work for someone else. If you need help controlling your symptoms, please talk to your specialist.