Sunday, February 1, 2009

Crohn's Tips: Food

Crohn's Tips Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: Physical
Part 3: Intellectual
Part 4: Emotional
Part 5: Spiritual
»Appendix: Crohn's Tips: Food

Food can be a nightmarish struggle for people with Crohn's Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Ulcers and more. Often, trying to find pre-made food in the store like soup is a struggle. I for example can't have anything acidic or with spices in it. That rules out ALL canned soups which contain seasonings, onion, MSG, you name it. Even the tins of broth are a problem. I also can't have any dairy which also rules out a lot of things too. So, I've learned to be creative. Here are some tips I've learned over the years:

  • Rice milk can be a good alternative to real milk for cereal, cooking and baking. The vanilla variety may be too sweet for you, if so try the original. Other variations you can try are soy milk (higher in protein), oat milk and almond milk. Try your alternative or organic food section in the grocery store to find these products. You can even get alternative milk shakes in flavours like chocolate and strawberry.
  • There are a lot of soy products which are tasty in their own right. I've been enjoying Belsoy vanilla puddings and Yoso brand soy cream cheese.
  • Always try substitutions. For example, if you can't stomach the spices or the fiber in the seaweed of sushi rolls, make them without spices and with rice-paper instead of seaweed wrapping.
  • Experiment! Take a tasty looking recipe and substitute or remove ingredients that you can't have. You have nothing to lose but a little time, and in my experience it usually turns out great.
  • Cook in bulk. Have food (especially meat) pre-cooked and frozen for days when you are feeling awful. For example, cook a dozen pork-chops in the oven. Let cool a bit then freeze them. You can then take one out as needed, add about a teaspoon of water on it, and microwave. Add some canned veggies and pasta, rice, bread or potato for a well rounded, healthy and easy meal.
  • It's relatively easy to make your own broth as a base for soups, stews and gravy. Simply boil chicken breasts for about an hour till the chicken is fully cooked and the broth is clear-yellow. Strain out the chicken and freeze the broth in ice-cube trays to save for later use. Season to your own taste when you're ready to use it. Lots of salt will reproduce the taste of store-broth. Cook a roast beef in your crock-pot (slow-cooker) and save the juices for broth. Keep in mind that you will want to let both chicken and beef broth sit in your fridge overnight so the grease hardens and floats to the top, then you can skim it off before using or freezing.
  • Keep an eye on ingredients. Store bought items sometimes change their ingredient list, so always double check. Also if your stomach is bothered by acidic ingredients, keep in mind that many foods have citric acid as a preservative.
  • If fibre causes you a problem, boiling or steaming your vegetables like carrots will soften them and make them easier to digest, but don't over boil or you'll lose all the nutrients. Also, red-meats are more fibrous than others.
  • For your worst days, the following foods are very bland and easy on your system: white rice and pasta, cream of wheat, unseasoned chicken broth with grease removed, cucumber without skin, rice milk, weak caffeine free tea like green or peppermint. And always drink lots of water.

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