Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Interstitial Cystitis Diet and Overwhelm

should I eat it? interstitial cystitis
I often get frantic calls from interstitial cystitis patients who are overwhelmed trying to figure out what they can or cannot eat.  Trust me, I totally get it. Early on I was frustrated about the IC diet, ending up in a negative cycle of fixating on the foods I couldn't have, thinking I already had to give up so much of my life, and now I can't even have spaghetti or orange juice. How am I going to handle this?

Despite the frustration; however, the key thing to remember is that dietary modification CAN help control symptoms of IC, and it is actually something we have in our control. The one thing that helped turn my head around was to realize that eventually everyone "gets" something. Some people get arthritis, some get diabetes, some have even worse diseases like cancer.

In fact, if you asked ten people on the street if they are supposed to be watching their diet in some way, nine out of ten would say yes . . . and the last one would most likely be lying!

The good news is that an individual's IC diet usually doesn't have to be as strict as you may think. Most people with a painful bladder or interstitial cystitis find that they can have a substantial and healthy diet if they do a little detective work to identify their personal trigger foods. That is the idea of the IC elimination diet. Most people do not have to be on the most restrictive diet forever. And, although others with IC are great counsel, your diet is probably not going to look like anyone else's.

It can be very helpful to remember that eventually you will feel normal again, or more accurately, you will find yourself accepting a "new normal." You will learn coping skills that will help you on a daily basis. You will be able to navigate your refrigerator and restaurants without putting yourself in a flare. You will find exercises that you can do, and fixate less on what you can't do.

So, if you are new . . . hang in there . . . ask questions . . . be your own best health care provider. Keep a diary or a calendar. Write down what you eat, what is going on in your life, the medications you are trying, and how you are feeling. If you can't figure it out, share your diary with a trusted friend or your doctor. Sometimes we are too close to a situation to see what may be hurting us.

The ultimate message here is that you CAN do it, you CAN get better, you CAN begin to heal . . . it just takes some time and patience.

For more help see:  
Customizing the Interstitial Cystitis Diet: A Confident Choices Book

Author, Speaker, Patient Advocate

Helping Yourself Is the First Step to Getting Well

For step by step guidance for creating your own personal interstitial cystitis meal plan, see: Confident Choices®: Customizing the Interstitial Cystitis Diet.

For some basic, family-style, IC bladder-friendly recipes, see: Confident Choices®: A Cookbook for Interstitial Cystitis and Overactive Bladder

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  1. I've been very fortunate in that, after I was on a pretty strict "safer foods" IC diet for two years or so, I was feeling significantly better and I have since added numerous foods back into my diet without flaring. I can now even eat red grapes, watermelon, honeydew and cantaloupe. I'm eating peaches and low acid tomatoes, as well! It seems to me that going on a stricter diet for an extended period of time allowed some healing to occur.

  2. Kelly, I am the same as you. I can eat a lot of foods now that I had to avoid before! If I get a little ouchy now, I just cut back all the bad stuff for a day or two. I wish we knew more, but I do believe, at least from my own experience, that my bladder has healed somewhat!

  3. I have to believe that mine has, too!