Coping | Food/Diet | Ostomy
As catchphrases go, this one spans genres, generations and geography. Brazilian author, Paulo Cohelo wrote, “life doesn´t come with any guarantees. You have to risk it to get the biscuit.”; in his track “Frisky” British rapper Tinie Tempah asks, “Would you risk it for a chocolate biscuit?”; and the USA’s own Jimmy Fallon admits that his life’s motto is “You gotta risk it to get the biscuit”. And I, for one, most certainly would risk it for a biscuit, chocolate or otherwise. What’s life without a few risks?
In my case, the “biscuit” is all those foods I know are likely to bring suffering. In my teens, dairy aggravated my Crohn’s so I largely avoided it, but I’d risk it for the occasional pint of Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia. Today, it’s cinnamon sugar popcorn and chunky peanut butter, but the principle’s the same.
I’m sure you have a list of foods you avoid because of your IBD. Some are universally acknowledged to cause pain, particularly during active disease. Foods like popcorn, nuts and raw salads are on most people’s list, you might as well eat a handful of gravel for the pain they’ll cause you. Others, though more personal, are dairy, certain grains, berries or beans. Even if a fellow IBD-er doesn’t avoid them, they’ll usually understand why you do. During remission periods, you can be a little more relaxed about your diet, but there are still foods you’ll give a miss.
I have two lists; one is an ‘absolutely never’ list, the other is ‘not recommended’. There are certain foods I simply will not eat, it’s just not worth it. Gluten is out, I have Celiac Disease (so the aforementioned biscuit must remain a metaphor). Coleslaw is another non-negotiable after a stray piece of undigested cabbage worked its way underneath the baseplate of my pouch and caused the whole thing to come off. At a wedding. During the speeches. Needless to say, I am forever grateful to Spanx for preventing the whole thing dropping out the bottom of my dress when I stood up. I still cringe when I think about that day and I’ve never eaten coleslaw since!
The other list – the not-a-good-idea-but-not-banned list – that’s the one that caused me some problems last week. Mushrooms are tricky for every ostomate I know. If you chew them really well, you might be ok, but they’re notorious for causing blockages. So, what would you do, if you love mushrooms, you were having dinner with a friend and you noticed a delicious, seriously garlicky, mushroom risotto on the menu? I ordered the risotto. I think I would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for the following day. On that day, I made a (very exciting) spicy Massaman curry with snow peas, baby corn, bean sprouts and peanuts; all of which are on the ‘not recommended’ list. “I’ll pay for this later”, I thought as I ate a second serving.
Pain ensued. The sort of pain that I haven’t felt since I last ate muesli during a flare-up. It was eye-watering, sharp and constant. I’m not sure if I caused a small bowel obstruction or if I was simply exfoliating my insides with Thai food. Whatever the reason, it didn’t last long enough for me to have to take myself to the Emergency Room, but just enough for me to regret my laissez-faire attitude towards unnecessary roughage.
The thing is, I’m already craving garlic mushrooms. So, have I learned my lesson? Probably not. Would I do it again? Hell, yeah, I’d risk it for a biscuit.
Pass me that popcorn.