A smiling protein shake with a twisty straw in the shape of a colon.

Part 1 on Protein & Nutrition Shakes: Navigating Claims to “Cure”

There is a lot of information out there on nutrition and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). When you suffer from Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, nutrition comes up a lot.

Whether that is through research online, other people’s thoughts/opinions, comments made by a medical professional, or just your own desire to figure out what is best for you ... it can be really overwhelming.

There is no magic diet or supplement

I can’t tell you the number of things I have heard or read from people claiming to have the magic answer to all food issues surrounding IBD.

There are also many people out there sharing and promoting supplements and special diets that will “cure” you. Or they'll claim to “heal” your gut, which in my opinion, is a way to get around the word "cure" but is incredibly misleading to patients and caregivers.

Most of us never stop trying to find a way to have a better quality of life. And honestly, we should always continue doing our best to figure out how to improve our lives.

I just wish certain people, articles, videos, and websites would stop preying on those understandably desperate for a way to feel better. Here are my tips on how to choose your information sources wisely.

Tip #1: When it claims to "cure" IBD

If anything you come across or hear from someone else (even a medical professional) claims to cure you, move to another source of information.

Whether you have just been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis or have suffered for many years, it is completely natural to have a lot of questions about food and supplements. After all, living with a disease that impacts the bowels can make a person very focused on everything that goes into their mouths.

It is normal for patients (and caregivers) to want to control their disease in that way. This is why many people suffering from a form of IBD also struggle with disordered eating. It can be a minefield, and you are so far from alone if this applies to you.

IBD shake diets

A topic I hear about a lot among IBD patients is talk around protein and nutrition shakes. Below are five questions I notice fairly often in the community.

  1. Does someone who suffers from Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis need a protein shake or nutrition supplement?
  2. Will it help with GI distress to incorporate protein/nutrition shakes daily?
  3. Will protein/nutrition shakes or supplements improve my quality of life?
  4. If I drink these shakes instead of eating, will I feel better?
  5. If I stick to supplements instead of real food, will that allow me to stop my medication and/or prolong getting surgery?

It is important to understand that Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis impacts everyone differently. What works for me, may not work for you.

Tip #2: When a diet claims to help EVERYONE with IBD

If you come across any websites or commentary from someone (even a medical professional) who claims that eating or eliminating certain foods will help everyone with IBD, move on to another source.

As much as we all wish this wasn’t true, there is absolutely no one-size-fits-all approach for diet and nutrition in IBD patients.

Please also know that this aspect of IBD is one of the most difficult topics for patients to navigate. And, it can be very difficult to talk about.

IBD, weight, and body image

If you suffer from disordered eating, body image issues, weight fluctuations, or anything like this, you are not alone. You are not crazy, You are not obsessive. You are not making a big deal out of nothing. You were simply saddled with a chronic disease that impacts your intestines, your bathroom habits, your stomach noises, etc.

Many patients also struggle with weight fluctuations from medication side effects (such as prednisone), or they gain weight after losing so much from a flare-up or surgical procedure. I know many IBD patients who need to have clothes in all different sizes because of this. (Myself included!)

I get it. So many people understand. You are not alone.

More on IBD shake diets

Check out Part 2 of this article to learn more about protein and nutrition shakes as they relate to Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. I answer the top five questions listed above, as we all work to figure out what works best for our bodies, our minds, and our lives.

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