Hi – Linsy here, and I’ll be back this week to answer another question from one of our great readers. You all have the best questions, and I want to answer you in as much detail as possible!
The question I received this week was an answer to my video on What to Do For Crohn’s Disease, Colitis Flare – HACK # 4. In this video, I discuss how time and patience are the keys to healing and why, Even if you do all of the right things, you may not be “healed yet”. In my experience, it took me 8 months to relieve my bleeding! That’s why I’ve explained in this video why things can take longer than you expected.
If you haven’t seen the series yet, here are all 6 hacks I shared based on my personal experience dealing with flares: HACK # 1, # 2, # 3, # 4, # 5, and # 6.
Our question this week comes from a reader named “B” and is:
What did you eat in the 8 months that you were bleeding? Are there any acceptable cheats for special occasions?
I thought that would be a great question because while we are healing most of us will have times when we want something that may not be good. It can be challenging to stick to a particular diet, such as the elemental diet, when the body needs it for a period of time. Food is a touchy subject when it comes to IBD because certain foods can cause more inflammation and different foods can trigger different people.
Here at Listen to Your Gut we have a lot of gut-friendly recipe suggestions, but we never tell people what to eat or not to eat! ONLY your body knows this, so today I’m going to make a number of suggestions when it comes to food, cravings, dieting, and a healthy perspective on these healing modalities, but just use these as guidelines and always listen to YOUR body has to say.
For myself, I had severe symptoms during those 8 months, so my goal is not to have any feasts. When I say feast meals, I am referring to what others call cheat meals. I like to call it a feast to remove any “guilt” from eating something unhealthy, as guilt is never good for the body. So I decided that having celebratory meals during this time was not a good idea as I was very determined to heal as soon as possible.
I didn’t want anything to interfere with my progress if I ate a certain food that triggered me and that took a lot of self-discipline at first! That is, until I learn the tricks I’m going to share with you today.
I decided not to have any feasts during these 8 months because I knew my body couldn’t handle them. It couldn’t handle a fudge brownie or any of the foods I might have wanted. So I listened to my gut instinct and refused to indulge in any mental or taste buds that I had!
This gave my body the time it needed to rest and heal, and frankly, I’m not sure I would have healed this quickly and deeply without this “break” from whole foods. This also allowed me to get an honest look at my daily food choices, as well as time to look at gut-friendly foods – since normal “healthy food choices” won’t work for most people with people with IBD.
I was on a full elemental diet for most of the 8 months, only drinking shakes and bone broths as Jini recommends.
For anyone who has been on the elemental diet for some time and is getting discouraged, I hope that hearing the time I’ve been on the diet can normalize the situation for you and help you stay on course.
After being on the elemental diet for almost 8 months, I slowly switched to half an elemental diet – I only ate gut-friendly foods. These were things like avocado, sweet potatoes, jasmine rice etc and ALL the foods I ate were cooked in the Insta pot to make sure it was “baby food”.
So here are a few tips to combat food cravings when you know your gut is incapable of handling a “cheat meal” at this point. These tips come from both my experience and Jini’s recommendations:
# 1: Ask your gut instinct, not your taste buds.
I love this line from Jini’s video Food Intolerance: Your Gut Vs. Your Taste Buds. I’ll link the full video in the description below so you can watch it for yourself.
When you want a particular food, make a clear distinction whether it is your taste buds or your intestines that ask for it. Your taste buds may say, “I want to eat pizza and fries all day every day!” But your stomach may disagree completely.
If we wonder what am I in the mood for? Most of the time, we ask our taste buds or our minds, not our gut instincts. If we base the answer on taste ALONE and not what we really need, we can get ourselves into trouble!
When considering a cheat meal, Jini recommends putting your hand on your stomach and asking him yes or no – and how much he wants.
# 2: Find Your Food Tolerance Levels.
This is an incredible insight from Jini, because many people will say, “Eat this, don’t eat this” – but now we are listening to our stomach again, because what one can eat the other cannot. And what that person can eat, he can eat maybe three times a week, but another person can only have it once a month.
This is great because it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to avoid certain foods entirely, but you do need to learn what your body’s specific tolerance level for those foods is.
Our tolerance thresholds are also strongly influenced by stress. So when you are looking for your tolerance levels, also look at what is happening in your life. The environment in which you eat has a huge impact! Perhaps an example that Jini cited earlier is that a person is generally lactose intolerant, but they find that they can eat dairy products when their life is calm and stress levels are low.
Here is a personal example of the effect that eating around you can have on you. I was able to eat pizza after the heal, which is a triumph as it used to be my number 1 trigger food before I got healed. Once my microbiome was reset, I would eat it every now and then with friends.
However, once I had it when I was really stressed out. It was one of those days when I was walking around like a head cut off trying to tackle a billion projects at once. I had a huge construction project outside of my house this week while working from home and I was eating out A LOT – and fast food is never my typical routine.
The icing on the cake, while eating the pizza, I was in a very uncomfortable environment. Well, you can imagine that I got sick !! I was actually sick for about 2 days, my body was screaming at me and I learned a great lesson about sleepers. Now I have taken this information and realized that the only way I can have take out is if I eat the food in a relaxed and safe environment – with people who I enjoy or watch a fun show.
We need to remember that while we are trying to balance our gut flora, our food, the environment we eat in, and our stress levels can all signal to our body whether what we are eating is safe or not.
# 3: redesign your diet or change history!
If we are on a restrictive diet for health reasons, how do we see it? If we look at it negatively, we may feel like we are missing out or being punished, which is a terrible feeling. So change “I can’t eat that” or “I can’t eat that” to:
I choose health and things that are good for me!
When we choose to actively ingest food that our body does not like, it is almost a form of self-sabotage.
Which leads me to the fourth and last tip …
# 4: Experiment and find out which gut-friendly food combinations go well with your body – and which you really like!
This relieves cravings and replaces any “loss of loss” you may experience from eliminating certain foods from your diet. Replace them with equally tasty, gut-friendly foods so you don’t feel deprived!
Now, if you are looking for those gut-friendly feasts in particular, Jini has a variety of amazing gut-friendly recipes on the blog! Sweet or savory, it has it all. You can find all of these gut-friendly recipes in the recipe section of Jini’s blog.
Thank you for tune in today and I hope our reader “B” and everyone else who saw this video found it helpful!
Here’s another blog post that you may find useful, too: Do you suffer from food guilt? In it, I’ll talk about how guilt can dramatically affect our food choices.
And before I leave you, here is a great tapping video from Jini that deals with chocolate and sugar addiction. I highly recommend it!
Have fun healing and remember – always listen to your gut feeling!
Linsy is Jini’s assistant. From a highly sensitive / reactive case of ulcerative colitis to complete freedom from medication and surgery with exclusively natural methods, Linsy understands the interplay of mind / body / soul on the healing path firsthand.