Ulcerative Colitis Tips


One of the 15,000 ulcerative colitis folks using the site adds:
"Like many UCers I have spent many hours trawling the internet googling the condition and came across your website a few years ago. I read your ebook and really liked your honesty and humour. As everyone says your positivity is so encouraging and now this is my go to website when I'm thinking about UC. Thankfully my symptoms are pretty much under control at the moment but just wanted to say thanks." Kate

Dreaded Dietary Dilemma Du Jour: The Work Meal

Here’s My Deal:

I’m a forty-something woman who’s had UC for fifteen years. I’ve had about half a dozen flares during that time.

Lots of good social/diet advice on the site lately!  So I thought I’d bounce this one off you:

 

I’ve been gradually coming down from a flare for the past two months, and my diet has been even more restrictive than usual. SCD itself hasn’t been much help for me, but nevertheless I’ve narrowed my diet down to something workable – though it’s definitely quirky. I think of it as the “Baby Food Diet” because it seems I can only eat soft foods! (I also eat no dairy or meat.) Well, it’s pretty weird, but I manage as long as I make or bring my own foods. I can usually even figure out a light meal if eating at a restaurant.

Lots of good tips from folks here about explaining diet to friends and family. But, curious how people deal with the dreaded Work Meal. For example: a luncheon with visitors (potential donors, clients, recruits) your organization is trying to impress. Or an evening semi-social event with colleagues centered around food and drink. These events usually offer little or no choice of food: Client/donor meals where boxed lunches are brought in, or social events with a limited choice of snacks and drinks… none of which you can eat.

I hate to look like a freak just not eating, but one can’t exactly delicately share UC with groups of strangers and business contacts at a luncheon. Perhaps I should just fake an eating disorder? Er…. no…. *think think think…. *

Your thoughts, UC gurus?

 

Submitted by “Hopskotch” in the Colitis Venting Area

 

 




business

16 Responses to Dreaded Dietary Dilemma Du Jour: The Work Meal

  1. Adam
    Adam November 9, 2011 at 8:33 am #

    Dear Hopskotch,

    What a great question you have. An incredibly real question. One that I’ve been through quite a bit of times myself in the work environment. I was a sales person in my most recent job. So I was meeting with “potential accounts” quite a bit.

    Since I follow the SCD diet very strictly to treat my UC, there’s all sorts of foods I don’t touch at all. And not just foods, drinks and desserts as well, which you probably know all about.

    Anyways, how I handled the work/eating/with customers situation changed overtime.

    Early on, I didn’t say anything to anyone(anyone being people outside of my company) about my personal health differences. I simply would avoid the topic altogether.(I was trying to win some business, didn’t want to start talking about “negative disease type of chat” That worked alright, but often some problems would arise. As you mentioned, limited food choice meals, set menu situations etc… would often leave me facing the decision of do I eat something I believe will set off my symptoms, or do I go hungry and look like a strange dude. Of course the easy thing is to chow down on whatever is offered, and potentially deal with the consequences later. And that’s exactly what I did at first. Broke my normal diet rules, and went ahead with whatever was available, or at least with some of the food I was worried about.

    This all changed after not too long. I became more aware of how diet was affecting me and my UC, and so I had some decisions to make. This was some of my thought process in terms of food/meals and options moving forward:

    1) Tell everyone and anyone why I eat the way I do, go into full detail, UC background and all
    2) Don’t tell anyone and just don’t eat things (maybe come off as a weirdo, but maybe not..)
    3) Eat whatever I want, whenever I want (and deal with the consequences later)
    4) Make my own food at home, and eat it before meals, and then only eat what works when with others (takes more time, somewhat different…)

    The long story short is, I opted for a combination of all the options above. Mostly I moved towards #4 and #1 the most.

    The crazy thing is that having some food restrictions/diet rules, is really not that uncommon. WHAT HAS SURPRISED ME THE MOST, is that when I do decide to tell strangers from the business side of life about my diet, they are almost always super impressed and start to think that I am a super healthy person and respect/listen/want to know more, never had i ever imagined this to be happening.

    But, for sure, every situation is difficult.

    My final bit of advice would be this:

    If you are completely out of control of what someone else/ someplace might be serving you and you don’t feel comfortable eating it. Don’t. You can always say that your stomach just simply doesn’t feel well, skip the meal, go hungry, and make some food for yourself later.(Or do what I do and make a meal at home the day/night before and eat it before this “out of your control meal”.

    Also, one thing that is usually available most places is a simple side salad. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a restaurant where nothing looks appealing, and I simply ask for a side salad with dressing on the side, and make a meal out of it. Nobody really ask what I’m up to either.

    It’s very tough though, and it bugs the crap out of me to know so many people are struggling with this part of life. I almost wish everyone had IBD, but of course not.

    I really hope you get some other ideas from others too, good luck,

    Adam

    • Carol from Colorado
      Carol July 13, 2012 at 7:47 am #

      I liked what you talked about. I do #4 a lot. I will eat grilled fish or lean hamburger and chicken on the grill at a barbecue and tell them please no seasoning. I will bring some things that I eat from the house as well. Sometimes my mother-in-law has a brunch or something like bring your own hot dish and I will eat at home and just come visit over at her place later. I just tell them I have eaten supper already! They just say okay and leave it at that. Sometimes it is not even noticed. My family nows and some friends but I doubt they really undertand it all. I have had this so long, about 6 years now that I just tell people about my disease and leave it at that. If they decide not to be my friend then they are the one with the problem not me. Don’t need their friendship and move on. I do find it hard at times and would rather not go at all. Feeling sorry for myself at times. I eat some of the SCD and I cheat just a little sometimes but nothing seems to happen. I get tried of being so careful. I get mad sometimes because

    • Carol from Colorado
      Carol July 13, 2012 at 7:53 am #

      I liked what you talked about. I do #4 a lot. I will eat grilled fish or lean hamburger and chicken on the grill at a barbecue and tell them please no seasoning. I will bring some things that I eat from the house as well. Sometimes my mother-in-law has a brunch or something like bring your own hot dish and I will eat at home and just come visit over at her place later. I just tell them I have eaten supper already! They just say okay and leave it at that. Sometimes it is not even noticed. My family knows and some friends but I doubt they really undertand it all. I have had this so long, about 6 years now that I just tell people about my disease and leave it at that. If they decide not to be my friend then they are the one with the problem not me. Don’t need their friendship and move on. I do find it hard at times and would rather not go at all to these places. Feeling sorry for myself at times. I eat some of the SCD and I cheat just a little sometimes but nothing seems to happen. I get tired of being so careful. I get mad sometimes because I cannot eat what they are eating. It is all pretty hard. I do call in advance at places I will be eating at and tell them what I need to eat ,and if they can do that for me. But it is a pain to fool with. I don’t want to isolated myself from the family so I do those things. Tell me what you do and maybe give me some pointers if you will that will help me.

  2. shannon November 9, 2011 at 8:52 am #

    I have had uc for 12 yrs now. An not just beside having this difficult disease ive found it hard to explain it to ppl who have never heard of this disease. I find it kinda embarrasing to explain. First of all we are talking poop. An poop is kinda embarrasing in itsself. An then they ask is it contagious? Or will it ever go away.
    I know we all dont know about this disease, but that only means us uc’ers need to get the word out more to for one find a cure.
    Awareness. The key to knowledge.
    Stay proactive. Find a cure. Be medicine free.
    spread the word. Shannon

  3. Paula November 9, 2011 at 10:10 am #

    I have had uc for 7 years and at work the business luncheon is a frequent (and dreaded) reality. Most of my coworkers and friends are privy to my disease and no longer push food at me, thank goodness, but there are times when it’s still difficult. If I don’t know the group at all and won’t be seeing them again, I just say, I’m not feeling well today and have a cup of peppermint tea. I can always get a cup of hot water and I carry peppermint tea bags in my purse everywhere I go. I used to order side salads like Adam suggested until a friend who worked in a restaurant told me about the chemical baths the salad fixings are submerged in to keep them fresh. Now it depends on the restaurant. I’m coming off a flare myself and still not eating anything raw. Now I eat what I bring beforehand or right after. Sometimes I luck out and there is broiled or baked fish on the menu and I can scrape off any toppings. Also beware of something called phase or fase, it’s similar to msg and many places add it to steamed veggies. Always ask if there is anything on their steamed veggies. If they say “just seasoning” as for unseasoned as they usually don’t mean just salt and pepper!

    Good luck!
    Keep searching and trying out things to find what works for you!
    Paula

  4. Hopskotch November 9, 2011 at 5:50 pm #

    Thanks everyone! Hehe, I know that familiar tactic of “sneak the real food behind closed doors before the public meal [evil laugh] ‘;-) Just never knew how to then explain why I wasn’t eating the public meal! Hadn’t thought of the “Oh, just not feeling well today” explanation… That’s a good idea – I’ll have to give that a try!

    Diet is such a funny thing with UC, that I literally find the differences funny… got a chuckle reading that salads are Adam’s fallback food, since those are the absolute worst for me (my gut would be roaring so loud by the end of that luncheon people would think it was speaking in tongues!) It’s amazing how foods that bother us can be completely different from person to person. Anyway, super advice… you’re right Adam, it’s not one-size-fits-all for every situation, it really makes sense to combine approaches and play it by ear…

    Also got a chuckle from Shannon’s comment about people asking if UC is contagious. That’s always a tad awkward, isn’t it? ;-) Not sure if I’ve had people ask it outright, but it’s often clear from their politely phrased questions that’s what they’re getting at. I’m always tempted to make something up, like, “Yes, but only through casual contact with people you don’t know all that well…” I know, that wouldn’t be nice, but… neither are veiled accusations that we might be Typhoid Mary, eh?

    Anyway, thanks again everyone… great advice… (and feel free to keep em rolling in; I can always use more!)

    -Hopskotch, Queen of Oatmeal

    • Adam
      Adam November 9, 2011 at 7:07 pm #

      Hopskotch,

      Good luck with everything. I really wish you the best. Let us know how things go with trying out some new tactics!!!!! Take care, and keep the positive attitude up!! It’s awesome!
      adam

    • Carol from Colorado
      Carol July 13, 2012 at 7:56 am #

      I love your sense of humor!!!

  5. OrdinaryWorldWhereRU November 9, 2011 at 6:18 pm #

    I order what I can eat – period. If it means I have to quiz the waiter to death so be it. Its my health and I am the one in charge of it. If people ask me, I ask them if they know what Crohn’s/Ulcerative Colitis is. When they say yes, I answer “so do I”. A lot of times it has opened up interesting conversations about their health or their children’s health, etc… And all of my co-workers know about it. Makes life much easier. Besides, they would have known when I came back from being so sick that last time. I lost 30 lbs and looked rather skeletal. Can’t hide that. Combine that with hair loss and they will wonder anyway. Instead of them guessing it is cancer, I tell them what it is. I do allow for a situation that won’t let me be myself in which case I just skip eating. That or they have nothing I can tolerate, like salads for example.

  6. moxie November 10, 2011 at 12:28 am #

    Steak is my choice when dining out. At least you know that unless it comes with a sauce it is safe to eat.

    One thing I always find difficult to discuss is when people want to know what exactly happens when you have UC or what are your symptoms. It’s one thing when a friend asks you this, but I really don’t want to get into talking about diarrhea and blood with a complete stranger.

    Any advice on what to respond to this question when you don’t want to get into the gory details?

    • Carol from Colorado
      Carol July 13, 2012 at 7:58 am #

      What kind of steak do you eat when going out. I always tell them no seasoning on anything!!! I will do it myself!!!!

  7. nita November 11, 2011 at 10:20 pm #

    i have just been diagnosed with UC but have been on a ‘special’ diet for 2 years . i just tell people my ‘guts’ or my intestines dont work properly and most leave it at that… and those who dont are usually quite interested…
    my ‘diet’ sounds much more confining than you guys above me… i tend to be fine with dairy and gluten but little else… i survive on over processed foods like white breads rice crackers etc and medical supplements (ensure. sustogen, resource)

  8. Hopskotch November 12, 2011 at 2:48 pm #

    Thanks all for the advice! Making my first short road trip during this flare in a couple days, and am starting to compile foods and explanations for the “people-I’m-not-sure-I-want-to-tell-but-I-bet-I-can’t-avoid-it” who I’ll be seeing there. Woohoo!

    Nita, your diet sounds a little like mine’s been lately. I’ve been doing plenty of Ensure, but I’ve also noticed that “unhealthy” foods like white breads are much easier to deal with than their “healthy” counterparts during a flare because of their low fiber content. Somehow seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it? I’ve been lately trying to gear myself more toward the seemingly healthier ends of the “Baby Food Diet” spectrum – like applesauce, bananas, and oatmeal! Then at least I feel like a health nut. :-)

  9. St.Jon Clark July 4, 2012 at 5:38 pm #

    I just tell people I am on a restricted diet and smile really big like I have a special secret I have no intention of sharing and people never press. I mean there are boundaries and my medical history is nobody’s business but my own.

    • Carol from Colorado
      Carol July 13, 2012 at 8:08 am #

      I am wondering if I should tell the lady that does my hair.

    • Carol from Colorado
      Carol July 13, 2012 at 8:10 am #

      I am wondering if I should tell the lady that does my hair. She had cancer long time ago and is a health nut. I just hope she does not tell the world about it!!! She seems trust worthy.

Leave a Reply