Weight Problems with IBD

I am probably going to get all kinds of grief for writing this post, but what the hell.  One of the symptoms that is normally associated with Inflammatory Bowel Disease is weight loss.  In all honesty this can frequently be a drastic and dramatic weight loss.  However, I think it appropriate to cover a little  bit of background as to why weight loss can actually happen with IBD…  When the gastro-intestinal system becomes damaged via something like Crohn’s Disease, its ability to absorb essential nutrients and energy from the foods you consume, is compromised.  Subsequently, if your body can’t get enough energy to keep going from the food you eat, it has to get it from somewhere – right?  Enter catabolism!!!  Being catabolic means that your body can potentially start breaking down healthy muscle tissue/fat to provide at least some of the nutrients/energy you need to keep going.  So, through the mal-absorbtion of food, you enter into this vicious circle – the most frequently observed manifestation being that of weight loss/decrease in muscle mass.

Why I am going to get all kinds of grief for this post?  Because I feel cheated that I missed out on the weight loss aspect of living with Crohn’s Disease.  There.  I said it.  Sounds a bit weird – no?  But here’s the thing – I am on the other side of the previously mentioned metaphorical coin.  I actually find it incredibly easy to gain weight and incredibly hard to shift it when I do.  Hard because thanks to chronic fatigue, the requirement for periodic Vitamin B12 injections and random arthritis, my attempts to indulge consistently in working out are often hampered.  Hard because sometimes (especially during a flare up) eating “healthy food” doesn’t agree with my system.  And hard because both these things affect my mental state and crucify my motivation to work out.  Physically I may look “normal” but internally I am most definitely not.  Mind you, this is kind of getting into the Invisible Illness topic of conversation which I will save that for another time.

So yes.  On occasion I do irrationally feel cheated that I didn’t slim down or “get skinny” during my pre-diagnosis/early days with Crohn’s Disease.  If you feel cheated too – don’t worry.  You are not alone.  For those of us with IBD who are on the plus side or our ideal weight (if there even IS such a thing as an ideal weight anyway) it can most definitely be a battle to get from where you are to where you want to be.  And here’s where we come back to a somewhat level playing field between the two extremes.  Whether you are underweight or overweight, having Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) makes life way harder than it should be in achieving your weight related goals.  In the end, we all want what we don’t have.  If you are underweight, you want to put on a few kilograms.  If you are overweight, you want to lose a few kilograms.  So in the final analysis, even with regard to something as benign as weight, I am often in pursuit of my illusive happy medium of “a little less weight and a little more in shape” because (in one respect) that is what being healthy, happy and normal means to me.

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