What would you do if you were told you could never eat any vegetables, nuts, wholegrains or fresh fruits if you wanted to avoid another hospital admission?
Yep, that's exactly what happened to me and this is why we need to revisit the idea of healthy eating.
I have a severe form of Crohn's Disease which means I can only eat simple carbs & lean protein, sounds like a weight lifter's diet I know and it was incredibly helpful when I did have the energy to lift weights. And since I have no intention of returning back to the hospital emergency room simply because I swallowed a pea accidentally (true story!) I diligently went about following this strange advice.
Now the problem is, unless you want to settle for a sad-looking sandwich with questionable ingredients there really isn't any one out there actively helping those of us with IBD eat better and live normal lives when we go out with friends. Be it Marks&Spencer, Waitrose or even Pret you'd be hard pressed to find a sandwich that's appropriate for our diets.
Because we have gotten so saturated by a narrow argument on what healthy eating is which leaves very little scope (if any!) to accommodate any other diets. Even though many of the autoimmune conditions are fairly new, our specialised diets are anything but. The Low-Fibre diet has been around since early 1900s and slowly faded in time as other more attractive ones came around. Now I have nothing against any dietary plans and completely understand eating meat three times a day is not recommended for many of you out there, but if we are willing to accommodate vegans, vegetarians, pescetarians, lactose intolerant and a whole lot of them - why are the low residue dieters ignored? What's worse - this diet isn't a choice but an essential requirement to maintain good health.
And it's not just the little me crying out for a meal that I can order in a restaurant, there's at least one person being diagnosed with Crohn's Disease every 30 minutes in the UK and over 500,000 of those already diagnosed in the United States - let us enjoy a meal with our friends & family please?
Besides packing my own lunch pack when I travel, I am left with very few options otherwise unless I was willing to go into a dodgy looking chicken shop and pray I don't get food poisoning. Health to us is chicken, chips, cupcakes, oh the cupcakes because we really struggle to put in any weight and can use all the calories that we get to loading up on all kinds of carbs. I start my day with a mighty English Breakfast everyday, religiously and it serves me well by keeping my energy levels up all day. I understand if anyone "normal" ate this you'd probably get a heart attack in a couple of years if not months, but surely supermarkets/cafes can start stocking more white bread sandwiches and restaurants could consider having a few veg-free options as part of a low-residue meal?
As we jump on the bandwagon of clean eating and healthy lifestyles let's remember, there's more than one definition of what it means to be healthy.
This post is published as part of The Chronically Driven series; a social innovation project bringing invisible disabilities to the forefront of mainstream media. Please check the project out and let us know your thoughts on Twitter as @bhaesa.