Forgiving Myself When I Eat Food That Isn't Good for Me

I know all too well, what it means to struggle daily (every single day) with health issues. My bladder hurts. All I want is for the hurt to lessen, if only a bit. The struggle is real. It’s worrisome. It robs my joy (if I let it).

I am an avid reader, I have read the books on diet, exercise, vitamins, supplements, what to do, what not to do. I shop the outer aisles at the grocery store. I have learned to breathe when I feel panic coming on due to pain or pressure. I meditate, have a regular yoga practice and get on the mat daily. Yet my co-pays get out of control at the doctor’s office.

I have had tests, been poked, prodded, asked to “hold your breath while I get a clear shot of your kidney.” I have urinated in more cups than most and yet, I continue in so many ways to persevere, to stand up and try to make a difference in someone else’s life even when mine feels like a daily maintenance. It has been said that attitude is everything. I truly believe that.


On a very daily, mindful basis, I tell myself not to beat myself up. It is not my fault I have interstitial cystitis (IC). However, it is my fault when I do things I know will not be advantageous for me to do. I know I need to watch less news, especially the politics in the US. My bladder does not like chocolate, coffee or sugar. There are days when I rebel and ingest all of the things I know I shouldn’t. Probably more often than I care to admit. When I wake up in the middle of the night feeling like I wish I would have been more diligent during the day and avoided those things, I remind myself it is OK. I am only human after all.

I had a therapist years ago who was in his 30s but diagnosed with juvenile diabetes when he was young. He explained to me that if I were to bring a piece of the most delicious looking slice of chocolate cake, he would not eat it if his life depended on it. I recall thinking about how brave and how focused he must have been. I look at that same scenario now with different eyes. I know that it is brave. I know it takes focus. I know it takes more than I sometimes have to give.

But I know what he told me was important. So I get my goals book back out. I write in it. I pen the words, “I will strive to not eat chocolate this week” or “Do not drink any coffee.” “Avoid dairy.” “Drink a lot more water.” “Take your vitamins.” “Walk in the neighborhood more.” Lists upon lists upon lists. Until I get stressed to the point of doing just the opposite.

I have a dusty cookbook in my kitchen drawer. Right by the oven and the spices and all of the cooking utensils. It’s a cookbook specifically for interstitial cystitis patients.  “A Taste of the Good Life.” There are times when I say to myself that the only foods I will consume and the only recipes I will cook will come from that dusty cookbook. I know how much better I will feel. I know if I stick with it there is a possibility my bladder will calm down. Why do I sabotage myself? Am I too indulgent? Do I hate myself? Why is this so hard?

All of my adult life I have watched others drink soda without the after affects of horrific pain and discomfort. My friends can go out for a nightcap, drink a few beers or glasses of wine and go about their daily lives the following day. If I do that I might as well resign myself to the fact that the next three days or so will be unpleasant. And it just plain is not fair. I get angry. I rebel. I rage inside. And I reach for a few of the lesser things that might work out better.

All the while I tell myself not to beat myself up if I slip. I head out into the sun, rest on my patio, drink more Fiji water, walk my dogs, photograph birds, read books about beekeeping. I have been striving to be less plugged into social media and that has been big for me. I pledged 99 days of freedom from Facebook. I was getting sad about my life because everyone who seems so healthy is having so much more fun. Then I remember that same therapist who always said, “That is a nice illusion.” We all have very good and very real reasons not to beat ourselves up. Healthy, semi-healthy or unhealthy, we all have something.

sunrise over the ocean on Pawleys Island in South Carolina
A place to rest.

It’s worth a look into the reasons why we stray off course. There is always a way back to the chosen path. I always seem to know in my gut what the next steps are. I am always walking that way, even on days when it is not the easiest. I am not my diagnosis. I have IC, it doesn’t have me.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Interstitial Cystitis

woman driving a car and stopping at a stop sign

When Life Comes to a Halt During an Interstitial Cystitis Flare-Up

I live my life going from bathroom to bathroom – “bathroom hopping” all day long, sometimes over 20 times a day just to pee a tiny, burning drip. The slightest bit of urine in my bladder is uncomfortable and painful and the urgency is so overwhelming that it takes over my entire life until I [...]
Comic panel showing a woman walking into the waiting room of a urologist.

Ashley Guillory Creates Comic About Living With Interstitial Cystitis

For Ashley Guillory, the best way to express how being diagnosed with interstitial cystitis (IC), an inflammatory bladder condition, made her feel was to turn her experience into a cartoon. “I’d been looking for a way to express what I’d been through my IC diagnosis in a way that didn’t ask for any pity,” Guillory told [...]
Close-up of female hands holding teacup in front of opened book

Finding Comfort in an Uncomfortable World With Chronic Illness

I am a creature of comfort. It is a part of who I am and who I have been since childhood. As a child I loved to play, but also loved to sleep. I enjoyed quiet time quite a bit and still do. Hand me an adult coloring book, some gel pens, a good magazine, [...]
young woman sitting on the beach in white hat at sunny day

If You're Chronically Ill, Remember to 'Pause'

I recently purchased a beautiful journal for all of my goals. It’s pink, embossed in gold, with the script “goals” on the front. I added some charm to it, a gold flamingo and jewel embellishment, a constant reminder of just how much I love the sea and would love to live near it. In fact, [...]