themighty logo

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.