Wednesday, July 3, 2013

How did I arrive at my Diet Decision?

Let's review. The following foods cause me bladder pain, so I'm:
  • Grain Free (including gluten and corn)
  • Dairy Free
  • Egg Free
  • Soy Free (soy is a type of bean)
  • Potato free (potatoes are vegetables in the nigh shade family)
  • Limiting my sugar (to kick my candida problem)

I've heard of the Paleo Diet, the vegan diet, the vegetarian diet, the gluten free diet, the Primal diet, the low-oxolate diet, the GAPS, the IC diet (of course!), the AIP diet, and more. 

How did I ever choose one that worked for me?
One reason I recommend picking a diet is because it helps me find easy go-to recipes. Thinking up foods on such a limited diet is exhausting at the very least.

Because my IC doesn't really seem to flare really badly to acidic foods, put the IC diet on the back became secondary on my food-priority list.

So as I experimented with bladder pains and food varieties, I went through various diets. For a while there, I was a vegan who ate low-oxolate vegetables, and who was doing a modified version of the GAPS diet. My IC was manageable, but eating was very complicated. 

The GAPS diet is THE BEST diet for sufferers of the leaky gut, so I tried that first. It does not allow, of course, grains.  A lot of people on the GAPS diet are also low-oxolate, and since I know that some people have a strong connection between low-oxolates and IC, I tried both these diets together. (Note: Join the yahoo group 'Trying Low Oxalates' for support if you're interested in trying it...LOADS of IC peeps are members of that group. We chat all the time about the discussion I'm trying to start here).

But this diet wasn't working out perfectly for me. I wasn't satisfied with my IC, so I ventured out again and began exploring other diets.

Today, I'm on the Auto Immune Protocol (AIP) Diet. 
The AIP diet is a version of the Paleo diet (again, it is a grain-free diet). Of all the diets that I've tried out, this one fits me best. Basically, when I compared my list of foods that I KNEW made my bladder flare, this diet came closest to my list. Basically, if I eat AIP, I am automatically avoiding foods that make me flare. This is how I arrived at my diet decision. 

There is one caveat to the AIP diet:

My single and only caveat of the AIP diet are foods that are high in potassium. On the AIP diet, you can eat bananas and asparagus in abundance, but for some reason, those 2 foods made me flare. When I was on the low-oxalate diet, I avoided these foods, and my bladder felt better. I THOUGHT that this meant that I was intolerant to oxalates, but CORRELATION IS NOT CAUSATION. I later learned that it wasn't the oxalates in these foods, but most likely the high-amounts of potassium.

Letting go of food...
On the IC-forum, I've had a discussion about the emotional repercussions involved with eliminating foods that I love. I thought I'd re-share that here as it seems very pertinent.

I'm going to open up here for a minute, because this is actually therapeutic for me...please indulge...
When my husband and I go out to a restaurant with friends, and everyone at the table orders, and I pull out my lunch box, I often have to explain to our friends that I've had to divorce pleasure and food [side note: I know they mean well, but the 15-minute-long conversation that then ensues from our friends about how that is 'so sad' really isn't helpful. I live it. I don't need to hear about it as well!] So yes, it is a serious bummer to have to change my diet...and by bummer I mean really really sad. Especially since I'm the girl that likes EVERYTHING. I was born in Brazil. I've lived in Africa. I lived in the Southwest of the US and then to DC. I've gone to Europe. I lived in Texas. I ATE EVERYTHING AND LOVED IT (except for pickled mangos. Kinda gross). But for someone like me who has a daring pallet, I was pretty ticked off all of the time about my dietary constraints. I was mad for a while...and that anger seeped into all other areas in my life.

But then one day I just snapped. I began to look at the other side of the matter: I have 3 young kids (the oldest is 5), and because of the diet I've figured out, I don't wake up in excruciating pain. I can be a mom. I can teach my college classes at night. I can have a life. I had (let's be honest, still HAVE) really really bad IC. My doctors would always say it was one of the 'worst cases' they've ever seen (grrrreat. Misery! Thy name is BLADDER!). And although my pain level today fluctuates from 0-30%, I'm glad. 30-100% was NOT working. The pain management I have now is huge when nothing else worked. I know that I am managing this pain due to my diet. I'm not on any drugs. I do herbal stuff and vitamins (i.e. Vitamin D, multivitamin, some herbal anti-histiamine, fish oils, but nothing really hard-core), but no drugs, so I know that a huge part of my pain management is my diet. If I deviate for even one bite, my IC comes back with a fierce vengeance and I'm in bed with a diaper-towel in between my legs for hours. So anyhow, after that day where I 'snapped', I was able to overcome my frustration about something I couldn't change and I just go with it. I don't like it, but I do like the level of relief the diet brings me. So I'm going to embrace this gift, my diet, for now.

So to answer some questions:
1)Do I plan on being on this diet forever?
 Yes and no. I kind of believe in the high-vegetable intake thing and in the grass-fed meats thing, and I really find power in eating whole foods, but part of the goal from getting better is to be ABLE to eat whatever I want, in moderation and on occasion. So while I'll probably be mostly a whole-foods girl with grass fed meats (after remission), I'd love to reintroduce a moderate amount of grains back in my life. I think my body was designed to eat all I'd like to have a more 'normal diet' some day. Maybe I'll refer to myself as a 'dirty Paleo' who mostly follows Paleo-ism, but who may deviate from time to time .

2) Yes. I do think my current Paleo-AIP diet is sustainable, but... While I don't feel starved, and while I do think I have enough nutrition, I don't think it's good to eat this limited FOREVER. I plan on doing this Paleo-AIP diet for at least one year...possibly longer, then I'll decide if my gut has healed enough to add something like nuts into my diet. I know. Woooweee...almons?! Such crazy talk. :)

3) I don't believe in prescribing any one diet. Someone told me once that they think everyone's body is constitutionally different, and I like that concept. Low-oxolates may be important for you and your IC, but it doesn't seem to be right for me. Meat may make you feel a little sick, but it antibiotic free, grass-fed meats make me feel great (the nasty hormone-coated antibiotic injected meat I ate before DID make me feel digestively icky however). I later learned that meat has some good amino-acids that help with gut healing. Anyhow, you need to be your own doctor and figure out diet you need. BUT, having said that, I do think that we, as a whole, eat FAR TOO MANY GRAINS. FAR TOO MUCH DAIRY. and FAR TOO MUCH MEAT! I think grain-free is one of the best things to do for me and my IC. It forces you to eat more veggies!

I hope you find this note encouraging. I'm not trying to be preachy at all to anyone. I just thought I'd express some of my journey about the food-thing. I can really really relate to many frustrations. It also felt good to put this out there since it's something that I've been mulling over for a while. I respect everyone who is trying to work this out in their own way! 

Here's to all of us and our health [raises a glass of Evian]! And honestly, I DO BELIEVE we can beat this. I know we can!

1 comment:

  1. Hello,

    I am twenty-two years old. I just got married to the love of my life. And I was diagnosed with IC the summer of last year. While I was glad to have an answer to my pain ... I think I was most depressed when I found out I could not eat ANYTHING that I ate before my IC. I ate jalepenos on EVERYTHING. I drank coffee strong and black like it was going out of style. I was vegetarian. And I loved my grains. I will still melt on the inside when I see a stack of homemade belgian-style waffles. But! Nothing I have read until this article, even came close to relating to how I felt after diagnosis. I was, coincidentally, diagnosed with clinical depression roughly a year later. I am now over that phase of my life where I pitied myself and out of anger ... drank and ate everything that made my pain worse. Now ... I am only interested in healing. And if eating a specific way will get me there, so be it. I am a wife now. I am an older sister to four amazing younger siblings. I am a friend, even though I haven't been much of one since my diagnosis. And I am elated at the thought of beating this. So thank you. Thank you for sharing just a little bit of your story. A bit that has encouraged me, and countless others I am sure.

    I hope that you are still pain-free and that your life has only gotten better since you last wrote this.

    Blessings be with you always.