Recently there was a person on social media who felt the need to push against the guilt she felt was placed upon her by others on social media who encourage dietary changes to help with Crohn’s disease. One of the ways she did this was by completely shunning the idea that dietary changes can cure Crohn’s disease.

My take on this. The various popular diets you see in social media most likely may not by themselves cure Crohn’s. Cure is a strong word. But what is left out of her argument is the fact that certain dietary changes can significantly reduce the symptoms of Crohn’s, especially inflammation. Crohn’s disease is an Inflammatory bowel disorder. Dietary changes have the ability to help the body regain balance and function more optimally instead of in a constant severe state of dis-ease. Dietary changes can thus help play a big role in bringing the body back to a place of homeostasis, or optimal balance.

To be perfect on a diet is understandably challenging. Believe me I know, I’ve had my own struggles too! But to never try, to never try again, to never embrace the idea of persistently ‘getting back on the diet’ after a mess up, you are completely missing the benefits that are to be gained from doing something even 70-85% of the time versus doing it 0% of the time. By doing it 0% of the time, you are relinquishing the power you have over managing your own body. When you do this, here are some of the things that can happen:

  • Greater number of medications > which means greater chances of side effects
  • Higher dosage on those medications > which means greater chances of side effects
  • More chances of side effects > hence more medications > more chances of side effects
  • Greater number of doctor visits
  • Greater number of medical procedures > greater chances of long-term complications
  • Greater medical costs
  • More time spent focusing on your health and less time for other things that matter to you in life

Despite what I have said here, I am well aware that solely conventional medical intervention is a complete and wonderful game-changer for some individuals.

I have noticed from many different avenues that sometimes when people have had guilt placed upon them, they tend to eventually react or fire back in a way that disregards understanding, moderation and balance. It is overcompensation. But it can also be physics – for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. However in this case, I believe you have some control over your own reactionary physics.

Guilt does not feel good. It is similar to pain in a way. Many people run away from pain in whatever way they find works for them. People tend to not run away from guilt the same way they do pain, but instead deny the issue or irrationally try to throw it back on the person who made them feel that way. Guilt can lower self-esteem if you are not careful. A good amount of people have a very hard time with guilt, but I think that is because they are not aware of how to use it constructively.

First let me say that yes, sometimes guilt is placed upon you unnecessarily and you do have to fight to reclaim your innocence and self-worth in a particular situation. There are other times where people are giving good advice and placing guilt unnecessarily with it. That is a time where you can take the advice and leave the guilt to the side.

Sometimes people fault others for not doing what they need to do in life to be ‘better,’ and they do it without fully understanding the internal and external world of another. For instance, if someone has a drinking problem, society can make them feel horrible, but what if underneath that drinking problem was a severe anxiety disorder that no one knew about and that was never discovered even by that individual because they grew up in a time and place where mental health was shunned and not discussed? That can change the view. But now with society exposing the potential correlation of mental health and addiction, perhaps those who hear that message will finally seek help.

There are other times where you do error or commit a destructive act and guilt is justified. Instead of running away from the feeling of guilt, sit with it, analyze it, and use it to see how you can do better next time. Perhaps, you may not do that much better next time, but as time goes on you can incrementally get better. Or perhaps you find out you cannot avoid committing the act, and so it is better for you to just avoid certain situations altogether so that you do not commit the error. Examples: roles where you have power that you know you will abuse, casinos, bars, desserts, buffets, etc.

Guilt can be constructive. Sit with it, decipher what is worth noting and what is worth discarding. You are imperfect and you can still maintain self-esteem and self-acceptance while improving yourself if you choose. And if you cannot improve, then consider not firing back, but just seeking help or adjusting in a different way that works for you.

There are those who are generally nice people and feel guilt long and often. There is a limit to feeling guilt before it becomes internally destructive. To you I say: manually allow yourself to break free from the feeling after while; put a stopping point on it. But I hope that if this is you and you have read this article, you may now see more value in the fact that you even allow yourself to feel the guilt in the first place.

I help individuals with gastrointestinal disorders, including Crohn’s disease, using diet and other natural therapies. Diet is only a piece of my strategy.

By the way, the picture below looks like a bit like gumbo to me. Because of me, my family knows how to create a gumbo that is gluten free and delicious. So even within dishes we love, dietary changes can happen that keep you from being symptomatic.

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