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woman with pain in stomach

Ignoring Hunger Pains

Do you ever feel those hunger pains but resist eating because you know your body does better when there is minimal food in it?

I do.

When a person suffers from Crohn’s Disease or ulcerative colitis (IBD), traditional ways of eating generally go out the window. Obviously that is not true for every person who has a form of inflammatory bowel disease, but I know that to be the case for a good amount of people. I have mentioned how living with a chronic illness that impacts your digestive tract so much can cause disordered eating but I wanted to expand a little on the hunger portion.

When we are in a flare up, just out of surgery, dealing with abscesses, stomach distention, obstructions or whatever else IBD likes to throw at the bodies it encumbers, odds are our appetite either stays the same or is non-existent.

Again, I want to remind everyone reading this that IBD is unique to every person out there who suffers from this wretched disease.

Anyway, back to the point…

There are a lot of times when an IBDer has no interest in food.

There are lots of other times when someone wants to eat, knows their body could use good nutrition, but they are fearful of how their intestines will react to ingesting some food. There are also times when a person who suffers from Crohn’s Disease or ulcerative colitis and feels enormous hunger but their body just feels better for whatever reason (less distended, less time in the bathroom, etc) when they are fairly empty. And then there are times when someone is just ravenous and devours the entire kitchen! Yes, I have been there.

I have really been trying to find more healthy “safe foods” that I know my body is okay with. Those are usually different for everyone so I won’t even attempt to tell you what you should or should not be eating. I do think it is important to understand your body and how it functions. This may include taking a look at all aspects of your body and life, not just your GI tract. For example, as someone who suffers from migraines I know that ignoring those hunger pains will likely have a negative effect on my head. So, I have to weigh the pros and cons of how to manage it based on what type of day I am having, where I am, and what I know I can deal with.

I will be honest and say that oftentimes, I ignore my body screaming at me to nourish myself because I do feel better with minimal food in me.

I hate having to empty my ostomy appliance thousands of times. I hate what the output is like when I eat a lot of solid food. It makes me angry and upset I even have to deal with it. So, I do whatever I can to control the way things are. Obviously, most things are out of my control but I try to grab some things as I recognize it.

I have lived with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) for almost 17 years and am still learning new things constantly. I also find it amazing how much my body changes with food.

Can anyone else relate to these struggles? Have you found ways to better manage your nutrition and hunger? Please comment below!

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


  • margaretanne
    10 months ago

    I’ve been living with Crohn’s for 40 years. The latest issue is being constantly hungry while in pain. How do you all deal with the hunger? Even water causes pain. I feel better not taking anything in, but dealing with hunger is tough. Any suggestions? Thank you

  • thedancingcrohnie moderator
    10 months ago

    I can so relate! Yes, whenever I was flaring I would be starving for food, but I couldn’t bare to eat because I knew the pain that was to follow. It was the most horrendous vicious cycle. I love, love food and not being able to eat because of the pain was so hard for me. I dropped down to 84 pounds because of it.

    Always dancing,
    Elizabeth (team member)

  • 2 years ago

    Many times I choose the pain of being hungry over the pain from my Crohn’s disease. When I was still able to work some of my co-workers would comment on my lunch, for the longest time I would try explain what I was eating was “safe” for me, I finally gave up explaining and said would say you eat your lunch I’ll eat mine. Remember strawberries almost killed me.

  • 2 years ago

    Marisa, your feelings about food parallel mine! I don’t have an ostomy, but have horrible esophageal Crohn’s and many food sensitivities and drug allergies.(Remicade, Cimzia, Humira, Methotrexate, Imuran). I feel best when I don’t eat. I recently started Stelara and switched to a Whole30 diet plan. I realize that dairy is an issue as well as sugar and all grains. That has been a big aha moment! Thank you for your posts and honesty, you are a tremendous support to me:) Best of luck to you in your health journey!

  • debbieha
    2 years ago

    yes, and yes again, have been so hungry, and then regret it as bloated and stomach cramps, etc. always know this will happen, but feel so starved, but also have gained so much weight, more than ever before Chrohns. have not figured how to balance this.

  • Kelly Dabel moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi debbieha, Thank you for sharing. Sounds like this article resonated with you. You may consider speaking with your doctor about a referral to meet with a Registered Dietitian, if you haven’t already, who may be able to help you find a good balance with your eating. In addition to speaking with your doctor, this article may also be helpful to you: Let us know your questions and how we can support you. You are not alone here. Thank you for being part of our community. Kelly, Team Member

  • 2 years ago

    I struggle with eating everyday. I don’t discuss it much because most don’t understand. It sounds crazy. Who doesn’t like eating?! Holidays are the worst because everyone is so happy for ALL the food around while I’m trying not to be depressed about it all.

    An ostomy should be used as a diet intervention. No way you can still love food if you’re forced to see the aftermath 15 minutes after eating.

  • Kelly Dabel moderator
    2 years ago

    You are not alone here janylaw. Thank you for sharing your story. I hope that this article was helpful to you and reminded you that many here in our community can relate to what you’re going through. We’re here to support you. Thank you for being part of our community. Kelly, Team Member

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