Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Choices We Choose To Put In

So standing in line at a store today I had a reoccurring thought that happens every so often when I actually pay attention to what the person in front of me has on the conveyor belt.  This particular guy has a stack of frozen pizzas and other frozen items, chips, snacks, and a HUGE container of gumballs (like the kind you put in a gumball machine)... in other words, all items that I would consider junk food.  I will admit that my first thought was that this "poor guy" must be single but that thought quickly faded into the reoccurring one...

How is it that he/she can put that stuff into his/her body?!?!

It's actually a thought I think often for many reasons I guess and it's not just the Crohn's talking because I know a few people with this disease who will probably never change how they eat.  In defense of the guy who has no idea that he provoked such a thought, it probably tastes good to him and hasn't ever caused him problems before and probably never will, so why not.  I definitely did not eat horribly before my diagnosis, nor did I change much about my eating habits for the first 12+ years afterwards but the question still plaques me about what if I had changed my diet sooner.

The average person consumes what he/she wants and worries more about caloric intake or convenience without the slightest thought to what he/she is actually putting into his/her body.  My old philosophy was all about portion control and if it comes with a label that says:  diet, low-fat, or non-fat to turn the other direction and run.  It had always worked for me but it wasn't enough.  Apparently there was another plan for me... Crohn's.

I was diagnosed with this lovely digestive disease since the age of 15 and kept my same philosophy all of these years not realizing that I had more control of my disease than I'd thought.  It wasn't until last August when I was literally crouched over in excruciating pain and on the verge of being in a very embarrassing situation at work that I realized that if I didn't find a way to take control of my disease that I'd have to quit my job.  I had already given up on a position about 4 years prior due to this disease and didn't emotionally think that I could do it again.  About a week or so prior to this day I had actually just finished reading a book about a man who has the same awful disease who had "cured" himself by changing the way that ate completely.  Up until this particular incident though, I was still struggling with the lifestyle change for a few reasons.  The first being that it was such a huge commitment to actually be aware of every little thing that went into my body and to not allow anything processed and the second was that I wasn't going to do this without my husband because committing to this was saying that I wasn't going to allow anything other that "natural" foods into my home, and the third being, what if it didn't work. 

That moment right there I made a commitment, one that everyday I still struggle with.  It's amazing how one little bite of a "bad" food can send me almost back to square one and the road back is rough... such is life at the present moment.  In that moment at the realization of the severity of my situation I called my husband crying to pick me up and told him that I was going to do this.  On the way home he stopped to pick me up some organic broth and I stayed on that for three days to clean the toxins out of my system since people with digestive diseases cannot do cleanses.  To most people, fasting is hard, for me, this was almost unbearable. Being in an upright position required that I become friends with the nearest garbage can.  After the second full day though, the stomach pains completely stopped and I didn't feel things that I thought I'd have to live the rest of my life with.  It was a baby step, but I had some control.  I had wanted to stay fasting longer but the severity of my disease wouldn't allow it... I needed solid food.  That first trip to Whole Foods was hilarious.  I had forgotten my list of good foods to start back with at home, the bookstore was sold out of a copy for me to temporarily use, I was hungry, and scared of everything.  Had I been there alone I think I would have just found a corner to cry in.  My husband and I selected a few meals to try and I realized something... nothing was going to be different; I was still going to be able to cook and eat the same things; I'm not leaving anything behind; it's just that I'm not putting any of the bad stuff in anymore.  I didn't feel another pain for 3 months!!!  For the most I don't feel the pain anymore unless like I said, I choose to eat something on the shadier side of things... holidays and going out is hard!!!  There's something to be said about being the hostess :)  It's been six months this next week since I started.  My husband is not as committed as me anymore but I'm strong enough to make my own choices.  Things of convenience just don't matter as much and one of my biggest accomplishments is that I haven't had a single soda in all of these 6 months and my migraines have almost completely gone away without the caffeine to help alleviate the pain.  It has been great.  One of the areas of Crohn's that I can effect... under control :)

Back to that guy that provoked my thought this evening for a moment.  It not that I want to try and change his or anyone else's mind about what he/she eats, it's not my place, but here's a thought to ponder... I have this disease, I can't take it back or make it go away but you don't, and you have total control over how you feel.  If making diet changes and avoiding putting in chemicals into my body has made such a difference in my disease ridden body, what can it do for you?!?!  It's a choice!!!

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