Food, the Final Frontier

One of the truths of Kelly’s struggles with inflammatory bowel disease is that we’ve tried to manage it with medicine. While we’ve often noticed that rest, sleep and stress play a part as triggers, we’ve always focused on which medicine will give him the best opportunity to live symptom-free.

Lately, though, we’re moving—or being moved by circumstance—to try a different approach. When he was first diagnosed more than 4 years ago, he took a boatload of pills (Pentasa) throughout the day. Then we went to every-8-weeks infusions of Remicade. Both of those “held” for roughly 2 years. The Remicade, in particular, was a godsend. It really kept things quiet.

But over the summer, Kelly developed a severe allergy to Remicade (not uncommon, as its origins are with mice) and he came off that. In its place, he switched to Humira, which has proven less effective. We’re n our second hospitalization in 3 months.  We’re going to add another drug, methotrexate, to the mix.

Which is all fine and good. But all this switching has us wondering if there isn’t more to be done on our side. While it’s never spoken of here at CHOP clinically, there’s quite a bit of research on diet and IBD, and how it feeds the bacteria community of your gut.

The research suggests that a Western-style, high-carb diet feeds a lot of the bad actors in your GI tract and does little for the good guys.

So we’re thinking it’s time that we stepped up and did what we can. Maybe that’s a little. Maybe that’s a lot. Either way, we’ll know we’re doing what we can to stay as inflammation-free as possible.

Here’s what we’re thinking:

  • Fewer carbs. I doubt we’ll ever get to super-low carbs. But we can cut A LOT of processed stuff out of what we eat daily. (Please, nobody watch my tearful goodbye with that chicken quesadilla I always have near.)
  • Bye-bye, milk. This is more of an experiment. Milk has lots of good stuff in it, but there’s ample evidence it’s inflammatory, too. This will be tough, as Kelly is a big milk fan. He likes some kinds of tea, so we’ll try some of that and fizzy waters (without sugar) to fill the beverage category.
  • We’re all in. Kelly will not be doing this alone. We think if we all do it, we’ll invest enough in the meal preparation and selection that it’ll actually taste, you know, good. And we all (excepting Virginia) could stand to clean up what we eat at mealtime. (Virginia needs to clean up what she eats outside mealtimes.)

So that’s a start. Much more to figure out. And we all would welcome ideas on recipes, advice, and strategies. Apparently, this is our resolution for 2013. Hopefully it lasts beyond February.

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