My name is Alex and I am an athlete who has been living with Crohn’s Disease since 2011. Nutrition is the key to achieving any fitness goal that you have in mind. If you want to lose weight or gain it, your diet needs to reflect that. However, that is a lot easier said than done for some of us, especially if you face health issues that limit your diet. Since my diagnoses I have found ways, through my own studies and personal experiences, to stay on track towards my fitness goals, whatever they may be.
Life with Crohn’s, or any form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) for that matter, is a limited one in regards to food. IBD directly affects the stomach and intestines, anywhere from the mouth to the rectum. This means that whatever food you intake has a direct correlation to how your day plays out – spent in the bathroom all day or out living like everyone else. The diet for someone with IBD varies from person to person. What works for me may not work for you, so take what I say with a grain of salt. However, I do believe that the basic principles I outline will help you find what to eat, what to avoid, and how to keep your fitness goals headed in the right direction.
Find Your Trigger Foods
First, you have to identify your “trigger food”. Someone with any form of IBD is going to have some form of sensitivity to a specific type of foods. For me, my biggest trigger food is fats, specifically animal fats. Everyone is different though, which is why it is important that you learn your own triggers. My trigger foods may not be yours. Because I am not a doctor, I will share a list of common trigger foods found on webmd.com:
- alcohol (mixed drinks, beer, wine)
- butter, mayonnaise, margarine, oils
- carbonated beverages
- coffee, tea, chocolate
- corn husks
- dairy products (if lactose intolerant)
- fatty foods (fried foods)
- foods high in fiber
- gas-producing foods (lentils, beans, legumes, cabbage, broccoli, onions)
- nuts and seeds (peanut butter, other nut butters)
- raw fruits
- raw vegetables
- red meat and pork
- spicy foods
- whole grains and bran
My Trigger Foods
I know that this looks like a lot, especially if you’re an athlete like myself who is striving for muscular strength and size
Yes, I avoid dairy, which includes whey and casein. – That’s why my protein of choice is the ABOUT TIME VE plant-based protein powder
Yes, I avoid red meat and pork.
Yes, I avoid whole grain and any form of gluten.
Yes, I avoid nuts and seeds – this includes the all-powerful peanut butter that bodybuilders love and swear by.
I don’t drink alcohol, coffee, or tea.
I avoid chocolate unless it is all natural.
I make sure that I cook all my veggies because raw veggies are hard to digest.
I stay away from raw fruits like apples and grapes for the same reason.
All of these things that “normal people” get to eat are things that I avoid or limit to ensure that I live a happy and healthy life.
Fueling your Engine
Now that you see what you should avoid, let me explain why. Again, IBD is a disease mainly affecting the stomach and intestines. What goes into the stomach and intestines? FOOD! Let’s look at it this way. Your body is a car. You get one car during your entire lifetime. How would you treat that car? Well for me, I would put the best fuel in it; I would put the best oil and all other fluids in it; I would wash it constantly; I would keep the engine clean and properly cared for at all times; I would avoid putting mud, dirt, sand, and any other form of crap into my tank that would lead to failure of my engine.
Well, our bodies are the same way. If you have IBD, your body is especially sensitive to the fuel you put in. You may not know it, but putting one of your trigger foods into your system – could knock you out for a week or more. This is why it is imperative that you track what you eat, what causes you to “flair up” or have an attack, and then avoid those foods in the future. After a while, you will have a collective list of things you should avoid, and as you do so, your body will start to act as it should.
Using the “Lose It” App to Track Your Trigger Foods
So, how do you track what you’re eating? I use an app on my phone. We all have our phones on us all the time – admit it, you know you’re addicted to it – so why not use your phone to keep a log of your food? I use “LoseIt”. With this app, and many others like it, I am able to scan my food in via the barcode, and all of its nutrients are entered into the system. This keeps track of your food intake for up to a year or more. This allows you to look back at what you’ve eaten to find out what upsets your system, so in the future, you can avoid that specific food or meal. Plus, the app is free. At first it may be a bit time consuming, but it is worth every second to ensure you avoid a future flair up.
Again, I cannot tell you what you should and shouldn’t eat. I know through my own experience, that tracking your food, finding and avoiding your triggers, and having the discipline and dedication to consistently do this every day; your life and your fitness goals will get back on track and can remain there. If you need to go see a doctor, do not hesitate to do so. I am not a doctor. I am simply a Crohn’s and IBD fighter who wants to help people through my own experiences. For more information on Crohn’s and other Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, you can visit webmd.com or google it. This is a personal disease that affects you in its own way, but that doesn’t mean you’re alone. Keep pushing, keep fighting, and never stop working.
More articles will be written about Crohn’s and IBD in the near future. Follow me on Instagram at @alex_wassom and let me know what you would like to know. I share my daily food intake, calorie needs, benefits of high protein, and more. Good luck my friends! Never give up!