For years, I have tried countless diets in hopes of finding a way to “cure” my Crohn’s disease. However, time and time again this ended in disappointment. This is not to say that IBD can not be cured or altered by food. However, there is only so much that you can do when you have a build up of scar tissue, or roaring inflammation. This took me years to understand and come to terms with, but once I finally did I finally felt free.
I believe that food and the environment can have a huge impact on IBD. That is why for years I tried all kinds of diets and supplements in order to help my disease. I have tried elimination diets, gluten-free diets, dairy-free diets, low-residue diets, and liquid diets, and every time I end these diets it leaves me even more confused than before. They all seem to “work” in some way or another but it is very difficult to see if the benefits outweigh the effort of these diets. Don’t get me wrong if I found a diet that made all my symptoms go away and I could only eat 2 things for the rest of my life, I would. But, this was not the case. I would show an improvement in some symptoms, but no improvement in others. So, this made it difficult to decide whether these diets were worth it. These diets also took a tole on my mental health. Every time I were to start a new diet I would have this jolt of excitement and hope that this would be “the one” that would help. But, with every failed diet came this sadness and hopelessness. It became exhausting and a vicious cycle.
In the time leading up to my surgery, I was trying to think of the best way for me to eat post-surgery (beyond the restricted diet for the first few days after surgery). I did lots of research on diets that have worked for many people with IBD, but finally I realized something. Yes, these diets may work for some (and more power to you if they do!) but they don’t work for everyone. I realized that trying to eat good, wholesome food was the best diet I could ever commit to. Being conscious of how the food makes me feel internally is what was most important to me. This does not mean that I have it all figured out and that once I start eating this way it will all be perfect. But, that is part of the process, listening to my body and how foods make me feel.
Earlier in the year, my 3 words that I selected to be my mantras were Trust, Embrace and Love, and these words could not be any more relevant as I move forward. I need to trust that I am making the right decisions, embrace how my body feels and how certain things may or may not make my body feel, and love the journey no matter what it brings. So, I set some minimal guidelines for myself (that I will share below), and I intend on sticking to these as loosely and strictly as I want to. If I realize that tomato just doesn’t sit well anymore than I will embrace that, put it to the test and love the food that I CAN eat instead of dwelling on what I cannot eat.
I was debating even sharing what I plan on eating, in worry that someone may comment on my food choices. But, I then realized that if this post can help even ONE person that is struggling with IBD and the difficult diets that come with it, then I will be happy. So here it is, my diet plan.
I have decided to really focus in on soluble vs. insoluble fiber because I find that for myself this can be a big factor in my symptoms. I want to try to balance insoluble and soluble fiber, enjoy dairy in moderation, and enjoy both gluten and gluten-free options based on my symptoms. Since fiber can be a complex subject I decided to do a bit of research for you all (and myself) on the distinct meanings of different forms of fiber.
What is insoluble fiber?
Insoluble fiber does not get dissolved in water and is not broken down by the gut. This adds bulk to the digestive system which helps to keep you regular and avoid constipation. However, insoluble fiber can be very tricky to break down for people with IBD or gut health problems. That is why these foods should be taken in moderation and should be ate in a particular way based on your own body and it’s needs.
What is soluble fiber?
Soluble fiber is soft and absorbs water in the digestive system. Soluble fiber helps to soften stool, so it can move through the GI tract easier. This fiber can also make you feel full for longer which can help with those trying to lose weight. These types of foods can be consumed more easily by those with digestive problems as they can be tolerated by the digestive system in larger quantities.
Why you need both?
You need both insoluble and soluble fiber in order to keep your bowel movements regular and also to allow for the best consumption of nutrients. Therefore, focusing on getting both types of fiber is important in maintaining a healthy diet. However, learning what your “optimal” amount of insoluble and soluble fiber is different for everyone, especially those living with IBD or other gut issues. So, it may take some experimenting to see what foods, and in one combination work best for you and your body.
Below are a list of Insoluble and Soluble Foods that I have compiled.
The following is my food list that I have decided to stick with right now. While creating this list I focused on what foods I know are good for my body, and what foods I know can cause problems in my body. This list is intended to serve as a guide for me, a long with the soluble and insoluble fiber charts, when I am cooking. By this point in my life, I also know that my diet is ever changing and that it is important to listen to my body. Because something that works for me today will not necessarily work for me tomorrow. I would also add that when I am feeling particularly sluggish or during a flare, my diet will change to a more low residue/liquid diet (which I have already written a blog post on, here). So, below is my current, easy, healthy diet plan.
If you are interested in downloading this complete set of printables, along with more info on what and why we need fiber, click here.
So that’s it, my simple, fuss free, wholesome diet plan. Like I said, this diet will be ever changing. But, what is most important for me here is that I listen to my body and how it feels, and adjust accordingly.
I hope that this post helped to shed a light on the importance of fueling your body, and also the mental health component that dieting has on your body. Let me know in the comments below your relationship to food and what is working for you right now.
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Have a yummy day,
Your Trusty Gutsy Gal
Extra Resources on Fibrous Foods