Healthy Habits With Ulcerative Colitis continued...
Although food does not cause ulcerative colitis, many people say that certain foods may make their symptoms worse. On the list are high-fiber foods such as bran, nuts, seeds, and popcorn; fatty, greasy foods and sauces; milk products (for people with lactose intolerance); and alcohol.
It's an individual list, however. People react differently to foods, so Lashner recommends making a note of how certain foods affect you. "Keep an eye on what you eat,” he says. “If you notice a pattern developing -- that a certain food is related to diarrhea and bleeding -- try to avoid that food."
Your doctor may also recommend exercise to help. Exercise reduces stress, which may aggravate symptoms. It can improve your mood and sense of well-being, which can take a hit when you have a chronic disease. And it may help reduce your risk of bone loss and colon cancer, which are higher when you have UC.
Diet and exercise are also important if you need surgery for your UC, says Roberts. Your doctor may recommend that you follow a low-residue diet (avoiding chunky fruits and vegetables) while you are healing.
He may also recommend safe exercises that will help with healing. Regular exercise can help you recover from surgery by strengthening your muscles, keeping your blood circulating to prevent blood clots, and helping to keep your lungs clear.
UC: Be Prepared
You're only going to have so much time with your doctor when you go for an appointment. Maximize the time by making a list of questions and concerns, with the most urgent ones first. If you don't have time to get through the whole list, ask whether you can follow up with an email.
Taking a list of your medications to each office visit can also be helpful.
Tell the truth about your symptoms, even if you are embarrassed. Your doctor can't help you manage your symptoms unless he understands what they are.
Don't hesitate to ask for more information about what your doctor is saying if you if you don't understand it or if something doesn't sound right. Have a notebook and pen handy to write notes or instructions. Better yet, have a friend or family member come with you for moral support and a second set of ears.
If your doctor recommends surgery, learn all you can about it. "Being a prepared patient helps," Roberts says.
Your doctor may be able to put you in contact with someone who has already had the same surgery. "Sometimes if a patient is in the hospital, we have another patient go to see them," Roberts says.
Support groups are another way to learn about other people’s experience with UC surgery.