Healthy Paleo Snacks

Over the years, I have found a few favorite snacks that I would recommend to everyone, but especially to those suffering from IBD. Not all of these snacks are paleo or SCD friendly, but none of them have bothered my stomach. Please note that I do not consume these snacks when I am in a flare – during a flare, I try to follow the more basic form of the SCD diet.

1. Smartcakes 

These are muffins that come in four different flavors: chocolate, cinnamon, tangerine, and coconut. My personal favorite is cinnamon.

2. Fatsnax

These are keto-friendly cookies. They come in multiple different flavors, but my favorite flavor is chocolate chip.

3. Lentil Chips

Lentil chips can be found in most grocery stores now, and they are a great replacement for other types of potato chips or corn chips.

4. Beef Sticks

Organic beef sticks without any sugar are great as protein snacks.

5. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Honey Mints

These chocolates are SCD, and they are one of the first desserts that I was able to eat. They are only available at Trader Joe’s.

6. Lara Bars

Lara Bars are available pretty much everywhere and are great protein bars. My favorite flavor is peanut butter.

7. Snapea Crisps

These crisps are amazing, and you can even find them at the airport, so they are great for traveling.

 


Exercise and IBD

The side effects of IBD, such as weakness and fatigue, often lead people to believe that all forms of exercise are off limits. People with IBD can, however, exercise and keep in shape in ways that will not cause symptoms to worsen. With the exception of being in a serious flare, consistently working out is always possible.

 

Low-Intensity Workouts

 

Working out at a low level of intensity is great for patients suffering from weakness since doing so requires you to exert minimal energy. Many free online videos demonstrate low intensity workouts. Some of these workouts you can even do at home.

 

High Intensity Workouts

 

These workouts are best for patients who were very athletic previously to getting diagnosed with or experiencing symptoms of IBD. The exercises are great if you experience fatigue but not weakness, and while they are usually shorter, they tend to require more energy.

 

Going to the Gym

 

If you can drive and feel you have the strength or energy to work out using machines, then going to the gym where you have proper equipment is perfect.

 

Cardio vs. Strength

 

I personally find that strength workouts are less exhausting than cardio workouts, so if you have less energy, I would recommend strength workouts.

 

When to Skip Working Out?

 

You should skip working out if you are experiencing severe symptoms that would prevent you from being safe while exercising. You don’t want to take a chance and hurt yourself just because you wanted to get in an extra workout.

 

IBD doesn’t mean you can no longer stay in shape. I have continued to work out since I have been diagnosed, and it hasn’t been that difficult. My uncle suffers from Crohn’s Disease, and he runs marathons multiple times a year. If you listen to your body and work out at a pace that is right for you, you will definitely be able to exercise.

It may seem impossible to stay active after being diagnosed, but there are plenty of people who have successfully stayed fit. Everyday Health wrote an article about nine professional athletes with Crohn’s Disease who did not let their disease get in the way of their careers. 

 


Talking to Your Friends about UC

Explaining to your friends what ulcerative colitis (UC) is, why you have it, and how it affects you can be difficult. UC can make you want to hide from everyone in the world, but that isn’t a realistic solution. At some point, you will have to open up to people about your disease. Doing so won’t be easy, but it definitely isn’t as hard as you think.

            The first people you may want to inform are your closest friends. You don’t want to have to hide your disease from the people that you love and trust the most. Because they are your closest friends, they will most likely be understanding and caring about the issue. They won’t bother you about it unnecessarily, and instead they will try to keep it in mind and make sure you are feeling okay. The more open and honest you are, the more easily they will comprehend your disease and the more likely they’ll be empathetic.           

In the case of telling friends that are not extremely close to you, the best course is often to tell them what you suffer from without going into too much detail. You can tell them what UC is and what the major problems are, but you don’t have to tell them everything if you are not comfortable doing so. If they ask you about your experience, be honest, but don’t feel like you have to open up completely. You should never feel obligated to tell someone about your UC if you don’t want to.

            When dealing with acquaintances, you should probably be more vague and general. Acquaintances don’t really need to know much about your UC if they don’t know you that well, and you probably don’t want to tell them much. Personally, I have always preferred to use the terms “stomach thing” or “autoimmune thing” to describe it to these people. When you say something like that, people tend to understand you don’t really want to go into detail.

            These tips may make explaining UC sound easy, but talking about your experiences with this disease is certainly not easy by any means. I do hope, however, that these tips can get you started on opening up to people. UC probably feels a little embarrassing to you, but others don’t tend to view it that way. They want to help and to understand you better. Most people will not judge you for having a disease you cannot control. Try your best to be honest, but if you aren’t comfortable, do not feel forced to say more than what’s necessary.

 


504 Plan

For a student struggling with IBD, a 504 Plan is imperative to academic success. A 504 Plan is developed for a student with a disability by his or her school to provide support. This form of accommodation eliminates discrimination against these children and protects their rights. Known as a 504 Plan, this accommodation was created in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. A 504 Plan usually includes accommodations, such as environmental changes, instructional changes, and/or curriculum changes.

Such accommodations typically mean that a student may receive extra time on assignments, shortened assignments, and/or separate assignments. Additionally, a student on a 504 Plan may be allowed to leave the classroom if necessary and may be able to take medication or eat and drink in class. As part of a 504 Plan, teachers may also be able to help a student catch up on missed assignments or classes, and the school may even provide private tutoring if needed. These accommodations help students with IBD tremendously, particularly during a flare but even while dealing with daily symptoms.

Public schools are legally required to follow 504 Plans, but even for students attending private schools, it is definitely possible to convince them to follow the plan or at least arrange certain accommodations. Most schools genuinely care about their students, and even if they are not legally required to provide accommodations, they will most likely be inclined to follow the plan.

Not only does a 504 Plan help with everyday school work, but it also helps with standardized testing. If you are taking the PSAT, Pre-ACT, SAT, ACT, SAT Subject Tests, etc., you may be eligible for accommodations during the testing process. For instance, you may be able to take the test privately or with a small group of people. You may also be able to have extra time and/or stop-the-clock breaks, or you may be permitted to eat and drink during the test. The standardized testing boards may be able to provide other accommodations if you apply for them and include a copy of your 504 Plan. 

If you suffer from IBD and don’t have a 504 Plan, it would be exceedingly beneficial for you to look into it. Accommodations in school and during standardized testing can help counteract some of the negative affects IBD can have on your academic success. A 504 Plan allows those suffering from IBD to have a fair chance at academic success—which in turn helps remove the negative impact IBD might have on their college applications.

The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation have a template section 504 plan for children with IBD.  I also found an article that explains how to receive accommodations through a 504 plan, which definitely simplified the process. 

 


Flying with IBD

 

If you have IBD, you may be concerned about traveling long distances by plane. Even though you may be worried and feel that it’s impossible for you to travel, there are ways for you to prepare for long journeys.  

 

Medication

  • Make sure to bring an adequate amount of medication to last for the entire trip, as you don’t want to end up without any medication.  
  • Bring your prescription forms just in case you do run out of your medication, so you can get it refilled as soon as possible.  
  • Keep your medication close by, preferably in whatever bag you may be holding. Do not keep it in a checked bag if you are traveling- your luggage may get lost. 
  • Take over-the-counter medications with you to help manage milder symptoms. 

 

Documents

  • Keep some form of your medical history with you while traveling. 
  • Keep your doctor’s phone number saved in your phone for emergencies. 
  • Keep your insurance card with you at all times. 

 

 

Booking and Preparing  

  • When booking your flight, try and find a seat available in the aisle and close to a bathroom. 
  • Book a specific meal plan for your flight ahead of time, so you can eat on the plane. 
  • Bring snacks that are appropriate for your specific diet needs. It’s better to bring them from home than it is to buy them at the airport. 
  • Buy a water as soon as you arrive at the airport, so you don’t become dehydrated on the flight.  

 

 

Asking Questions  

  • See if you can find a map of the airport or ask an employee where all of the bathrooms are located. 
  • There are cards available that allow you to skip the line in the bathroom if you let the airport know ahead of time. 
  • Ask if you can upgrade your seat to a more comfortable area if possible. 

 

Being Safe 

  • Get all of your vaccinations ahead of time, especially if you are leaving the country. 
  • Don’t travel if you feel like you are getting sick. It could make your symptoms worse. 
  • Be careful with eating. Airport food is not always the freshest or the healthiest, and it could potentially harm your digestive system.  
  • Get travel insurance to cover your IBD problems if possible. Make sure that you are fully covered before flying.  

 

It is fairly easy to fly with IBD after you do it a few times.  Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask the employees’ questions if necessary. Don’t let yourself suffer in silence. Traveling is meant to be fun not to feel like torture.  

 


Talking to Your Teachers about IBD

Being a student with IBD can be ridiculously difficult sometimes.  I know, first hand, that schools and teachers just don’t get it.  However, you have to work with your parents to make school a little bit easier. 

 

The first thing that you should definitely do if you have been diagnosed with IBD is send out an email at the beginning of the year, explaining what your disease is and how it affects you.  If you’re in a flare, it isn’t going to help if your teachers and the school don’t understand what is happening.  They might just think that you have a stomach bug when you actually suffer from a debilitating disease.  

 

You might even want to set up a meeting with all of your teachers and your parents, so they fully understand everything that you go through.  Do not be shy about telling them what’s wrong because they will help you out more if they understand.  

 

Make it clear to your teachers that you don’t want them to treat strangely, especially in front of your peers.  This way, you won’t stick out to your classmates.  They won’t even know if you don’t want them to. 

 

One of the most important things is to try and get accommodations for your disease.  If you attend a public school, the school is required to follow these accommodations by law.  Even if you attend a private school, you can still talk to the staff and ask for accommodations.  These are especially helpful if you are in a flare, and you are finding it difficult to go to school or stay in school.  

 

The best thing to do is to just simply be open with your teachers and the school in general.  They won’t judge you for your disease.  If you reach out to them, they will most likely be accepting and helpful.  Don’t stay quiet if you are sick.  It isn’t your fault that you are having trouble in school, and if you tell them, they will know this.  

 

I hope that this post helped some students, who have a difficult time talking about their IBD.  I will have a more in-depth post up later about accommodations and the 504 Plan specifically.  

 


Dealing with Depression and Anxiety

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a painful and upsetting disease that can change how you live your life. The pain, bleeding, and other severe symptoms associated with IBD often lead to depression and anxiety. IBD can isolate you from the rest of the world, causing you to feel lonely and unheard. 

Recognizing the signs of depression and anxiety that may accompany IBD is essential for dealing with these feelings. Severe sadness, suicidal thoughts or actions, tiredness, loneliness, and a lack of desire to do anything at all usually indicate you are suffering from depression. If you feel you are nervous all the time, shaky, guilty, or suffer from panic or anxiety attacks, you are most likely suffering from anxiety. Since IBD and mental disorders go hand in hand, they need to be taken more seriously, especially among teenagers. 

Although it may sound difficult, one of the best ways of dealing with feelings of depression and anxiety is to talk to your parent(s) or guardian(s) about how you are feeling. Talking to a parent or guardian can help you work through the emotional pain, and they may be able to find professional help for you. If you don’t feel comfortable approaching your parent(s) or guardian(s), then you can try to get help on your own. The internet offers many forums for people with IBD where people ask for advice. These forums create a community among IBD patients, and it lets them feel less alone. Other people suffering from the same disease completely understand what you may be going through. For people in need of support, communicating with people who have had or are having the same experiences can be comforting. You might also consider talking to your close friends about your disease, letting them know how it makes you feel. In addition to your family, your friends provide a system of support for you. They will help ensure you never feel alone as you battle this illness. 

When dealing with anxiety, it is crucial that you find ways to calm yourself down.  I have found that simply drinking cold water and lying down for a few minutes to catch my breath can be highly effective at calming me down. Reading a book, watching a movie, or listening to music can also help. Talking to others is another great option. You might also consider engaging in hobbies, which tend to preoccupy the mind and help you not feel as on edge about everything. Becoming happier is easier said than done, but finding happiness is possible. Find something to look forward to every single day, even if it’s as simple as drinking your favorite coffee in the morning. Always look for the good that happens in a day, and remember to keep fighting no matter how hard it may be. 

The most critical thing to remember is that if you really think something is wrong and you could potentially be a danger to yourself or to someone else, please seek professional help. You are not alone, and there are people out there who would love to help you. Do not wait to get help if you feel you are suffering from depression or anxiety as a result of your IBD. 

This article that I found is very helpful for individuals suffering from depression and IBD as it gives some simple tips on how to manage both your mental health and physical health. I also found some research on the prevalence of anxiety and depression in IBD patients, which gave me a lot of insight into just how common it is to suffer from mental health problems along with IBD. 

 

 


Explaining Ulcerative Colitis to Your Friends

Explaining to your friends what ulcerative colitis (UC) is, why you have it, and how it affects you can be difficult. UC can make you want to hide from everyone in the world, but that isn’t a realistic solution. At some point, you will have to open up to people about your disease. Doing so won’t be easy, but it definitely isn’t as hard as you think. 

The first people you may want to inform are your closest friends. You don’t want to have to hide your disease from the people that you love and trust the most. Because they are your closest friends, they will most likely be understanding and caring about the issue. They won’t bother you about it unnecessarily, and instead they will try to keep it in mind and make sure you are feeling okay. The more open and honest you are, the more easily they will comprehend your disease and the more likely they’ll be empathetic.  

In the case of telling friends that are not extremely close to you, the best course is often to tell them what you suffer from without going into too much detail. You can tell them what UC is and what the major problems are, but you don’t have to tell them everything if you are not comfortable doing so. If they ask you about your experience, be honest, but don’t feel like you have to open up completely. You should never feel obligated to tell someone about your UC if you don’t want to. 

When dealing with acquaintances, you should probably be more vague and general. Acquaintances don’t really need to know much about your UC if they don’t know you that well, and you probably don’t want to tell them much. Personally, I have always preferred to use the terms “stomach thing” or “autoimmune thing” to describe it to these people. When you say something like that, people tend to understand you don’t really want to go into detail. 

These tips may make explaining UC sound easy, but talking about your experiences with this disease is certainly not easy by any means. I do hope, however, that these tips can get you started on opening up to people. UC probably feels a little embarrassing to you, but others don’t tend to view it that way. They want to help and to understand you better. Most people will not judge you for having a disease you cannot control. Try your best to be honest, but if you aren’t comfortable, do not feel forced to say more than what’s necessary. 

 


How to Eat Out on the SCD or Paleo Diet

If you’re on the SCD diet or the Paleo diet, understanding how to order off a menu at a restaurant can be very difficult. I know that I struggled to find things to eat when I was first on the SCD diet.

The SCD diet is limited to only grain-free, sugar-free, starch-free, and unprocessed foods. The Paleo diet, on the other hand, is based on the idea that humans were meant to eat a certain way – like they did when they were cavemen. The Paleo diet consists of meat, fish, vegetables, and fruit. Dairy (optional), grain, and processed foods are not allowed. These diets are good for people in general, but especially for patients suffering from IBD.

The SCD diet was actually created to treat Ulcerative Colitis. The idea was that the healthy foods would starve out the bad bacteria in the colon. This diet can also be used to treat Crohn’s.

Because the diets are highly restrictive, finding something to order off of a menu without going off the diet can feel impossible. But with time and practice, learning how to read menus with these diets in mind, the process eventually gets much easier.

Here are some tips to help you get started:

 

1) Always look for the protein first.

 

The main part of your meal will most likely be some type of protein. Looking for proteins such as fish, beef, or chicken that are grilled, sautéed, or blackened is key. Make sure to check whether the meat is breaded or not. If the menu doesn’t specify, you can look online to see whether the type of food you’re looking at is normally breaded. And if you’re still unsure, you can always ask your waiter. He or she is there to help you get the meal you want.

 

2) Be wary of carbs.

 

Make sure the carbs you are ordering don’t contain bread or anything that you know is super sweet. If the selection is sweet, chances are it contains sugar. I have added many foods to my diet over the years, and I rely on potatoes, sweet potatoes, and plantains for carbs at restaurants.

 

3) Extra veggies!

 

If you don’t think you can get any carbs because the menu is limited, always ask for extra vegetables. Filling up your plate helps ensure you actually have some substance to your meal.

 

4) You can get dessert.

 

Most desserts at restaurants tend to be cake or ice cream, and, at first, I felt sad because I have a sweet tooth. I felt as though I couldn’t enjoy sweets at restaurants anymore. Recently, I’ve learned this is not true. At most restaurants, you can get berries and cream. I know this isn’t the equivalent of a chocolate cake, but it’s definitely better than nothing.

 

5) Never be afraid to ask the waiter.

 

Waiters are there to help you. Don’t be afraid to ask a question about a certain item of food – or even to tell them about your diet. They can talk to the chef and get you a meal that is safe and delicious.

 

6) Do your best!

 

We all make mistakes sometimes, and accidentally ordering something that doesn’t fit our diets isn’t the end of the world. Make your best guesses and don’t give up.

 

I hope I helped give some insight into how you can order food at a restaurant and maintain an SCD or Paleo diet. Eating at restaurants won’t be easy, but with these tips, I hope you discover that doing so is definitely possible.

 

 

 

 


The Aftermath of Prednisone

One of the medications that I have been given in the past is Prednisone. If you aren’t familiar with the drug, it is a steroid that must be prescribed, and it treats many conditions and diseases, specifically those that are associated with inflammation. Basically, it helps the inflammation go down, which is why it is often used when treating Crohn’s and UC.

There are lots of side effects that occur when taking Prednisone. For most people, the longer you’ve been on the drug, the longer it takes to get out of your system. My doctor says that for however long you are taking it, it takes twice as long to get out of your system. I was prescribed the drug in September, and I finally went off of it in November. It is still in my system. I wanted to share with you some of the side effects that I have gotten from the steroid.

The first side effect I have is called “Moon Face”. Prednisone makes you retain a lot of water weight. Moon Face is when your face becomes puffy from the medication. You lose the definition of your cheekbones and jawline. For young people who suffer from IBD, this is a very difficult side effect because we tend to be focused on how we look. However, it has gone down for me slightly. I can promise you that this will go away, and if you wear makeup, you can definitely contour your face to look more sculpted than it actually is. Otherwise, I wouldn’t worry about it. No one cares or even notices except you and maybe your family.

The second side effect I have is weight gain. When I first got home from the hospital, I had lost a significant amount of weight. For two weeks, I stayed that way. Then, I began to gain weight rapidly. I am the heaviest I have ever been in my entire life. I have been struggling to lose the weight, but nothing is working. The only thing that even remotely works is eating approximately 200 calories a day and working out (which is not healthy and really difficult when you’re weak and dizzy all the time). What I recommend in order to stay sane, is just waiting for the drug to get out of your system. However, DO NOT BINGE BECAUSE YOU CANNOT LOSE THE WEIGHT ANYWAY. I have gone back and forth with dieting and then binging (I’ll talk about this issue another time), and I think the best thing for me to do is to eat intuitively. I pay attention to when I am truly hungry and when I am truly full, and I keep my weight balanced. Once the drug is out of my body, I will lose the weight more easily. Do not worry about it for now. I spent so long worrying, and I had no self-love. It’s not fun to live like that.

The third side effect I have is acne. I’m the type of teenager that has what a lot of people call “baby skin”. I’ve always had clear skin, and I don’t know what it’s like to deal with acne. When the Prednisone finally kicked in, my skin started breaking out badly. My entire face was covered in it (specifically forehead and chin area). I went to the dermatologist, and I was prescribed retinol, which I have been taking for a few weeks now. It has dried out my skin, and my breakouts have not cleared up yet. However, I have taken Prednisone before, and I have had breakouts caused by it before, and I know they will eventually go away. Again, this type of thing is difficult for young people who are suffering from IBD because it has to do with what we look like. Try not to touch your skin, and if you have gone to the dermatologist, follow their instructions on what to do.  Also, drink water! It has really helped me. I promise that it will go away once the drug is out of your system.

Prednisone is not a fun drug to take. There are lots of side effects, and in general, it just doesn’t make you feel well. I know that my advice wasn’t really on how to get rid of these side effects and more about being patient, but that’s all the advice that I can really give. There are so many people that are in the same boat as you and I are, so you don’t have to feel alone. Let me know in the comments what side effects you’ve experienced and how you’ve dealt with them.

Lisey