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Going to College With Ulcerative Colitis

Keys to Eating Well

Living with ulcerative colitis means you need to pay attention to what you eat. Here are some strategies to help you stay focused on staying healthy throughout the semester, even during crunch times like exams:

  • If you’ll be living in a dorm, pick a flexible meal plan so you can avoid any problem foods. The dining hall manager may be able to help you find substitutes or healthy alternatives.
  • Talk to a dietitian to develop a diet that will be healthy and convenient.
  • Stay alert to foods that you know don't agree with your digestive tract. Ask or check the label if you're not sure about the ingredients.
  • Plan ahead so you don't skip meals and get sidelined. Pack your own snacks to stash in your bag.
  • Remember to drink water throughout the day so you don't get dehydrated.

Listen to Your Body's Cues

When you're in a new environment, especially if you're feeling healthy and good, you might start to think you're invincible and don't need to take medications. But you'd be wrong.

  • Stay on top of treatment. Use a daily pillbox to keep track of your meds. Skipping doses of medication can bring on a flare-up. By taking medications as directed and being proactive, you are the one in control of your disease and not vice versa.
  • Call your doctor at the first sign of symptoms. You know better than anyone else when your body is telling you something's wrong. Getting treatment for a flare-up right away can stop it from getting worse and keep you from having to miss a lot of school.
  • Don't wait until you're feeling down to seek help. If you're starting to feel stressed out, seek the advice of a counselor or therapist.

Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

The typical "crash and burn" college lifestyle may leave you feeling wiped out, not to mention increase the risk of flares. Keep the big picture in mind and develop a healthy daily routine.

  • Understand what skipping sleep and drinking alcohol may do to your health. Sleep loss can aggravate UC-related fatigue, and alcohol may trigger symptoms. Remember the key is to do everything in moderation and make smart choices. You need to decide what is best for your health.
  • Stay on top of coursework so if you do have to miss a class, you won't fall far behind.
  • Learn how to manage stress. Try meditation, yoga, deep breathing, or other methods. This way you can reduce the risk that stress will aggravate symptoms.
  • Exercise. Not only can workouts boost overall health but they can also be a great way to burn off stress.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Andrew Seibert, MD on October 24, 2012

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