Self Help For Crohn’s Disease

What is Crohn’s Disease

Bowel Comparison

Comparison of normal bowel versus Crohn’s

 

Before you can begin self help for Crohn’s disease you need to understand what it is.  Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory disease of the bowels that causes inflammation in the digestive tract, specifically in the lining.

This inflammation creates ulcerations or tiny breaks in the lining of the intestines. Different parts of the digestive tract can be affected in each person.

Symptoms can include abdominal pain, diarrhea (which can be severe and bloody), fatigue, malnutrition and weight loss.

Crohn’s can be very painful and debilitating and can even be life-threatening.

There are things you can do for self help for crohn’s disease.  The first, and probably easiest change to make, is your diet, which is what I will talk about first.

Diet

soft drinks

soft drinks

espresso

espresso

Crohn’s patients should particularly avoid all beverages with caffeine in them as they cause an increase in diarrhea.  Soft drinks can cause gas and bloating.  You do need to have a high intake of fluids and water seems to be the best one.

You will want to avoid insoluble fiber foods such as wheat bran and whole grains and even some vegetables.  Insoluble fiber is harder for the body to digest.

Soluble fiber, however, is easier to digest and might help reduce diarrhea because it absorbs water in the gut and slows the digestive process.

A good example of soluble fiber is oatmeal.

Chickpea Hummus

Chickpea Hummus

Another good source is chickpeas and lentils. I know you would normally think beans would be a bad idea but, if you puree them, they actually are easily digestible and are a great source of protein.  You can make them into a hummus or bean dip.

squash, pumpkins

squash, pumpkins

Some vegetables can be cooked and then pureed into a nice veggie soup which gives you all the nutrients while making it easier on your gut.  Try cooking up some pumpkin, carrots and parsnips or butternut squash and puree them and add back into the cooking liquid for a comforting bowl of nutrient rich soup.

Grilled Salmon

Grilled Salmon

Omega-3 fatty acids help to reduce inflammation.  Salmon and other oily fish are a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids.  There is the added benefit of being a great source of potassium, which helps you maintain the balance of fluids in your body, especially when your Crohn’s is active.

Be careful of sauces and other ingredients you use with salmon or any food really.  Some spices are harder on the digestive system, and sugar should be avoided – many sauces contain sugar.

Actually, almost all sauces you buy such as salad dressings, ketchup, barbeque sauce, etc. are full of sugar.

Tilapia and flounder and shrimp are also easily digested and very nutritious. Of course, they really should be boiled, broiled or steamed; not fried.  You can grill them though.

When eating protein in the form of meat, reduce your portion to about 6 ounces.  Your body can only digest that amount at one time.

Potatoes are another great food source for potassium.  You can bake or boil them, but do not eat the skins – they are insoluble fiber.

 

Avocado

Avocado

Avocados are filled with healthy fats and vitamins B and E and potassium.  They do contain some insoluble fiber, but are still pretty easily digested.

If you’re not having an active flare up, you can try having a salad made with Bibb lettuce (sometimes called butter lettuce or Boston Bibb).  It is more tender and easier to digest than most lettuces and well tolerated by many Crohn’s patients.

During an active flare up, you can eat white rice.  It’s very easy on the gut and will help keep your weight from dropping so much.  Just be sure you are also eating enough protein and other healthy foods.

You can also have p-nut and other nut butters.  If you make sure they are extra creamy they will be more easily digested.

 

juicing

juicing

Although many raw vegetable are full of insoluble fiber, you can get most of the benefits from them by juicing them.  Try juicing carrots, beets, apples, green leafy vegetables, etc.

 

pineapple

pineapple

Talking about juicing, pineapple juice is great to add to smoothies.  It contains bromelain, which is a wonderful anti-inflammatory. It is great for those with Crohn’s disease.  Bromelain also helps the body to digest proteins.

Bananas are another good one to use in smoothies.  They also contain a good deal of potassium.  Bananas are also great for maintaining body weight which is often an issue with Crohn’s patients because food moves so quickly through the digestive tract.  Sauteed bananas are a great dessert-like treat.

Fruits like strawberries that have tiny seeds should be avoided, but any smooth, fleshy fruit would be great to add.  Papaya, cantelope and mango are great fruits for people with Crohn’s because they are easy to digest and full of nutrients (without the peels, of course).  Papaya contains papain, which is another enzyme like bromelain in pineapple that helps the body digest proteins.

Yogurt, if you can tolerate dairy, is great for smoothies as a base.  It will add calcium to the diet which is important.  Calcium deficiency is common among Crohn’s patients due to the fact that many cannot tolerate dairy.

 If you use yogurt with active live cultures, you get the added benefit of probiotics, which encourages the growth of the “good bacteria” in your gut.

If you cannot tolerate dairy, you can use an alternative such as canned coconut milk as it has the thick coconut cream in it to help with consistency for a better tasting smoothy.

If you enjoy drinking milk, almond milk is a good substitute.  Some almond milk is fortified with calcium and vitamin D just like cow’s milk.  Be sure to read the label because some almond milk also has sugar added and you want to avoid that.

When you are craving something sweet you can bake an apple or pear without the peeling.  Or, you can make unsweetened applesauce for a sweet snack.  Cooking fruit breaks them down so they are easier to digest than raw.

Eggs are a great way to add protein to your diet.  They are easily digested, unlike many other forms of protein.

Red meats, in particular, are most difficult to digest. You should absolutely avoid red meat when you are having a flare up but it wouldn’t hurt to avoid red meat altogether except for a rare treat.

Skinless chicken and turkey(preferably white meat as it is less fatty) are a good choice when you are not having a flare up. Some patients can actually tolerate white meat chicken even during a flare up.  Again, be careful about using sauces or spices that are difficult to digest and portion size should only be about 6 ounces.

Of course, every Crohn’s patient is different and can tolerate different foods at different times.  Even with this guide, it will have to be somewhat of a trial and error process.  This should give you a place to start though.

My next post will address other alternatives/additions that could be helpful to those suffering with Crohn’s.  Please be sure to check back in for that one in a few days.

In the meantime, please leave me your comments below.  I would be interested to hear about you or someone dear to you who may suffer with this debilitating illness, especially any questions or concerns you may have, whether any of this diet advice has helped you (if you’ve tried it) and any other things you may have found helpful.

I want to hear from you what you have tried for self help for Crohn’s disease!

Blessings,

Debby

 

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14 comments

  1. SJB says:

    One of my very good friends just recently got diagnosed with this disease and she is really upside down with the news. I didn’t know what to tell her because I knew nothing about it. As I was researching on the subject, I came across your website. It has so much valuable information. I will give her your link. Thank you so much.

    • Debby Morrow says:

      Thank you so much for letting me know that my site might be helpful to someone. That’s always good to hear. I hope she can, at least, get an idea of how to go about figuring out ways to lesson the horrific symptoms this disease presents. Thanks again.

      Blessings,

      Debby

  2. Michel says:

    Thank you for such an informative post. My friend suffers from Crohns disease, and I am going to give her this address.

    You have gone to a lot of trouble and given a lot of ideas for good food for this disease, so everyone should find something here that they like to eat.

    • Debby Morrow says:

      Thanks so much Michel. I really feel for people suffering with Crohn’s after having watched all that my nephew went through. Conventional medicine just doesn’t address much of what I am offering. It was really trial and error for them every step of the way!

      Blessings,

      Debby

  3. kathe says:

    Hi there Debby! I’m not familiar with Crohn’s disease but it sounds like a gastrointestinal problem to the next level. I have gastrointestinal issue and when it attacks I keep on vomiting as if I have a morning sickness. Whenever I suffer stress or too much excitement, I am feeling my acid to be very active. Do you think, this is because I’m acidic?

    • Debby Morrow says:

      Thanks for your comment and your question Kathe. Yes, acidity in the body does lead to disease. Research has shown that disease cannot live in an environment that is highly oxygenated or is alkaline. Have you been checked for a hiatal hernia or some other esophogeal issue? If not, you might want to get it checked out as that much vomiting can do real damage to your esophagus. Let me know how you’re doing.

      Blessings,

      Debby

  4. Diana Worley says:

    Thanks for a very informative article on Crohn’s Disease.
    I have a friend that has a severe gluten intolerance that was once thought to have been Crohn’s Disease. Do you know if they are related in any way? They have close to the same symptoms.The diet you outline seems much less restricted than the diet she needs to follow.

    Thank you,
    Diana

    • Debby Morrow says:

      Thanks for the comments Diana. Any time you are dealing with issues with the gut, whether it be the colon, intestines or stomach, there seems to be a need for somewhat of a trial by error approach. All the foods I listed are not necessarily good for all Crohn’s patients and, certainly, not all the time.

      Your friend might want to start experimenting and keeping a food/episode diary to help identify, for sure, those foods which do irritate. There may be some foods that can be eaten, either in smaller quantities or less frequently.

      I would caution your friend to only try one new food at a time, so it can clearly be identified as OK or not.

      If your friend tries this out, please come back and let me know the results.

      Blessings,

      Debby

  5. Norman says:

    I like your website its easy to read and very clear, I also like the lay out. your site will give people much insight into how to deal with this illness. I believe that the first key to any problem is finding the right information and then putting that information to use, and that’s what this site offer. I also like the diet plan in it’s full colour, great job.

    • Debby Morrow says:

      Thanks so much for the complimentary comments Norman. I hope that you found some of the content useful.

      Blessings,

      Debby

  6. Jeremy says:

    One of my good friends has Crohn’s disease. I’ve seen him in serious pain from it before and I can say, it’s not fun. It’s good to know that there are people out there who genuinely want to help others.

    I like the fact that you give many options of diet on the post, particularly tilapia and pineapples (I love them). Even though every Crohn’s patient is different, this step by step guide can help people at least maintain.

    Great post!

    • Debby Morrow says:

      Thanks so much for your comments Jeremy. I have a family member with Crohn’s so it is really close to my heart. You’re right, there are so many variables with individual patients, that there is no one specific diet that Crohn’s patients can follow. That makes it very difficult for them. Also, what doesn’t seem to bother you this week may react very differently next week. It really is a trial and error process. I hope your friend might find some useful information here. Let me know about that.

      Blessings,

      Debby

  7. Robert says:

    Very interesting article ! I am not familiar with the Crohn’s disease, but I love to read about the nutrients of a food and their effect on our body. At the moment I am making a website about it, and today I had to research a bit about anti inflammatory effects of particular foods. I am very interested in that.
    I read here that flavonoids have an anti inflammatory effect. But not every flavonoid is the same. One has effect on the urinary infections like cranberry while tea and red grapes help to reduce cholesterol. Today I wrote about the Acai berry which contains anthocyanins ( a flavonoid ). Do you know if flavonoids will reduce the inflammation of the bowel ?

    At the moment I read also that glucosinolates and sulphides ( both fall under Phytonutrients ) have anti inflammatory effects.

    The reason why I am interested in anti inflammatory effects is that my daughter has a terrible eczema sometimes. Usually right before she goes to sleep. And it is deep already. Only steroids helped, and aveno cream with oats a bit.

    Oh yes.. My favorite food is oats, because of its fibre. And I think that our body accept oats well, because oats exist for long time. I mean the food around us ( like junk food ) is evoluating very fast, while our body is not yet used to it.
    I put your page to my favorites, because I find this all very interesting.
    Thanks for your article !

    • Debby Morrow says:

      Thanks for your comments Robert. I had an opportunity to do some research regarding anthocyanins some time ago and came across an article which I will share with you below. It seems that all berries have them and each berry has a particular affinity for a certain organ or part of the body. I believe blackberries were one that seemed good for the bowel, but I will be talking about that in a later post. Here’s the link for your infomation:

      http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2013/jul2013_Uncove

      As far as your daughter’s eczema is concerned, I have done a post on treating baby eczema which you might find the information there to be helpful – it is good info for all ages. Also, I have done a post on best natural treatment for psoriasis – these two are in the same family so it might offer her some help as well.

      Please come back and let me know if any of this was helpful to you.

      Blessings,

      Debby

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