I have always hated diets. I hate the mindset that they give you. You look at food as being good and bad when in fact, no food is bad for you in moderation. If you want to lose weight, eat less and move more, it’s no more complicated than that.
I had the sweetest tooth of anyone I know. I loved chocolate, cake, biscuits, basically anything loaded with sugar. I did my best to exercise self control but admittedly, I could have four creme eggs in one sitting and not feel an ounce of shame. Easter only comes once a year after all!
Now, my days of competition creme egg tasting are long gone as I have found myself stuck with my worst nightmare…a diet.
When I’m turning down food, lots of people say they don’t understand how I do it. The reality is, the choice is very easy. If I have a chance of being pain free, I’ll take it.
So, the “IC Diet”. A lot of food and drinks are bladder irritants and this diet aims to cut them out so you can (hopefully) have a reduction in your symptoms. I am also doing this in the hope my bladder can soothe and try to repair itself.
As a minimum, the IC diet advises you to cut out the following;
Caffeinated tea and coffee
Chocolate (contains caffeine)
Citric fruit – Lemon, lime, orange etc
My first thought upon reading that? “No fucking way”. No chocolate, no alcohol? I need a large vodka…now.
The Intersitital Cystitis Association have produced an IC diet list which places food into “bladder friendly”, “try it” and “caution” categories. You can find the list here.
Their advice is to start with only “bladder friendly” foods and this has been my life for the past two months although it feels like much, much longer. As you can see, the “bladder friendly” list is somewhat lacking in anything fun.
A trip to the supermarket is quite an ordeal. I am one of those people you see in there for an hour but only walk out with four items. I look at the ingredients of everything I buy. If it contains anything resembling spices, acids, vinegar, addictives, preservatives, etc, I stay clear. This accounts for a majority of food I once enjoyed eating. It’s a nightmare. I have also excluded gluten and dairy (except a little bit of cheese) and I buy organic where possible. I need a second job just to be able to afford to feed myself!
Previously, my food shopping would always contain the diet or low calorie version of everything but I have found that what they take away in calories, they add in preservatives and other shit I can’t even pronounce. If I can’t pronounce it, I doubt my angry bladder will like it.
All these restrictions mean it’s very hard to find food I can eat and enjoy. My head is constantly spinning with what I can and can’t eat.
So what do I eat? This is my staple diet;
Breakfast – Gluten free porridge with blueberries and topped with organic desiccated coconut (for that sweet tooth of mine) OR gluten free toast topped with organic peanut butter.
Lunch – Scrambled egg, spinach, avocado and mushrooms OR tuna mayo, spinach, avocado and boiled egg. I have found an organic mayonaisse I can tolerate which I am so thankful for (mayonaisse is typically full of acidic ingredients).
Dinner – Chicken breast or salmon with vegetables such as carrots, cauliflower and green beans. I will sometimes make sweet potato fries to add to this.
Snacks – Organic royal gala apples (other types of apple are a no-no)
“Nakd” gluten free fruit bars (only the bakewell tart flavour)
Gluten free oat biscuits
Sweet & salty popcorn
Drinks – Evian water (Even the water I drink has careful consideration. Evian has a neutrel PH)
Marshmallow root tea
As you can imagine, everyday turns into groundhog day. There’s not much to choose from and its very boring and repetitive.
I have read lots of articles advising me to eat only whole foods, consume no sugar, go on a juice diet and even one that advised consuming only water for several weeks. I am not sure how the writer survived to tell that tale but I know I wouldn’t. I am aware there’s a lot of sugar in my diet and sugar is seen as the devil but honestly, it’s about the only thing that gets me through the day on this diet.
My lonely looking fridge…
A couple of weeks ago, I was so pissed off with life, I demolished a share pack of Minstrels. The old me would do this regulary and Minstrels were one of my favourites. This was a “fuck you” to the diet and I didn’t care about the repercussions. What took me by surprise was that the Minstrels tasted pretty shit. I checked the sell by date and it wasn’t that so I could only think that after being without chocolate for so long, my tastebuds had changed. I had gone from eating chocolate every day to not even liking the taste of it. Crazy.
I spend most my life telling people “I can’t eat that”. I’ve turned into one of those “gluten free, dairy free, organic, I only eat dust” type people that I used to roll my eyes at. I still do. I am doing none of this through choice and long for a large slice of Pepperoni Passion.
Rather unfairly on my part, I find myself snapping at people who offer me forbidden food or crying when they ask if this will be for life. I wish I had the answer.
Eating out is a nightmare, if not impossible. It’s no fun looking at a menu to discover you can’t actually eat anything on it.
I thought I would miss chocolate and fizzy drinks the most but truthfully, its alcohol. I was never a massive drinker but alcohol formed a massive part of my social life. I liked nothing better than a gossip with friends in a bar over some cocktails. It’s not the same when you’re clutching a bottle of water.
Some patients with IC can eat whatever they like and their symptoms are not worsened by any food. I often wonder is that a better position to be in? In pain but able to eat what you want? At the moment, I’m in pain AND on this diet but I believe that my bladder needs time to heal and this is one of the best things I can do. Am I still in pain because food doesn’t affect me or am I eating something that is irritating me? Who knows. I am doing the best I can with it.
Without doubt, the diet has been the hardest thing to come to terms with. I regulary find myself looking at what other people eat and being overcome with jealously. I try not to let that bitterness consume me because ultimately, it serves no purpose. For now, this is my life and I need to get on with it.
I am slowly coming to terms with the fact a lot of these diet changes may be for life. I might never be able to eat chocolate or cake again but I’m praying alcohol isn’t taken away from me. Yes, being sober has its advantages….no hangovers, a bigger bank balance and no texting ex’s but I would drunkenly have my ex on speed dial if it meant I could have my social life back.
I am hoping I will be one of the lucky ones and either this diet or something else will restore normality back to my life. Until then, I’ll keep dreaming of the day I can spoon Nutella from the jar again.
I am trying to experiment more with the diet and will be detailing my creations on my Instagram page here .