Bloating, constipation, gut-wrenching spasms, vomiting… you name it, I probably suffered from it in my teen’s and 20s. Additionally, I experienced fatigue, nutrient deficiencies and numerous coughs and colds throughout the year. Being bloated most of the time made me feel uncomfortable in my own skin, which also had an effect on my self-image, confidence and mood. For a teenager, or anyone for that matter, this is no fun!
During the summer of 2011, I began getting stabbing pains in my stomach, worse than I had ever felt before. I couldn’t eat or drink anything without doubling over in pain. My doctor kept prescribing IBS medication and none of it worked. At my insistence, I was sent for tests and found out that I had the autoimmune condition called Crohn’s disease. I was actually relieved that the cause of my pain was discovered, even though there’s no cure. I was put on steroids and immunosuppressant drugs, was told that food had no effect on my condition, and that, due to strictures (a narrowing of the intestines), I should stick to eating low-fiber foods.
Exploring Further: Healing My Gut
Despite what the doctors told me, I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life on medications and eating beige food. I started getting to know my body and the effects of different foods. I went to see a naturopath who introduced me to the concept of intestinal permeability, often called ‘leaky gut’. This is often related to food intolerances and autoimmune conditions, like mine. Stabilizing blood sugar and inflammation was the first step towards healing my leaky gut. A lot of the foods that I was eating (the doctor recommended processed, low fiber foods) were actually doing me more harm than good. I researched how others had healed their Crohn’s through diets – including macrobiotic, GAPS, Specific Carbohydrate Diet, Low-FODMAP, paleo and the Autoimmune Protocol.
Creating my own custom diet:
It’s been a three year journey, but I’m finding out what works best for me. Since April 2014, I’ve been doing my own version of AIP (Autoimmune Protocol). This diet was further adapted, however, six months later when I was diagnosed with an overgrowth of bacteria in my small intestine, called SIBO, that was contributing to IBS-like symptoms. To help manage my SIBO, I’ve moved to a low-FODMAP version of AIP. So as you can see, I am often adapting my diet to suit my needs!
Since the beginning, however, I have found that these golden rules work for me:
– Eat REAL food with an emphasis on nutrient density.
– No processed food.
– Keep the sugar low.
Crohn’s is a very individual disease and what might work for one person might not work for another. Experiment with what feels right for you while listening to your body.
My Diagnosis Changed my Life:
I’m happy to say that three years later, I’m on very light doses of maintenance medication, I’m not deficient in anything, and I have more energy now than I did in my teens! It’s a constant learning curve and I’m still making micro-changes, but I’m actually grateful for my diagnosis. Crohn’s made me take stock of my diet and lifestyle, and sparked a passion for nutrition and wellbeing that led me to studying holistic nutrition and becoming a certified Holistic Health Coach.
You can find me on instagram at @HealthyHappyGlow or on by blog at www.ahealthyhappyglow.com!
Note: PLEASE consult with your doctor before making any changes to your diet or medications. The material on this site is provided for educational purposes only, and is not to be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.