How to set goals to Help Manage IBD

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*Disclaimer: How to set goals to Help Manage Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) was submitted by a Ms. Wanni Z. The opinions stated in this article should not replace the advice of your healthcare professional.

It’s January, so let’s start off with learning how to set goals to help manage inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)! With 2021 officially kicking off, perhaps many of us want to start the new year in the healthiest way possible. Here are some goals and tips I personally found super helpful for me in my own personal experience. Stay safe and stay healthy!

1.        Set realistic goals to help manage inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

Sure, we might all hope to lose the holiday weight on the first day of January. However, these things do not happen overnight. I personally find that setting goals that are not “perfect” but more “doable” will actually achieve better results. For example, my goal for 2021 was to go back to my whole-food sugar-free diet. During the first week of the new year, I may still be munching on those few leftover holiday treats, however, I will make a conscious effort to gradually reduce my intake of anything that does not fit into a whole-food sugar-free diet over the next few days until I am 100% on track with my new lifestyle. Try setting weekly goals, bi-weekly goals, or even monthly goals. Reward yourself, every once in a while if you have achieved your goals to celebrate your accomplishments. 

2.       Research and learn.

One of the best ways to set goals to help manage inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), is to research and learn about things that affect your health. Tried a new food item that you loved during the holidays and not sure if it’s gut-friendly? Google is always your best friend. Perhaps it’s a new cooking oil that you have discovered, or maybe it’s a new dish that you have tried from a local take-out spot. I always personally found that learning about a new food item or dish has expanded my knowledge of many gut-friendly cuisines. 

3.       Keep track of your symptoms.

One of the best ways to see if you have made any progress on goals you have set to help manage your IBD is by keeping track of changes in your symptoms. You can use simple methods such as a notebook/journal to write down your daily foods and amounts consumed, or if you prefer a more advanced method you can use apps on your phone or Fitbit to keep track electronically. Many times, your diet apps will automatically fill out your macros once you enter the food item, which I have found to be really useful to see how much carbs/protein/fats you are intaking on a daily basis. You can also note any gastrointestinal symptoms you have after eating different types of foods, etc. 

4.      The 80/20 rule.

The best way to set goals to manage Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and keep them is to live by the 80/20 rule. Be kind to yourself and Nothing is perfect. While researching nutrition and diet, I have come across what’s known as the 80/20 rule. This rule basically advises that if you are on track with your diet habits 80% of the time, then the other 20% of the time you can consume other products that may be more of a “treat” food. Of course, you can adjust this to 90/10 or even 70/30, depending on your own personal goals and needs. 

5.       It’s not “all or nothing.”

Expanding on the 80/20 rule, clean eating, and a healthy gut-friendly lifestyle is not all or nothing. If you have been strict with your gut-friendly regime but gave into temptation and had a slice of cake one afternoon, your day is not ruined. Simple bounce back with a healthy dinner and carry on!

A picture of a woman happily drinking tea and reflecting on how to set goals to Help Manage Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

6.      Listen to your body.

I have found that at the end of the day, the best way to know what your body needs and does not need is simply by listening to it. Literally. If your GI tract is making weird noises and you feel obvious discomfort after eating a certain meal or food item, it’s probably best to avoid that food item. Reversely, if you have noted a positive improvement after consuming another food item, it is likely beneficial to your body, and consuming more of it will likely result in a healthier outcome. 

7.       Enjoyment is key.

Find a healthy routine or food that you actually enjoy! If you are not a vegetable person but for some reason, love fruit smoothies, try adding a few veggies into your fruit smoothie and gradually build-up, this way you are enjoying your fruit smoothie and at the same time intaking more vegetables than you normally would. I personally love soups. Hence, I try to throw as many vegetables as I can into my soups so that I can enjoy a nice hearty soup with the extra benefit of more plant-based items.