Since the month of September is Interstitial Cystitis Awareness Month, I thought that I would spend the next four Mondays sharing posts that are relevant to Interstitial Cystitis. (You can find even more information on our IG account and my FB page. ) This week I’ve been sharing dietary guidelines. Diet plays a very big role in decreasing discomfort and pain for those of us with IC. One thing you must know up front—What works for me, may not work for someone else with IC. (Interstitial Cystitis is a very individualized disease. This is one of many reasons it is so very difficult to diagnose!)
Hydration is very important for everyone and that doesn’t change with this diagnosis. It does, however, make things a little tricky. This requires balancing hydration and frequent restroom visits which can be a major nuisance for everyone involved. I mostly drink water, Teeccino Dandelion Caramel Nut (morning treat now that I can’t have coffee), and hot/cold chamomile or peppermint teas. I sometimes get vanilla or caramel frappes at Starbucks and obviously have them made with just milk. I also drink almond/coconut milk with cereal and things like that. I absolutely CANNOT have caffeine, carbonated beverages, or alcoholic beverages. These send me into bladder spasms and pain for weeks/months. 🙁 I also CANNOT have any citrus—so lemonade, orange juice are out as well. (I rarely do this, but when I do have orange juice—I get low acid and water it down a ton!)
Fruits…it seems like an easy category, but it’s NOT! I’m very limited on what fruits I can actually eat. As I said above, citrus fruits are completely out. Bananas are safe for some people, but I’m not one of those people. :/ Right now, I’m able to eat blueberries, pears, and certain kinds of apples. I still need to experiment with melons to see if honeydew or watermelon would work for me. (Cantaloupe is usually not tolerated well. I have no idea why!) I also enjoy dates, raisins, and coconut without any issues. Coconut has definitely helped with making my limits not feel so unbearable!
Vegetables are easier to fit into my diet. I can eat most anything and it has been fun to expand my horizons and try new things! The major no-nos for vegetables are tomatoes (which I know are considered a fruit…It’s just weird putting it in that category.), raw onions, chili peppers, anything pickled, and certain kinds of beans. Vegetables that I love are: sweet potatoes, bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, parsnips, asparagus, squash, zucchini, and okra. 🙂 I really don’t feel too limited with vegetables. Sometimes it stinks that I can’t have tomatoes for a good sauce, but I’m learning to work around it.
Since I’ve already discussed beverages, I’ll just skip on to food items. I can eat frozen yogurt, but not refrigerated. I’m not sure what the difference is. As far as cheeses go, I eat mozzarella, mild cheddar, and sometimes Parmesan. Heavily processed and spicy cheese are a no-go! Cottage and ricotta cheeses are also safe! 🙂
I have found that gluten doesn’t do me any favors with my bladder, so I try to not eat it very often. I’m usually more relaxed about that when I’m out, but at home I’m (pretty) strictly gluten free! For example, when I’m out I’ll have a burger and usually take the top bun off…fewer calories (Not that I’m counting! ;)) and less gluten. Heavily processed breads, pastas, and cereals are bad news.
Meats are pretty flexible. I just need to avoid super processed and canned meats. I don’t enjoy those anyway, so it’s not a huge loss! I’m careful to get bacon that is free of nitrates and extra processing measures. I do the same for deli meat. I don’t eat deli meat too often, but I’m careful about what I buy and made this change before my diagnosis.
I typically eat almonds and cashews. Peanuts and most oils are also safe. Hazelnuts and pistachios are to be avoided and pecans are iffy for me.
Garlic has become one of my new best friends for seasoning my food. Turmeric is also a great one! They both have tons of benefits as well! Big no-nos are ketchup (tomatoes again!), mustard, vinegar, soy sauce, any spicy seasonings/foods.
Things I should avoid: ascorbic acid, MSG, aspartame (NutraSweet), saccharin, and foods containing preservatives, artificial ingredients/colors.
Any questions? The IC diet has definitely presented its challenges, but when pain comes into play…I try to play it safe most of the time. Sometimes I rebel and pay for it, but I’m only human. 😉