Alcohol, Caffeine, and Crohn's
When I was first diagnosed with Crohn's, I was told to stay away from alcohol and caffeine. Since I loved the taste of coffee, I would order decaf. I did not touch any liquor when they told me I had Crohn's. My doctors said that it would increase my frequency when going to the bathroom.
Since I was already going so many times a day, I did everything and anything to avoid more bathroom trips. Also, I was on antibiotics to prevent pouchitis, so I really couldn't drink it since it would make me sick. As the years went on, my body was so used to the antibiotics so that a little alcohol would not affect me.
"Guilty pleasures" with Crohn's
Fast forward 12 years. I probably want too much coffee. If you asked me if I am addicted to coffee, the answer would be, "Yes!" I am totally cool with it too, and very accepting. I have about 6-7 cups of coffee a day. I know what you are thinking, "Paul, why do that to yourself?" Great question! Many Crohn's patients have "guilty pleasures," and this is mine. I know how my body reacts, and usually, I am near a bathroom so I am good!
Over the years I have really cut down on the amount of booze I drink. I was never a big drinker, but a few beers a month would usually satisfy me. The next day was when I really suffered running extra times to the bathroom. I think the pouch (J-pouch) really built up with bacteria causing extreme urgency, pressure, and gas. I believe nowadays, I might have "a drink" once every 2 months. I just am never in the mood.
Drinking coffee or alcohol while traveling?
This past weekend, I was traveling with my wife to visit some friends about 2 hours away. Since it was going to be nice, we decided to walk around the city. It was mid-morning, and everyone wanted to stop at Starbucks for a coffee while we strolled. For once, I really thought about my surroundings.
I knew that the bathroom situation wasn't going to be great. Sure, you can always stop into a store to use the bathroom, but that's more common for a "number one." I really wasn't in the mode to use gas station bathrooms or stalls from restaurants (unless we were actually eating there).
I decided that I wasn't going to drink coffee. I had had coffee about 5 hours before our stroll (early in the morning), and decided that "less is more." Now I don’t know if it was "mind over matter," but I did not have to run to the bathroom.
Later in the evening, we returned to the neighborhood where our friends lived to try a restaurant for dinner. Once again, they all ordered drinks to accompany their dinner. As much as I wanted to join in on the fun, I refrained and just stuck to club soda. Again, less is more.
There's a time and a place for letting loose
I really enjoyed myself because I knew that I wasn't running to the bathroom due to the alcohol and caffeine being put into my body. Sure, I wanted it, but I really was aware of my surroundings. Now as I write this article, I am in the comfort of my own home. And you better believe there is a cup of coffee right by my side. Moral of the story: Crohn's "guilty pleasures" are all about the time and place!
How open are you about being diagnosed with IBD?