Corn and Its Consequences
Even though I know what I should and shouldn’t eat to keep my gut happy, this time of year simply “tempts” my limits. The farmer’s markets (there are three throughout the week within 1 mile of my house) just serve to tempt me with fresh fruits and veggies, so many of which I simply know I can’t eat because they will cause issues for my gut. Over the past ten years I’ve learned which fruits and veggies are my friends and which are my foes and I’m usually very good at keeping away from the non-friendly varieties.
However, I did say, usually. Last week the sweet corn arrived in my neck of the woods. White sweet corn, that is. I’ve found that when it comes to products made with corn I can eat those that are made with white corn, but not those made with yellow corn (tortilla chips, for example). And over the past years since IBD came into my life I’ve eaten an ear of corn here and an ear of corn there - usually with not so good an outcome. But it’s just so hard for me to resist. When I was a kid growing up in Wisconsin and corn season arrived, we ate corn, a lot of corn. My job was to take the paper bag of corn my mom would buy from the local farmer and sit in our front yard and shuck it. I loved the feel of the little corn silks tickling my legs and loved even more the feeling of those little corn kernels bursting beneath my teeth and I worked my way down the ear like a typewriter. The corn’s sweetness was divine and made only better drenched in butter and sprinkled with salt!
So, you can see why it’s hard for me to pass it up today, even though I KNOW my gut can no longer handle it. By now you’ve probably figured out what I’m leading to. . . yep, you guessed it, my husband and I bought four ears of white corn last Thursday and cooked up two of them on Friday. Taking the advice of another IBDer who also loves corn I chewed each bite until I thought there was virtually nothing left. I chewed and chewed and chewed that corn, and I loved the sweetness of the kernels and the tang of the salt on my lips. I felt fine that night and even indulged in thoughts of how to prepare the other two ears in the next day or two. But, by 10:00 the next morning the glory was gone as was the corn I’d eaten the night before, right down the bog. I had no diarrhea but boy did I have abdominal cramps and BMs - one, two, three, four, thought I was done until five, six, seven, and eight followed closely behind. All laced with well chewed corn!
I was literally and figuratively pooped out by 2:00 p.m. But I had plans to go on a hike that afternoon, and whenever possible I really try not to give in to my IBD. So, a-hiking I went. The first hour was good, I was more tired than I would have liked but I hiked, I enjoyed the scenery, and I enjoyed my time spent with my husband. By the second half of the hike the cramps were back, doubled me over a couple of times, and there was a concern that I’d have to drop trow in the trees. But a little mind over matter helped me to prevail until I returned home feeling crampy and pooped out, but no longer pooping.
Three days have now passed since I ate that corn and let me tell you it was the last kernel that will pass my lips. I’ve been eating white and light since then (yogurt, rice, baked chicken and fish, bananas, and toast) and I’m grateful that my gut is calming. I was truly concerned that I’d thrown my body into a full fledged flare simply to indulge my taste buds. It was a lesson well learned and one that I’ll not need to repeat - NO MORE CORN is now emblazoned in my brain.
My research with the elimination diet taught me better but then again I’m only human. I know I’ll never be “like I was,” but just feeling those corn kernels burst against my teeth the other night took me back to when I was 9 years-old and barely knew what colitis was (my dad has it but for reasons I’ll never understand he can digest corn like nothing I’ve ever seen before or since). I felt normal for that moment in time, not wondering and worrying about my IBD, just living and eating, eating and enjoying.
All that said, even though living within my diet limitations can sometimes make me feel a little deprived, I appreciate knowing what I can eat to nourish my body and still keep my gut happy. I embrace my knowledge and give myself some slack when I make the choice to indulge even at the risk of making my gut unhappy. I move forward with my food choices, my eyes wide open and I know when I’m taking a risk - like this past Friday night. But, it’s my risk to take because only I’ll have to endure the consequences.
It was a wonderful farewell to the ear of corn for me, and I’m thankful that I was able to know its sweetness.
But my advice to you, dear reader and fellow IBDer, is to resist the corn!
You can read more about how I conducted my Elimination Diet in my book: Living with IBD & IBS: A Personal Journey of Success - www.ibdandibs.com
Elizabeth wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Digestive Health.