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  • Writer's pictureCecili Wertz Eckert

They don't think you can do it

I’ve had something burning on my mind for the past several months. I absolutely hate flying. In fact, I have been known to drive across the country as opposed to fly just because of my fear of flying. However, last September, I sucked it up and boarded a flight in order to attended a super cool conference. This wasn’t your typical conference. It was much more intimate than most and it was an opportunity for me to geek out on all things related to the microbiome. What really intrigued me was the fact that I was going to have the opportunity to sit face to face with two of the most forward-thinking Gastroenterologists in the country and pick their brains about the gut, diet, digestion and the microbiome. I didn’t have to think long and hard about what I wanted to discuss with them. The question had been on my mind for years; as someone with Ulcerative Colitis, the question was personal and as someone who specializes in helping people with chronic digestive issues, it was professional. I wanted to know one simple thing: What were their professional opinions on using a particular way of eating that I personally and professionally use for healing IBD? I went in feeling very positive, especially since I knew that they are both integrative, progressive doctors and since I have had such great success with the method I use in my practice and on myself. I ended up angry and deflated. Separately, they both had the same response, just worded a little different. They both admitted that the way of eating I was referring to actually did play a significant role in healing the gut, that removing certain groups of food actually has a positive impact on the microbiome, immune system, reduction in inflammation and much more. BUT, they concluded that because this particular way of eating was too difficult for people to follow they don’t recommend it to their patients. In a nutshell, they said people don’t have what it takes to be successful on such a diet. I am still thinking about this response! It’s unacceptable. The clients I see have tried just about everything they can think of to heal their bodies. They have been from doctor to doctor, spent thousands and thousands of dollars and way too much time trying to get better so they can function like a normal person. They are sick and tired of being sick and simply need guidance on what they themselves can do to get well. And most of them are ready and willing to take on the difficult task of making some serious changes to their eating habits in order to heal. I say, if you know that having your patients change the way they eat, even if its hard, will help them get well then you provide them with that information. Not doing so seems dangerous in fact. While their responses still anger me when I think about it, I do feel validated. Validated because they confirmed that the diets work, that the people that can stick with it and take personal responsibility actually change the trajectory of their own health and even reach IBD remission! I am hopeful that things will change and that we will eventually live in a world where GI Specialists freely use food as medicine. In the meantime, just know that there is the option available to you even if your doctor doesn’t think you can handle it. Am I wrong here, if you were sick and I told you that I could help you get well but that it would be hard, wouldn’t you want to know how anyways?

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