I may be best known for my Food Network shows, where I whip up my favorite meals and share recipes I love on “The Kitchen” and “Cooking for Real,” but many fans may not know that I’ve been living with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) for about 20 years, specifically, ulcerative colitis (UC).  

Now, I’ve partnered with Janssen Biotech, Inc. and the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of American (CCFA) to launch Get Your Full Course, a website designed to educate patients on the paired role of diet and nutrition in managing IBD. These diseases often go unlooked, and while symptoms vary for everyone, patients commonly experience urgent bowl movements, horrible cramps and bloody stools.  

The site is designed to educate patients on the paired role of diet and nutrition in managing IBD, which is especially important to me because I love to cook!

When I first received my UC diagnosis at age 19, I worried that having UC meant giving up who I am. Living with IBD, food is sometimes the last thing you want to think about, especially when experiencing a flare and symptoms are at their worst. While food didn’t cause my IBD (nor will food cure it), I’ve learned to recognize which foods aggravate my symptoms. Working closely with my doctor, we identified that many raw fruits and vegetables such as kale or lettuce trigger my UC flares. Since then, I’ve been able to tweak my eating habits and cooking style to manage my symptoms – which wasn’t all difficult since I’m a true meat and potatoes gal!  

I’ve created recipes, videos and a shopping list for GetYourFullCourse.com to help make grocery shopping easier for people with IBD. The site also gives access to resources such as expert-guided videos, the latest research and an overview of treatment options. There’s also a sweepstakes to meet me at a CCFA walk next year— sharing your favorite recipes increases your chances of winning!

According to the CCFA, 1 in 200 Americans are diagnosed with IBD. Ulcerative Colitis is the result of an abnormal response by your body’s immune system that affects only the colon. UC may affect as many as 700,000 people in the U.S and most people are diagnosed in their mid-30s.

Be sure to continue conversations with me through Facebook, Twitter and on whatever other social media platform you connect with others, using #GetYourFullCourse. You may help out someone who you don’t even know is suffering with IBD in silence.

Sunny Anderson has built a career as a Food Network host and celebrity cook. She has grown a following of fans who appreciate her style of combining classic comfort foods along with unique flavors inspired by her many travels. She currently serves as a host on the Food Network talk show “The Kitchen” and has also released her New York Times best-selling debut cookbook in 2013, “Sunny’s Kitchen: Easy Food for Real Life.”