As you may or may not know, we just moved to Boston. We are probably one of the few couples you know who set up a kitchen and spice rack before installing a 52″ TV. We know we are weird. That’s why we are foodies, right?
As we continue to unpack and get settled we would like to share another foodie’s story with you. Meet Louise Hunt – a 24-year-old Crohnie and foodie. These are her thoughts on her struggle with food.
“It’s been 11 months and 3 days that I’ve been a Crohnie. I was desperately sick when I was diagnosed and spent the next 4 months in and out of the hospital, trying new medication, struggling to accept what was wrong with me and how bad it was and could very well get if I neglected my health.
“I had always had a good relationship with my food. It was integral to my life throughout my childhood and I spent a lot of time cooking and eating in new places whilst away at university in Norwich and during my year abroad in Vancouver, Canada. I work in a cafe and bakery, so I am always surrounded by food.
“A year ago my life changed. I became sick, really sick, for the first time in my life. The first thing to go? My appetite. I was forcing myself to eat family dinner with the greatest struggle or attempting to eat dry toast when I was home alone. I finally got an answer: CROHN’S DISEASE.
My mind thought about nothing but food. I was desperately hungry. I was terrified of eating something that would make me worse. I was on high dose of Prednisolone and a low dose of Pentasa, but even eating a cautious diet filled me with dread, anxiety and fear. I was scared to eat. This was new to me and I was so frustrated. I spent my days in my isolated hospital bed reading old Good Food magazine, trying to find hope. I didn’t find it. I agonised over my menus in the hospital and was always the last patient on the hospital ward to fill it in. I didn’t want to make the wrong choice.
“I spent a little time with a dietician on the Gastro ward of the hospital trying to sort out a reasonable diet that would keep me from flaring up whilst my medication set to sort out the long term inflammation in my guts. I was put on what is called a low residue diet. This meant no hard fiber; and I had no idea how many things had fiber in them. Being on the most very basic medication, my diet was very important to keep me healthy and out of the hospital. I was determined to try my very best to help myself stay okay.
“I spent my first return home [from the hospital] living on white rice, boiled chicken and scrambled eggs. But taking my medication was a problem and I was soon not eating again and flaring.
“Ever since I began on Humira, my relationship with food has changed. After the first round of injections I ate a sandwich on white bread, drank juice and enjoyed a glass of milk. These were things that had previously been off limits, but now was what I craved. Whereas before I wasn’t allowed much fruit or vegetables – unless they were peeled or boiled without skins – I could graduately begin to tolerate them. I eat no bread – white processed bread doesn’t help me maintain a healthy digestion, and I haven’t touched wholemeal or grainy bread since before being diagnosed; the risk doesn’t interest me – and I stick to the foods which I know I can tolerate.
“Don’t get me wrong; in the beginning I spent a lot of time trying a lot of different things. I was attempting to find the balance between gaining weight – I was about 49kg at that point – and having a regular diet. Within the parameters of diet, I wasn’t allowed spice, hard grains, fat and anything to acidic. This meant that I couldn’t enjoy take-out, fast food and juice. I missed them al ot to begin with. But I soon discovered ways to eat without harming my bowels.
“It is important to note here that Humira has given me back some greatly needed flexibly in my diet. I was desperately unhappy about the constraints Crohn’s would put on my eating habits when I got diagnosed a year ago. I thought about all the things that were bad for me and how much I enjoyed them. I dreaded eating ‘healthy’ and back then I was afraid of doing more harm to myself than good. I finally found a happy medium while experimenting.
“[While I have many food restrictions], Crohn’s Disease has [expanded] my palate. I can now eat steak with mustard, enjoy Hummus and peanut butter. It’s very strange but I’ve learned to embrace the things that Crohn’s has done to my eating habits. That being said, I have to eat specific things in order to be ‘healthy’ – this is what I find the strangest part of all and [the most] difficult to adapt to. [This includes foods] such as lean red meat, foods rich in iron – spinach, peas and cabbage, apple juice and yogurt. I also have to take Vitamin C tablets and liquid iron [supplements]. It is just part of my daily routine now and something I must do in order to keep healthy.
“Here is one of my favorite recipes that I like to cook at least once a week. I usually change different elements of it to keep it exciting and fresh, but it provides me with all the nutrients that I need.
I Be a fooDie Disclaimer: Note that while Louise’s recipe may work for her, it may not work for your diet. Please make sure to use foods that you can tolerate.
Mince Beef Burritos
Small pack of minced lean beef
Can of mixed cooked beans, preferably in tomato sauce
Red onion, diced
Cooked white rice [include as much as you would like]
Grated cheddar cheese
- Fry the minced meat in a dry pan until brown. Add the onion and cook until translucent.
- Add the can of beans and cook for 10 minutes.
- Serve in tortillas; with a bed of rice, meat, cheese and lettuce. Add sour cream if desired. Fold in the sides and roll. Enjoy!
We would like to thank Louise for taking the time to share her culinary experiences with Crohn’s Disease with I Be a fooDie. We are so grateful for her time and willingness to discuss her struggles with IBD.
If you would like to continue to follow Louise’s journey with IBD, follow her blog – youngcrohns.tumblr.com and on twitter – @sapphire20