I am finally doing it! I am talking about Crohn’s Disease and my journey with this chronic illness.
I have had this post saved as a draft for nearly TWO YEARS! Can we say, “procrastinate much?” Crohn’s Disease was the main reason I started this blog nearly 5 years ago. Since it had a huge impact on making me feel better, I wanted to share plant based food with the world! So now we are finally circling back to where it all started.
The point of this post is to begin to share my story in the hopes that it can help others out there with Crohn’s. This will be the first in a set of resources that hopefully inspires you to take your health into your own hands and never give up on trying to get healthy!
Most of these resources will be about Crohn’s Disease, since that is the disease that I have a personal journey with, but from countless hours of research, I have learned that diet can impact SO many diseases and conditions beyond what we could have ever imagined. So please, if you are struggling with your health, know that diet can play a big role in helping you feel better.
This first post is about my personal story, but many of the upcoming resources will be applicable to a variety of diseases, and even healthy people looking to get healthier!
My Crohn’s Diagnosis:
I was first diagnosed with Crohn’s during the summer between my Sophomore and Junior year of college. I was a straight A student, college cheerleader, and was running a business in my spare time. I was stressed out, eating what I thought was a healthy diet, and taking no time for myself.
I started developing symptoms. I often lost my lunch through the chimney and frequently had bloat that could rival a 3rd trimester belly. My hair was falling out. My nails were brittle, and my teeth, which previously had a perfect record, started getting cavities right and left. I had a week long cold, once a month, and I couldn’t remember a day without a stomach ache.
My symptoms were not standard when it comes to Crohn’s. I saw seven doctors and had a laundry list of tests. I blew in bags, took saliva tests, drank strange concoctions, had cat scans and donated about every form of bodily fluid to the lab. I was poked, prodded, ultra-sounded, and scoped before a doctor finally confirmed my hunch, I had Crohn’s Disease.
After my diagnosis, my doctor sat me down and told me my options, or lack of options. I was going to be on immunosuppressors for the rest of my life, be put on steroids at times, and most likely I would do a treatment or twelve with cancer drugs to keep my jacked up digestive system in check, and after all that, possibly have sections, or all of my small intestine removed.
After a few days of going had on self-pity and ice cream. I put on my big girl pants and did some research.
My doctor told me that food would in no way affect my disease, but my mom, who suffered with an autoimmune condition in her 20’s as well, felt that food put her disease into remission and got her back to feeling 90% well on a regular basis. That 90% felt like the moon. I took her advice and purchased every book that connected digestive diseases to diet I could get my hands on.
Initially, I tried a lot of things, some wackier than others. I did the Clean Program for 21 days, I tried eating paleo, I gave up alcohol, caffeine, sugar, dairy, nightshades, soy, eggs, nuts, corn, citrus fruit, and meat. I stopped eating solids for a few weeks and survived on smoothies and other blended concoctions. Then I finally landed on the thing that stuck: a plant based diet.
While Crohn’s Disease is a chronic condition without a cure, after changing my diet, I got back to feeling like myself again. I would eventually start seeing an Integrated Gastrenterologist who changed my life, and would get me off all medications in favor of a few supplements and lifestyle changes. I have been free of all Crohn’s Disease symptoms for over 4 years and have been off medication for 3 years.