Ulcerative Colitis Tips


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UC And The FAR EAST

Introduction:

Hi, my name is Isak, I am 27 years old, and I was diagnosed with UC during my final year at university about 4 years ago. I currently live in South Korea, and have been trying to follow the SCD for a few weeks.

My Current Ulcerative Colitis Deal and Questions:

I was diagnosed during my final year at college, and I was put on Asacol. My symptoms included bloody diarrhea, and mouth sores. My symptoms persisted for several months before I was diagnosed, and my mouth ulcers were so bad I couldn’t swallow without pain.

After I was put on Asacol I almost immediately went back to normal. My symptoms vanished in a week. I carried on, and stopped taking the meds with no complications.

About 8 months later I moved to South Korea were I have been ever since. I had no symptoms and no complications until this time last year. After a weekend eating a wide variety of food (pizza, gyros, Thai food, Indian food, tacos) my symptoms returned. I was put on a few different meds, prednisone and a few others and halfheartedly took them while still engaging in bad dieting and drinking behaviors. My symptoms started to escalate last march. I assumed I just had a bad cold, but I definitely didn’t. I barely ate anything, and was unable to work up the energy to do much beyond sleeping. My doctor ran a blood test and told me I needed to see a GI immediately. I was hospitalized for a month, and was put on a fast for two weeks. I went from around 80 kilos (175 lbs.) to around 50 (110 lbs.). I’m about 6″2′.

I was diagnosed with toxic mega-colon, and was put on several meds. I ended up having two rounds of remicade, 4 transfusions, about 20 different IV ports were installed, and I had a rather frightening moment where I dropped what must’ve been a pint of blood into the toilet. After my 30 days in the hospital I was discharged, and went home. I gained the weight back within a few months, and have been attempting to try the SCD diet for a week.

My question is this: Does anybody have any experience living abroad with UC? I know exactly where to get the things people talk about back in the US, but in another country I find it is difficult or cost prohibitive. Any advice for substitutes? Any advice for fitting in with crowds while on the SCD? Any advice for dealing with stress while in another country and on the SCD? Does anyone have any advice on ways to not strictly follow the diet?

Rice is everywhere here, and it’s not always an option for me to go without. Bread is easily knocked off, and only drinking water is easy, but baked dishes are next to impossible for me to do as ovens are rare here. Spicy food is everywhere here and I love it, but it breaks the rules right? Living abroad is stressful and comfort foods really help, but now it seems that they are going to break the diet for me.

I’ve noticed the symptoms have started returning after a few weekends of drinking, so I want to start focusing on this diet pretty heavily, the last few nights have seen some improvement with a diet of meat, eggs and some random over cooked vegetables, but I can’t just eat that forever.

Thanks for reading, and thanks in advance for any help you can give.

-Isak

PS. I’ve also noticed a few things about my condition. Both times my symptoms flared up were related to changes in my diet. The first symptoms appeared after I gave up fast food completely, and the second time due to a very diverse and large amount of food being packed in in a short amount of time. I also used to have random bowel movements with a small amount of blood during university usually related to times when I was moving back into the dorms. Changing my diet has always seemed like it has had more of an impact than what the diet actually was. Is anybody else the same?

My Ulcerative Colitis Medications before and right now:

Previously:
Asacol
Remicade

Currently:
Prednisone
Sulfasalazine

This Story Was Submitted in the:  Colitis Venting Area.  Feel free to share your story too!

For more information on the SCD DIET, visit:  ihaveuc.com/the-diet




9 Responses to UC And The FAR EAST

  1. Adam
    Adam November 4, 2011 at 11:22 pm #

    Hey Isak,
    Major props goes out to you for trying SCD while living abroad in S. Korea.
    That’s pretty impressive to be attempting a diet that is different than most, especially when you are in a far off land.

    I’ve been following the diet for just over 2 years with great success, and I think you can too.

    My advice would be to stop drinking for some time. If you have to relax with a drink, I’d highly recommend vodka with lots of ice. That has always been a safe bet for me(as long as I only had one on rare occassions) The beer and sugary drinks though are like murder, I’d stay away from the beer and sweet wines, and other alcoholic drinks at all costs.

    As for another question of blending in with others while on SCD, that can be tougher, especially if you don’t know everyone really well. Not sure on your exact deal, but here’s some tips. I’d tell your best friend from whoever you’re hanging out with some of the details as to what your UC is all about. Then, you might want to give some insights into why you are trying to control some symptoms with diet, and explain why you think the diet might work for you. I’ve always realized that once others know more about what I’m going through(colitis wise), then its so much easier for others to understand why I do what I do.

    Some other quick thoughts SCD diet related, I myself would stay away from all rice, all sweet sauces that might be put on meats, all breads, and all noodles. If you can get away with egg dishes for breakfast, that might be a great start for you. If you can migrate to more meats without any sugary sauces for other meals, that also could get you feeling better. It’s going to be tough to pull off some progress, but I bet you can do it.
    take care, and I wish you the best of luck,
    Adam

  2. Hopskotch November 5, 2011 at 4:08 pm #

    Hi Isak, Adam’s got some great tips about trying to help people understand the specific reasons for why you eat what you eat. I’ll just comment on your observation that sometimes change in diet seems to have more impact than the diet itself. I have both UC and irritable bowel syndrome, and while my UC seems to be more consistently affected by certain kinds of foods, I’ve noticed the IBS sometimes does respond – positively or negatively – to changes in diet. When I’m flaring it can be somewhat confusing as to which symptoms are UC and which are IBS, as they’ll aggravate one another. So if you haven’t been told you have IBS, you might ask your doc if it’s likely.

    Changes in diet in my case usually accompany some other change – e.g. travel or a very busy week at work. The best thing I’ve found for it is to try to make time for extra sleep where I can and doing morning restroom visits at a not-rushed pace. Obviously, not always possible, but for example if I have 3 long days in a row, I’ll try to not schedule anything at all for early Saturday.

    Another thing I do sometimes is, if I go out to eat with people, I do my “real” eating beforehand, using my own food. Then when I have to go to the restaurant where I can’t eat much of anything, all I have to do is get some little soup or something. That relieves the social awkwardness of being the only one not eating, yet I don’t have to eat much of the nasty stuff! :-)

  3. Peter NZ November 5, 2011 at 9:10 pm #

    Hey deude,
    I’m not on SCD but spicey food and colitis seem to be unrelated to me. It doesn’t make me have a flare; but if I’m having a flare I don’t tend to eat it.
    Could chuck your raw friut and veges into a blender perhaps.
    Good luck,
    Peter

  4. Bryan November 6, 2011 at 3:57 pm #

    Hey Man I hate to be a debbie downer and hell im not perfect but spicy foods, alcohol,caffiene fast food is no good for you. or any of us with UC that stuff isnt good for a normal person. I cant eat any of those things or raw fruits or veggies if i even eat a salad it kills me but another strange thing about this is everybody handles foods different something i could eat you mihgt to able to vice versa just need to find something that works but if you cut some of those things out it will help a little bit

  5. Rita November 15, 2011 at 11:05 pm #

    Hey, Isak,

    I just moved back from SoKo after living there for two years with UC. I had been diagnosed a few years prior to moving and had kind of an idea of how to deal with it, and in SoKo, I just refined my methods.

    You will have to put more effort into cooking and eating before you go out and meet people. It’s a pain in the ass (haha) but that’s probably the best option in a place like Korea.

    Of Korean food, I found that seoleongtang (ox bone soup) was really good. It is served pretty bland and you can add flavors and spices as suited to what your gut can handle.
    Kimchi also was good for the ol gut. But in small doses. and not overly spicy kimchi either.

    You’ll probably have to stop drinking alcohol, which can be tough in Korea. but it’s better for your gut.

    Stay away from the samgyeopsal (another heartbreak for me bc I LOVE samyeop). A great meal of samgyeop always ended with a night of waking up and running to bathroom accompanied by blood more often than not.

    My GI in Seoul also has colitis, so I could ask him questions about his own UC and how he dealt with it.

    Oh~ and if you are in Seoul, it will probbaly be easier to buy ingredients to make your own food with. The Foreign Mart in Itaewon, Emart, Homeplus. And once you get a good idea of ingredients that suit you, you can peruse your local Korean grocery store and pick up basics there.

    Anyway, good luck and take care!

  6. Rita November 15, 2011 at 11:15 pm #

    Oh yeah, and jimjilbangs were good ways of dealing with stress. I belonged to a gym with a sauna and hot tub. After a moderate weight workout, I would sit in the sauna or hot tub or alternate between the two and felt the tension melt away.

    I also took some time to get acupuncture. I don’t know about the needle part, but before sticking me with pins, a nurse (?) would come in and give me a nice acupressure belly rub and that was amazing.

    Taking time out to get a massage is good. Noraebanging was also another outlet for me, though I know not everyone’s a fan.

    And re: drinking, I found that Chung-ha was easier on my gut than any of those crappy Korean beers. Maybe soju would be ok too. But I hated the taste of soju. Chung-ha is basically soju, but without that poison taste to it.

    I was also lucky enough (I was there teaching English) that there was a nap room at my place of employment. So, in between classes, in times when I was flaring and weak, I could go and take naps on the nice warm ondol floor.

    Telling a few close friends about your situation helps as well.

    That’s all I can think of for now. I’ll post again if I think of somthing else.

  7. Isak November 16, 2011 at 1:19 am #

    Wow, thank you all so much for your comments!

    This is about week 2 of the SCD, and its going well. My frying pan is my new best friend, and along with his accomplice the-sauce-pan, we’ve been creating several delicious, if not bland, meals. My office coworkers got a pizza today, and the smell made my mouth water, but beyond that I haven’t broken the rules of the SCD too much. Still eating rice daily, but next week I’m going to try fazing it out.

    I’m in a mild flare right now, but I can feel a definite change in the comings and goings of my bowels. If I can knock the bleeding out I feel I’d be back to normal.

    The social aspect isn’t so difficult, the expat community in my town is about 100 people, so most people know I was hospitalized for stomach stuff. Last weekend I just cooked at home before a big tournament.

    Rita: Thanks for the excellent advice, nice to know I’m not the only one who has had to deal with UC here. I’m big on galbitang, and was planning on getting it tonight, but why no samgyeopsal?

    I’ll keep the soju in mind, but honestly, I’m actually enjoying a break from the weekends. It’s a bit odd to be on the sober end of the foreigner bar, and my social life hasn’t suffered too much from this. I found the vodka was true, but I haven’t had much trouble switching over to water the past two months.

    Question for eveybody:
    How much do you find stress impacts the UC? Is it just in a general fashion, or do you find relaxing can help with flares?
    Also, have any of you tried pomegranate juice? I’ve heard very good things on a few sites related to drinking a cup of it a day.

    Once again, thanks for all the help!

  8. Rita November 16, 2011 at 11:17 am #

    Samgyeopsal was always more difficult for me to digest. Galbi was easier, since it’s a softer meat. But, when I ate samgyeop, I always ate a ton of meat and kimchi and not much of anything else. That would always aggravate my stomach. Eventually, I learned that I could eat small amounts of samgyeop but it had to be cushioned by lots of rice and veggies.

    I think stress definitely aggravates my UC. I had a stressful relationship with my main supervisor at work. But, once I started working out, planning my meals and eating well (and started dating someone kind of awesome) my inflammation levels came down and I started feeling better.

    I had to move from one apartment to another and that was pretty stressful, as my supervisor kept changing my moving date around on me and finally told me the day before that I had to be out of my apartment by 10 a.m. the next day.

    Oh, Korea.

    During this time, my inflammation levels went from normal range to 7. Not terrible, but still more uncomfortable for my gut than I would like.

    Taking naps during flares helps me. The rest gives my body a chance to heal itself a bit.

    • Isak November 17, 2011 at 6:33 pm #

      Awesome, I definitely agree with the oh, Korea.

      Also, I broke my leg about the time the flares reached their peak, I never connected the stress aspect.

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