A New Diet…. Begun just over four weeks ago, is really helping! I am inspired by my friend, and fellow Crohnie, Katy Haldiman, RN, MS, The Paleo Nurse, and my consultants, Jordon Reasoner, and Steve Wright of SCD Lifestyle, to try a simplified diet to help my recent recurrence of Crohn’s from spreading.
Crohn’s is not easily deterred. I was so lucky to have seven years of clinical remission. It was only in the last year, that my disease spread. My last seven years have been filled with hope and health, and it is easy to fall into despair when the doctors tell you that your disease has gone from nonexistent to “severe.”
Rather than saying “Woe is me,” and spending time feeling sad and useless (I did a lot of that, believe me), I decided to take action, and try to live the words of the Dalai Lama:
“Scientists say that a healthy mind is a major factor for a healthy body,” His Holiness said. “If you’re serious about your health, think and take most concern for your peace of mind. That’s very, very important.”
That said, I am on my way to health, for sure—no time to sit on my cushion meditating (I do that daily for a few minutes still); rather, I need to stay focused and take care of my body: better food, sleep, stress relief, education, awareness, team building, satisfying work, making money enough to live on, giving back to my community and the world…working for peace, justice, and environmental sustainability. According to His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama, peace of mind is essential for health—words to live by.
This new diet, very much like The Paleo, is giving me strength and vitality. It is not for everyone—and I always tell people you must proceed with a doctor’s knowledge, for Crohn’s and UC can be serious, even fatal, if not managed correctly. I have worked really hard to form a collaborative team—my own book’s co-author, Jessica Black, ND, is my stalwart supporter and her book, The Anti-Inflammation Diet and Recipe Book has just come it in a second edition and has sold almost 100,000 copies! Jessie is an amazing health practitioner.
I have eliminated ALL grains and dairy from my diet—woohoo! What a difference. I found this great site, and I can use almond meal flour (also coconut flour), and I eat fruits and veggies, nuts and animal protein pretty much non-stop. I had an adjustment for the first week, as I really missed my oatmeal in the morning, but as you can see from the photo, my morning meal is wonderful and tasty, too.
I hope this post inspires people to look at their own diets, and proceed with caution (this diet is not recommended if you have flare-up symptoms of Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis). I began this diet with no symptoms, and after the first week, I started to feel like I had more energy, and my stress levels are kept low by walking 4 miles a day and sleeping 8 hours per night.
I’ll post some more photos of my wonderful meals… Summer is the best time to do this diet: only organic fruits and veggies and meat must be antibiotic-free, grass-fed…that whole thing! I buy all local meat, eggs, fruits and veggies… And I plan on putting up and preserving a lot of them this summer so I can continue summer’s bounty from my freezer (and canning room) during the cold Vermont winter!
I also have a nice little garden growing…. Kale, and more kale! Plus, tomatoes, green beans, lettuce, spinach, onions, asparagus, etc. growing your own food is another way to reduce stress and get physically fit—gardening is good for upper body strength!
Since my garden is starting to produce, I have felt more empowered to eat healthy. It is kind of a no-brainier that growing your own food is rewarding, cheaper than buying, and it also gives you a good workout (like try turning over a garden bed and weeding, for some arm-toning work!). I found this video recently in my research, that is excellent, and I am very interested in the Japanese study cited by Dr. Michael Gerger (I checked out his other videos, too, on http://wwwnuitritionalfacts.org.) about becoming a vegetarian, and the benefits for those of us with IBD. Exciting results….and being a partial vegetarian isn’t that bad . . . Read on!
Decrease Inflammation through Diet and Lifestyle Canges
Likewise, dietary goals to help us cope with Inflammatory Bowel Disease are always on my mind since I wrote the book with Dr. Black. I want to share with you some of the recent changes in my diet, and how it is helping quiet my gut and make me feel better and more energized.
No Red Meat
First thing: don’t eat hamburgers! I LOVE them, and can add them to the list of foods I gave up, and miss a lot (in case you are wondering: pizza, bagels, and a grilled burger with melted cheddar cheese…..).
Rather than feeling sorry for myself, while my husband grills his burger, I switched to Amy’s (TM) brown Rice crust pizza, rice cakes instead of bagels, and Gardenburgers (TM) instead of hamburgers (on the grill with some low-fat cheese and topped with a slice of Spelt bread).
Lighten Your Dairy Load
Switch to yogurt! In Breaking the Vicious Cycle, Elaine Gottshalk recommends making your own yogurt, but if you can’t, you can buy a high quality brand, like Stonyfield Farm 0Fat yogurt, and switch to lowest fat cheese, like Feta, pecorino Romano, part-skim and aged cheese, for just a few examples. There are some great lactose-free products on the market. Here’s a good article from Everyday Health to support this.
Now What Do You Eat?
Call me crazy, but I love this question! No wheat, no red meat, (note that I am able to digest dairy pretty well), and limited dairy….INCREASE fruits and vegetables. This is the plan! And the garden—wow!—my little 3 x 10 foot raised beds are producing like crazy now. (See attached photos of my two humble raised beds, packed with yummy veggies and flowers you can eat and also to keep pests away.)
Even our First Lady, Michelle Obama, is into the family’s vegetable garden—there is even a new book out about it, with recipes (I found a very funny review in The Daily Beast!).
And, it isn’t that hard to do—all you need is to add some good organic composted soil mix, and some starter plants like tomatoes, basil, lettuce, kale, broccoli, scallions, and Brussels sprouts, maybe some snap peas and cucumbers, and, voila! You have a garden!
What can we do going forward?
Grown your own food, and commute to work via metro, bus, or carpool; or better yet, ride your bicycle or walk. Rather than sitting around complaining about how hot it is, try riding your bike or walking in the early morning, before the heat gets oppressive, have your shades drawn during the day to keep your house from overheating, etc. Start small, and you will feel like you ARE making a difference. This summer, it is hot, dry, humid, and there are countless areas in the world showing record-setting droughts, heat waves, etc. With environmental activist, Bill McKibben sounding the alarm, (see this excellent article in the Guardian), people are starting to listen. The whole Eastern seaboard of the United States is at risk from tropical storms and rising sea levels, in just “one” example of how burning fossil fuel is contributing to the heating up of our planet.
We must adapt environmentally, as well as health-wise: inflammation being the byproduct of idiopathic (no known cause, no known cure) diseases like Crohn’s, colitis, IBS, etc.