Lifestyle Changes That Have Helped Me The Most With Crohn’s Disease
One of the hardest things I had to face when diagnosed with Crohn’s disease was my lifestyle.
Let’s face it, I didn’t want to change my life for a disease that I didn’t ask for. It seemed so unfair and I was stubborn for many years about it.
Lifestyle changes for Crohn's disease
At the beginning of my Crohn’s journey, I felt that I should be able to take medication and still live the way I lived. That included how I ate. I have always been able to eat whatever I wanted, so the idea of completely changing my relationship with food was hard and I fought it for years.
When I was first diagnosed I was naïve. I truly thought that in a matter of months the medication would work and I would be back to my normal self.
Well, as we know, it’s usually not that simple – although some patients get lucky. I, however, had a much tougher road ahead of me that involved a lot of work on my end. And a major part of it, for me, was completely changing my lifestyle.
Here are some of the most helpful changes I have made.
My diet and Crohn's
This is the biggest lifestyle change I have made, hands down.
I always ate whatever I wanted without any repercussions. It wasn’t until I started working with a naturopathic medical doctor that it was brought to my attention that I needed to do a major overhaul when it came to my diet and nutrition.
I cut out wheat, rice, sugar, dairy, and any overly processed food. This was hard and still is hard, and believe me I still have my slip-ups. However, when I stick to this formula, I feel my best.
Shifting to low-impact exercise
I was a professional classical dancer, so high-intensity exercise was something I loved. With my diagnosis, I could no longer keep up physically with any high-impact exercise.
So the big change I made when it comes to moving my body is sticking with low-impact exercises like yoga and light weight lifting.
To be honest, this was a change that I found easy and enjoyed very quickly. I always felt that to get a good workout in I had to be profusely sweating and on the verge of passing out. The fact that I can do low-impact exercise and still feel amazing was a lesson I enjoyed learning.
Monitoring my stress levels
Because stress is a huge trigger for my symptoms, I make sure to keep an eye out for my stress levels constantly. Before my diagnosis, I never really did.
If I find that work is getting too much, or I have packed too many tasks in a day, I take a step back and regroup. I have become very flexible these days and I always make sure to put in some time to rest throughout my day.
I’ve come to learn to prioritize my health and rest which has been a wonderful tool in lowering my symptoms.
Sun exposure and Crohn's
This one is huge. As an ex-professional dancer, I’m used to spending my entire day stuck inside a dance studio. I never prioritized getting sun so that I could absorb vitamin D.
Now, I make it a point to spend a minimum of 10 minutes outside in the sun. It has made a huge difference and my vitamin D levels are excellent.
Mediation & prayer as a lifestyle change
This is the one lifestyle change that I still struggle with, but when I do it I feel amazing!
Take time throughout the day to meditate or pray. It can be a simple 10 minutes or a whole hour. But boy, when you stay consistent at this, you will find that you become calmer and less anxious.
It’s an amazing tool for lowering stress as well, which of course benefits our physical health greatly.
What lifestyle changes have you made since your diagnosis? Share below, I'd love to hear from you.
Will you take our In America survey to help others understand the true impact of Crohn's and UC?