A variety of lettuce types. The biggest and brightest of the bunch is butter lettuce. It is glowing.

The Battle of Lettuce

Before I got diagnosed with Crohn’s, I loved all food. Even those green vegetables that most young children can not stand. Of course, and as you may all well know, my diet became limited once I got IBD. For most, it’s a trial-and-error game. You try a certain food and see how your stomach reacts.

In conversation with other IBD’ers, some foods affect them differently than how they would affect me. For example, ice cream. I know someone who would eat a huge hot fudge sundae once or twice a year, knowing she would be, “sick as a dog,” afterward. I guess the pros outweighed the cons? Who knows...?

Exploring more foods with Crohn's disease

As I became more comfortable in my body, I started to explore more foods. Some really worked, and some... not so much. I won’t get into details, but.. you can do the math! The one thing I really started to miss was: salads. Gosh, I loved them.

I would go to restaurants (pre-Crohn’s) and order the chef salad, or a salad with salmon, or shrimp. Yum! But, as I started to go through my “trial and error,” period, I noticed that my “urgency,” in my J-Pouch would return, and I would become very bloated after eating the lettuce. I decided to shut it down!

Learning about roughage and fiber

When I met my wife who is a vegetarian,” I expressed how much I loved the salad, but was upset that it caused me so many gastrointestinal problems. My wife, whose career is “food science,” with expertise in dairy, stressed that most restaurants serve “romaine lettuce.” I didn’t know the difference, but they did tell me that it has so much fiber in it. She went on to describe how the roughage really can cause havoc on the GI tract.

We went on a two-year-long quest. My wife would bring home different types of lettuce for me to try. First off, I did not know there was a variety of lettuce. I thought they all tasted the same. It was interesting as spinach leaves do not agree with my wife, but they agree with me (cooked).

Cooking your spinach leaves can eliminate much of the fiber. I was about to give up on the “salad,” part of my life.

Trying a lettuce option with lower fiber

My wife a few weeks ago brought home a product from the supermarket called, “butter lettuce.” Of course, I have not heard of this before. We looked at the ingredient statement, and the fiber content was much less. 

I decided to give it a try. I loved it. I was hoping that my body would not react to it. I decided to wait a few days to see how my stomach would act. My stomach did great! Now, I did not eat a lot of the salad, I would say: a half of a serving.

But remember, “slow and steady wins the race!” I had to keep that in mind because I started to crave salads.

I am still trying to find that “Happy Medium.” Last week I believed I ate too much of the “butter lettuce,” causing me some issues. I really think that each person with Crohn’s is different, so this might affect people in different ways. I am so excited that I can start adding lettuce (well some), to my food rotation!

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