Pay Attention to Your Body continued...
Also note which, if any, foods affect your bowel problems. While food does not cause the inflammation in your intestines, certain foods may make symptoms worse. For example, many people with Crohn’s disease find they need to avoid high-fiber foods such as seeds, nuts, popcorn, and corn, as well as spicy, fried, and greasy foods. Keeping a food and symptom diary can help you track what foods cause problems so that you can avoid them.
You may want to talk with your doctor about working with a registered dietitian (RD). He or she can review your food diary to determine whether you are eating a balanced diet. An RD can help you plan meals so that you get a wide range of nutritious foods.
Also pay attention to how stress affects your symptoms. Many people with Crohn’s find that stress is a trigger for flares. Having Crohn’s can also be stressful. If stress causes added problems for you, look into learning relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises, tai chi, yoga, meditation, or guided imagery.
The classic symptoms of Crohn’s disease -- persistent diarrhea, pain, and cramping -- can make you feel hesitant to stray very far from home. That’s understandable early on when you are learning how your condition affects you. But don’t get into the habit of cutting yourself off from the rest of the world. Planning ahead can help give you a sense of security so that you can go about your daily routine as much as possible.
Locate restrooms in public areas such as restaurants, shopping malls, highway rest areas, and anywhere you tend to go in your local area. This can help you keep a mental map of bathroom stops in mind when you are out and about. There is even an application for some handheld devices that can help you locate restrooms in your area.
Pack a travel kit that includes a spare set of underwear, toilet tissue, wipes, a couple of zip-top bags, and deodorizer. You may never need it, but just knowing it’s there if you do have an accident can help give you peace of mind.
Ask a trusted friend to be on-call to come get you should you find yourself in a difficult situation.
Focus on the Future
The fact that you have been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease may be all you can think about now. But it won’t always be that way. As you learn about your condition and grow to accept it, having an IBD will become part of who you are -- but it won’t define you. Keep your focus on your future and remember: Having Crohn’s disease does not have to control your life.