Crohn's Disease Forum » Your Story » Success Stories » Crohn's managed completely by diet

02-07-2018, 10:28 AM   #1
Join Date: Feb 2018
Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Crohn's managed completely by diet

HI All,

I wanted to briefly tell everyone about my struggles with Crohn's and what I did to overcome it.  It has been about 4 years since the diagnosis and prior to my finding the diet I was in rough shape.  I was about to be hospitalized and I pleaded with my gastroenterologist to let me try a special diet prior to hospitalization. I also had contacted my disability insurance provider to see about how to apply and use my long-term disability benefits.

I was on steroids, maintenance drugs, and about to be put on Humira (which really scared me when reading up on all the side effects).

The book I read is called restore your digestive health by Jordan Rubin.  Now before you go out and buy the book and try and do everything he describes, I will give you the highlights. After many years of altering my diet and figuring out what works, there are very few things that made a huge impact. So, although the book has good best practices for overall health, from a management of Crohn's perpective please read below.

After three weeks on the diet (lifestyle change) I was off all meds and no symptoms at all. It was amazing. These are big changes, but it is worth it to be normal again.

The main dietary changes I will rate in terms of the most impact. (substitutes below)

Sugar Ė I stay away from everything that has processed sugar in it. It can be named many different things like high fructose corn syrup, cane sugar, evaporated cane juice, sucrose, dextrose, corn syrup and many more. If it has that on the label I donít eat it ever. This is the biggest rule not to break and is also the most difficult as many things we consume in America has it in it.

White and Wheat flower Ė Crackers, breads, sandwiches, pasta, etc. This is also items to stay away from. Again, the diet will not work if you eat these items at all. Stay away and never go back.

Highly processed foods. So, I do infrequently eat these items like lunch meat, ham, premade meals etc. If 1 and 2 are followed this one isnít so bad, but more as a treat than the norm.

Lifestyle changes

Sleep seems to make a big difference. It again can be broken occasionally but most of the time you should get regular sleep.

Lots of drinking. I do drink alcohol. Apparently, the fermentation process helps process the sugars so it doesnít affect the Crohn's, however in moderation. Excessive, repetitive drinking will cause issues.

Being sick seems to cause flairs at times. No one wants to get sick, but I go out of my way not too.

Tylenol only. Tylenol affects your stomach differently than ibuprofen, aspirin, etc. So, use Tylenol and only deviate if necessary.

Substitute foods

Everyone needs something sweet occasionally. Raw unheated natural honey is a good substitute as well as plenty of fresh fruit. Frozen fruit is okay without any additives. Fruit I eat daily but the honey is once a week or so.

Instead of regular bread I eat Ezekiel bread. It is made from sprouted grains and that seems to be fine without issues. Sometimes I will eat a peanut butter and honey sandwich. The peanut butter ingredients are just peanuts and salt and the raw unheated honey. Not bad.

I do eat steak, chicken, pork, fish, shellfish etc. I have not restricted myself there. Eating out is easy, I typically have items that I can eat at just about any restaurant. Italian is usually the hardest, but I still find things to eat there.

I hope you give this a try. It has made a very significant difference I my life and hopefully yours too.

Jonathan Freed
02-07-2018, 12:14 PM   #2
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Join Date: Oct 2013
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Hi. I am glad you have had success with this.
Diagnosed in 1990. On Humira, Imuran, Gabapentin, Colestipol, Synthroid, Lialda. Resection in April of 2010. Allergic to Remicade, Penicillin, Flagyl, Doxycycline. Thyroid issues and psoriasis and neuropathy and mild cerebral palsy. Mild arthritis in my lower back.
02-20-2018, 09:03 AM   #3
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Sounds good.
02-20-2018, 10:22 PM   #4
Lynda Lynda
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Location: Arizona
Thanks for all of the recommendations. Have a great 2018 !
02-21-2018, 12:06 PM   #5
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∑ Stoma
I take honey everyday, at breakfast and before going to bed. It has antinflammatory properties antimicrobial as well.
04-12-2018, 03:23 AM   #6
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Location: Pennsylvania

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Honey is good to prevent allergy's also
06-04-2018, 03:09 AM   #7
Join Date: Jun 2018
Hi Jonathan,

Thanks for the advice.
Did you completely stop eating all grains i.e. wheat, oats as well as rice and pasta?
What about potatoes?

I'm just starting a similar regime to cope with Crohn's using the 'Special Carbohydrate Diet' (can't post the link yet - email me if you would like it).

06-04-2018, 06:21 AM   #8
Join Date: Jan 2016
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Thanks a lot for sharing all this information,stay healthy!!are you doing any medical tests now?if yes,what are they showing?
06-04-2018, 08:58 PM   #9
Join Date: Feb 2018
Location: Wexford, Pennsylvania
Thanks for the post, I really appreciate hearing this kind of thing. It's so hard to cut out refined sugars and flours, but I think you are absolutely right that it makes a big difference. I needed to see this thread today to get some more inspiration with my own nutrition.

I am also interested to hear what you all find out about whole grains, this is still the biggest question for me. I've done a food journal in the past and always felt that I could handle most grains pretty well. But, with some fluctuations in my symptoms and so much information about this topic, it's just confusing.
Ren, LPC
Crohn's Disease, diagnosed 2006
Small Bowel Resection 2008
Previous Meds: Asacol, Entocort, Imuran
Curent Meds: appropriate nutrition!
06-05-2018, 11:24 AM   #10
The Real MC
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I've also been successful at controlling CD through diet.

A few years after my resection surgery I started experiencing abdominal cramps more frequently and missing work. I eventually started a mental log of my meals and noticed a pattern with diet.

Through (painful) process of elimination I managed to identify the trigger foods. The perplexing thing about CD is that no two patients share the same trigger foods.

I find it interesting that I am not the only one to cut out counterfeit sugars (my preferred term over "artificial"). I also cut out trans fats.

The best way to avoid those two is to make your own meals and eat out less often. Many restaurants - especially the national chains - use a LOT of processed foods and additives in their meals. I was in the cafeteria at work and there was a bottle of "butter flavoring" on the counter. Out of curiosity I read the ingredients - trans fat was at the top of the list!

I make my meals whenever I can. When shopping for groceries you have to read the ingredients diligently - you would be shocked how many grocery foods those processed additives appear in!

I had to cut these foods out of my diet:
  • Peppers & spicy condiments (irritates the stricture and causes partial blockage)
  • Spicy processed meats (boy do I miss pepperoni)
  • Can't eat breakfast sausage, but holiday & pizza sausage is OK...?!?
  • Most fried foods (fries are a crapshoot, have to be careful)
  • Processed cheese (it binds on the adhesives on the resection & causes a full blockage, which lands me in the hospital)
  • Raw nuts (but cooked nuts and PB are OK...?)
  • Flavored milk (plain milk is OK)
  • Large pasta IE lasagna (high starch triggers the cramps)
  • Dense chocolate desserts (no more "death by chocolate" cake)

Dairy products do not bother me, nor do white or wheat flour. I do avoid "enriched" flours.

I go easy on the coffee. I have to have it really weak and can only tolerate certain brands so I brew it myself or I water it down in my cup at work. The coffee is too strong at too many places so I no longer order coffee at restaurants. Capuccino I can still enjoy, not about to chance expresso anymore.

I also consume honey. I mix a tablespoon of honey with 8oz of greek yogurt - pleasant combination. The yogurt had probiotics that are friendly to the piping, and the honey is a natural anti-inflammatory and antibiotic product. This is a staple in my diet.

Another good natural anti-inflammatory is dark chocolate. I like nuts because they supply oils that are good for maintaining cholesterol. I discovered that dark chocolate covered nuts are a good safe way to consume nuts without triggering the cramps.

I discovered I can enjoy a mild spicy dip with a chicken meal, *IF* combined with a milk-based dip (IE ranch). The primary element in spices is an oil, and it seeps through the piping SLOWLY which aggravates the cramps. Milk absorbs oils, so when including a milk-based dip the milk carries the spicy oils through the piping quickly. That kind of meal is in extreme moderation though.

Processed meats can vary from country to country. I live in the USA and I do travel internationally. I have had the processed meats in Germany while on a business trip and found they are much better than back home. German meats seem to be better on CD.

I enjoy an occasional glass of wine but also in extreme moderation. I never consumed any other alcohol. No illegal narcotics ever.

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