Simply having a list of foods to avoid can be overwhelming and disheartening. But some level of restriction will most likely be necessary if we want to see serious improvement in the symptoms of interstitial cystitis. Therefore I would like to share with you some steps to take to customize your interstitial cystitis diet.
Make only as much change as you can manage
Stress is likely to make matters worse, so if drastically changing your diet from one day to the other is going to create a lot of stress in your life, it’s counterproductive. In this case start with baby steps.
In general, aim to adapt lifelong changes to your diet and lifestyle. This can be tough, but worth it.
Remember that restrictive healing diets are designed for healing to take place – when this has happened, many foods can be re-introduced.
Moving forward in steps
For some people it might be perfectly fine to go straight into extremes, but for others it will take some time. Just do your best.
- It might be wise to keep a food diary. Include any foods that you have removed (or introduced) and a list of your symptoms. You could also scale the severity of your symptoms from 1 to 10. Then watch for any changes.
- The worst offenders are processed sugar, refined grains, gluten, additives and hydrogenated vegetable oils. Start with removing one of those.
- Then maybe you can move on to a full ancestral diet, which may include foods like raw dairy and sour-leavened bread or soaked oats. This might be all you need to get better.
- If you don’t improve on a regular real food/ancestral diet, it is time to move on to the autoimmune palo protocol (AIP).
In the whole process you should watch and listen to your body for potential trigger foods or allergic reactions to foods – this can give you hints to potential food groups that you might want to avoid.
How to find your trigger food groups
In the Interstitial Cystitis Diet I have provided an extensive list of potential trigger food groups outside of the foods to avoid on the autoimmune paleo protocol.
Some of these trigger foods are not allowed on AIP anyways, but others are.
Here are a few hints to determine which food groups may be an issue for you:
- Do you notice a flare-up after eating foods like chocolate, beetroot, berries and rhubarb? You could be sensitive to OXALATES.
- In the past, have you been exposed to mould and do you get symptoms (for me one symptom is a nose bleed) after eating peanuts, brazil nuts, chocolate and mushrooms? You could be sensitive to MOULD.
- Do you have reactions to processed foods, hygiene articles, cosmetics and aspirin? You could have a salicylate sensitivity and may benefit from removing foods high in SALICYLATES.
- Does your bladder burn after eating citrus, tomatoes and vinegar? It is common for ACIDIC FOODS to further irritate the inflamed bladder lining.
- Does your urine smell foul, especially after having eaten foods like bananas, avocado and cheese? You might not be able to metabolize the AMINO ACIDS tyrosine, tryptophan, tyramine and phenylalanine properly.
- Are you having a hard time tolerating cheese, leftovers, cured meats and fermented foods such as sauerkraut? You could have an issue with HISTAMINE.
- Do potatoes, sweet potatoes, bananas and rice give you a flare-up? You might not tolerate STARCHES well. The same might go for HONEY, SWEET FRUITS and other NATURAL SUGARS.
In some people, more than one group could be a trigger. Remove as much of them temporarily as you can (without losing your mind)!
Once the bladder lining has healed, these foods may not be triggers anymore and can be re-introduced.
It is not forever – re-introducing foods
The aim of following an interstitial cystitis diet is to get rid of it (and not just to manage it). The aim is to give the body everything that it needs to repair and heal and to remove anything that might be damaging it.
A healthy diet should be forever, but eventually cheating is allowed (at this point you may not even crave certain foods anymore). We always need to keep in mind that diet is not everything, so sometimes it is more important to be able to spend time with friends and family or to go on a holiday.
The restrictive diet should be followed as closely as possible until the main symptoms have gone into remission. Only then should foods be re-introduced.
The first foods to try and reintroduce are eggs, nuts (not peanuts), butter, ghee, fermented or raw dairy, white rice and nightshades. But do so step by step to monitor possible reactions to each food (only one new food per week).
If you don’t want to be strictly paleo you can then try sourdough breads, non-gluten grains and legumes (I’d always recommend soaking them, however – this makes them more digestible).
If at any point you get symptoms back, check which new food you have recently introduced and remove it again.
Finally, give it time and look after yourself!