Looking down into coffee cup with a floating question mark formed by foam

Alcohol, Caffeine, and Crohn's

When I was first diagnosed with Crohn's, I was told to stay away from alcohol and caffeine. Since I loved the taste of coffee, I would order decaf. I did not touch any liquor when they told me I had Crohn's. My doctors said that it would increase my frequency when going to the bathroom.

Since I was already going so many times a day, I did everything and anything to avoid more bathroom trips. Also, I was on antibiotics to prevent pouchitis, so I really couldn't drink it since it would make me sick. As the years went on, my body was so used to the antibiotics so that a little alcohol would not affect me.

"Guilty pleasures" with Crohn's

Fast forward 12 years. I probably want too much coffee. If you asked me if I am addicted to coffee, the answer would be, "Yes!"  I am totally cool with it too, and very accepting. I have about 6-7 cups of coffee a day. I know what you are thinking, "Paul, why do that to yourself?" Great question! Many Crohn's patients have "guilty pleasures," and this is mine. I know how my body reacts, and usually, I am near a bathroom so I am good!

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Over the years I have really cut down on the amount of booze I drink. I was never a big drinker, but a few beers a month would usually satisfy me.  The next day was when I really suffered running extra times to the bathroom. I think the pouch (J-pouch) really built up with bacteria causing extreme urgency, pressure, and gas. I believe nowadays, I might have "a drink" once every 2 months. I just am never in the mood.

Drinking coffee or alcohol while traveling?

This past weekend, I was traveling with my wife to visit some friends about 2 hours away. Since it was going to be nice, we decided to walk around the city. It was mid-morning, and everyone wanted to stop at Starbucks for a coffee while we strolled. For once, I really thought about my surroundings.

I knew that the bathroom situation wasn't going to be great. Sure, you can always stop into a store to use the bathroom, but that's more common for a "number one." I really wasn't in the mode to use gas station bathrooms or stalls from restaurants (unless we were actually eating there). 

I decided that I wasn't going to drink coffee. I had had coffee about 5 hours before our stroll (early in the morning), and decided that "less is more." Now I don’t know if it was "mind over matter," but I did not have to run to the bathroom.

Later in the evening, we returned to the neighborhood where our friends lived to try a restaurant for dinner. Once again, they all ordered drinks to accompany their dinner. As much as I wanted to join in on the fun, I refrained and just stuck to club soda. Again, less is more.

There's a time and a place for letting loose

I really enjoyed myself because I knew that I wasn't running to the bathroom due to the alcohol and caffeine being put into my body. Sure, I wanted it, but I really was aware of my surroundings. Now as I write this article, I am in the comfort of my own home. And you better believe there is a cup of coffee right by my side. Moral of the story: Crohn's "guilty pleasures" are all about the time and place!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The InflammatoryBowelDisease.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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