If you have Crohn’s Disease, there’s nothing like a flare-up to make you feel like the disease is running your life. Take heart! There are plenty of simple, effective things you can do about your diet and your everyday habits to put yourself more firmly in control, and put inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s, Colitis, Ulcerative Colitis) symptoms in their place.
What foods in your diet could be effecting your Chron’s disease?
Science has come up with a link between diet, nutrition and Crohn’s – but maybe you’ve noticed (or you may just suspect) that some foods make the abdominal pain, gas, diarrhea, and other distressing symptoms worse, especially during a flare-up.
Here’s a fundamental first step to discover which foods in your diet plan are the culprits: keep a diary of everything you eat, and track your symptoms, day by day. If you’re sensitive to particular kinds of food, you’ll soon see the pattern. Some diet and nutrition issues for many Crohn’s suffers include:
- “Gassy” foods in general. You may be painfully aware already of how you’re affected by typical problem foods — beans, corn, raw fruits, cabbage-family vegetables, including Brussels sprouts and broccoli, spicy dishes, alcohol, caffeine. Eliminating or limiting the ones that bother your Crohn’s is simple once your diary has identified them.
- Dairy products. Like many people, inflammatory bowel disease (Colitis, Crohns) sufferers can be lactose intolerant, meaning they don’t digest milk sugar. Cut down on milk, cheeses, yogurt, etc., or use an enzyme supplement like Lactaid to aid lactose digestion.
- Fatty foods. Fat content is a particular problem for upper-intestine Crohn’s suffers, as that’s where fat is normally digested. Watch out for aggravated symptoms when you eat creamy sauces, butter, margarine, and fried foods.
- Fiber – good or bad? Inflammatory bowel disease makes that question a little harder to answer. Raw, fresh veggies and fruits,whole grains, nuts, and seeds are excellent for good nutrition, but come can possibly make you feel bloated and miserable. Stewing or baking vegetables will make them more digestible. Your diary may reveal that you’re fine with some fiber rich foods, sensitive to others. If you want to start a high-fiber diet, be sure to consult with your holistic natural doctor or nutritionist.
- Meal size and liquid intake. It’s not unusual with Crohn’s to find that five or six small meals per day leave you feeling better than the usual three. Give it a try — and it’s fun to snack, anyway. Another important point: make sure to drink plenty of fluids daily, with water being the drink of choice. Bearing in mind the cautions about caffeine, dairy, raw juices and gassy things like soda, you can use your diary (and read labels when you shop) to find out what suits you best.
Vitamins, minerals, and nutrition advice
Inflammatory bowel disease (Crohns, Colitis, Ulcerative Colitis) interferes with the body’s ability to extract nutrients from food. Also, there’s a tendency for your diet and vitamin mineral status to become limited over time, and that limits the range of minerals and vitamins you’re getting. Multivitamin and mineral supplements can help a lot, but don’t just grab a bottle off the shelf. You’re an individual with a unique body: here’s where you need to consult with a holistic natural doctor or clinical nutritionist, to find out which supplements you need. That’s especially true if your diet has become restricted and/or you’ve lost weight.
And then there’s stress
“Stress” – a word that covers everything from dealing with an annoying phone call to changing jobs to grieving for a lost loved one. We all experience it,it’s part of being alive. But Crohn’s sufferers can manage stress so that its painful effects on their systems – the increased acid, the altered digestive rates – can be minimized. And it’s not difficult to do.
You don’t have to join a gym, or take up marathon running, or lift weights. The simplest activities, like daily walks, can have a wonderfully calming influence on your body and mind. Your doctor should be able to suggest what will fit best into your life.
A de-stressing technique learned by using a biofeedback machine, usually at doctors offices and other natural health centers. You learn how to modify the machine’s signals by lowering your heart rate and relaxing your muscles, and then to achieve the same state without the machine, so you can “take it home with you”.
Breathing and relaxation exercises
Another example of how a little can do a lot of good. For instance, the simplest yoga-based breathing and meditational routines can significantly reduce tension, and benefit the body. You feel improvement right away, and it needn’t take a lot of time. Relaxation techniques can be learned from classes, books, or CDs or DVDs.