crohn's disease, Uncategorized

5 Positive Affirmations To Get You Through A Crohn’s Disease Flare-Up

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Our minds like to play tricks on us when we’re going through a Crohn’s Disease flare-up. Every patient has their own irrational thoughts, but we all tend to reach the same conclusion: I am doomed and will never get better.

Let me start by noting that this form of thinking is very common, but people don’t talk about it. This is why it is easy to feel alone during a flare-up. While these thoughts may be common, it is also important to identify irrational thinking before it spirals out of control. Our minds can conjure up a whole island of negative feelings like guilt, anger, low confidence, helplessness, and anxiety. The goal is to stop these negative feelings before they take over.

When I am going through a flare-up, I get stuck in the same negative thinking each time. In order to stop myself from burrowing into a deep whole, I follow these 3 steps:

  1. Do a reality check by recalling your past flare-up experiences. Remind yourself how you got through the last one.
  2. Talk to someone, or multiple people, about how you are feeling. Allow your friends and family to remind you of your strength.
  3. Recite positive affirmations every day and/or each time you feel the negative thinking start to creep in.

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5 Positive Affirmations For A Crohn’s Disease Flare-Up

I am not a sick person. During flare-ups my mind conjures up images of me living in a hospital gown eating ice chips for the rest of my life. This irrational thinking is just that: irrational. I always heal from each flare-up and get back to normal life. You will do the same. The nature of a chronic illness like Crohn’s Disease is that flare-ups happen every so often. You are not a sick person. You are just sick right now.

This is not my fault. What did I eat? How stressed have I been? Am I taking all the right supplements? Every time I start to have Crohn’s Disease symptoms, I play the blame game. What did I do to make this happen? This thought process is dangerous. It causes guilt, anger, and self-loathing. Remember, you have a chronic auto-immune disease. Even if you did everything right, you could still have a flare-up because that is the nature of Crohn’s Disease.

I deserve love. Your mind will play so many tricks on your during a flare-up. It will say you are not good enough; your body is failing you; you would be better off alone so you don’t hurt anybody. These thoughts are irrational and simply not true. They stem from common flare-up feelings of low confidence and helplessness. It is important to remember these universal truths about yourself: You are healthy. You are whole. You are enough. Always and forever.

I am not a burden. It is vital to have a support system during a flare-up. You will need to lean on family and friends for emotional support, transportation, pharmacy runs, cooking, cleaning, and the list goes on and on. However, after one week of symptoms, I usually start to feel like I need to mask the pain with a smile so I don’t overwhelm my friends and family. Well, that is just silly! Your loved ones exist for these very times. They want to help you, so let them help you. If anyone makes you feel like a burden, they are not worthy enough to be in your life.

This too shall pass. It can be difficult to see the end of a Crohn’s Disease flare-up. You may start to feel like the pain is your new normal; you will never go back to your normal routine; you will never be able to eat your favorite foods again. This irrational thinking is usually the result of fear. It is important to do reality checks whenever you start to feel hopeless. Have you had a Crohn’s Disease flare-up before? Did you get through it? How long did it take? If this is your first flare-up, seek advice from someone who has been through it before. Remember, the symptoms are temporary. You will overcome this flare-up and get back to your normal routine.

For patient support, reach out to your local Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation chapter.

Related articles: 8 Yoga Poses for Bloating, Cramping, & Gas and How to Prepare for a Colonoscopy and What to Expect 

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Why I Chose a Gluten-Free Life: A Crohn’s Disease Perspective

It’s one of the most common questions people ask me: Why do you eat a gluten-free diet? I am not allergic to gluten, I am not non-celiac gluten sensitive, and doctors haven’t told me to follow a strict gluten-free diet. Yet, last year I chose to give up gluten completely. I am here to explain why I made this lifestyle change and how I believe it has benefited my Crohn’s Disease symptoms and overall health.

Let’s get a few things out of the way first.

  • According to science, the only people who truly need to eat a gluten-free diet in order to avoid sickness and maintain better health are patients with Celiac Disease.
  • There are also people who are not allergic to gluten, but experience unpleasant symptoms when they consume it. These people have been lumped into a category called non-celiac gluten sensitive and they also benefit from a gluten-free diet.
  • The rest of us have either joined in on a very well-crafted fad diet or have found benefits to the diet in other ways. I am in the latter group.

I made the decision to go gluten-free based on a popular reason: If gluten causes inflammation in some people, I should avoid it because I want to keep any possible added inflammation out of my body. Whether this was true or not, I wanted to test it out. So I consulted with my doctor who gave me the OK and I embarked on the gluten-free journey.

It is important to note that a gluten-free diet can prevent you from getting important nutrients your body needs. I eat alternative whole grain foods and take certain daily vitamins to maintain proper nutritional health. Make sure to consult with a doctor before trying any diet.

A gluten-free diet for me meant…

No more donuts, Oreo cookies, Goldfish crackers, Fruit Roll-Ups, pizza, and Chinese food. Oh yes, you read that correctly. Only a year ago this health blogger, yoga student, and Crohn’s Disease advocate was still eating all of those foods and I felt the negative effects. I would get stomach aches, joint pain, headaches, diarrhea, urging, heightened anxiety, depression, and low energy. And, I would react to these symptoms like so many other people do: shocked and confused. I was completely oblivious to the power that food had on my body.

What happened when I went gluten-free?

I was forced to avoid most all processed foods and junk food. I switched out the donut in the morning with a banana and Think Thin protein bar. Instead of snacks like Oreo cookies, Goldfish crackers, and Fruit Roll-Ups I began eating sesame crackers, vegetable chips, hummus, guacamole, oranges, and honey. Instead of pizza and Chinese food, I began cooking Buddha Bowls and Indian food at home while experimenting with tofu, tempeh, ginger, and turmeric. I stopped drinking mocha lattes and switched to black coffee and tea instead. And, I never had a cheat day. I didn’t eat healthy all week and give myself one day to splurge. I stuck to the diet 100% knowing that I had to rid my body of gluten completely to feel any effect.

I began to notice a shift in my body and Crohn’s Disease symptoms. After just one month of going gluten-free, I stopped having post-meal nausea and stomach aches, headaches, join pain, post-meal diarrhea, and urging. I had more energy, less anxiety, less post-meal depression, and more confidence in my health. These positive feelings encouraged me to start lifting weights and begin my yoga teacher journey.

Without a doubt, eating more whole foods and less processed foods is having a positive impact on my colon health.

Now that I am one year into the lifestyle, without being too dramatic or cheesy, I feel like a new person. Of course, I still have the occasional stomach ache and abdominal pain (I have Crohn’s Disease, after all) and I still struggle with PMS-induced anxiety and depression, but eating gluten-free forces me to make good health choices. These good choices trickle into making positive choices in other aspects of my life like exercise and personal development. So, my original hypothesis that the gluten-free diet could help ease inflammation in my body isn’t as important anymore. Whether it is actually having that effect or not, I feel great and that’s what matters.

Recently, I decided to test to see if I was actually gluten-intolerant.

Doctors will tell you that a simple way to test this it to get rid of gluten completely and then see how your body reacts by bringing it back. Through my test, I found out that gluten causes me no obvious symptoms. I probably could go back to eating gluten foods and be just fine. However, I will not.

Even though I am not gluten sensitive, the gluten-free diet works for me. It holds me accountable to make healthy food choices. It gets rid of temptations like junk food and processed food. It allows me to control a huge part of my health that Crohn’s Disease has taken away for so long.

This is why I live a gluten-free life.

P.S. Just because you see gluten-free on the label, doesn’t mean it is healthy. Always look at the ingredients before you buy a prepackaged food item.

You may also be interested in “So You Want to Try Tempeh, Eh?” and Happy Belly, Happy Mind: Buddha Bowls for Crohn’s Disease.”

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When Someone Judges You Based on Your Health, Thank Them and Then Help Them.

Recently someone in my life judged me based on my health. This person didn’t mean any harm, but it still hurt. If anyone ever judges you based on a health issue, step back and realize this: Being labeled can be a blessing in disguise. In fact, the next time someone marks you “the sick person,” thank them and then help them. Here’s why.

Three Important Reminders the Next Time Someone Labels You Based On Your Health

Answers are powerful. First and foremost, if you have a health issue, this means you also have answers. You are one of the lucky ones who knows what’s going on inside your body. A doctor has given you a diagnosis, a reason why you have your symptoms. Too many people are still searching for their health answers. Some people are too scared to start the search. Be grateful that you have answers.

Living a proactive life. Because you have answers, you can take steps towards a healthier life. You have the clarity to take charge of your body. Whether it’s finding the right medicine, considering surgery, changing your diet, managing stress levels, or seeing a therapist, you have the power to make positive changes to your well-being. Be grateful that you have made your health a priority.

Your strength is addictive. Let’s face it. You’ve already dealt with enough health issues for a lifetime. Whether you are aware of it or not, you are stronger and braver than most of the people in your life. You should be incredibly grateful for this. Whether you know it or not, people in your life see your strength and are empowered by your health journey. Now, it is your time to give back. For those who don’t have answers and aren’t ready to live a proactive life, you can help them by sharing your experiences.

Remember that everyone is on their own journey. Maybe the person who judges you has unresolved health concerns, and it’s easier to judge you instead of assessing their self. The health concerns don’t even have to be physical. Maybe they are dealing with self-doubt or self-confidence issues. Whatever it is, now I see that I need to be there for them. So, when someone judges me based on my health, I am going to thank them and then help them. I’ve been on the journey of self-introspection, something that is scary for people. I have come out on the other end a more self-aware, confident, and compassionate person who knows her label. Now it’s my turn to help my loved ones find their label.

You may also be intersted in “Why I am Graetful For Crohn’s Disease” and “Fearing a Crohn’s Disease Flareup Clouds Our Reality.”

TEMPEH FOR CROHN'S DISEASE
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So You Want to Try Tempeh, Eh?

I have several friends who are trying to eat less meat, but they’re intimidated by other protein sources. My recent post about Buddha Bowls  offers recipes for chickpeas and tofu, both of which are protein packed foods. But, what about tempeh?

What is Tempeh?

Tempeh is naturally fermented soybeans that are binded together into a patty. The Indonesian food is a complete protein. One patty can have 18 grams of protein. That’s equivalent to a chicken tigh and a half. Tempeh is also a probitoic food and has digestive enzymes.

Where Do I Find It and What Do I Do With It?

Tempeh can be found at most major grocery stores and health food stores. You will find them tightly packaged in the refrigerator or health food aisle. I buy tempeh at Trader Joe’s. Tempeh is versatile and can be used in many dishes including tacos, burgers, sandwhices, and salads. It can be marinated, breaded, baked, and fried.

tempeh for crohn's disease

Tempeh and Crohn’s Disease

Tempeh can be a good source of protein for people living with Crohn’s Disease. For me, I have trouble digesting red meat, beans, and dairy. This takes away a lot of protein sources. Tempeh has been a reliable protein food. The soybeans are easy to digest and have not caused any unpleasant symptoms. As always, diet is different for everyone. If you have questions about certain foods, ask your doctor.

My Favorite Tempeh Recipe: Balsamic Maple Glazed

Ingredients
1 package tempeh, **cut into 1 inch cubes
½ cup balsamic vinegar
2 Tbs maple syrup
2 Tbs tamari
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup olive oil
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp arrowroot starch
Brown Rice, as much as needed

Recipe
Mix together the balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, tamari, garlic, olive oil, and thyme in a bowl.
Add the tempeh to the mixture and make sure it is equally coated.
Put the tempeh in the fridge and let it marinate for 2-24 hours, flipping the pattys halfway.
Preheat oven to 350.
Put tempeh and sauce in a glass dish and cook covered for 20 minutes.
Take out of the oven, stir it up, and bake for another 20 minutes.
Remove tempeh cubes from sauce.
Place remaining sauce in a pan over medium heat.
Add arrowroot startch or corn starch and stir to thicken.
Place tempeh over cooked brown rice and scoop marinade over top as a sauce.

ENJOY!

You may also be interested in “Crohn’s Disease 101: Everything the World Should Know.”

Crohn's Disease Flare-Up
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Fearing a Crohn’s Disease Flare-Up Clouds Our Reality

I have trained myself to think everything that I physically feel inside my body is related to Crohn’s Disease. While it is necessary to be hyper-aware of my body and in tune with any changes, it has caused unnecessary anxiety and fear. I want to share the following story with you to explain what I mean.

This past week I woke up in the middle of the night with terrible pain in my abdomen. For the next few days, my stomach felt icky and achy. I was having diarrhea and minor urging. In my mind, this was the beginning of a Crohn’s flare-up. My anxiety and stress went through the roof. I started preparing myself for the inevitable steroid regimen, weight loss, fatigue, canceling plans, and figuring out if Remicade has stopped working. However, by the weekend I realized the dull, achy pain wasn’t coming from my colon, but from my stomach. So I rested, drank soothing tea, and ate bland foods. Within a day the diarrhea was gone, and the achy feeling was slowly going away. In the end, it appeared to be a bout of the stomach flu.

I share this story with you because I realize I am too quick to jump to conclusions with my health and maybe you are also. From years of constant flare-ups, I now have trouble controlling anxiety related to Crohn’s Disease. By assuming that every physical feeling inside my body is related to my autoimmune disease, I am opening myself up to a constant state of fear and anxiety. When looking back at this past week it is now clear that the symptoms I was experiencing were not colon related, but the fear of a flare-up blinded me. I could not see the reality for what it was. In turn, I could not take the necessary steps to get better, at least not immediately. I also put myself through an enormous amount of stress that could have been avoided.

Again, it is essential for all of us to be hyper-aware of our bodies and any changes that may happen. However, we cannot let this rule our life or blind us from reality. How do we do this? Our first step is to lessen the fear of getting a flare-up. If we stop being so scared of flaring up, we won’t let anxiety blind us in every health-related issue. How do we lessen the fear of getting a flare-up? We look at the past. I have always gotten through every flare-up as hard as it may have been. I have continually come out on the other end a stronger and healthier individual. Life goes on. A flare-up is not the worst thing in the world after all. And if the past week’s symptoms were the beginning of a flare-up, that would have been okay. I would have gotten through it.

So I want us all to remember that we must not live in fear of this disease. This fear gets in the way of our physical and mental health. Our lives are too precious to live like that.

You may also be interested in “Why I Am Grateful For Crohn’s Disease” and “Crohn’s Disease 101: Everything the World Should Know”