Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis are conditions that affect millions of individuals around the world. Both conditions inflame the lining of the gastrointestinal tract and disrupt the body’s ability to digest food, absorb nutrition, and eliminate waste in a healthy manner. Those with Crohn’s and UC may experience abdominal pain, cramping, gas, bloating, fatigue, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis affect each person differently. These conditions can have detrimental effects on a person’s ability to work or engage in a normal social life, and are often accompanied with chronic pain and feelings of isolation.
If you are suffering from Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis, there is no reason to feel alone. One in 150 Canadians are living with Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis.
Today, we want to share tips from the Crohn’s and Colitis Canada about how to manage your symptoms through healthy living.
Diet & Nutrition
It’s important to remember that there is not one diet for those with Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis. Despite what you might read online, it’s important to listen to your own body and customize dietary programs to your needs.
Here are some tips about how to find ways for you to identify the best diet plan for you:
- Identify foods that trigger symptoms and eliminate them from your diet
- Find foods that cause less irritation and have them on hand
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day to put less stress on the digestive system
- Try lactose-free products
- Avoid drinking during your meals
- Limit the fats in your diet
For a more in-depth resource about diet and nutrition check out the Crohn’s and Colitis Society’s online booklet, Food For Thought.
Something many people don’t know is that Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis often cause malnutrition.You might also want to talk to your physician and see if supplements and vitamins are right for you. Some common ones recommended to those with Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis are:
- Calcium citrate
- Vitamins D and B12
- Folic acid
- Sodium and potassium
- Fish oil capsules/omega 3 fatty acids
If you think you are suffering from malnutrition and/ or dehydration, contact your physician right away.
The Mind-Body Connection
Oftentimes, we forget how our physical health affects our mental health. When dealing with Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis, it’s important to know that in addition to taking care of your physical health, your mental well-being also needs to be taken care of.
Here are some things you can do to help take care of your mental health:
- Talk to a professional. If you are experiencing anxiety, depression, or feelings of isolation, ask your physician for a referral to a mental health professional who will be able to help you deal with the physical and emotional strain
- Join a community. There are various online and in person support groups for those suffering from Crohn’s andUlcerative Colitis like, Gutsy Peer Support a peer-to-peer initiative hosted through the Crohn’s and Colitis Canada website
- Get active. When you are not experiencing a flare-up, get out and get involved in an activity that gets you moving. This could be exercise, sports, or all kinds of activities.
- It’s OK to say no. When it comes to over-commitment and busy scheduling, it’s always okay to say no to take the time you need to ensure you’re in your best health
Healthy Living Is Important For Self-Care
These strategies can help you manage stress which can sometimes be a factor in when you experience flare-ups. Maintain a healthy and positive perspective, and stay social.
Taking care of yourself is an essential key to overall happiness for any individual, but especially when you are affected by a condition like Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis, it’s important to remember to take the necessary steps for self-care.
For more information about Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis: the signs and symptoms, treatments and therapies, educational webinars and where to find a community in your area, go to the Crohn’s and Colitis Canada website.
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