woman standing in front of fridge

My Disordered Relationship with Food

I have talked a decent amount about how much inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) has impacted my relationship with food. I have learned through a lot of your comments, along with messages I have received privately, that it's not just me.

Disordered eating and issues with body image with Crohn's or UC

I don’t want to say it makes me “happy” to know that so many of you reading this understand the eating and self-esteem issues that I face, but it does make me feel good to know more people are opening up and talking about it.

Needless to say, admitting you have any kind of problem is difficult but to me, acknowledging it so openly has made me really internalize just how much we all have been through. It has made me realize that while our experiences with our inflammatory bowel disease may be different, so many of us share the same fears, desires, and challenges that need to be dealt with on a daily basis.

Aside from other people who suffer from inflammatory bowel disease, the only person who has managed to understand and communicate with me about my eating “issues” in a non-judgmental way is my boyfriend. I am actually amazed at his understanding, given he doesn’t suffer from the disease, and I feel very fortunate to have him in my life.

A couple of weeks ago, we were talking about some things we both wanted to work on in the new year and my diet/ eating routine came up. I am someone who doesn’t feel comfortable eating during the day because it impairs my ability to focus on other things in my life.

Worries that come with eating during the day

"I don’t want to worry about living in the bathroom or any embarrassing noises from my stomach."

I don’t want to deal with emptying my ostomy all of the time, especially if I am out in public. In my mind, the less I eat, the less I will have to deal with my digestive tract.

Because of this, I consume most of my calories after 6pm. Over the past year, I have gotten better at putting some liquid nutrition in me during the day, but it is still a huge work in progress.

My partner and I decided that I would take however long I needed to prepare myself mentally and when I was ready, we would make some of the changes to my eating routine that we had discussed. For example, beginning to eat around 3pm and cutting myself off at 6pm, which would allow my body some time to digest before I go right to bed.

I am sure a lot of you reading this are thinking this is the most obvious thing in the world. It is pretty common knowledge that it is more important to nourish your body during the day than at night.

Comments from others about my eating habits

Whenever I would say something to one of the very few people I am open about this with, I’d get how “ridiculous” I was for eating so late. I have heard a lot of other words too that I don’t believe are meant to be judgmental, but certainly come off that way.

I wanted to share my conversation with my partner because it ended with me feeling understood and more hopeful. Most of us don’t respond well to people making snap judgments about us and how we live our lives. Or, stating the obvious.

I am sure the majority of you reading this feel the best when you are working through a situation with someone who can acknowledge that these eating “issues” didn’t just come out of nowhere. When you know you are understood and someone is trying very hard to put themselves in your shoes, it allows you to feel comfortable sharing even more of yourself if you choose.

When I told my partner I wanted to begin this new routine January 1st, his response was that I should take some time to mentally prepare myself for it. He believes that I need to give my new eating routine a month or so to see if there is a change.

I expressed some fears (ex, feeling famished at nighttime and not being able to sleep because of the hunger pains) that my partner understood but also tried to help me see the benefits. He didn’t just dismiss it with “well, that’s absurd!” like I have heard in the past from loved ones and doctors.

Frustrations when trying to open up to others

For any of you reading this who struggle with disordered eating and/or body dysmorphic syndrome, please know that you are not alone if you only feel complete frustration when trying to share your struggles with other people. I have made it a point to no longer discuss my eating habits with anyone who I feel even the slightest judgment from.

"I don’t deserve to be judged for something that I didn’t ask for and don't want."

I don't deserve to be judged for something I struggle with as a result of awful things that most people couldn’t even fathom. AND, NEITHER DO ANY OF YOU.

Living with a chronic, invisible illness is hard enough. Having the strength to openly share your struggles with another person is hard enough. None of us deserve to be judged or made to feel badly about any issues we have with food or our bodies.

In my opinion, opening up is good for the soul. Holding everything in, as most of you already know, does nothing but destroy us in some way, shape, or form. However, I have learned that I would rather hold in my feelings about certain things than share them with someone who flat out doesn’t get it and/or makes no effort to try and put themselves in my shoes.

Do you struggle with disordered eating and/or body dysmorphic syndrome because of your inflammatory bowel disease? Are you open about it? Are there certain people in your life with whom you feel comfortable sharing? Share in the comments or submit a story!!

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