How I Learned to Make Food My Medicine
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and diet are two things that go hand in hand. These diseases are classified as digestive diseases, which I believe can be affected by the food we eat.
When I was early in my Crohn’s Disease diagnoses, I was placed on Remicade. This is a strong biologic medication. I was bleeding rectally every day, and found that with medication alone, I was not reaching remission. It was only when I altered my diet that the rectal bleeding stopped and I reached a stable state of remission. Because of this, I saw first-hand that food is medicine. I focused on a diet that worked best for me, not a one-size-fits-all approach. I went beyond what I was eating and looked at how I was eating.
1. Food is Medicine
I believe deep down we all know that food is medicine. When we catch a cold, we eat comforting soup. When our throat hurts, we have a warm tea with honey. When our stomachs hurt, we eat gut-soothing foods. Having a digestive disease means that food should be at the core of our medical regime. In the words of Holistic Health Consultant, Heather Morgan, “Every time you eat or drink, you are either feeding disease or fighting it”. This is not to say that you must only eat lean protein, fruits and vegetables. It is all about what works for you and your body.
2. Find What Works for You
Finding a diet that is right for you can take time and patience. There is a lot of trial and error involved in learning what works for you and what doesn’t. One-size-fits-all approaches are often not the answer for those with digestive difficulties. Eat according to your needs. You are unique and your diet regime should be too.
A great place to start is journaling your foods. Record how they made you feel and what time of day you ate them. You will eventually start to notice patterns.
3. Rest and Digest
A big part of digestion isn’t only what we are eating, it is how we are eating. Are you in a rush, standing over the sink, taking large bites and hardly chewing? For optimal digestion, our bodies must be in a rest and digest mode. This means your body enters a state of relaxation in order to digest your food properly.
The best way to do this is take 10 relaxing, deep breaths prior to eating. This allows your nervous system to go from Sympathetic (fight or flight) to Parasympathetic (rest and digest) mode. Parasympathetic slows the heart rate, increases intestinal and gland activity, and relaxes sphincter muscles in the gastrointestinal tract. You may find that this helps you feel less bloated after a meal. Try it out for your next few meals!
In my experience, food has truly served as medicine. Ultimately, my love for creating IBD friendly recipes and passion for nutrition have led me to a career in Nutrition. I am now an Integrative Nutritionist, specializing in Crohn’s and Colitis.
Feel free to follow along @WellnessWithDana as I share recipes and shed some light on IBD and diet!
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your condition.
An Italian foodie with a passion for healthy, high-quality foods and real ingredients, Dana has always had a knack for cooking. Diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease at the age of 18, Dana was faced with a new challenge of recreating all of her favourite recipes to be free of gluten, dairy and refined sugar. She knew she couldn’t be the only person struggling with intolerances. Thus, Dana set out to help others with their gut health, diet, and to share her recipes at www.WellnessWithDana.ca.
This began Dana’s journey as an Integrative Nutritionist. Dana helps many with their diet and overcoming their diagnosis with autoimmune diseases through her nutrition services.
As an advocate for IBD, Dana speaks publicly about her experience with Crohn’s Disease, educating and helping others to thrive in an otherwise difficult time in their life.
@WellnessWithDana on Instagram