Finding extra time in a busy schedule takes some effort, especially when it comes to eating meals that are good for you. If you’ve got a lot on your plate, it can be difficult to put the right food on yours. Those of us with ulcerative colitis know this all too well. Most of us may follow a restricted diet and find there are limited options for food in a busy lifestyle. But there are ways to work with the disease.
Having ulcerative colitis is not a choice, but what you eat IS a choice. I get it. Some days feel more restricted than others due to the consequences of eating certain foods. But you do, in fact, have control over how your body can feel – at least a little. I realized early on that I am sensitive to cruciferous veggies – like Brussels sprouts and broccoli – and don’t even get me started on high-acidity coffee or spicy foods. My intuition says not to eat these things. So I don’t. I have a choice to replace them with food that makes me feel better. What I consume and how I feel physically and emotionally after I eat is a choice.
But don’t get me wrong. I still have a love/hate relationship with food. Why can’t I be like everyone else and binge eat pizza whenever I want? Well, we UC warriors are faced with nourishment being a top priority. What we put in our bodies is arguably more selective than what “everyone else” puts in theirs. Now this isn’t to say you need to change your dietary menu. Or follow a specific diet. Health trends come and go. What you decide for your body is up to you.
That said, when you have different dietary needs, it’s easy for nourishment to take a back seat in your busy life. Sometimes it just takes a bit of planning to adhere to an adaptive diet.
Make a list of travel snacks. Keep the list handy to reference before you go away from home for the day, weekend, or a larger trip. The safety of knowing you have food you can eat if you need it is reassuring. Bonus tip: Keep some prepackaged snacks handy in your car.
Meal prep. Carve out two hours on a Sunday, or whenever your schedule allows, to cook a few different meals. This way, you’re prepared for the week. Plus, you save time and energy on daily cooking. You can search meal-prep recipes online for ideas.
Applaud yourself for small victories. Notice you feel better after choosing food that agrees with you? That’s awesome! Be proud. Keeping track of when you feel more nourished will remind you what works – or to change something that doesn’t work.
Learn to say no. Your busy plans may cause you to socialize with others around food you can’t eat. There are plenty of ways to say no, with confidence. A simple “No, thank you” does the trick. If you’re feeling empowered to advocate for your disease, “I don’t eat that” might give you the opportunity to talk about your food restrictions. They may decide to be more inclusive next time. Remind yourself how much better you’ll feel by not eating something that doesn’t agree with you.
Do what you can. How do all these people do it every day? Truth is, they don't. Let's be real – nobody is eating perfectly all the time. So on that busy day you aren’t able to grab a healthy meal, don’t get discouraged. Prioritize however you need and do what’s right for you.
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The UC Narrative patient survey was conducted online and via telephonei by Harris Poll on behalf of Pfizer between August 23, 2017, and February 9, 2018, among 2,100 adults ages 18+ residing in Australia (215), Canada (215), Finland (105), France (169), Germany (210), Italy (210), Japan (210), Spain (214), the United Kingdom (251), and the United States (301) who have been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis (UC), have had an endoscopic procedure to confirm their diagnosis, have not had a colectomy, have been to a gastroenterologist or internist’s officeii in the past 12 months, have ever taken a prescription medication for their UC (excluding those who have only ever taken 5-ASAs), and provided informed consent to complete the research. Raw data were not weighted at the individual country level, and are therefore only representative of the individuals who completed the survey.
The primary goal of the survey was to characterize the experiences of UC patients who are believed to be living with moderate to severe disease or those who may be living with poorly controlled disease. The choice to focus on these patient types was based on the assumption that these groups (versus those with milder disease) were more likely in need of support and resources, which the survey could help better identify.
To achieve the goal of focusing on those with moderate to severe disease, self-reported medication history was used as a proxy for disease severity. Patients with “moderate to severe” disease were defined as those who have ever taken a biologic or immunosuppressant for their UC, or have taken steroids for four or more of the past 12 months. Patients with a “milder” form of the disease were defined as those who have never taken a biologic or immunosuppressant, and those who have taken steroids for three or fewer months of the past 12 months. The research excluded patients who have never taken a prescription medication for their UC or have only ever taken a 5-ASA to control their UC. More than 80 percent of total completes were from patients whose disease was classified as “moderate to severe,” using this definition, with “milder” patients capped at no more than 20 percent of total survey completes. Results from the UC Narrative patient sample survey may not reflect the experiences of the broader UC population.
The UC Narrative physician survey was conducted online and via telephonei by Harris Poll on behalf of Pfizer between August 23 and February 9, 2018, among 1,254 adults ages 18+ residing in Australia (90), Canada (80), Finland (17), France (154), Germany (152), Italy (157), Japan (151), Spain (151), the United Kingdom (153), and the United States (149)iii who practice as a gastroenterologist, internist with a gastroenterology focus, gastroenterology internist, or gastroenterology surgeon,iv do not primarily practice in a long-term care facility or hospice setting, see at least 10 patients with UC each month (or a minimum of five patients with UC per month in Japan), with at least 10 percent of these patients currently taking a biologic medicine for their UC (physicians were asked to think about their experiences treating patients in their practice whose UC is moderate to severe throughout the survey), and provided informed consent to complete the research. Physician results in the United States were weighted by region, years in practice, and physician gender. In all other countries, physician results were weighted by age and gender to ensure alignment with the actual proportions in the population of gastroenterologists in each country.v UC Narrative physician sample survey may not necessarily reflect the experiences of all gastroenterologists.
For both patient and physician data, for the global, 10-country total, a post-weight was applied to adjust for the relative size of each country’s adult population within the total adult population across all countries surveyed. The unweighted sample sizes reflect the total number of patients and physicians who completed the survey in each country, while all reported percentages are calculated based on the weighted global total described here. Proportionate weighting for combining multicountry data into a single total is a common practice because it relies on externally recognized population data to achieve a global total that more accurately represents the real-world relative to the adult populations surveyed. There are limitations to this approach; when countries surveyed have widely varying population totals, the data from smaller countries may get weighted down within the total, thus reducing their share of voice when grouped together with the larger countries.
In the United States, the research method and survey questionnaires were reviewed and received institutional review board (IRB) approval from WIRB-Copernicus Group.
Language referencing data of those who agree with the statement, includes those who indicated both "strongly agree" or "somewhat agree" within the survey.