At the age of 36, shortly after moving with my husband’s job transfer from southern California to Houston, Texas, I began experiencing bloody diarrhea and was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. I was given a drug to take but not any dietary advice other than if a food upset my system, to avoid eating it. Soon all my symptoms disappeared, and I was glad to put that experience in my past and not think about it.
I had grown up in west Texas eating fried chicken, fried potatoes, fried okra, bologna and Miracle Whip sandwiches on white bread, Pop Tarts, and all the other things we kids in the ’60’s and ’70’s ate. Missionaries brought the gospel to my family when I was 10, and my parents immediately stopped smoking, drinking tea, coffee, and beer, and we became devoted members of the Church.
Attending BYU in 1976 was a dream come true for me, and I discovered a whole new cuisine which seemed to consist of casseroles made with cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup, dainty crescent rolls made with an incredible amount of margarine, and of course Jell-O! My husband Craig, from southern California, and I were married in 1980. He had definite likes and dislikes in food choices, and of course I wanted to please him, so most of our dinners were a variation on ground beef: spaghetti, tacos, beef stroganoff over rice, chili, etc. Of course we didn’t know much about nutrition beyond making sure to eat enough protein. We definitely did that.
My husband was transferred a couple of times with work and each time we moved, I experienced a flare of ulcerative colitis, but with treatment I would get well, then go for years without symptoms.
After our four children were grown, Craig and I had the privilege of serving a mission in the same place he had served as a young man: Hong Kong. I had never worked outside our home so serving in the busy office of the Asia Area presidency was a challenge, but it was rewarding, and the time we spent with the other couples in the office was wonderful. However, I began having symptoms of ulcerative colitis again.