Food for your soul…and your Crohn’s

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During my periods of remission, I feel great! Healthy and strong and “normal”. In remissions, I feel like I am in control, like I don’t have Crohn’s anymore, and that I have unlocked the secret to staying healthy. How quickly I forget! It’s like I am SOOOO positive and optimistic about it that I actually avoid being realistic about having a life long autoimmune disease! It’s super annoying that I live in denial land so regularly…

I’ve felt so good in remissions before that once I actually halved the dose of my medication on my own, without my doctor’s permission. Even for a period of 6 months, I completely stopped taking any Western medicine as treatment. I was feeling really toxic on the meds that I had been on for 9 years, and figured that eventually I will have to wean off them, so why not start the process now? #dumb
In remission, I even start referring to my Crohn’s in the past tense “I did have Crohn’s…” and “I don’t have Crohn’s anymore”, because I honestly convinced myself that through my positive languaging and an honest awareness of my body, that I could do it. *Sigh*. Don’t get me wrong – being optimistic, using positive language and keeping aware of your body does tremendously AMAZING things to it. But it ALONE cannot cure Crohn’s. It’s a balance.

So during these periods of remission, I aimed to watch what I ate because because I had known for years that gluten and dairy flare the situation. And processed sugar was the devil. I had read about it, heard about it, doctors and healers had told me… so I wanted to take it on board and watch what I ate…
To be fair, I talked a LOT about eating better, but rarely put it into practice. I was on a “reduced” dairy and wheat diet, as opposed to eliminating them. I ate fruit (healthy right? WRONG! Way too much sugar for your digestive system) with coconut yoghurt instead of regular yoghurt (Coyo is seriously the best invention! Go buy some now!), I ate more salads (healthy right? WRONG! Raw food is super hardcore for your digestive system to breakdown), allowed myself the cheat binge sessions (hey, I’ve been good all week…) which saw me devouring a bag of Allen’s ‘Party Mix’ lollies (oh how I miss you…). I thought that I was eating relatively well! No, no, no… if you’re going to halve your meds, and stay super positive about it (mind over matter), you HAVE to support yourself with your diet. Now, I’m not encouraging anyone to do what I did and make random decisions about the status of their heath, (because in the end, it didn’t work!) I’m just sharing my experience because anyone with Crohn’s, or an illness, will tell you that they just get to a point where they don’t want to deal with it anymore. It’s like denial wrapped in determination to prove your doctors and your body wrong. But really, the point I want to get across here is that diet is a HUGE factor in managing your Crohn’s…. HUGE!!! What you eat really affects your insides! I know this is a fairly obvious point, but seriously, most of us don’t live by it.

To be fair, it took me AGES to see the connection and actually want to do something about it. I had countless people tell me that gluten and dairy and sugar were bad for Crohn’s, but because I didn’t feel unwell after eating them, I thought I was in the clear. I was younger and didn’t quite understand how diet really affected our bodies, especially because I was taking medicine and vitamins as well. Surely all that helps negate the bad shit I’m eating? The medicine is meant to make the symptoms go away. WRONG! I needed to help my body from every aspect, and not just depend on medicine and supplements. Eating crap while on your medication is like someone rubbing salt into a wound, or an alcoholic continuing drinking even though they’ve been diagnosed with a liver disease! They’re thinking “Well, I’m taking medicine to help with disease”…but the alcohol you’re drinking keeps feeding the disease!

I guess eating like everyone else was eating helped me feel normal… no one would have to know I was unwell if I was doing the typical social things (like eating and drinking) with them. What finally tipped me over the edge to change my diet was my recent relapse after a wonderful and beautifully long remission. I was now also older (hopefully wiser!) and ready to take on the responsibility of caring for myself and my health. I had access to research different studies and health websites and blogs and learned from health experts how diet can change your life. I now had access to the resources that I would need to have an alternative diet. Thank god we live in a world where there are supermarkets that are dedicated to alternative food options! Now you can go to restaurants that specifically cater for a paleo diet, vegan diet or even offer gluten and dairy-free options! 10 years ago this would’ve been extremely difficult, you would’ve been that wanker in the restaurant that the waiters and chefs roll their eyes at, and you just would’ve been a freak amongst the company you were with!

Another thing that woke me up to my diet was a recent food allergy test I did via my blood work. From this blood test, you can see that everything that exceeded the green colour zone was food that my body was reacting to. It looks all crumpled up because I carry that piece of paper with me to remind me to keep strong if I’m craving a cheesecake!

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I was sensitive to EVERYTHING I was eating! While my Crohn’s was in an active state, my immune system was attacking EVERYTHING foreign that was entering into my body, including the food I was eating! This meant that I was staying in an inflammatory state and I was creating a weakened and leaky gut from the food I was eating. I even told my doctor that I didn’t feel bad eating these foods though! Milk was the only thing I ate that I felt immediately bad after. And then she told me that I may not have have physical symptoms but my body is feeling it on a microscopic level! The blood work proved it! She said it can take up to 2 weeks for your body to respond to the food that you put in, and by that stage, you can’t remember what triggered you feeling unwell in the first place! When I got these results, I cried. I cried for a couple of days, mourning the loss of my favourite foods. I honestly didn’t know how I was going to do it! I now had to eliminate the following: gluten, dairy, fruit, processed sugar, nuts, dry beans, soy, corn, potato, eggs, mushrooms, yeast, chocolate, alcohol and coffee. YES! EVERYTHING! hahaha… but I turned my focus around to look at the things I COULD eat – lots of meat (I had a protein deficiency as well) and vegies, rice, buckwheat, sweet potato, honey, stevia, coconuts (absolutely adore!!)… it seemed restrictive at first but in actuality, it isn’t that hard. It helps that my husband is eating my diet, which we’ve labelled as being basically Paleo, but minus the eggs (but I can eat duck eggs, which are awesome. Kingsley’s Butchery in Rose Bay sell them, as they are hard to find!). So focusing on the good things you can eat, and not on the things you can’t eat, will help you get through the change in diet.

Another thing that pushed me towards the “I need to do this NOW” about my diet was the fact that I got recently married…it stopped being about me. I wanted to have a healthy life so I can be with my husband for as long as possible. And then I want to start a family one day. I cannot be in a sickened state and have a baby! Majority of the medications I am on will poison any child that I would want. I have to be off the meds for at least 3 months prior to even conceiving. It has to happen when we plan it to happen. I have to be super strong and healthy so that I can grow a baby inside of me! Every doctor I’ve seen recently I’ve had to tell them that I want a child in the near future, so they know which medications to put me on that are safe for having children with. I’ve already been told that I won’t be able to have children naturally and that I’ll need a C-section (no problem with that) so as to avoid ripping apart an already weakened area…and THAT was a wake up call for me that it’s more than me now that I have to think about.

I know its hard, trust me, it’s taken me 14 years to actually see and feel the difference that my diet has an affect on my constitution! So no shame if you’re not ready to change the way you eat! But I feel so good now, I can’t believe I didn’t try it sooner! You may feel fine eating what you are eating, but can you believe me that you can feel even BETTER when you eliminate the bad foods from your diet? DO what you need to do. Don’t just TALK about it.

When you get to a stage where you feel “I just don’t want to feel this bad anymore” then make a CHANGE. Just do it! When you get to that stage, whenever it might be, it’ll be worth it. I know people want to learn on their own and with their own experiences, but I hope this blog helps inspire you to get to that stage… it took a few key things to set off the “I NEED TO DO THIS!” urge, but I’m here. Finally. I am going to take control of this Crohn’s. From every direction – medicine, diet, exercise, rest, energetic healing, supplements…this is my magic formula.

With Crohn’s, its all about remissions and relapses. The relapses will happen in time (until they find a cure!) but the main idea is to stay in remission for as LONG as possible. And if eating differently manages symptoms, supports my immunity, counteracts side-effects of medications, then hells yeah, I’m going to do it! I hope you do it too… when you’re ready.

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