FIGHTING THE IBD FIGHT: WITH NAOMI ISTED
Interview by Dr Sunni
It is with great pleasure to introduce to the Dish Dash Deets community the first of many IBD fighters – the beautiful and talented Naomi Isted. Naomi is well known internationally as a TV presenter, fashion and travel columnist, blogger and digital content creator. Many may not know though, that Naomi also has Ulcerative Colitis (UC) and can relate to the struggle that the IBD can bring. We had the chance to sit down and discuss how she fights the condition and come out on top!
Dr Sunni: Naomi, tell us all about your journey with IBD and what you have learnt along the way?
Naomi: I was diagnosed at the age of 16, and I'm now 41. So, naturally when I was younger, I really didn't understand anything in regard to nutrition and the kinds of food that could flare my colitis.
I also didn’t really get a lot of guidance from my doctors at the time either and took it on myself to look for information and guidance on therapies. Some of those therapies did aggravate my condition and made things worse. It’s only through educating myself on diet and nutrition that I have a better understanding of my health and my UC.
My other learning is working to keep my stress levels low. If I'm stressed that's when things can really flare up. So, for me – meditation, exercise, yoga and a natural diet has been key throughout my life. Also taking the time for being grateful to the things that I have in my life.
Dr Sunni: How would you sum up your fight with UC?
Naomi: In my younger days it was very, very challenging and a constant battle. I became quite reclusive and a loner as I didn't want to socialise and go out, from the fear of getting a flare up by eating something that would be a trigger. But, I’ve grown and learnt along the way on how to manage my UC and how to not be too restrictive. I have now become a social advocate and love to go out and enjoy life.
Not to say that it’s still not challenging of course, especially when I was filming a wine series travelling all around the world with a TV crew!
Dr Sunni: What inspires you to keep fighting UC daily?
Naomi: My family. I want to be at my healthiest for my family and for my career because I'm quite a focused and driven person. I'm always filming different things and creating content for clients around the world. So, I focus on striving for a calm, positive and healthy life. I try and have a good balanced lifestyle to ensure my condition is managed and my immune system isn’t affected either.
A little bit of something that I shouldn't have is always good because then I don't feel like I’m being so restrictive. I think when I feel too restricted, that's when I get miserable. My goal is to live my life to the fullest and being able to enjoy it with my family and my kids.
Dr Sunni: How do you deal with food and gut health?
Naomi: It is better because I kind of know what does and doesn't work for me. I'm confident that when I see a menu I know what to choose and still enjoy what I am eating.
I ensure that I keep update on nutrition, being gut healthy, and understand which food groups aggravate me versus those that don’t. Tomatoes and certain spices used to trigger my UC for instance.
I make sure I am looking after my gut with quite a lot of fruit and veg (though bananas affect me!), and I have been patient over the years through understanding and experimenting. For example, bread used to be a nightmare for me, but by eating small amount of wholemeal or sourdough I have been able to manage the pain I used to get from eating it.
Dr Sunni: What would you advise others with IBD?
Naomi: Talk about it and be honest because it's one of those silent diseases that can make you feel very vulnerable, especially when you feel like you're dealing with it alone. I have found that when you are more open about your condition, it can make life a lot easier. Speak up when you go out for dinner for instance and explain what you need to avoid certain foods instead of suffering in silence.
"Don't despair, don't panic and talk about it"
- Naomi Isted