When I was first diagnosed with ulcerative colitis (I’m on the fence about whether I want to capitalize the illness or keep it with a lowercase. I feel like capitalizing it gives it more authority and signifies it as a name like Sue or Bob; you wouldn’t write sue or bob. I don’t know if I want to give it such authority. On the other hand, shouldn’t I just accept it as part of my life and name it what it is? Of course, ulcerative colitis is still quite elusive as it’s only a name for a group of symptoms that can have a plethora of sources. Oh well, I will just continue to fluctuate between capitalization and lowercasation; I made up that last word if that’s not obvious.) I was told a possible factor to my illness was stress. I feel like that is a challenging bit of information because if you tell me stress is what is causing my ailment, I will try my hardest not to be stressed and when I start to be stressed, I will become more stressed as I know I should not be stressed and so on and so forth. It is very similar to me telling you not to think about a pickle (usually one would use an example of an elephant but I’m getting hungry and craving a pickle, I think I will take a pickle break), now you’ve thought about a pickle because in order to not think about a pickle you first have to know what a pickle is and your clever brain remembers what a pickle is and has helped you to envision one so that you can know exactly what not to think about. Maybe not the best example but I’ll assume you get my point. What the doctors did not mention a thing about was diet. I had already figured out on my own that lactose was the devil’s juice as it caused everyone in my family (with the exception of my mom) horribly smelling gas and never failed to give me severe cramping and pain. I asked the doctors throughout my years of changes in doctors, changes in symptoms, etc. about what foods I should eat and how I could manage my illness through diet. I received a range of responses from, “Diet has nothing to do with it,” to a more well thought out and educated response like, “Many people have reported diet is helpful however there is no scientific data demonstrating that diet affects ulcerative colitis.” The latter response is more of a disclaimer basically saying “diet is helpful but I can’t give you any advice about it because that is not my area of expertise and I cannot ethically (nor, most likely, legally) give advice on such matter.”
I have to say, I was fine with those responses back in my teen years and early twenties because I love sugar. I would go so far as to say I am, or rather, was, a candy connoisseur. My favorite candy? Anything chewy and/or marshmallowy. My all time favorite was marshmallow circus peanuts. I know, probably the worst thing I could have eaten condition or no condition. Now, today, I can proudly say I have not even touched hardly a thing with processed sugar in it in over six months. I really never thought I would say that. I was once quite proud of my love of and dedication to candy. I was not allowed candy growing up (my mom was and still is a strong advocate of healthy eating, thankfully that slowly rubbed off on me), so, like all smart children, I snuck candy and ate it in secret. Between the ages of probably 7 and 9, I would ride bikes with my best friend to the local supermarket (I grew up in Wisconsin where riding your bike to the supermarket unsupervised at age 7 was possible, though my mom would certainly never have approved) unbeknownst to my mom, buy candy with my allowance money, ride back and eat the candy in a fort my friend and I had built beneath a tree in the field behind her house that I had dubbed (in a very formal ceremony that consisted of scattering skittles all over the ground inside the fort) “Pumpernickel” I believe it was named after a character or something in a book that I really liked back then (at 7 “pumpernickel” is a really fun word to say, at 34, I’d say I still enjoy it). Thus began my secret love affair with sugar.
I’ll be back to give you a more detailed account of what my current diet does consist of besides just not eating candy.