Finding Balance Between Nutrition and Tradition

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Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the histories, cultures, achievements, and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. One way Hispanics and Latinos commonly honor their culture is through food.

As a Peruvian woman living with IBD, that knowledge is, well, hard to swallow. My diet has always been uniquely different in the best way possible. Although many of my preferred Peruvian recipes are healthy, when I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, I often wondered if my traditional diet was affecting me, for better or for worse. I reviewed the IBD recommendations that were available online at the time, but the dos and don’ts all skewed toward the typical American diet and suggested things like eliminating hamburgers and hot dogs, and avoiding dairy products.

I found that the IBD flare recommendations were to eat a low-fiber and low-residue diet, which for me was far from ideal for my Crohn’s flares, which leaned toward constipation. Additionally many of the flare-friendly foods weren’t foods I’d eat as a Hispanic patient. Foods like:

  • Applesauce
  • Canned fruits
  • Peanut butter

Fortunately, today there are IBD dietitians who can help you find the right foods. But 20 years ago, I was on my own and had to follow a diet that was completely opposite from the one I was reading about and opposite what was being recommended.

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