Hello PSC Community!
I’m Brittany, a registered dietitian, certified personal trainer, and former All-American collegiate swimmer living with ulcerative colitis (UC) and primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC). I will be guest blogging for PSC Partners with the mission of empowering others to alleviate symptoms of their disease by making simple dietary and lifestyle changes to dramatically improve their quality of life.
When I was diagnosed with UC at the age of 14, I was 20 pounds underweight with severe iron-deficiency anemia and my entire colon and part of my small intestine contained inflammation. At the time, I didn’t know what to eat because I felt like I was always getting sick no matter what I ate. I remember eating a spicy chili my father made that, while delicious in the moment, I quickly regretted eating as I was running to the bathroom for the next 24 hours with diarrhea. Because UC had such a significant impact on my childhood, I decided to pursue a career in nutrition to learn more about which foods might make me feel better and which I should avoid.
Looking back, I wish I would’ve had a dietitian who could have helped me avoid foods that were clearly aggravating my symptoms and who I could have relied on to help me choose foods that reduced the risk of flare ups. Now, as a registered dietitian, I’m making it my mission to share my knowledge and experience with those who need it most. If this blog helps even one person make dietary changes and feel better, then I’ll have done what I’ve set out to do.
I have dramatically improved my diet-related symptoms of UC since high school by making modifications to my diet. For example, I used to get terrible migraines almost every day but once I started drinking significantly more water (more than the daily recommended value) I became migraine-free. These migraines were caused by dehydration which only became apparent when I took into account all of the fluid I was losing from sweating during swim practice as well as the water-loss from my daily 20+ loose stools.
Every year, since changing my diet, my colonoscopies have shown decreasing inflammation throughout my colon. I attribute this to taking my medication religiously and the dietary and lifestyle changes I’ve made. My last colonoscopy showed that most of my colon is colitis-free and is actually healthy!
Primary sclerosing cholangitis
Just as I felt comfortable that my UC was under control, I was diagnosed with PSC in the spring of 2016. It felt like the rug was pulled out from under me because it’s scary not knowing what challenges lie ahead. After the initial shock of diagnosis and going through somewhat of a grieving process, I decided to change the negative perspective I had and instead leverage my education and focus my energy on helping others with gut and liver conditions make healthy dietary changes just as I have done. While a healthy diet may not cure me, good nutrition can help reduce symptoms and improve my disease outcome. My mission is to share my knowledge and experiences with others who are suffering with UC and PSC and encourage them to take control of their disease and improve their lives.
Future blog posts
Stay tuned for a “how to” guide for nutritious eating for people with UC and PSC and for some of my favorite recipes. I’ll also share my personal experiences with making the dietary changes I recommend. If you’re interested in a particular topic or want to share your thoughts, I invite you to please write a comment below. I would love your input on blog topic ideas!
Eat well, be well,
Brittany Roman-Green is a licensed dietitian nutritionist and certified personal trainer. She is the owner of her private practice in Boston, Massachusetts and specializes in gut and liver conditions.