Crohn's Disease: Live and Learn
Dealing with Crohn’s has completely changed the way I think about the food I eat and what happens to my body after food goes through it. Here are a few things I’ve learned that make a difference every day:
Things That Help Me
When I need to recover nutrients during a flare-up, I take a supplement called L-Glutamine, an amino acid that’s naturally plentiful in our bodies. It provides fuel to many different cells in the body and helps me stay strong.
I eat lots of nutritious leafy greens but in moderation. Too much fiber can really mess with my intestines, so I make sure not to overdo it.
When I eat brown rice, I make sure to soak it first. Brown rice contains something called phytic acid, which prevents your body from being able to absorb the vitamins and minerals in the rice. Soaking the rice eliminates most of the phytic acid and helps your body digest it more easily.
My staple food is avocado. It’s a great replacement for almost any dairy product, and it’s delicious and filling.
Strategies I’ve Learned
To avoid anything harmful in nonorganic foods, I eat all organic products. However, it’s important to know that just because a label has the word “organic” on it doesn’t mean it’s good for you. You have to do your research and find the best products out there.
Certain oils, especially canola oil, can cause a lot of problems. I’m still experimenting with different oils, but I switch between avocado oil, olive oil, grapeseed oil, and coconut oil. I’ve also been cooking with ghee, a clarified butter that’s full of healthy fat.
I juice every day. During a flare-up, keeping a liquid diet for a few days at a time can give your intestines time to rest and heal. I’ve been told to avoid fruits and vegetables before, but juicing them lets my body absorb nutrients while my digestive system takes a break.
It was difficult to begin cooking my own meals, but now I don’t mind it. I love knowing what’s in my food, and when I eat something I’ve cooked for myself, I feel like I’m filling myself up with love. I make my own delicious almond milk and yummy oatmeal that’s perfect for grabbing on the go. I’m still trying to find recipes that my family will love-it’s been hard! But I know I’ll eventually find some meals that will please everyone.
Crohn’s disease affects everyone in different ways. These are foods and strategies that work for me. And while the specifics might not work for everyone, knowing what’s in your food and how it affects your body is always beneficial. Taking careful note of how I feel after eating something helps me understand my body more. I may never master it, but I’m getting closer every day.
Robyn Diamond lives, loves and cooks in Hickory, N.C., with her husband and two children.
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