Originally posted 2/17/2020. Updated 1/11/2022
Change is hard for anyone! But you, can survive change even with IBD. These past few years have been a rollercoaster ride. The rules continue to change, we aren’t sure what the latest safety precautions are, and are probably just sick of the constant runaround. Aside from what is going on in the world, change is inevitable, and at times can be good. Think. You get a new job or you’re moving to a new place. You may be transitioning into a new lifestyle (hello, plant based life!!), and your routine and life take a turn. This turn isn’t necessarily for the worst…but it’s completely different than what you are used to, and more importantly, what your IBD and body are used to. I’m going to let you know how to survive change with IBD…well, at least how I am surviving.
A few years back now
Back in 2020, I got a new job and had to go through a 4 month training program, away from home, away from my family, away from my doctors, away from my safe foods. It was really freaking hard, and this was before Covid. And it is really hard on your IBD to change up our routines, especially when you have such a good thing going and I had to do just that. But, there are still ways to keep everything in check and make it through a transitioning time (even with a move across the country after you are done!).
Change requires you to really have a good understanding of your body and your IBD. Understanding your triggers is going to be your saving grace. What I’ve learned throughout my 10+ year journey with IBD is that you need to take the time and learn what works and doesn’t work for you. Can your body handle a little less sleep, or can you slip up on your diet choices a bit? THIS IS SO IMPORTANT! For me, changing up what I’m eating is my biggest trigger and biggest cause of my flares, after stress of course! So I needed to make adjustments. You need to figure out what the most important things for your body and your IBD so you can get yourself back on track. Also, get your support team on board to help you out along the way! Or like me, meet new awesome people who are willing to help you out too!
So what can you do to help balance change with IBD?
Here are the steps I have taken to keep my body in an equilibrium (I’m a scientist remember 🙂 ). I do this until I can establish a new routine or incorporate new changes into my life. And you never know, you may have to keep doing things like this in your future so prepare your arsenal so you’re ready when it happens!
KEEP THE STRESS LEVEL DOWN.
Yes, that is all caps because it is so important. I get stressed out way too easily and higher cortisol levels are not IBD’s friend. Exams, due dates, longer days, and being away from home are driving me nuts! But, it is life and you have to do what you need to do to keep your stress at bay. For me, its exercise (which is another point I’ll mention). I also have been reading non-work material at night, meditating when I find just a quick moment too, and writing in my gratitude journal everyday. Oh and making sure I take my happy pills everyday to chemically keep everything in balance! Easy to forget when you’re not home!
Keep it moving!
Even if exercising isn’t your thing, that’s fine but don’t think you need to start crossfit or something. Moving your body is a known reliever of stress which can keep our inflammation levels down. Simply go for walks or do quick stretching or yoga when you get a brief moment. Anything that will produce those happy chemicals to calm your insides down. For me, I try to go for quick runs after class/work but if I can’t fit that in, I walk to dinner with my new friends. Walking and fresh air will do a number for you, I promise!
Be mindful of what you are putting into your body.
I am used to cooking my healthy plant based meals everyday. Sometimes, this isn’t realistic based on what is happening in your life. When I am relying on other people to cook meals for me , I may or may not get carried away. (Hello french fries and onion rings! They’re plant based right!?). Cafeteria food or takeout is not for the easily influenced, like me, but you can still be sure to eat meals that work for you! The good thing about Crohn’s is that it has no problem telling you that you need to cut that shit out. Get creative so that you aren’t eating the same thing everyday and don’t go for the convenience of fried foods and sweets (I’m still working on that one) because it will catch up to you eventually.
Rely on your TEAM and gain some new members!
Have your support system on standby to help you out when you need it. I am call or text my family and friends daily to keep them in the loop. And they are keeping me in check too. Knowing you have support will keep you in the right mindset while you are working through a transitioning time. If you are in a situation where you can meet new people, find the ones who are willing to be there for you. Adding members to your team is the best feeling. And now you’ll have people going through the same things as you (maybe not with IBD, but at least mentally) who can help you and support you along the way!
Changing it up can make our bodies so angry with us, but you can definitely fight back and keep a steady state until you are able to get back to your normal routine. Use this guide to help you through and reach out if you need any help! I’m still working on keeping my IBD happy everyday during this time for me, but I know I will be able to get back to normal with time! Happy times warriors!