Healing is a powerful word and it is a work in progress.
It is different to a cure.
It is about getting better, physically and mentally every day.
I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease when I was 10 years old and I am now almost 45. I was very sick when I was young and before I was diagnosed, but once I was diagnosed I was quite stable. I had surgery when I was 18 but have not had any surgery since. Still this disease has dominated life.
About 6 years ago when my son was born I was motivated to find out as much as I could in order to try and find a cure for myself. I thought if I read books about other people that had been cured I could do the same.
I ordered books; lots of books, mostly about people that had controlled the disease.
Ironically most of the books were written by people who weren’t doctors. They were written by people who had Crohn’s or had children who had Crohn’s. I found these the most helpful. I believe that necessity is the mother of all invention. Therefore, people who have the disease or their children have the disease, are highly motivated to get as much information as possible.
Mostly I wanted to have more energy to raise my two young children and I didn’t want to be so scared anymore. I wanted my life back.
Now 6 years on I am much healthier. I am not cured but I can control my disease. I am very grateful to the books written by others with Crohn’s and also the information on the internet.
This website is intended to pass on some of the information that was useful to me in the hope that it can help others with Crohn’s. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel and for many people these diets have had amazing results so they are worth reading.
Must Read Books
Breaking the Vicious Cycle (Elaine Gottschall) (SCD or GAPS diet)
This is a fairly old book (about 1994 ) based on Haas and Haas (paediatricians) who healed young babies and toddlers of Celiac disease in the 1950’s. They did this by cutting out starchy vegetables and all grains and sugar. Starch feeds bad bacteria and this makes total sense to me.
I particularly like this diet because it is based on research done by paediatricians. I have read the Haas and Haas book called Celiac Disease. I like the scientific reasoning and research behind the diet.
I have read many testimonials of symptoms that have greatly improved on this diet. My symptoms also greatly improved within a month.
It is best to follow the introductory diet. You probably won’t be able to eat everything on the diet to begin with. Be careful of some things such as raw nuts, (you may need to cook all food to begin with). Some say no fruit at all to begin with (Haas and Haas said no fruit for 2 weeks).
If you are having any problems and you are not sure what is upsetting your stomach try rereading the book and you may find that you are eating something that you should not be eating.
More detail is provided in the below website:
The illegal foods list is a great help to identify what foods you may not be able to digest.
Gut and the Psychology Syndrome (Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride 2010)
This book is basically the same diet, but a lot more modern and in more detail. This helped fill in some gaps.
It also discusses that you may have to leave dairy out of your diet, depending on your intolerances. When I first read this book it was amazing and it completely opened my eyes and helped me to know what to eat.
Fermented foods are always quite important. I make coconut kefir which is really easy to make. Also I have apple cider vinegar (I have read that this should be diluted) and sauerkraut (but not too much). Also I order a product called Cocobiotic which is a fermented drink.
I used to make my own yoghurt following the Elaine Gottschall , Breaking the Vicious Cycle recipe. I had no problem digesting it even though I usually have a problem with dairy.
The website for this diet is below:
This website has a list of SCD diet counsellors. It is always helpful to talk to someone to answer any questions that you may have.
Some people have also reported that this diet has helped their child with autism and this is mentioned in the book.
If you require further information on autism the following link is an excellent summary on treatments. It is written by James B. Adams, Ph.D. and is based on the findings of DAN doctors (Defeat Autism Now). These are a group of doctors who have made a lot of progress in helping people with autism.
Body Ecology Diet (Donna Gates)
I like this book because it is quite modern. Also I did not like eating as much animal product and fat as I was eating on the SCD diet. This book seemed more nutritionally sound for a long term diet.
Not as strict as the SCD diet, it is based on healing your gut and restoring gut bacteria, using a lot of fermented foods, supplements and probiotic drinks.
It includes many grains including millet, amaranth and buckwheat. I would not have been able to have these to begin with and feel much better if I don’t have any grains or starchy vegetables. Donna Gates did not have Crohn’s disease and although this diet may be very healthy you might not be able to digest all of the foods. If you believe that you can’t have grains and starchy vegetables I would stay clear of them.
You can get a phone consult with the author Donna Gates and she has a website with a lot of excellent information and testimonials.
Most of the books I have read emphasise the importance of probiotic foods and drinks. You can take probiotic capsules as this is probably a more concentrated way of getting good bacteria into your gut. See if it agrees with you.
Other books worth mentioning
Listen to Your Gut – Jini Patel Thompson,
This is one of the first books that I read and it is very popular. It certainly motivated me that I could do a lot to improve my health. It has interesting Information, but a lot of supplements. Also she says that the SCD diet is too hard to stick to. I think that it was worth the effort if it works, but it is up to the individual.
Why Doesn’t My Doctor Know This – David Dahlman
This book helps you to try and find out how to heal your gut.
It helps you identify what particular food intolerances you have.
I learnt a lot from this book, particularly giving up dairy completely for a while.
He emphasises the importance of digestive enzymes, probiotics and not drinking water until an hour after a meal. Not drinking water until an hour after eating was very beneficial to myself and also my son. Too much water during meals can interfere with natural levels of acid and bile needed in the stomach to properly digest your food. This is probably one of the best secrets I have learnt and would never had known about it had I not read about it.
This book has lots of supplements, which is one thing that I don’t really like about it. I certainly don’t think I could digest the rice protein powder. You can look up his website. He is American but if you could arrange a phone consult that may be helpful.
What to Eat & Drink
It is very confusing as there are so many opinions on what a healthy diet is and it is more confusing when you have Crohn’s disease. One of my very favourite books is:
50 Secrets of the World’s Longest Living People (Sally Beare)
This book looks at the diets and lifestyles of 5 of the long-living cultures in history. These diets and lifestyles have stood the test of time. You can see a lot of common threads in all of them.
Of course just because the Hunzas had wheat does not mean that you can eat it. You have to learn what your body will tolerate. Stick to a diet that suits you but be sensible about what you know is healthy eating.
Just a few more books if you want to keep on reading
- Complete Book of Food and Nutrition A-Z (Rosemary Stanton)
- Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill (Udo Erasmus)
- Nourishing Hope for Autism – Julie Matthews (helps compare the different diets)
- The Wheel of Health (G.T Wrench) – How the Hunzas had such a healthy lifestyle
Note again that a lot of people with Crohn’s seem to have difficulty with all grains and starches and hence do well on the SCD or GAPS diet. Some say that the paleo diet suits them, but I have not done much research on this. Long term I believe you need to be careful about the amount of fat and meat in these diets. Also be careful about the amount and type of fish that you eat per week as it is linked to Mercury toxicity. I discussed this with my naturopath which helped.
What’s worked for me
Food combining and Mono Meals
Eating one type of food is the absolutely best food combination and I found this very beneficial when my symptoms were really bad. A Mono meal means to eat only one type of food for a meal; eg. only bananas for breakfast. I don’t do this now as my digestion is much better. However, when I found it difficult to digest anything, the mono-meal really helped. Obviously you do still need to try to eat a reasonably varied diet throughout the day for optimum nutrition.
Also I would keep starches and protein separate.
If you can do it and it doesn’t give you loose bowels it is a very healing way to detoxify.
As well as restoring your good bacteria, you will somehow have to kill off the bad bacteria in your gut. You can discuss this with a Naturopath or use the information provided in the books that I have mentioned. Sometimes I have used an antibacterial herb for a cold and I have felt like the bad bacteria in my gut was being killed off at the same time.
But do I need to see a Naturopath?
I think it is definitely worthwhile to see a Naturopath, but obviously some are better than others. If someone recommends one to you then that is a helpful start.
I had heard many good things about Steve Mouratidis in Melbourne. If I lived in Melbourne I would go see him. His details can be found via the below hyperlink.
Another good thing about a Naturopath is that they can order useful tests for you such as a stool test or an allergy test.
Stool tests help determine the level of good and bad bacteria. Also IGG tests may help to identify exactly what foods you can’t tolerate.
Also a Naturopath can recommend good quality products such as probiotics and digestive enzymes.
I am more comfortable getting supplements such as antibacterials that are recommended from a Naturopath, rather than just buying them from a health food store or online.
I saw a naturopath, homeopath, osteopath, been to a raw food health centre for three weeks and also did a supervised juice fast for 3 days. All helped but not were miracles.
A lot of Naturopaths will not have heard of the SCD diet. Just because they are “experts” you probably know better than they do what foods that you can digest.
I do not see a naturopath anymore. I got all the information I need and sometimes I might get some digestive enzymes or probiotics from them but I don’t need an appointment.
Fruit and Green Smoothies
If you can tolerate fruit smoothies I would also highly recommend them with fruit and lots of greens. Greens are very healing. The blending breaks down the fibres in the greens and make you able to digest them.
So many people who have written books on nutrition use or recommend the Vitamix blender. It really is the best thing ever for health.
The Vitamix BlenderBUY FROM AMAZON (US PURCHASERS)BUY FROM KITCHENWARE DIRECT (AUS PURCHASERS)
If you want recipes, buy Victoria Boutenko’s book, called Green Smoothie Revolution: The Radical Leap Towards Natural Health. She has a lot of healing smoothies.
Now I just blend up whatever I want and the Vitamix Blender comes with recipes.
I am quite cautious of citrus fruits as they are one of the harder fruits to digest. I have them now but I couldn’t previously.
Sometimes I would just have cucumber, lettuce, and kale and bananas and blueberries and apples and some water.
If you think that the greens are still hard to digest, try baby cos or baby kale. Young leaves are supposed to be the easiest to digest and I would agree with that.
Like all of us, I have had a lot of appliances and some get used and some don’t. The Vitamix keeps getting used again and again.
I find fruit easier to digest on its own (not combined with any other foods) and have it in the morning.
A few more tips:
Rotate your antivirals/antibacterials so that the bacteria and viruses have to fight something new.
Have different types of probiotics to fill your gut with many varieties of good bacteria.
If you can digest raw foods, then they have more digestive enzymes than cooked foods. If they upset your stomach don’t have raw food until you can.
You might like to try keeping a food diary which will help you to identify what you can and can’t eat.
A Last Word
None of the books recommend coming off medication without discussing with your doctor
It has not been easy changing my diet and will take a lot of will-power . I have read that it is easier to change someone’s religion than it is to change their diet. I had to follow the diet very strictly for a while. If I had a little bit of something I shouldn’t have I was tempted to have more.
Try and find foods/drinks as substitutes for the naughty stuff that you shouldn’t be having. There are a lot of yummy substitutes now. I have healthy snacks like nuts and raisins in my drawer at work. That way I don’t get tempted to buy chocolate from the work chocolate box. To begin with I used to read an enjoyable book when I ate to stop me craving unhealthy food. It helped me not think about it. Focus on the things that you enjoy in life that don’t involve eating.
Most say it takes them about 5 years to get a lot better; some will always be gluten and/or dairy intolerant. Most can never go back to lots of refined starches, sugars and junk food.
A lot of the books are written by young people. I believe it is much easier to heal the younger that you are and also if you have not had this disease for as long.
Every year I feel better than the last. You need something to motivate you. I wanted to be as healthy a Mum as possible.
Pick a diet to follow and stick to it strictly. You probably won’t have immediate results. I would think about how I felt a year ago and I thought, Yes I feel much better than a year ago, this is really worth it.
Your health is your responsibility and no doctor/ health practitioner or herb or medication will heal you if you don’t take responsibility. They can only help you.
Believe that you will get better
You have to believe that you will get better. It is very difficult for your body to heal if you have been told that you have an incurable disease.
Believe in the power of your body to heal. If you were healthy at one stage in your life, then remember and picture yourself when you were healthy . This will help you to believe that you can be healthy again.
The Magic of Believing by Claude M. Bristol will help you to understand how important it is to believe that you can get better. If you love this book then also read Emile Cou’s Self Mastery Through Conscious Autosuggestion.
Be grateful for the things you love in your life
As mentioned I have had Crohn’s Disease since I was 10 years old. I still need to eat a strict diet. I still have bad days and I still think “Why me” sometimes.
However, knowledge is power and I know that I can control my disease and I don’t have to be in fear.
I have 2 degrees, 2 beautiful children, I have travelled .
I have had great friendships and great relationships.
I was born into a very lovely big family and have wonderful childhood memories.
I love music and it brings joy to my life.
I am grateful to be alive and look forward to getting healthier every day.
I used to feel that I couldn’t be happy as long as I had this disease but I am almost 45 and I have had to find some sort of acceptance or I am missing out on too much. Acceptance does not mean that you have given up or failed and it doesn’t mean that you can’t improve your health.
As much as I wish I didn’t have this disease I have been helped and cared for by some very beautiful people who have devoted their lives to helping the sick. To them I say Thank You.
Crohn’s has taught me three things:
Life is short for everyone ; make the most of it.
Stand up for yourself. You deserve the best.
Nothing in this world, no disease of the body or mind can take away your power to love and be loved.
My hopes for you
My heart goes out to everyone with Crohn’s disease and I wish you the happiness and peace in your life that you deserve.
Don’t give up. Read, read, read. People care about you.