Nutrition is Different for Everyone with IBD
Last updated: December 2021
When people first ask me to explain how my Crohn's disease affects me, there are a lot of questions related to diet that follow. I have my own "elevator speech" when it comes to explaining how Crohn's can complicate things within the immune system and how it affects my gastrointestinal tract (GI tract).
Everyone should have their own elevator speech when it comes to strangers and family/friend's questions. But what everyone should absolutely have ready is an explanation about their personal diet (if they so choose!!) for when someone asks. This is important only because every single person living with IBD can have different diets, that even if they were to see the same dietician or nutritionist, it's extremely likely that each patient will be short in some nutrients and vitamins and the other patient will be much different.
There are many reasons why diet is different for people with Crohn's disease
Everyone absorbs things differently, as everyone's IBD can be located in different spots of the digestive tract. Especially those living with Crohn's disease. And especially those patients who may have had or currently have an ostomy, or have had a resection and other procedures related to the GI tract. Some of these things CAN determine what a patient can eat before and after some procedures. Again, this does not mean ALL patients will be able to eat popcorn and seeds and nuts after they've had some sort of resection or have had an ostomy. These things affect some a lot, and others, not at all. The most important thing to note is that diet in every patient is so different.
Safe foods versus trigger foods
For me, the last 13 years have been up and down with my diet. Certain medications have helped allow me to "push my limits" a little bit more than I would have the courage to, but others I've been on still have not allowed me to eat anything but my safe foods. My biggest food trigger is fruits and vegetables. I never know how my system will digest them, so it's a big gamble trying out these foods anywhere but home. If and only if they are steamed, I can eat most veggies. But only to the point where they have been steamed so long, they have basically lost all nutrients.
Foods I don't eat because of Crohn's disease
I don't eat spicy food. I gave up eating creamy sauces when I was diagnosed, which doesn't bother me a whole lot now since I don't eat many carbs (unless I'm on Prednisone). So going out to eat with family and friends can be a nerve-wracking series of events. Personally, I don't like eating things that I haven't prepared myself, because I don't know what's been put into them.. until I find out too late that maybe some seeds or nuts have been added.
A list of things that some (not all!) IBDers may struggle with:
- Raw Fruits - Citrus, Bananas, Fruit high in acid
- Raw Veggies
- Creamy Sauces (alfredo, pesto
- Red Sauces (acidity & spice)
- Seeds (fruit, salads)
- Casseroles can be iffy for me - any extra items in the casserole or something I'm not familiar with can put a big twist in my gut.
I usually tell people I'm pretty open to discussing diet, but I realize quickly how difficult it can be to explain my dietary restrictions because they are so different from other people they may know with IBD. Be open to discussing it; if you have control of the conversation, it truly can be a conversation and not an interrogation.
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