How to College with Crohns and Colitis
First things first: What do we mean “to college”?
To college means to have the most epic four years of your life in which you:
- grow into your own person
- create lasting friendships
- make lifelong memories
- obtain knowledge and skills to advance toward your goals
- have a sh*t ton of fun along the way!
But Crohn’s and Colitis can make even the most exciting times seem daunting or sometimes even totally impossible. So how does one “college” with C&C?
We’ve broken it down for you into 3 parts:
- Home flow
- Preparation and Balance
- Social Life
Part I: Home Flow
Whether we’re sick, just had a bad day at work/school, or are fighting with a best friend/significant other, home is one of the first places we tend to want to go. Why? Because our home is our healing center. Home is the place we go to be comfortable, unwind, and relax. If your home is going to be your haven, it’s important to make sure to create an ideal living space for yourself.
How to nail your home flow:
- the comfiest pillow of all time
- blackout curtains
- perfect decorations
- Epsom salt baths (Looking at you too, guys. They’re great…get over it!)
- Pictures of you and friends on the fridge/walls
- A whiteboard for friends to leave fun notes or list your weekly goals
- Yoga mat/guitar/something you enjoy doing
- Book Shelf with your favorite inspirational books
Basically, make your house, apartment, or dorm the coolest place on campus!
News flash: we are not telling you to put empty $10 liquor bottles on display over your fridge. Really not cool, guys… We mean be the house everyone loves to walk into because:
- It’s super clean,
- you have the most comfortable couch on earth,
- an awesome Bluetooth speaker,
- and great TV/gaming system…
You get the idea—essentially the ultimate bachelor/bachelorette pad.
But having a cool place can definitely get a little tricky in college between dorms, roommates, and noisy neighbors. There is no simple solution to these problems, but the best approach is communication.
Communication is a major key to ensuring your home flow.
When choosing a roommate, it’s important to have an open and positive conversation about the type of lifestyles you both live. This is especially true for someone with IBD.
Whether you are in a dorm, apartment, or house; living with another person can be tough. Being upfront and open about any specific needs either of you may have will ensure the best possible experience for everyone involved. Some of these may include:
- waking and sleeping habits
- quiet hours
- privacy preferences
- sharing of food/belongings
Where to Live
Picking where to live is just as important as picking with whom to live. If communal bathrooms and a small, shared living space don’t really sound like your thing, maybe stay away from the dorm style living.
Love the idea of being able to run down the hall to borrow sugar? Opt for an apartment rather than a house. Does the idea of noisy neighbors make you cringe? Then maybe the apartment thing isn’t for you after all. There are plenty of these questions to consider when choosing the best place to live, but the most important thing after that is to make your living space the best possible space for you to live in!
Part II: Preparation and Balance
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle with C&C during college does not mean you can’t have an epic college experience. It just might take a little extra thought and planning, but if you do it right, in the end your experience will be better than you could have imagined. This is accomplished greatly through preparation and balance.
Choosing Your Courses
When choosing a course schedule, balance out some of your harder core classes with classes that will enrich your life while simultaneously reducing your stress. There are tons of options:
3. Yoga and Meditation
7. Nature and Wildlife
8. Sketchbook Development
Basically, if you can think of it, it’s probably a class! Be creative and find something you enjoy that maybe doesn’t require you to spend ten hours a day in the library.
Preparing Your Meals
In addition to planning your classes, planning out meals will also help you avoid stress and stay on track for your healthy lifestyle! Starting the day off with a steady regimen of supplements and a good breakfast like a healthy shake will get your day off to the best possible start. Breakfast is the easiest way to build a consistent regimen – start there! Knowing the best places to get C&C friendly foods around campus for days when meal prep isn’t an option is a good idea, as well as trying to bring healthy snacks with you to keep you going throughout the day.
All Organic, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free
- 3-4 organic eggs (scrambled cooked in EV Coconut Oil)
- 1 medium Organic Sweet potato (Steamed, add pinch of salt or your favorite spice/herb)
- ½ Organic Cucumber (sliced, add lemon juice, favorite herb/seasoning)
- ½ cup of Organic Blueberries
- 4-6 oz of tea, shake or water, add maca root at your discretion
**Maca root is awesome to have on hand as a caffeine substitute that’s healthy, easy to digest and stimulates healthy hormone production!**
Invest in a sturdy backpack to keep your snacks and other goodies in!
Healthy Snacks will help keep you energized and focused!
Water will keep you hydrated (add a splash of lemon for an extra kick of flavor, detox, and a boost of vitamin C!).
It’s always a good idea to have supplements on hand in case of an emergency like: slippery elm, turmeric, omega 3 oil caps, and amp floracel.
Extra Clothes are great to have for a quick change after a workout or an IBD emergency
Peppermint mouthwash helps combat nausea and will help you to freshen up if need be
Part III: Social Life
When I first started college I was drunk with my newfound freedom–both figuratively and literally. But after a few months of going nonstop, I was reminded of my old friend, Crohn’s Disease. I thought to myself, why won’t this thing just leave me alone? But like a stubborn ex or an old article of clothing you just can’t seem to purge from your closet, Crohn’s always seemed to pop back up. After my first crazy college semester, I realized something much more valuable than anything my professors had ever taught me: Crohns and Colitis is not the end of the world and it can be overcome! We just gotta find that balance!
Choose Your Friends Carefully
Who you are choosing to surround yourself with makes a huge impact on your life. Like choosing a roommate to help with your home flow, you should focus on finding positive, transparent friends who will make a good support system if the time comes. Being in college means you may be far away from your usual support system of family, friends, and doctors for the first time. Keep in mind that the people you choose to have around you during this time will be the ones you’ll want to count on to step up if the time comes that you find yourself missing your home support system.
Have Daytime Fun!
Happiness leads to healthiness. Doing things that are fun and make you happy is a huge part of living a healthy lifestyle. Focus on daytime activities to do with friends like working out, attending yoga classes, cook dinner with friends, movie night, driving to a beach/park, or going to a concert. There’s always something new and fun happening in college towns! Colleges also offer many clubs and organizations you can join from honor societies, to Greek life, to camping clubs, to support groups with fellow students dealing with IBD or similar situations.
Daytime activities are definitely the way to go. They’ll leave you feeling happy, fulfilled, and probably very ready to dive into your way-too-comfy pillow by bedtime, but if you do want to go out a few nights and have some drinks with friends, we say go for it if you like—but be smart! The best option is obviously to stay clear of alcohol altogether, but for many that’s just not happening. So if you do decide to, keep in mind:
- Who you’re drinking with
- How/Where you’re drinking
- What you’re drinking
1. Who you’re drinking with
This comes back to the importance of genuine and transparent friends. If your friends care about you and know about your IBD, they will be far less likely to pressure you when drinking and will be much more likely to understand and support your decisions.
2. How/Where You’re Drinking
We all have those nights where drinking isn’t just a leisure thing, but a competition of who’s who in the college world. We’ve all had those nights of playing drinking games that left us victorious on the field but not so victorious in the BR. Story of our lives right? If you can, drink out of your own cup only and fill it with a substance you know you can tolerate.
3. What You’re drinking
Usually clear liquids are your best bet. Go for gluten free liquors like Vodka or Tequila because they’re the cleanest and have shown to be easiest on the gut.
White Wine > Red Wine
Vodka/Tequilla > Bourbon/Whiskey
GF Beer/Pale Ale > Dark Beers
Mix clear liquors with some soda water and a dash of lemon or lime. Lemon and lime will help counteract the acidic damage from the alcohol while giving your body a boost of nutrients. It’s also a good idea to pop some TURMERIC, SLIPPERY ELM and OMEGA 3 to help reduce inflammation, as well as a MULTIVITAMIN to replenish lost vitamins & minerals. This will also help reduce a hangover, so share them with your friends to become the most popular guy/gal at the party! *High Fives All Around
So what the heck did we just say?
Basically, Crohn’s and Colitis should never stop you from doing anything you want to do in your life, and it certainly doesn’t have to keep you from college-ing. It is possible to live a healing life without giving up that epic college experience you’ve always imagined. Obviously we think you should eat clean, do what’s best for you and stay away from alcohol, but if you must, these tips should help you make it everything you have dreamed it could be!