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Sep 5, 2007 01:12 PM

Crohn's & veggies?

Does anyone have good ideas for people with Crohn's disease who can't eat a lot of fresh vegetables? Any help/advice would be appreciated.

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  1. It's my understanding that food restrictions for Crohn's can vary from one person to the next... with my MIL, we're usually okay with veggies as long as they aren't too high in roughage and are cooked until soft.

    As far as off-limits, for us it's most types of greens (including lettuces, spinach, etc). On the okay list, there's pureed veggie soups (carrot, sweet potato, sweet peppers, or any combination thereof), veggie spaghetti sauce (minus celery), green beans (as long as they're not crunchy), and roasted veggies (peppers, mushrooms, onions). For fruits, berries both fresh and cooked are fine.

    If by "fresh" you mean "raw", though, I'm afraid I can't recommend anything. :(

    1 Reply
    1. re: tartiflette

      all members of the cabbage/brassica family should be avoided: cabbage, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, kale. everything else is fair game based on the particular patient's tolerance level for roughage/fiber.

    2. I have Crohn's, and even during a flareup, I tend to tolerate raw veggies (with a few exceptions) pretty well.

      I'd say that your safest bet, if you want to eat more vegetables, is to pick low fibre ones, peel them if they have a fibrous skin, and then cook the heck out of them. Roasted red peppers, I'd imagine, would be a good start. Avoid cabbage at all costs.

      What other kinds of ideas are you looking for? I'm not 100% clear what sort of information you're after.

      1. I don't have Crohn's but I do have LC....thankfully no flareups in 2 plus years now.

        Tartiflette is right in that these ailments vary from person to person. A lot of it is trial and error and understanding what your body will and will not tolerate.
        I would initially recommend staying away from all acidic fruits and veggies, dairy products, etc...try following the basic BRAT diet to start.

        I found a book after diagnosis that has really changed the lives of many people to help cope with Chrons, Colitis, Celiac....etc. It is a TOUGH diet to get used to...but the key words are - you get used to it.

        Breaking the Vicious Cycle by Elaine Gottschall:

        I don't have much words of advice regarding the diet as medicine helped me before I got too involved with it. But it's worth looking at for whomever is suffering. Best of luck.

        1. How do you get enough nutrition?

          I have a friend with AIDS who had to avoid most fresh veg for a while. Idem a relative with cancer (he can eat veg now).

          It is a relief that you can eat berries, as they are a nutritional powerhouse.

          11 Replies
          1. re: lagatta

            Thanks so much for your helpful and compassionate replies. My Crohn's is actually under control for the moment, but I get very concerned about nutrition and fibre, since there is so much I can't eat without discomfort (I'd kill to eat berries!). Generally, I eat soup when I want vegetables but that gets pretty old. I'm definitely ordering the cookbook. MANY THANKS.

            1. re: resipsaloquitor

              Like amanda mentioned, food tolerances vary widely from one Crohn's patient to another. I too have Crohn's and have been lucky enough to never have any problems with veggies. Cabbage, in fact, is one of my favorites. Fried food, however, can be like poison to me.

              The best advice I received from the doctor when I was diagnosed was that you have to try different things and see how they affect you. I also deliberately eat some things that I know will give me problems just because I miss them enough. There's no one answer for every patient and no one tolerance level for "discomfort."

              Best of luck, feel good, and avoid Prednisone at all costs. :-)

              1. re: resipsaloquitor

                If you don't know much about this cookbook, I *highly* recommend you read up on it before you pick it up. It's probably not what you think. It isn't simply a collection of recipes for people with IBD, but a comprehensive and severely restricted dietary plan for managing IBD (which is highly controversial... gastroenterologists and many people generally feel that it doesn't work, while others claim that their personal experiences are quite different). Furthermore, it requires strict, unwavering adherence. For instance, you must cut out essentially most carbohydrates from your diet, and no, you can *never* cheat, for if you do, it won't work. Period. It may also take many months to see even preliminary results.

                I've had a lot of people advise me to try the SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet, which is what this book entails) for Crohn's, but I'm not currently willing. I've sacrificed enough for this disease and they'll have to pry wheat and potatoes out of my cold, dead fingers; I'm certainly not eliminating them from my diet for six months on the off chance that it may make a difference.

              2. re: lagatta

                I'm gonna get flamed for this, because it's so far away from the "accepted truth."

                I asked my son's gastroenterologist almost precisely the same question (after we finally arrived at his diagnosis and he finally started putting on the weight he'd lost, courtesy of medication and a 15-pound box of bacon). I asked "if he can't tolerate a balanced diet, how can he get proper nutrition?"

                The answer was "if he's finally started absorbing the calories, it's not worth losing sleep over a balanced diet - he's getting nutrition enough." True, the balance the rest of us should aspire to would be ideal, but he can't tolerate everything in it, and a daily multivitamin will take care of any real deficiencies. Possibly the biggest negative factor leading to flare-ups is stress (emotional and psychological) - I'm asking my kid to learn to recognize stress from way far off, and cultivate a Buddha-like nature (sounds hippie, but it's a good way to describe 'don't worry, be happy.')

                Crohn's is so individual, and the books disagree with each other about the best diet - the wisest thing I gleaned from them is to keep a log of what you can and can't tolerate, and follow what you learn from that experimentation. And, as the gastro doctor told me, in patients with Crohn's, exercise and activity take on greater importance.

                1. re: wayne keyser

                  I agree fully with this... since there are so many dietary modifications one with Crohn's needs to make, there's no point getting additionally stressed about trying to maintain a balanced diet. I eat what I can, and while my food intake would probably make a nutritionalist cry, it sits well with me, prevents me from losing more weight, and keeps me feeling energized, which is the most I can hope for. I mean, if you're highly restricted in your vegetable and fibre intake, the traditional idea of a healthy diet goes right out the window anyway.

                  Bacon is also my godsend... I tolerate it very well, even during serious flare ups (unlike, say, butter). It's a fat-heavy food that doesn't seem to bother me and it packs on the pounds, which is a huge boon. Fruits generally fare better to me than veggies, so I eat a lot more of them and minimize my vegetable intake significantly (I probably eat less than five servings a week). My vitamin and mineral levels are currently good, so I'm not particularly concerned about this.

                  The key is, I've found, to not feel pressured or guilty about not aiming for the "ideal diet" as prescribed to regular folk. There's no way that most of us Crohnies can tolerate that, so just accept what you can eat and do your best to enjoy it! And do make sure to get some exercise in... it will help with your health and make you feel good about yourself.

                  Wayne Keyser: Hope your son is doing well and is in remission.

                  1. re: vorpal

                    Thanks for your good wishes. Yes, he is (for the most part) - two years ago he'd lost 1/6 of his body weight before we figured out what was wrong and now he's almost back to his expected growth. But the bacon (and fried chicken) had to go back to "a rare treat" once his height and weight got back to (and exceeded) normal.

                    But here's the lesson: all last summer, no attacks. Last school year, as the stress added up, increasing instances of 3- and 4-day "can't get out of bed, can't eat anything." episodes (which just built up the school stress even more). All this summer, smooth sailing, despite summer school (he's learning to shed stress, not just avoid it).

                    How does this bear on Chowhound-ism?

                    Like you, as you mentioned above, his blood analyses show in numbers that with a diet consisting of "he knows what will set well on his system", he's getting all the building blocks (nutrition) as long as he's not in the middle of a flare-up. And that's the bottom line.

                    I get the sneaky feeling that every now and then he plays the Crohn's card when he simply doesn't like something (thus avoiding the need to eat the hideous 'traditional holiday foods' of my in-laws), but mostly he doesn't (just like every now and then I play the 'old guy with a walker' card just rarely ... sorry, friendly door-opening strangers).

                    1. re: wayne keyser

                      I don't blame your son in the least for avoiding the "traditional holiday foods" if they are hideous. He'll face enough dietary - and thus social - restrictions in his life without having to put up with mountains of stodge.

                      1. re: wayne keyser

                        I'm very glad to hear that he's doing fairly well. I know how challenging this disease can be.

                        And LOL... I certainly don't blame him either for occasionally playing the Crohn's card. I've been guilty of that myself when presented with food that I really, really don't want to eat. We have to get *some* benefit from this awful health condition, don't we?

                        1. re: wayne keyser

                          It sound like you and your son know best how to deal. You're so right about the stress being a major factor. I went 10 years without a serious flareup. Last summer my business went down the tubes, etc, etc, and I ended up in the ER and on Predinisone. Bad, bad scene. In the month before my wedding (18 years ago) I lost about 25 lb. They couldn't alter my wedding dress fast enough to keep up with me. And during grad school I lived on grilled cheese and bacon sandwiches and egg creams.

                          So yeah, knowing your own body and losing the stress are key. Diets? Eh, eat what makes you feel good. Oh, and take some extra calcium along with the multivitamins. Crohn's patients are more vulnerable to osteoperosis than the average person.

                          1. re: rockycat

                            "I get the sneaky feeling that every now and then he plays the Crohn's card when he simply doesn't like something" Who can blame him? It's gotten me out of my fair share of hideous gatherings!

                            These posts are so, so comforting. I was diagnosed with Crohn's about 10 years ago. During my first year of law school in 2003, all I could eat was eggs and milkshakes (and hot dogs, oddly enough). And the stress of the bar exam was just beyond description.

                            When I crave vegetables, I tend to eat soup. Otherwise, I mostly eat fruit. I sure wish there was a recipe for bland Buffalo wings... oh, well. Could be worse.

                            1. re: resipsaloquitor

                              "These posts are so, so comforting."

                              I completely agree. I've found it frustrating to be a foodie / hound with Crohn's (especially now that I'm in the midst of a major flare), and it's good to know that I'm not alone.