I love vegetables. The smell, the taste, and what it does to the human body. I love that you can sauté them, grill them, and use them in soups. The problem is that vegetables are harsh on the stomach. For the first six years of having Crohn’s I would not touch a vegetable. Sure, I missed them but I really was scared to put them in my body. My gastroenterologist encouraged me to sauté them, to burn off the fibers. He says to introduce myself slowly, but I was just too scared.
I was scared of having to use the bathroom more then I already do. I was scared that I would get obstruction; a blockage in the intestines. But every time I visited the doctors, the same speech was giving to me. Introduce fruits and veggies slowly, a little bit of the time. I couldn’t wrap my mind around it.
Then I met Naomi. My girlfriend is a vegetarian. She is also a food scientist. After getting to know her, I decided that she would finally help to introduce vegetables and fruits to my body. Lets be honest, that’s all she kept in her apartment! We decided to introduce them to my body in her apartment, and not out in public. In case I got sick, I would be in the comfort of her own home. I was not worried about getting sick at the first moments of swallowing, but the next morning when the digestion period was coming to an end.
We started in September of this year. She made dinner, a simple dish of chicken with a side of spinach. I took a few forkfuls. Oh wow, I loved it! My taste buds were having a field day. But how would I feel the next morning? Only time could tell right? As I awoke then next morning, and my day got started I did pretty good. I mean, I didn’t have the best day with the bathroom, but it wasn’t the worst. So was I over the hurtle? I had to relax and say to myself, “Paul, one step at a time.”
Last week, I visited a farm for a school sponsored field trip with my students. We went apple picking, and I decided to try an apple right off the vine! Again, my adventurous mind allowed me to overcome my fears and gave it a shot. The apple tasted so good! I didn’t do that well at home later that night, but I learned that the skin of the apple contains lots of fiber. The next day I tried a few pieces without the skin and I did much better.
So what did I learn? Well first and foremost, I still am very careful when trying fruits and vegetables. I stay away from the real gassy ones like broccoli. Secondly, I only introduce one vegetable or fruit at a time. Too much change is too harsh on my body. And thirdly, I have to be ready to suffer a bit more, and understand what is at stake. My goal is to get off of my supplemental vitamins I take that substitute the fruits and vegetables. It may take me a few years to get off these medications, but I have to give it time. I feel a lot better that I can tolerate these foods, and that I am broadening my horizons and changing my mindset with Crohn’s disease.
Do you keep a food diary to help manage symptoms?