Guest Post: I used to have a chronic disease
Today’s guest posts comes from another one of my favorite bloggers, Miss Krystina over at Vegan Salt. She tells us her life-changing story about curing a disease through changing her diet to a plant-based one. I hear stories about this all the time and glad she could share with us today.
I used to have a chronic disease. Yes, you read that right. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a relatively mysterious condition, often brought about by prolonged periods of stress or anxiety, and according to medical professionals, once you have it, it lasts forever. In my case, it lasted about five years.
When I was diagnosed with IBS, I had already suffered from crippling abdominal pain for nearly a year. I had a boss who was making my life hell, and I dreaded going to work so much that I often felt physically ill. Some days the pain was so bad that I called in sick.
For months, I tried to self-correct, thinking I was eating too much or too little, eating at the wrong time, or getting food poisoning, or that I’d developed an allergy. But I felt helplessly out of touch with my body. I couldn’t predict which foods would leave me curled up in pain. Plain crackers? Spicy tacos? Ice cream? Everything was a gamble. Flare-ups could last two to five days, and during that time, I couldn’t even distinguish hunger pangs from menstrual cramps. Both were overpowered by a pain the size of a bowling ball in my abdomen.
At one point, I was spending more time miserable than not, and my boyfriend insisted I see a physician. My doctor gave me samples of an experimental IBS drug, but told me that all her IBS patients had responded best to fiber supplements. I started buying chewable fiber tablets, and they did reduce the frequency of my flare-ups, when I remembered to take them regularly.
Several years later, I switched to an entirely plant-based (vegan) diet. To borrow from Isaac Bashevis Singer, I didn’t cut out animal products for my health, I did it for the health of the animals. But the health benefits were as dramatic as they were unexpected. Out of necessity,
I started painstakingly reading labels, but quickly realized that whole foods were the easiest to verify as vegan-friendly. So, rather than memorize lists of animal-derived additives, I cut more and more processed foods from my diet. As I transitioned to whole plant foods, my digestive complications simply faded away.
Plants are incredible things. A diet heavy in vegetables, legumes and whole grains is naturally high in fiber and easier to digest than meat and dairy products. One miserable weekend resulting from an incorrectly made latte was enough to convince me that my body wanted nothing to do with milk ever again.
Regaining the ability to trust my own body was an empowering experience, and something I never would have believed possible. The foods I crave are the foods that make me feel good and are delicious. Food, my body, and I are good friends now. In fact, only certain types of foods (greasy/sugary/processed/starchy) give me any indigestion anymore, and I know them on sight! Even when I do choose to indulge in several vegan cupcakes, I don’t have what I would consider an “IBS episode.” The intense pain I used to think of as inevitable has simply vanished, and since IBS is diagnosed entirely by its symptoms, I am pronouncing myself happily cured.
Have you or someone you know cured digestive or other health issues changing to a plant-based diet?