It's been a while since I wrote an "If you're struggling" post and I decided that after the holidays was a great time for another one of these. If you haven't seen my first post with this title you can find it here:
Did you overdo it over the holidays? Did you cheat on your normal dietary routine? Are you now paying the price? Don't worry there are things you can do to get back on track! We have all been there so don't lose hope! You are not alone!
Those of you who suffer from GI problems, whether it be Crohn's, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, small bowel overgrowth etc etc. are probably used to having "flares" or periods of time when your GI system seems to be so upset no matter what you do. And identifying triggers can be a very challenging task. Over the years I have been able to gradually identify some of my triggers and I now am cognizant to avoid them if I can. Regardless, whatever your triggers I have one general rule for getting your system back on track:
What do I mean by that? Let me explain
1. Simplify your diet
Whether you know your specific dietary triggers or not, one easy thing you can do is go back to a very simple, easy to digest diet for a few days to allow your GI tract time to rest and recover. What do I mean by this specifically? Well I can only speak for what works for me but these are the foods I rely on when my body needs a break:
1. Bone broth: you have all heard me sing praises for bone broth before but it is especially important during a flare. I would drink 3 cups of this a day when you are suffering. This can be chicken, beef, turkey or any other grassfed, free-range animal. Remember DO NOT use bones from animals raised on hormones, antibiotics, artificial feed or other "modern methods" as this will actually be harmful rather than helpful for you. Bones and fat are where animals store the majority of their nutrients, fat soluble vitamins and minerals so if you are eating animal bones raised on antibiotics, soy supplemented feed and hormones, this is what is being incorporated into the bones and fat. Not what you want!
2. Meat from reliable sources: I eat a lot of ground grassfed beef when I am flaring. I simply fry it in a bit of coconut oil, butter or ghee and season with sea salt and pepper. You could also use any other type of ethically raised meat as long as you prepare it in a fairly simple way without a lot of additional ingredients. Not only is this easy to digest but is packed with omega 3 fatty acids (anti-inflammatory), essential vitamins and minerals.
3. Vegetables: Now vegis can be a bit tricky. You want to stick to vegetables with minimal fibre when you are flaring. I rely on roasted squash and well cooked carrots when I am suffering. I have found that these are the easiest for me to digest. And the more they are cooked the better.
4. Fruit: I do not suggest eating a lot of fruit when you are flaring. The extra sugar only helps feed the strains of bacteria in your gut that you are trying to settle down. BUT, if you really need a sweet fix I would only recommend trying very ripe bananas (think lots of black spots). These are the easiest to digest, with minimal fibre, although they are high on the glycemic index so some of you may not be able to tolerate them at all.
5. Eggs: If you tolerate eggs this is a great time to load up. I, unfortunately do not do well with eggs so I don't eat these when I am flaring but they are so versatile that they make a great addition to your diet. These can be prepared in almost any manner, just try not to overdo it with the fats when you are preparing them. And as with all your other products make sure you are getting these from a reliable, local source.
6. Beverages: During a flare I suggest you drink only water, herbal tea and bone broth. I add lemon to my water to give it a bit of flavour and coconut water is also a great option if you are looking for some extra electrolytes (which you may need if your diarrhea is severe). If you are drinking herbal teas make sure they contain only SCD legal ingredients and no artificial or natural flavours (these likely contain soy). My go to herbal tea is peppermint or spearmint or a combination of both. Very soothing to the digestive tract!
2. Simplify your life
This one is definitely easier said than done. And for those of you, like me, who are the classic Type A personality, it may not be possible to give up all of your commitments, but if you can eliminate certain stressors it will help immensely. The mind is extremely powerful, and stress can manifest with all sorts of physical symptoms, and if you are like me, the gut is the first place that stress hits. There is a ton of evidence linking stress to IBS and IBD symptoms, so if you are skeptical I have included links to a few abstracts addressing this very issue below. Even small changes can make a difference. Cutting out intense exercise for a couple days, having a relaxing bath before bed, attending a yoga class to help clear your mind. Anything you can think of that will help you relax or de-stress will be beneficial.
Some of the literature linking stress and GI symptoms:
I hope you find this to be helpful! Let me know if you have any questions! I hope you start feeling better soon!