I understand your fears, worries, and anxiety towards food while you live with your IBD. My goal is to arm you in your journey and help strengthen your resolve as your find improved health through good nutrition.
Practicing good nutrition with IBD can be challenging, frustrating, and so difficult that we get to the point of wanting to give up, the point of “creative hopelessness” – when we hit the proverbial rock bottom.
This challenging moment can be a time of growth and opportunity. Simply reading this book means that change and improvement are on your horizon.
I assume that what you have tried and where you are at has not worked as well as you hoped.
This nutrition section will help you explore strategies and coping mechanisms that can help you approach nutrition from a more positive, less emotional starting point. You’ll learn real-world, actionable, simple, and effective methods that anyone with IBD can do to help improve your current relationship with nutrition and most importantly, eat better!
Habit 20 – Start with the good
No matter what current state your nutrition might be in I’m willing to bet that at some point in your life you’ve done something healthy.
Before we consider change or adding habits I’d like for you to center yourself with the notion that you are already practicing good nutrition.
- Properly controls energy balance.
- Provides nutrient density.
- Achieves health, body composition, and performance goals.
- Is honest and outcome-based.
Maybe it wasn’t 100% of the time (insider secret – no one does that). Maybe you could have stayed on track just a little bit longer.
Wherever you might have been in the past I guarantee that there are positives to remember and times when you practiced some form of good nutrition.
So begin this section by taking a moment to mentally review the healthy habits that you have done – or are currently doing – that will continue to contribute towards improving your health and nutrition.
Could you do a little bit more of that one easy and helpful habit? What habit felt like it gave you the biggest “bang for your buck”?
Just think about what has been – and/or is currently – working for you and see if you can do that a little more often.
Habit 21 – Slow down
Simply put, eat slower. Easy to say but this can be a challenging – yet very impactful – habit to practice.
First, simply be aware of how you eating today.
Did you practically inhale that meal? Did you finish your plate without any recollection or awareness of actually eating? This is actually very common.
But when we slow down and become more aware of what – and how – we are eating many things improve.
- Digestion can improve.
- Nutrient absorption tends to improve.
- Mind-body connections grow stronger.
- Our relationship with foods can become healthier.
- We can gain a better understanding of why we eat what we eat.
- Overall body composition, health, and wellness tend to improve.
It sounds too simple to be true. All I ask is that you give it a try.
Just for the next few days simply be aware of how you are eating. At first you do not even need to change a thing – just notice how you eat.
If you find you may be able to eat slower then give it a shot when you have the most free time, usually dinner, to enjoy a slower paced meal.
Habit 22 – Link your actions to your goals
I lost over 50 pounds from my IBD symptoms during my diagnosis. My goal then was to regain that weight. To do that I needed to eat more than what I had been eating (which was basically nothing so I was setup to be successful).
Once I was able to properly eat and digest foods after my diagnosis I was quickly able to regain about 15-20 pounds of weight in about 4-5 weeks.
But then my weight gain stalled. I’m naturally thin, what is described as an ectomorph, so adding weight and muscle can be a little challenging.
In order to get back to my goal I needed to assess my situation and practice a few key habits.
- I made sure I got plenty of rest and quality sleep.
- I practiced eating a good breakfast each morning.
- I found healthy protein, carbs, and fats that were nutrient dense and compliant with my gut.
- I discovered healthy and nutritious shakes that added calories to my meals.
- I utilized a few researched and high-quality supplements that were compliant with my gut.
- I did my best to manage stress levels.
- I practiced all the above as much – and as best – as I could.
A few months later I had regained those last pounds, and then some.
List your healthy nutrition behaviors that you are currently practicing – even if it is just one or something that seems simple (simple is better than complicated). Keep this list handy for the next habit…
 The Prednisone did help with this part of the recovery.
 See back section for sample meals and snacks.
Habit 23 – Behavior > outcome
It’s important to mention that ultimately I had very little control over how much weight I was to regain. I knew what weight I wanted to be at (175 lbs seemed like a great number). But when I weighed a 125 lbs there was very little I could do to control that outcome.
However, for the most part I was able to control my behaviors. Each day I had much more control over when, how, what I ate than whether or not I’d ultimately weigh 175 lbs or 172 lbs or 165 lbs.
The interesting thing was that when I started focusing more on improving the nutrition habits that I could control the outcome (weighing a certain # on the scale) became less important.
Ultimately I’ve happily settled in around 165-170 pounds for a few years now. I do know that if I’d like my clothes to fit a little tighter, aka gain more weight, there are a few basic behaviors I need to do:
- Eat more quality foods.
- Get good rest.
- Practice stress management.
- Have fun, purposeful workouts.
Those are behaviors that I have much more control over. The nice result is that the outcome usually takes care of itself and I find myself hardly preoccupied by some arbitrary number on a scale now.
What behaviors are helping you get closer to your current goal? Can you do more of that behavior? What would that look like?
Habit 24 – Up your average 5
Ever hear the saying “you’re the average of the 5 people you are around the most”?
Basically, if your 5 closest friends, family members, or co-workers are all physically active, healthy eaters, fairly well-adjusted and generally happy people then you’ll probably be that way as well. If those 5 people aren’t so much like that well then…
So this habit can be flat out emotional and potentially difficult to implement (if you notice that you just thought of 3-5 people right off the top of your head).
Are the people closest to you support? Are the people around you lifting you up and want you to feel better?
You do not need to go about changing any of these people in your circle. Simply be aware that your external social environment has an impact on you. We want that impact to be healthy and positive.
Maybe you can be the example of health and strength for your closest 5 and help raise their standards?
- Simply notice if people around you are helping you get closer to your goals.
- Appreciate the ones that are and do what you can to spend as much time with them.
- If there are a few that might not be the most supportive do what is in your best interest of health and wellness to find the social support that you need and deserve.
Stay connected to Strength and Nutrition and be updated on the release of my new book that will provide 52 habits anyone can practice to improve how you feel, eat, and move with IBD.