Crohn's disease is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It causes inflammation of the lining of your digestive tract, which can lead to abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, nausea, fever, fatigue, weight loss and malnutrition. These symptoms can result in loss of appetite, reduced nutrient intake, altered nutrient metabolism, and ultimately impaired nutritional status.
It can be frustrating living with Crohns disease or any IBD. You try to eat healthy to maintain healthy "gut" functioning, but seem to be sensitive to different foods at different times. Choosing fresh fruits and vegetables seems like the healthy way to go, but it's miserable spending the day at home next to the restroom. And even if you deal with those side effects, you know you're not absorbing the good stuff anyway, so why put yourself through the torture?
The problem is that through this malabsorption you put yourself at risk for malnutrition which can then lead to growth failure, unhealthy weight loss, bone disease and/or micronutrient deficiencies which lead to another laundry list of problems.
So, what do you do now? Live off of Cheeriors and bread because it's the only thing you can tolerate? No. We're not giving up that easy!
The answer is not simple. In fact, it is difficult. And it requires some effort on YOUR part. Yes, YOU. Your saving grace is going to start by finding the foods that you CAN tolerate. With a million foods out there, it can be hard to remember and sort out which ones make you sick and which ones you can tolerate.
1. Get a JOURNAL.
Yep, you read that right. Grab a journal and start recording. Eat your typical diet and introduce one new food item every other day and see how you respond.
2. Pay attention Your discomfort and digestive issues might be part of your daily routine, but you're going to have to pay closer attention to this if you want to really target the right and wrong foods for YOU. Remember, IBD is highly individual.
Highlight those foods that don't cause you pain, nausea, diarrhea, cramping or discomfort. Those are now on your golden list! Keep this list seperate so when you start making your meal plan you can easily select your meals based off of these items!
3. What to avoid
Try to steer clear of multi-ingredient foods. Stick to the basics until you can fully understand your body. Go for whole and fresh foods. These are typically more healthy anyway! So you'll be hitting two targets with one arrow! So, no boxed anything. No frozen meals. No pre-packaged items either. We're making it simple and clean!
4. What to try
These are ONLY suggestions and everyone will be different. Try it out and record in your journal how you tolerate them!
Tropical Fruit: Banana,
Mango, Papaya, and even cantaloup have been reported as easy to digest in people with Crohns.
Chicken and Turkey (easier to digest than beef)
Roasted Red Pepper
Smooth Almond Butter (easier to digest than nuts)
Try to remove skins, seeds and membranes of fruits and vegetables before eating them. This may make them easier to digest.
Cooking fruit or vegetables actually breaks the food down and ultimately rids it of some of the healthy benefits it carries. However, it also breaks down some of the fiber which can be easier for people with IBD to digest.
Ditch dairy if you can. Speak to your physician about a supplement if needed.
Stay hydrated with water! This aides in digestion, nourishes your body, helps in weight loss, and is what your body needs to function properly.
"If you are suffering from a flare-up, it is important to rest your "gut" and eat easily digestible foods for that time. When you are healthy , that is the best time to try new foods. Listen to your body and always follow up with your doctor with questions or concerns."
-Geoffrey Pazder, MD
"Ultimately this journey is up to you. Those who are dedicated to finding a healthy balance between managing their disease with healthy living will be able to find a plan that will ultimately help them to live a healthier lifestyle! The journey will be a little harder for you than others, but don't let that deter you! Focus on the road ahead and continue working on yourself!" -Haley Bradbury BSN, Health Coach