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No Cake Allowed...

Bet that blog title got your attention!

Whilst it isn't quite that dramatic, I am allowed some cake but at the moment it needs to be free from a lot of things, mainly gluten. And you all know how tricky gluten free baking is, but I take it as a challenge.

Let me explain...

At the age of 16 I became very poorly, after several months of very embarrassing and invasive tests and examinations I was diagnosed with an IBD - that translates as Inflammatory Bowel Disease - not to be confused with IBS which is irritable bowel syndrome. Not to dismiss anyone that has IBS (I do feel for you) but they are two VERY different things.

Specifically I was diagnosed with two conditions; Ulcerative Colitis and Proctitis. UC basically means inflammation and ulcers to the lower end of my digestive system, mine is in the last part of my colon. Proctitis is inflammation of the lower end of the large intestine. As you can imagine - it ain't pleasant.

After diagnosis I was put on various types of medication, all of them steroid based and in differing amounts. Some worked better than others, none of them were perfect.

Roll forward many years (coz it is a boring story very much repeating itself), I had begun to live with my condition. Sometimes the steroids helped, other times they were pretty much useless. Most of the time I functioned normally, as long as I was close to bathroom facilities! One other delightful side affect from IBD surfaced as well, I also have polyarthritis (inflammation of the joints), IBD is the gift that just keeps giving.

Somewhere around 25 years ago when I was at one of my very low points, on high doses of steroids, bad and continuous flare ups and on anti depressants because of it, I stumbled upon the holistic treatment, reflexology. It changed things. I began to have regular sessions and slowly came off the anti depressants and then began to lower my steroid intake.

It took some time, but a couple of years later I was off all medication. Only using the steroids occasionally when I had a flare up, which were few and far between and never very severe.

For the past 7 or 8 years I have been in remission. Until now.

For whatever reason and there could be any number of issues such as stress, bad diet, menopause etc I was hit with a flare up a few months ago. It was not gentle and hit me like a ton of bricks. I was referred back to the Consultant who put me back on steroids, for the first few weeks they did nothing so he doubled my dosage. It helped a little.

The Consultant also referred me to a dietician. Back in the late 80's and early 90's they didn't associate IBD with food, but ideas have changed. I am awaiting an appointment, but in the meantime I have been recommended to try a FODMAP diet. It identifies all the foods that cause inflammation to the digestive system. I am coming to the end of the first week of 6 weeks in the total restriction diet. Then I can start re-introducing foods to see which ones I am reactive to.

High on the list is gluten and dairy (it's always those isn't it?) but also things like garlic, onions and cauliflower. I do still have a varied list to choose from, I can have a lot of the meats, eggs, fruits and vegetables I just have to be careful to avoid the high FODMAP ones.

Yesterday I made an amazing gluten free chocolate cake using rice flour, ground almonds and grated butternut squash of all things. Sorting out dinner is more tricky and I have to read all the package labels to make sure nothing 'evil' is included.

Nearly one week in and things have settled slightly, but it is a long road ahead.

I debated about whether to blog this or not, but as today is World IBD Day it seemed right to do so.

I am OK, it is nothing I haven't dealt with before in the past 37 years, but it has been a bit of a shock after such a long remission. I have high hopes for the new diet, fingers crossed.


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