17 Apr Combat Crohn’s Like A Pro
Searching the menu when you suffer from Crohn’s Disease can be a pain, especially during a flare-up. An inflammatory disease, its common symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, gas and bloating, loss of appetite and weight fluctuations.
Crohn’s results in malnutrition due to the intestines’ inability to properly absorb nutrients, and this deficiency can lead to low levels of vitamin B and iron, and possibly anemia.
If you find out the root of your discomfort is in fact Crohn’s or some other type of inflammatory bowel disease, don’t freak out. This is good—you’ve pinpointed the cause. Now it’s time to tackle it head-on.
It’s important to keep in mind “bio-individuality,” meaning that everyone reacts to food differently. One person’s medicine can be another’s poison.
While triggers associated with Crohn’s are similar, not everyone experiences distress or extremities with every item on the list. Likewise, with the help of medication and time, some people can overcome the symptoms of past triggers, while others consistently encounter problems.
Because we are all unique, it’s a great idea to test yourself and see what foods are problematic for you.
- Alcoholic and Carbonated Drinks
- Caffeine: chocolate, coffee
- Fried Foods
- Cured Meats
- Fish: shellfish, fresh fish
- Veggies & Fruits: especially fruit with skin and cruciferous veggies
- Legumes: beans, lentils
- Corn: on the cob, popcorn
- Nuts and Seeds: tomatoes!
Dairy can be a problem; if it is, switch to soy, almond or coconut milk. These are great substitutes, as they have protein and calcium, along with a delicious taste and texture. Or, take medication prior to consumption, and see if that dose does the trick. Also, take note: hard, aged cheeses, like Parmesan, manchego, or Romano are usually easier to digest than softer cheeses, such as mozzarella, goat cheese or ricotta.
Cruciferous veggies and legumes can be extremely bloating and gas-producing. Additionally, fruit’s high fiber content can exacerbate loose bowel movements. In order to mitigate side effects, eat them cooked, not raw. Raw produce is hard to digest.
Nuts aren’t easily absorbed and can cause diarrhea, so it’s wise to be careful and see how your stomach reacts. Nuts are especially hard to digest when raw, so test out your tolerance with smooth (not crunchy) nut butters. If you don’t experience symptoms, eat up for a great source of protein!
Seeds include tomatoes, strawberries, and other produce that you wouldn’t automatically think of! Tomatoes are huge offenders: their acidity levels, seeds, and skin work together to make you truly suffer.
Now out with the bad and in with the good!
Great Staples to a Crohn’s Diet:
- Protein: fish, lean meats, eggs
- Skinless Fruits
- Healthy Fats
- Light greens
- Gluten-free grains: quinoa, brown rice, buckwheat
Roughly 25% of calories should come from protein. Lean animal protein can be terrific for people with Crohn’s; however, eating fatty, fried or cured pieces can kill your stomach. Stick to lean red meat and preferably white meat in poultry. No skins! Additionally, the omega 3 content in fish reduces inflammation and relaxes the digestive tract.
Insoluble fiber—the kind in raw nuts and produce—can be hard on the stomach; yet, soluble fiber absorbs water well and can mitigate diarrhea, making for a smoother digestion. Oatmeal contains the latter, so having a bowl for breakfast will have you sitting at your desk at ease.
Liquids can be beneficial, as they are easy to digest. It’s also a great way to add vegetables into your diet!
Tropical fruits, such as mango, papaya, bananas and melon are light on the stomach, and allow for nutrients to be easily absorbed, as opposed to fruits whose skins we ingest.
Healthy fats include EVOO, salmon, and avocado (no nuts), and they reduce inflammation in the gut. Avocado is a Crohn’s power food: it has digestive properties to directly soothe the intestines.
Rather than eating dark, leafy greens, stick to Bibb lettuce, iceberg or romaine, as it is easier on the stomach.
Wheat and gluten exacerbate inflammation in the gut, so purchase gluten-free grains to satisfy your carbohydrate needs. Also, don’t mix grains and animal protein, as this food combination can be hard to handle. Eat grains with meatless products for a smooth digestion.
Use this guideline as a way to get to know your body. If you can handle triggers with medication, let go a bit, but always remain cautious. If you don’t experience problems with dairy, for instance, don’t sweat it—this may not be a trigger for you, even if it is for your close friend.
Remember, go with your gut: listen to it, understand it, love it, and protect it.
Feel free to leave comments below, sharing your personal experiences!
Isadora Baum is an ambitious and passionate Integrative Nutrition Health Coach who guides people on their journeys towards achieving personal goals and feeling their absolute best selves. She understands the need to live for oneself, and she helps build the confidence and resources required to find concrete happiness.