It has been fifteen years since I healed from Crohn’s Disease. I clearly remember coming out of my colonoscopy in August of 2006 wondering what my life would be like. What would happen if I had Crohn’s Disease? Would I have this disease for life? And was it true what my doctor had said: that there was no known cure and that nothing I could do would help me to heal?
For those of you unfamiliar with this disease, it’s an autoimmune inflammatory bowel disease that can affect any part of the digestive tract from gums to bums. In 2006, when I was diagnosed, I was told there was nothing I could do but wait and see what direction the disease took. Sadly, a decade later and after millions of dollars raised and thousands of hours spent on “research”, nothing has changed.
Embarrassingly, the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of Canada once has a girl in a hospital robe pouring syrup on a stack of pancakes on the cover of their dietary guidelines. They state, “Since we do not know what causes Crohn’s and colitis, there is no known cure – yet. We do know that your diet did not cause inflammatory bowel disease, nor will a ‘miracle diet’ cure it.”
The organizations that raise millions of dollars for a cure carry the belief that despite, in their own words, not knowing what causes or cures, they know for certain diet has nothing to do with the progression or regression. And they’re right about one thing: there isn’t a “miracle diet”, but diet is part of it. I will get to that.
Without getting too far off topic, if you’re wondering where millions go, the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America offers a breakdown. So, for example, if you donate $10,000, you’ll support the “development of educational brochures” for patients that tell them things like “We don’t know the cause or the cure.” These are the same organizations that have been known to serve deep fried Twinkies at their events hosted in the name of finding a cure.
My doctor’s exact words to me were: “Eat your cheeseburgers, drink your milkshakes. Nothing you eat will affect the prognosis.”
To this day, I am grateful for this arrogance and ignorance as it invited me (or perhaps forced me) to dive in. I didn’t want to live a life that saw me going in and out of hospitals, unable to make plans for fear of a flare-up. I immediately began digging in and doing my own research. In 2006 there weren’t the resources there are today. There certainly wasn’t any thing like the Culinary Nutrition Expert Program where I could go to learn about the healing powers of food.
I would make lists of foods. Foods that could potentially help me and those that might promote inflammation. I stuck to the helpful foods and took on some healing lifestyle practices like yoga, meditation and acupuncture. My doctor told me there was no evidence that any of this would work. Though he succeeded in planting doubt, I was not dissuaded.
I also had to remind myself that there was no guarantee that his suggested course of action, which included “wait and see”, and potential medications and/or surgical intervention if needed, would work either.
Note: In this post, I outline my personal journey to healing from Crohn’s disease. For a more general outline of resources and common approaches to addressing IBD, you can also visit my post Crohn’s Disease and Colitis: Healing Diets and Other Resources.
Transitioning To Health
And so I tried my own protocol first.
- I modified my diet to all natural, unprocessed foods (details below)
- Ditch my intensive workouts in favour of yoga
- I took a meditation course and committed to meditating for 20 minutes, twice a day.
- I went to regular acupuncture treatments, multiple times a week.
- I drank Chinese herbal teas
- I rested as much as I could
In the past I have been criticized for the time I spent healing from Crohn’s. I committed three months of my life to getting well. I stuck to this healing regimen like it was my job, because it was. I had become too sick to work.
I will be the first to admit that taking time off work to focus on health is a luxury. But now, as I look back 15 years later, that three month commitment has lasted me a decade and a half. I have not had to spend a single day in bed, let alone in a hospital due to Crohn’s disease.
The estimated cost to the US medical system of someone with Crohn’s averages around $18,000 per year with the cost for someone with active disease is closer to $60,000. The average cost per hospitalization of someone with Crohn’s is $37,000. I am sharing this because when it comes to natural remedies, that we need to pay out of pocket, cost is often a topic that comes up.
In short, the costs and expense associated with getting well and staying well are significantly less than the costs of being sick.
And in following my own DIY protocol, over the course of a few months, I got better.
It was actually more than just “getting better”, more than an absence of symptoms of this disease, what medicine calls “remission”. Beyond the lack of symptoms, I was experiencing a level of happiness, vibrancy and joy that I had never known.
That was 15 years ago and I haven’t experienced any signs or symptoms of Crohn’s disease since.
This, of course, is not where the story ends. I did not take on a healthy diet, reverse the progression of an incurable auto-immune disease, go into remission and then return to how I was living before.
The most important part of my sustained health is that I kept it going.
The dietary restrictions became my way of living. The lifestyle practices of yoga and meditation, also became part of my lifestyle. I didn’t return to the jobs or the relationships that had all been part of the building of the disease, but instead pursued a path that invited me to build health and happiness. I incorporated practices that weren’t about “stress management” but about changing thought patterns, and lifestyle habits to reduce stress in my life and release it from my body. I learned to be less aggressive in my reactions to life and take a more responsive approach.
Was it hard? Yes.
Did I feel isolated from friends as my eating and lifestyle habits changed? Yes.
Did I have people tell me I was crazy or irresponsible for doing what I was doing and not following the path of conventional medicine? You bet.
Did I lose friends and family over decisions I made for my own health? I did.
Did people tease me for being a “health nut”? Yes, and I ignored them (and maybe felt a little smug that I had tapped into something rather incredible!)
Was it worth it? Yes. A gabillions times over, yes! There is not one little, itty, bitty thing I miss from the way I used to live. I wouldn’t change a thing. I am grateful that I was strong-willed enough to make the sacrifices that had to be made.
Yes, this was hard, but for me waking up every day feeling sick was even harder. Sacrifices made for illness are substantially more difficult than the sacrifices we make to feel well.
The Unexpected Happened: Health
What was once hard and took a lot of thought has become easier, and for the most part simply part of how I live. My set-point was raised and when that happen things that we often struggle with at the beginning of a transition simply became non-negotiable options.
The way I live today is not hard. It is just the way it is. Living as I do is my choice, and one I make every day in the name of health. There is no sacrifice. There is no deprivation. I live with gratitude and a focus on abundance. I am grateful for everything I can eat and do, and give no energy to what has been left behind.
After 15 years of living without this disease and doing the work to embrace a prevention lifestyle, there isn’t a single part of me that desires my path to have been any other way.
It was this experience that I had a decade ago that planted the seed for what is now at the root of everything I do – this blog, my business, my books, the Academy of Culinary Nutrition and the incredible community I get to be a part of.
I was left on my own to figure out what was wrong with me and how to rebalance. I didn’t want to fight the disease or fight for a cure, I wanted to heal.
One Size Does Not Fit All
How did I heal from Crohn’s Disease? This is the question I am asked most often, and also the one I am most hesitant to answer. I will answer it, but I need to caveat it by saying the following:
- What worked for one person is not guaranteed to work for another.
- What helps you to heal, or gain a foothold, may not be what maintains your health ongoing.
- Healing from an autoimmune disease is not a temporary diet, it is a lifestyle shift.
- Diet is only one small component and you must be open to full healing, not just changing your diet.
- Don’t be tied to what you believe healing will look like. It may not be a full cure.
- There is not one thing you need to do. There is not a single food that will heal you. It’s a process, and it’s a combination of factors.
- No one else can do this for you, and you can’t force someone else to try.
I think it’s also important to recognize that there is not one short answer. Healing from an autoimmune disease requires a lot more of us than popping a pill, and is different from curing it by how medicine regards a cure. It is multi-layered and requires you to want it enough to be open to doing the work. All of the work.
I get loads of emails from moms, children and spouses wanting their kids and parents and partners to live differently. Shifting to a healing or healthy way of living is not something you can coerce someone into. They have to want it for themselves.
Understanding Autoimmune Disease And The Triggers
Before we get into the healing, it’s important to have a basic understanding of autoimmune diseases. All of them, at their root, have similar triggers. How it manifests in your body is largely due to a genetic predisposition.
That being said, genetics are not to blame. We all have genetic predispositions but that doesn’t mean the flip must be switched for all of us. This is what we call epigenetics – how your lifestyle practices dictate the expression of our genes.
At the core of all autoimmune conditions are three factors:
- Genetic predisposition (you often know your weakness based on things that “run in the family”).
- Environmental triggers (see below)
- Leaky gut (often caused by a combination of triggers – see below)
And so when it comes to healing, we’ll need to address the gut, identify the triggers, and then work to rebalance and heal.
What are Some Potential Triggers?
Some of these may be controversial and may not have the level of double blind placebo studies that you may prefer. I will leave it with you to decide what may or may not have been part of the progression for you. The challenge is that rarely is it one thing alone. Often it is the cumulative effect of two or more of the following that creates the “perfect storm” environment for an autoimmune disease cascade or flare-up to be triggered. It is never without cause.
Common Autoimmune Triggers Include:
- Infection (virus, bacteria, fungus, parasite)
- Emotional and/or physical trauma
- Persistent emotional and/or physical stress
- Antibiotic use
- Food poisoning
- Food allergy and/or food sensitivity
- Mould exposure or other environmental/chemical exposure
- Birth control pill
- Other medication
- Highly processed diet
- Nutrient deficiencies (and/or malabsoption)
At The Root Of Healing
The challenge with finding a “cure” by how conventional medicine diagnoses autoimmune disease is that every individual will have their own unique combination of triggers (or causes) and therefore, typically need a unique approach to healing. And so it is true there is no known “cure” or “miracle diet” that will work for everyone.
Conventional medicine typically works by addressing the disease, not the patient, as they seek out a standard of care that has worked most often in controlled studies. When it comes to autoimmune diseases there is no “cure” that has been double blind placebo tested and will work without fail on the majority of patients. That being said, this does not make a cure impossible. A cure, in this case, is not a miracle. It is a result of the action you take to rebalance and heal your body.
A cure is not a miracle. It is a result of the action you take to rebalance and heal your body.
When we start to look at healing, rather than curing, the approach needs to be individual. We need to determine what our own unique set of triggers is and then do the work to support the imbalance and correct the deficiencies. This is where lifestyle approaches that address diet, mind/body and day-to-day habits comes in.
Your doctor may tell you there is no clinical evidence to support dietary and lifestyle interventions as a cure for any disease. There is however significant evidence that food has the capacity to heal. I also like to think that common sense will tell us that if the way we have been living has allowed disease to form, continuing in the same lifestyle will not help us to heal or reverse the disease. Yes, there are some diseases that may be beyond reason or understanding, but here I am referring to the slow developing diseases that are commonly associated with diet, lifestyle and/or chemical exposure.
Remember that healthy living does not need to stand alone. Integrative functional medicine is the future of healthcare. Take medications when they are needed, but consider how a healthy lifestyle may both enhance the benefit of the medication, while also off set or mitigate the side effects, imbalances and nutrient deficiencies that are commonly associated with them.
How I Healed From Crohn’s Disease
I have divided the core components of my healing practices into the three areas that need to be addressed. And please note, the guidelines given below can be adapted to work with all autoimmune disease.
- I eliminated all processed foods. Anything that came in a package with a long list of ingredients was out. No exceptions. No cheat days.
- I eliminated gluten 100%. Eliminating gluten does not mean some of the time, it means adhering to a gluten-free diet strictly, as if gluten caused an anaphylactic reaction. It is not an option.
- I eliminated processed dairy 100%. See gluten above for what “eliminated 100%” means.
- I ate minimal grains, beans, pulses and legumes. Complex carbs found in grains and beans can be tough on the most ironclad digestive systems. And given my limited nutrition knowledge, the conflict around these being in the diet when trying to heal the gut inspired me to avoid them.
- 90% of my meals were made by me at home. This ensured that I could adhere to 1-3 above.
- I ate organic. If I was going to heal, I felt that eliminating any potential disruption from chemicals would be part of the process. And so I bought only organic produce.
- I eliminated all coffee, alcohol and refined sugar.Again, elimination is not “mostly” or “not a lot”. Elimination is complete avoidance.
- I ate small portions of animal-based protein. I enjoyed small servings of eggs, chicken and fish. I did not eat any red meat only because I found it challenging to digest.
- I consumed loads of bone broth. Bring on the chicken soup!
I cannot stress enough the importance of consistency when it comes to healing. If we consider that what we eat and drink will either build health or build disease, when we are in an acute state of disease, we want to focus on the foods that will heal.
Consuming things that inhibit healing in any small way will hold you back from your potential progress.
I also did not attempt to cheat. Cheating on a healing protocol is not worth it. You are the one who will suffer for it, and those that are supporting you as caregivers. No bowl of ice cream, candy bar or cocktail is worth it.
Here is what I did not do:
- I did not go raw. I strongly recommend anyone dealing with any autoimmune (digestive or otherwise, there is always a digestive component) never go on a 100% raw food diet. Some raw food may be okay if you can tolerate it. I did not eat any raw food while dealing with acute Crohn’s disease symptoms.
- I did not go vegan. I know that this is a common approach but could not find any research (and still can’t) that supports a vegan diet for regaining health from a disease of inflammation in the gut, or a disease resulting in severe nutrient deficiency.
- I did not go Paleo. I don’t even think it was a thing 15 years ago, but high levels of animal proteins did not make me feel good.
- I did not go macrobiotic. See comment above regarding high amounts of grains.
My diet during my time of healing was much like what is outlined in my book UnDiet. It was real food, minimally processed, gluten and dairy-free, low to no chemicals and made with love, attention and care based on what I was feeling like I needed on any given day. This worked for me.
If you are dealing with a severe flare-up, you may want to consider following the GAPS, FODMAP, or Wahl’s Protocol. A strict anti-inflammatory diet may be your best bet. Going into the pros and cons of each is beyond the scope of what I am writing here, though what all of these diets have in common are the main guidelines for how I ate above.
I would also highly recommend getting a food sensitivity test done via your natural healthcare practitioner through Cyrex Labs (no affiliation), to eliminate any potential trigger foods.
The diet helped, but it wasn’t just the diet. Diet alone will not heal any disease, but it is definitely part of the process.
Your Diet Can and Will Evolve
I stuck to my healing diet very strictly for a good two years after becoming symptom free. This was mostly due to fear that if I strayed, my symptoms may return. And then slowly, as I began to feel confident in my health, I welcomed the occasional glass of wine and started going out for dinner again (to a careful selection of restaurants). I loosened up on the rules but many have been consistently maintained.
I continue with the following:
- 100% gluten-free
- I will consume raw dairy as cheese
- 90% of my diet is organic
- Adhere to the UnDiet lifestyle
- I eat a lot of raw food, when it makes sense seasonally
- I eat animal-derived fats and proteins
- I eat loads of vegan meals
- I eat only moderate amounts of grains, but they are not part of every meal
- I continue to allow my diet to evolve based on my personal needs, seasonal consideration and environmental consciousness.
The Biggest Mistake You’ll Make
Most people trying to heal something will do this once, or a thousand times. Once your symptoms disappear you will be tempted to revert to your old dietary habits. Don’t do it! It’s not worth it as it’s likely your symptoms will return. This is not a crash diet! Looking at it as a cleanse or a temporary fix will become your greatest barrier to healing.
The Mind / Body Connection
This is where it gets tricky. Often the personality type of those that are diagnosed with autoimmune conditions are not easy, breezy and laissez-faire. We are often “type A”, driven and prone to anxiety. Being diagnosed with a disease that, on the surface, seems completely beyond our control is, in effect, the worst thing that can happen to us.
For the years I suffered with IBS, prior to my symptoms escalating to full blown IBD, and my family doctor would tell me it was stress. This was not helpful. I was too stressed to recognize this. I’d felt “stress” my whole life and didn’t know there was any other way to feel, or have any idea how to resolve the stress and anxiety I consistently felt in the pit of my stomach.
A big part of healing autoimmune disease is addressing our emotional and spiritual health. This is about tapping into the present moment experience of wellbeing, contentment, joy, happiness, calmness, fulfillment, hope and gratitude.
Instagramming your awesome life, your meditation corner, your morning journal, your steaming cup of tea, or a selfie in your new prayer shawl isn’t the spiritual practice. We have to do the work.
There are books we can read, podcasts we can listen to and classes we can attend, but the real work involved is recognizing that we need the help in the first place, and committing to a practice ongoing. Listening to a meditation recording or on our mats at yoga is the learning – the real practice comes when we’re at work, when we’re having a disagreement with our partner, when our children are screaming, when our in-laws move in, when our house is under renovation, or when actual tragedy strikes. This is where the work comes in.
This is about you connecting with yourself and acknowledging, without fear or any self-deception, what is working in your life, what isn’t, understanding why and what you can and cannot do to remedy it, and finding strategies that help you live life with greater ease.
My Mind/Body Healing Practice Included:
- Daily meditation (often two times a day) for 20 minutes. I practice a mantra-based meditation, but any practice you can do consistently is the best practice for you.
- Regular yoga
- Avoiding anything intensely strenuous that taxed my physical or emotional resources (hot yoga, running, negative people, violent media)
- Gratitude practice
I also read a lot of books and put what I was reading into practice with small, self-motivated exercises. Some of the books that stand out for me include:
- A New Earth by Ekhart Tolle
- Perfect Health by Deepak Chopra
- Kitchen Table Wisdom by Rachel Ramen
- Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire by Deepak Chopra
- Full Catastrophe Living by John Kabat Zinn
- Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach
- When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodrin
Beyond the trendy aspect of a meditation practice, whether it’s a seated meditation or meditation combined with walking, yoga, chanting, being in nature, colouring or however you roll – there is a substantial amount of research that shows that a regular meditation practice will lower cortisol (the chronic stress/inflammation hormone), increase GABA production (this promotes relaxation chemicals) and shift your nervous system into parasympathetic (or rest to digest) mode.
It is in the parasympathetic mode that our body can actually do its healing magic.
This does not happen when we eat in front of our computers, scroll through Instagram before bed, listen to business podcasts while driving, or generally avoid down time that forces us to be still. It is in the space between doing that healing happens.
Your ability to get into “the zone”, and shift into the body’s healing state is not influenced by the colour coordination of your meditation pillow, or the beautiful mala you wear around your neck (I have one!), or the selfie you take of yourself ‘meditating’ at sunset on a beach.
This comes down to getting real about the work you need to do to alter the physical and emotional response you have to the perceived stress in your life, and changing that pattern up so that it becomes less harmful to your health.
The Lifestyle Habits
The mind and body connection is a big one and will often blend into lifestyle habits. In fact, diet also integrates with lifestyle. One does not stand alone.
One of the biggest overlooked areas that affect our health are our daily habits and patterns, the products we’re using and the chemical load we are unknowingly exposing ourselves to.
I have written about healthy lifestyle habits extensively so here is an overview of things you may want to consider.
Quicklist of Healthy Lifestyle Habits
- Reduce your daily exposure to chemicals in your cleaning products
- Clean up your cosmetic products
- Ditch the air fresheners
- Avoid plastic in your daily use
- Especially avoid plastic when it comes to food
- Take the time to prep for healthy eating as part of your weekly ‘to do’ list
- Avoid genetically modified and pesticide laden foods by choosing organic
- Pay attention to the products you use (from tampons to baby shampoo)
- Choose restaurants that suit your dietary needs
- Reduce the amount of time you’re on your phone
- Get off the pill!
- Get enough sleep
- Regular bodywork or physical therapy that feels good and healing for you
Transitioning your lifestyle doesn’t need to be an all or nothing thing. Start with one or two habits or changes you can make. Stick with them and then add a few more. My book UnDiet offers an 8-week transition plan that helps integrate these changes in gradually.
Supplements are often part of any healing protocol. By the time disease has taken a foothold, often diet and and lifestyle isn’t enough and watching Dr. Oz and then heading to your local health food shop for the latest miracle supplement isn’t going to do the trick. Neither is a long list of supplements from your naturopath or nutritionist that aren’t addressing the root cause. However, when used properly- they can be as powerful and effective as the drugs, but without the same side effects.
Therapeutic dosages that can accelerate healing will be beyond what is recommended on the bottles. Typically, to make the best use of your efforts and finances, you’ll be wanting a set of synergistic recommendations from a reputable and experienced natural health care practitioner.
Additional Beneficial Therapies
In addition to actively working to healthify my diet, reduce the stress I carried in my body and make lifestyle choices that reduced the overall chemical load, I also had regular acupuncture, was taking Chinese herbs and nutritional supplements.
Other beneficial healing practices may include various types of bodywork that feel good for you along with floating, restorative yoga, getting sunshine, being in nature, being around friends and family that bring you joy, reading uplifting books and watching funny TV shows and movies.
Your Next Steps For Healing
I recognize that I have outlined a whole lot here. The challenge was that I couldn’t answer the question of how I healed without explaining all of the components that were involved.
I truly wish I could offer a simple and straightforward answer. Our bodies are complicated. Disease is more than physical organs that break down. There is an unseeable psycho/spiritual component that has much if not more to do with our health than diet and environment. The reason I don’t have a quick and simple answer, and why it has taken me years to write this, is because there is no one size fits all.
I didn’t heal just because of my diet. It wasn’t just meditation. I haven’t sustained remission for ten years because in 2006 I went for regular acupuncture. Our health evolves and I continue to adapt everyday to what my body needs to maintain health. And this isn’t because 15 years ago I had an autoimmune disease, this is just what it takes to stay well today, in the environment we live in.
Tune in, listen and find a way of living that helps you maintain your optimal level of health and happiness.
And remember, this is not something you have to or should do on your own.
Finding Your Team To Support Your Health
I know that with the abundance of information available on the internet, it can be tempting to think you can figure this out on your own. Don’t. I mean, please try, but for optimal results, gather your team of experts that can help you sort out what you need.
Choosing A Practitioner To Help You
I highly recommend seeking out a natural health or functional medicine practitioner who can be at the core of your health team. Some things to consider when working with a practitioner:
- Do they take a complete health history?
- Can they read your blood work and assess the tests you’ve had done?
- Do they address diet, or have someone they recommend to help you with that side?
- Do they address lifestyle?
- Can they assess any medications you may be on and ensure there is no conflict with any natural remedies? Can they work with those medications and help to mitigate the side effects.
- Will they support you as you go through their recommended protocol?
- Are they recommending a standard panel of tests that may not relate to your primary concern? (This is a red flag).
- Are they experienced? This isn’t standard weight loss we’re looking at here. You want a practitioner with at least five years of clinical experience and a track record of success.
Remember, if you are not getting results (or getting worse!) while following a protocol from your natural health care practitioner, it may be time for a follow up, or consider finding someone else who can help.
What If I Get Sick Again?
Working to prevent a disease – whether it be Crohn’s or cancer – is no guarantee you won’t get it. I am not afraid of Crohn’s and should it come back into my life, I won’t regret the efforts I have made. Health is not a guarantee, but our efforts are insurance. With every deposit in the health bank account, we are building up our resiliency.
Have I had perfect health for 15 years straight? No way! Despite all of the personal development work I have done, I am still the same person I’ve always been. I set a high standard and push myself hard and so I do tire out. There’s no need to drag through a list, but I am human too and humans get sick from time-to-time. The key however, is in how long, the severity and the recovery time.
Everyone Can Heal
Healing will look different to different people. For some it may be a complete elimination of symptoms. For others it may be a freeze on the progression – you don’t get 100% better but you don’t get worse. However, when we can tune in to how we are feeling and take an active role in evolving our lifestyle to support our health needs, healing is possible.
It is not always the easiest path in the present, but it can set your life on a different trajectory. Remember, your health doesn’t just affect your life, but the lives of those you love and of future generations of your family.
There is absolutely no way I could have known that this diagnosis would have been such a pivotal catalyst in my own life, a gift, if you will, but also that it would extend beyond my own little world and into yours, too. And into the world of the nearly 3,000 incredible people that have graduated from the Culinary Nutrition Expert Program, or the tens of thousands that have read my books, or the millions that have come to this very blog since it launched in 2008. To think of all the people that have been positively impacted by my experience is simply wild.
We never know what impact one small decision can have on those around us, or how far reaching it may be. What I do know – and what I experience over and over again, and you reading this is proof – is that everything is absolutely possible.
We find what we need when we begin asking the questions. Your seeking landed you here and I hope you found some answers.
Additional Resources and Reading
- Crohn’s and Colitis: Healing Diets and Other Resources
- My Story: How I Got Here
- Can Your Cure The Incurable
- Podcast: How I Beat Crohn’s
- Deep Fried Twinkies: An Open Letter To the Crohn’s And Colitis Foundation
- Book: UnDiet: Eat Your Way To Vibrant Health
- Book: The UnDiet Cookbook
- Recommended Functional Medicine Practitioner: Josh Gitalis
If you have a story to share, please post below.
136 responses to “How I Healed From Crohn’s Disease”
Meghan, thank you for caring and sharing your story. I’ve been following you, learning from you, I’m a CNE graduate, caregiver to a family full of auto immune conditions, I too believe with a change in diet and lifestyle we do heal. We have to want it. We have to be ready to receive the teachings. Thank you for welcoming us into your tribe and leading us forward to healing!
Thank you for being part of the tribe and helping share the truth that leads to healing!
Thank you for sharing! I’ve been waiting for years to read more details about your diet. :) I know you’re trying not to get too specific, but can you address what your sources of protein were during the healing phase? You don’t list animal protein, and you specifically say you didn’t eat dairy and only small amounts of legumes. I suffer on and off from adrenal fatigue and am always told to up my protein, but I’m not a big fan of animal protein and I’m allergic to eggs and dairy, so I’m always looking for alternatives. Thank you!
Hi Sarah, I thought it kind of fell in to the organic and low/no chemicals- but my protein sources were chicken (and loads of bone broth), fish and eggs. I did not eat red meat during my acute healing only because I found it tough to digest. I will update the post to include the info.
Thank you!! I’ve been meaning to get back to making bone broth, this is a good reminder!
I’ve lived with chrones 20 years, I’ve had a lot of the same thoughts as to why it started affecting me in the first place because of the situation I was in when it started, thanks for this it confirms a lot to me, I will definitely learn the meditation side because I sort of tried to power through everything and got in a bit of a mess, God bless meghan that was beautifully written.
Thank you so much for this article and sharing your journal. I am recently diagnosed w Crohn’s after 2 years of taking the wrong meds to treat UC which I think really messed me up. I am currently doing meditation (which I started in 2020) and now adding in Acupunture, and currently water aerobics although I love yoga, I want to include as part of this healing journey. My Chinese herbalist started me on a diet excluding night shades, gluten, diary all meats except fish and seafood. I can also eat Millet and Sorghum. I am a chef at heart and would love to know more about your diet. Thanks again
Hi Sharon! Thanks for sharing about your healing journey – and I hope your health continues to improve. My diet has evolved and changed over the years, as I’ve gone through various ages and stages of life. For the most part, the dietary principles I mention in this post (#1-9) are what I follow. I’ve also discussed a little more about diet in this post: https://www.meghantelpner.com/blog/crohns-disease-and-colitis-healing-diets-and-other-resources/ and this podcast episode: https://www.culinarynutrition.com/what-the-heck-should-i-eat/. I try not to label my nutrition practices too much, or over-identify with them – as a diet that heals us (or helps us through a particular health issue) may not be the best thing that sustains us long-term.
This is without a doubt one of THE best articles I’ve read on healing for IBD. Bravo Meghan. It’s taken you 10 years to write this because it probably took 10 years to gain this level of understanding and knowledge. This is GOLD.
Thank you Reid, so much! And thank you for the work you’ve put out in the world.
Having just been diagnosed, after 25 years of suffering from Crohns, and being told by various doctors that it’s “only stress and depression”, my illness is now far progressed to many parts of my intestines and beyond. I have no confidence in medical doctors and so I decided to try to heal myself through dietary changes. I recently concluded that I need to exclude grains and dairy and do most of the the things that you have listed. I’ve struggled with this new diet and trying suppress flares and inflammation for the past weeks since my official diagnos. It was very reassuring to discover and read about your recovery. You’ve given me some well-needed motivation to keep trying and fighting. Thank you for sharing your story and so eloquenly offering guidance. I hope and pray you are still doing well.
I too have Crohn’s diagnosed in 1999. Have had some stress in my life but my chrone’s are not full blown. Just on my way of changing things around and your blog really helped me out on things I need to look at. I want to thank my sister Charmaine for messaging me your information.
This was great to read. A week ago, I blindly jumped into GAPS but don’t have the whole family on board and I haven’t even read the book yet. I really appreciate you sharing your experience. It’s motivating me to go all-in; to rethink the “temporary process” I was hoping for, and also address the spiritual side of healing. Thank you so much for putting this out there. Thank you for this gift!
Thank you so much for sharing this article. I am not suffering from an autoimmune disease, but I can find myself in your journey to health of body and spirit. I posted a link to your article on my Google+ account, this is what I wrote:
” I should add that the title of this article might be misleading in the sense that it may seem irrelevant to “us”, i.e., the ones of us not suffering from Crohn’s disease or any other autoimmune disease. This article is about the journey of a young, brave, courageous, talented, and resourceful woman who changed her lifestyle and attitude to life to heal herself, find mind-body connection, and happiness. The article is a source of inspiration for anyone among us, if we are open, willing to listen, and maybe to change.”
Thank you Stephanie for your very kind words and happy to know you are on your own journey and able to bring your light to the world in it’s brightest manifestation!
Are you mental??? Your diet has cured Crohns??? There is no cure for IBD. You know better than drs now? You are giving people false hope and for many with IBD, eating foods that are good for “normal” people can do more damage than anything else. By the sounds of it you are cashing in on people who are genuinely sick… you should be ashamed!
You are welcome to comment here, but your insults offer no value. It’s unfortunate you are experiencing so much anger over what I have written. As you may have noticed, this blog post is here publicly, for free, intended as a service for those that are seeking an alternate option. I would encourage you to review the post again, there is a lot of detail around customizing a plan, and it goes well beyond diet, and ensuring you are avoiding specific foods that can cause harm on an individual basis. Health is not just of the body, but also of the mind. Perhaps you may find some of the recommended books helpful to lift some of the negative emotions you are experiencing.
@lorraine hepburn and @pat – I agree that the title of Meghan’s post can be misleading but when you read through you see that she never claims she is cured from the disease. Instead she writes about minimising/preventing symptoms and learning to live with Crohns. That said there is no need to write such hurtful comments when Meghan is giving so much to the community. And you are free to write a critical piece supported by arguments to counter her claims if you want to be taken seriously. Id read it, I’m open minded. You can also close your browser. But why insult her? There are better ways to communicate and express criticism that would add value to the discussion, and our journey. Come on, let’s all look after each other. Social media, like air travel can bring out the worst in people! With respect to all Meghan’s followers – Sabine.
Thank you Sabine for contributing to the conversation.
No problem Meghan, thanks for what you and Josh do. People can turn nasty, perhaps it’s because they are in pain and have lost hope they will ever get better. Still, it must be tough to put yourself out there and get insulted like that, when all you did is try to help people who suffer from a nasty chronic disease. Keep writing for us though x sabine
:) Part of the territory, sadly.
If you think you cured yourself from Crohn’s disease then I think you were misdiagnosed in the first place. Shame on you for making all those sick people think there is a cure…. You should be put in jail
For those claims
I wish your sentiments weren’t so common among people who are suffering. To think we are helpless victims, doesn’t invite anyone to question the very paradigm that is leading so many to continue to suffer. Not everyone can or will heal completely, but to question whether diet and lifestyle can offset the negative effects of this disease, or the medication taken to manage symptoms, is where the real crime is.
I had just happened to come upon this post because I was searching some nutritional info. Your story is amazing and I have read about it before from others who have put their Crohn’s back into remission through diet and lifestyle. I myself was diagnosed with a rare progressively terminal lung disease called Idiopathic Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension. I was told upon diagnosis that I would be dead in 2-3 years. I have changed my diet and lifestyle to combat this disease and I am going strong 5 years now. People want to believe that there is nothing that they can actually do to change their situation because it involves sacrifice of their current comfortable lifestyle. It also means that they have to put in the work and figure it out for themselves. The first thing that most people have to come to the realization of is that the problem that they have was caused by them in most cases. All of this is difficult of course. This is why you’re an outlier, as am I. People would rather continue on suffering then to give up poisoning themselves with food and the lifestyle that they are currently living. And they’d rather attack people like you because you’ve found happiness because of all the hard work you have done. They don’t know what you have done to get here but they shit on you regardless. The entitlement some people show is outrageous to me. Keep doing what you’re doing and ignore the haters!
Im here because i found someone with the same mindset that was willing to help and have also completely reversed my Chrohn’s symptoms following essentially the same advice that Meghan has presented. She also literally says in the article there isnt a “cure”.
Meghan took the time to share her story because she took charge of her own health and found a way to navigate her own disease. And there’s tidbits of info that i can add to my arsenal to help me improve even more than i already had. Every medication the doctors gave me made it worse while some girl on the internet telling me to stop eating bread and nonsense quite literally saved my life. I hope you are taking steps to feel better Pat.
Wow. Just read this and your story is so similar to mine. I get so angry about the way I was treated by the medical profession too. Like you, if I hadn’t have kicked back I would still be bloated with Prednisone and sick and miserable and probably out of work.
My story is here.
I keep telling it to try and help others.
Keep telling yours please!
Together we can help so many. X
Thank you so much for sharing and for all you’re doing to inspire hope and health!
Thank you so much for you post. I was diagnosed with IBD in 2009. I didn’t take any medication until 2019 when I was told my doctors I need colonoscopy. Im due for a colonoscopy again I am going to cancel I feel Healthy and I don’t think I should have it. It’s unnecessary anxiety I’m my case.
Hi Meghan, thanks so much for sharing your healing journey. Why do you recommend Cyrex Labs over others (e.g. Rocky Mountain Analytical?)
They’re totally different tests that are offered. Cyrex looks at IgG and IgM and also look at cooked foods (where proteins are changed).
Hi Meghan, Thank you for writing this. I started this same diet and lifestyle change 5 months ago. I am now symptom free and medication free! I feel like you put into words everything I’ve been thinking and feeling. I hope your words reach as many as possible.
If you’re wondering if this works – it actually does!! I started after being in the hospital for a week with a partial blockage. I decided that was it – no more hospitals, no more surgery – no more medication. I had to see if I could heal this on my own. It was the best descision I’ve ever made. The feeling of accomplishment is unlike any feeling I’ve ever experienced. Being in control of your own health is the ultimate reward. Thank you again! <3
Such a wonderful post. I started following your blogs yeeeears ago when getting into food as medicine. I have hashimotos, pcos and IBS and have learned tools since my diagnosis to minimize symptoms. But have not gotten anywhere near normal range for my antibody bloodwork. Recently, I ran across the AIP diet and it seems logical (though extreme). Would you be willing to share your views on it???
Hi Andrea, I am unable to offer nutritional advice or recommendations via my blog. I would recommend you talk to your natural health practitioner about the AIP diet and if it would be beneficial for you.
Thanks so much for writing this article Meghan! I’ve been seeing a naturopath for over a year now, and found out a lot about what works for me and what doesn’t. Although I haven’t had an autoimmune diagnosis, based on the symptoms I was developing I was close (my lymph nodes had even randomly become infected). I had a food sensitivity test and found out a ton of food was just not my friend LOL. I had already eliminated a lot of processed food from my diet so the transition wasn’t so bad. However, I am finding that socially I’ve had to change the way I spend time with friends and family. Some have labelled me picky….what was that thing my Dad always said? Oh yeah, “you never lost a friend you never had”. With family it’s easier to bring my own food for the most part. I’m not here to explain what is in someone’s taco beef mix, I just know I mix my own. Since starting my journey I’m 60% better than I was (I am still working on the meditation/yoga/stress less part). I don’t have migraines anymore, my knees don’t hurt, and I am no longer hypoglycemic! Also, in the last 6 months both my mother and my sister have been diagnosed with crohns. Unfortunately my journey is not proof enough to them yet:( Again, thanks so much for being an inspiration, and for reminding me that even though it can be lonely, I’m really not alone. Deb
Good for you for taking on such big changes. And from my own experience, no proof is proof enough. Having been 10 years in remission, instead of inquiring as to how I was able to do this, both the medical professionals and other sufferers accuse a misdiagnosis. We can only take care of ourselves the way that is right for us, and inspire those that seek our guidance.
Great post, thank you! I know you suggested Cyrex labs, would you also recommend Rocky Mountain Labs in Canada? Thanks!
Great article! I have read it before and squelched my need to edit that time, but hope you know I say this with love – you need to take out “regiment” and replace it with “regimen” xoxoxo
Without getting into a huge comment about how I love this blog post I have to say that my GI specialist used THOSE EXACT WORDS 14 years ago to tell me I would always have colitis. In disbelief that a GI doctor just told me that the food I ate had no effect on MY DIGESTIVE TRACT I said a few unkind words and never saw him again. I did much the same thing you did as far as nutrition and lifestyle changes. I’m so glad you wrote this. It worked for me but when I told other people with colitis or crohns to chexl their nutrition they just reminded me that I’m not a doctor and they knew they ‘needed’ medication. Thank you for this post!!!
Hi Meghan, great to read your in-depth story, I was diagnosed with Crohns (Proctitis) in 2000. I had a similar story with Doctors and their approach to diet. It really is up to us to take responsibility for our health and there is so much to our wellbeing that we won’t find in textbooks. best wishes Stephen
I have just been diagnosed with Crohns and am daunted by what it means. My GI advised me to see a dietician who is a specialist in the disease and that diet is the best way to treat the disease. I have been suffering for two years and he is the only one who has helped me so far.
I am much encouraged by reading your blog for the first time! I agree with your approach and believe in taking responsibility for my health and making life changes.
Thank you so much.
Meghan, great thoughts. I have been following a similar diet for Crohn’s for around 3 years. I’ve had some ups and downs but always feel much better while on my diet. It’s great how you addressed the mindset part of things as well. So important. I’m actually posting every day on my Facebook about what I’m meditating on for the day. Thanks again for sharing.
Loved the article. My hemotologist said I’d miss out on nutrition if I stop eating gluten. I was able to increase my hemoglobin by cutting out grains. I’m lactose intolerant so no dairy either. My GI doctor wanted to put me on immunosuppressive medicine. I’m a nurse I need my immune system. By the way. I never call off work. I used to have stomach and bowel issues at work but I learned to beat it. Anyways, my doctors never talk about nutrition. I’ll be going to a natural doctor soon. He does acupuncture. He was referred by a nurse friend that did wonders on her. Good to talk to someone else that went through the same thing.by the way, I’m paleo through Nell Stephenson. She has an autoimmune menu. The only thing I have to be careful with is acidic food because of my acid reflux.
The information on the muscilagenous foods and the chia cacao pudding made a huge difference to the progress of my 92 year old husband who has had diarrhea for several months and on and off during his four month hospital stay due to a fractured hip and subsequent phneumonia. I am so ooo thankful for your help.
I just went for a colonoscopy. I have been trying to change my diet and I feel almost better. After the test the Dr came and and said the chrons looks more ulcerated. He wants to put me on two medications. I am so sad. I don’t know what to do. I told him I have no real symptoms and never felt better. I really really hate taking unnecessary medications. I don’t know what to do.
Any advise? I was thinking a second opinion.
I’m sorry to hear that you are dealing with this – IBD is never easy. I can’t give medical advice to you in this situation, but you can certainly ask for a second opinion.
I wish that all of this wonderful help (from you) had been available back in the 1970s, or that I had made some of these connections myself. I believed the doctors, took the meds, had multiple flare-ups, etc. I had a lot of stress in my life and not the best diet. It just never occurred to me, nor to my doctors, that diet and stress might be contributing factors. I hope that people are smarter now, and benefit from your work.
I am so glad I found your blog. You have a way with words! Can’t wait to read your book now. Love what you said about food either building health or disease.
Hi Meghan, I would love to know if your disease caused bone pain. If so, did your bone pain get better with your lifestyle changes? I want to get back to work and I have already cut out many foods like dairy and GMO foods. TIA!
Bone pain was not one of my symptoms. If your bone pain continues to be a problem, it’s worth visiting a health practitioner to see if you can get to the root of the issue.
I was wondering if you were able to stop any medications you may have been on?
I wasn’t on medications in the first place.
The fact you were on no medications makes me question how bad your Crohns was. It almost killed me. Drank liquids for a year .. solid food would cause me to double over. Only Cimzia injections allowed me to eat again. After 5 years they took me off because my immune system was compromised and I got dormant tuberculosis. You mentioned bone broth, that doubles me over. How do you come back when the disease has taken over completely? I dont know what to do, but Im always in pain. I get told.. “this is what Crohns does” Everyday is a struggle.
I’m really sorry to hear about your struggles – Crohn’s can be a terrible, terrible disease. And it affects everyone differently. What I’ve described here is what happened to me, in hopes that it might provide some inspiration and insight to others.
I just wanted to say I found this post IMMENSELY encouraging. While I have not been officially diagnosed with Chron’s, I have all the trademark symptoms, beginning as far back as age 19. What you said about health providers saying “it’s not a concern” is so true and so very frustrating. During my last pregnancy, I kept insisting something wasn’t right, but was continually told my symptoms were due to age and/or number of pregnancies. HA! Two months postpartum I took my health into my own hands and began a dedicated vitamin regimen while also eliminating foods I already knew to be triggers. A week in my appendix was removed after my body began trying to physically purge it. It was crazy. I am now in the second trimester of another pregnancy and I feel better than I have in I can’t remember when. You are so right about it needing to be a constant lifestyle change, not a crash diet. I watched my mother die young after multiple forms of cancer, all beginning with the same symptoms I began experiencing during my last pregnancy. Thank you so much for bolstering my confidence that I can do this and that I am not compromising my health by choosing an ‘ unconventional’ method.
Meghan, thank you so much for your comments about taking time to heal. I just had to leave my job to do so (not that I had a choice!) It can be really hard to validate it; so I really appreciate your perspective.
I recommend that people with health issues to buy dr. Peter Dadamo’ books that target those health issues. I have benefited alot from his theory. Foods plan, exercise and supplements are all in there. He was the first to say one size doesn’t fit all
Diet is definitely right as well as acupuncture. I met several people who get better from that and I envy you. I tried what you done times a hundred and it still won’t fully keep me out of bed. Western medicine is a joke, I hope many people read this article understanding there’s an alternative way that for many works better, even if not always perfect
Maybe some advice for Tricia Morgan. My dad had Crohn’s disease that almost killed him too. I’m happy Tricia decided to do some research because that’s a step in the right direction. Western medicine probably won’t help you, it’ll just num the pain and keep you a lifelong customer. My dad was on medication and a liquid diet just like you(Tricia). I’ll tell you right now if you wanna heal, going in a similar direction Meghan went is a good path. I’ll warn you it’s a rough road. It requires you to take health into your own hands. My dad said it was the hardest thing he had ever done. Especially getting off the medication, first two weeks sucked. But after that, he initially started to feel better and after a year (that’s how long it took, remember his condition was REALLY bad) he was healed. If you wanna know exactly what he did it was macrobiotics. It will be best to find a mentor (like a macrobiotic counselor) for guidance because it can be dangerous going fully on your own. Be open-minded and remember you can combine aspects of medicines (like western and eastern, take best of both worlds). I hope you see this message, too many people suffer from our corrupt western medical industry.
I too have used diet to control Crohn’s Disease after I was begged by a doctor to take Steroids or otherwise I would end up with my bowel taken out or die when I was in hospital. That was 10 years ago, and I did the same. Then, I let my diet go and I crashed back down with Crohn’s. So now, I use diet to control it again and I have made a pact with myself that I will never, ever go off it again. I will never understand why prescription drugs can help eliminate symptoms of Crohn’s but as they do that cause other dreadful problems. Same with cancer. There has to be a better way.
Thanks for this great advice Meghan.
I’m glad you’re feeling on the mend again. Sometimes our healing journeys are not always linear.
Are you still having colonoscopies? You can be symptom free but still have inflammation, and therefore scaring. As a Crohn’s patient, who reacts badly to most meds, I am curious if this is a path for me, however don’t want to risk an obstruction, because I was symptom free so thought I was cured. Does that make sense?
Yes, it is possible for someone to have minimal symptoms and still have inflammation. I always recommend working with a health practitioner when deciding what path to take, so you can receive a customized approach that will work best for you. It’s helpful to work with someone who can get up to date testing and other pieces of information you need to move forward.
Thank you dear Meghan for your story, and helpful suggestions on how to heal/deal with this dis-ease.. I am doing research for a good friend of mine, who is sick with this condition, and am very greatfull, to be able to share this with her.. Bless you dear one.. May you continue to be healed.. namasta.
I know this works cause I essentially did the same thing. I took 3 months and healed. No gluten, refined sugars or processed foods. I spend my days exercising being outdoors, reading . Not only had I never felt better physically but mentally. I was ready to work. Or so I thought. Working through my routine off balance. Even if I stayed with my diet I had no time to myself . I had less sleep and more stress. Fast forward to today and ive been on a flare for 5 months and continue to work.
It can certainly be a challenge to find balance – I hope you continue to work on your health and experience success.
Thank you so much for sharing this Meghan! I have been prediagnosed for Crohn’s… I was in the hospital last month with horrible pain from inflammation of my digestive tract. I have my colonoscopy soon to figure out exactly what is going on. I have cut out alcohol, coffee, chocolate, sugar, dairy and most meats. I eat basically all fruits and vegetables and I feel like I am getting better but today I had pain again. I hope following FODMAP or a whole foods diet will work for me. I did not react well to Prednisone and the other medications they tried to put me on. I can’ t thank you enough for sharing this!
Hi, thank you so much for sharing this and happy holidays! I am headed for a second opinion tomorrow in Boston – they’d like to take my colon out. I’ve been in the hospital since my son was born in March and on a number of meds and biologicals since then.
How bad was your flare? Theybcouldnt conduct the colo because the inflammation was so bad. I’ve been fighting this all year now and I’m not ready for a permanent ileostomy bag but I am going to the bathroom up to 40 times a day and it so hard. I’m finding it hard to stay positive. If in three months your severe flare was under control I’m willing to give this a shot. They’ve told me all year to eat whatever I want and changing my diet would negatively affect me – so I have. It’s clear now that is not the right approach.
Thank you in advance for your response!
All the best,
Bri from New Hampshire
Hi Bri. I hope you are able to get the information you need from your health care practitioners in order to make the best decision for you. I imagine this is a difficult and scary time. It’s hard to me to say how ‘bad’ my flare was, as it’s different for everyone. It took awhile for me to receive a diagnosis (I went to many doctors) and I received the same advice to eat whatever I want. As I’ve described in the post, for me, diet, lifestyle, supplements and mind-body practices made an enormous impact. I wish you all the best!
Great article! Just discovering some of these insight regarding the mind/body connection and the parasympathetic/sympathetic modes after 34 years with ulcerative colitis. When you grow up in an environment where the sympathetic nervous system is constantly engaged you tend not to know what is a normal state of being. I’ve always known that my family was a little intense, but have never realized what was behind it. Not surprisingly, as we are now aging, most of the chronic illnesses we are all picking up have at their root in some form of immune system dysfunction. Thanks for sharing your journey.
Great article! My son was diagnosed at age 9 with Crohns. 4 years into his journey and being treated traditionally with meds (but not biologics) we went against the drs advice and started Specific Carbohydrate Diet. Within weeks my sons numbers showed a dramatic change. 5 months on scopes showed complete mucosal healing. Dr has always said diet has nothing to do with it! My son is now a year on and has remained in remission.
Thank you for your article. I still can’t understand why drs don’t think Diet has any impact!
Megan our 11 year old grandson has just been diagnosed with Crohn’s. Suffered terribly for about a month before it was confirmed. We are presently praying and waiting for MRE results. Against doctors orders my daughter has had him on the SCD for about two weeks. The Dr immediately wanted to put him on powerful drugs and gave her not a lot of hope with the diet. He has lost about 11 lbs. He was already thin so he looks pretty bad. At least though he is not balled up in pain, his taste buds are changing, bowel movements getting better and seems to be feeling better. I am believing he is on the road to recovery even though he isn’t putting weight on yet. It is so encouraging to read your story. It gives us hope. Thank you.
Thank you for sharing your experiences. YOU are on the right path. And are proof that your life style has succeeded in achieving optimal health. MY diet is almost identical to yours. Except I do drink 2 cups of coffee per day. I also indulge in a glass of wine or two a month. I have also read the same books and meditate daily since the 80’s. And I practice Kriya Yoga, and some Hatha Yoga.
Hello Merle Pieper, my 12 yo son was just diagnosed last week. It has been a long time coming. I want to treat him naturally “alternative” medical means and I have received a refreshing response from his Gastro doctor. He set up an appointment with the Nutritionist on the same floor. I have been treating him similar to the lifestyle methods you speak about. And in one week his labs show a slight improvement. I speak life and healing into my son. And God has never failed us!
Would you say that one could cure cancer or other diseases this way?
Much of what I’ve described here can help a variety of conditions. I always recommend people work with practitioners on protocols to get an individual plan that is based on their needs.
I have Crohn for about 10 years now, and have been diagnosed for 5 years. reading your story gives me hope, my doctors think I need a surgery because my disease were left untreated for too long and because of that, I have a stricture that needs to be removed. My surgeon is very hopeful and think that’s the best options for me, to give me a clean slate and start over with medication. I know what am asking is difficult to answer, I really don’t know what to do? Do you think I should have the surgery? I really haven’t gave myself a chance to heal with the life style you are suggesting, and I want to try. Any advice you might have is much appreciated.
Hi Shalom, I’m glad my story gave you hope. As you guessed, your question is not one I can answer. It would be best to get in touch with a natural health practitioner who can get a thorough understanding of your health history, and work with your surgeon to provide the best possible recommendation for your unique situation. I wish you all the best in your healing journey.
Hi. My 11 year daughter was recently diagnosed with Crohn’s. The doctor put her on the biologic drug inflectra . Every time I take her for infusions it just kills me that am putting this strong drug in her body. Am trying some of the naturopathy but unable to go completely diary and gluten free. Your story is inspiring. Please suggest how I can help a 11 year old. Thanks
Hi Surucchi. I can’t give individualized advice without knowing a full health history. That’s why I’ve shared everything I did in this post to give others inspiration, ideas and practices to consider. I’d recommend working with a health care practitioner – sounds like you’re already pursuing naturopathy and that’s wonderful.
Thank you for sharing your story. Im looking at changing my diet, hoping it will at least alleviate my crohns but as I love my milk and will find it hard to give up milk drinks and smoothies, I was wondering if you drink or recommend any milk alternatives like almond or soya milk?
Dairy-free alternatives are great! Almond and coconut milk are two of my faves. If you visit this page you can download my Milk It Guide for free: https://www.meghantelpner.com/shop/#free-stuff
my Husband developed the beginning of Crohns in 1998. We originally thought it was from drinking water from a spring on some property we were looking at. We did multiple tests and saw mulitple natural doctors. No one could give us any answers. It began as intense stomach pain and terrible eczema all over his body. We moved to a new area and his symptoms stayed the same, but his fistula had developed as well. We saw an MD in our new area and he immediately thought Crohns and referred us to a gastro. By then my husband was almost always in constant pain, and could do little more than work at his job. We were given a copy of “Breaking the Vicious Cycle” but that was before we were online, and we were coming off being vegan, so the ideas of eating presented there were just undoable at that time for us.
He developed a fistula that was from his colon. The surgery consisted of opening and draining the fistula because it was very infected. He was told at that time that drugs were his only option, and that what he ate did not matter.
He continued to suffer with Crohns for another 6 years. He had flares all the time, he always felt bad, but sometimes he felt really bad. They had done a colonoscopy and found a constriction in his intestine that they could not get past and wanted to operate. The biopsies all came back with no cancer, and my husband refused. In 2006 he went on Remicade. He still had bad days, but he felt better. One infusion he blew up like a balloon, and they switched him to Humira. Again, that helped. He was able to do more around our farm, and he felt better, but still had bad days. He was also exhibiting mental symptoms that I now attribute to his body not digesting and absorbing his food.
We were introuduced to the GAPS diet at that in 2011. I thought it was not doable. We had 4 children, and I was pregnant with our 5th. But I learned about it and found out it was based on the SCD. One day I read the insert in the Humira and was horrified that the side effects were terminal, specifically in a white make in his 30’s. My husband was also not himself mentally, so I told him (and myself) that we were doing this…or else……
We worked with a Dr Thomas Cowan out of San Francisco CA who then took patients out of state and worked over the phone. He was an MD as well as a GAPS practitioner. He put us on the full GAPS diet (cause hubs was so thin, he did not think he could do the stages without loosing weight) as well as Low Dose Naltrexone, cod liver oil and probiotics. We began to slowly wean off the Humira. First going 3 weeks, then a month, and so on. Soon it was 3 months, and he had not done an injection, and he began to wonder if the GAPS diet was healing him. After about 6 months on the GAPS diet while weaning off the Humira he stopped having bad days. He has never taken another injection.
We stayed on the GAPS diet for 3 years. His symptoms were all gone and he was gaining a bit of weight and feeling great. Unfortunately we got cocky and went whole hog back into eating anything. that was fine for about 3 years, but last year I began to notice the mental stuff, constant gas and eczema coming back. This spring we decided that we will do GAPS/SCD for life. The kitchen time and the ease of eating whatever is just NOT worth going back on Humira, having good and bad days and possibly living with flares and fistulas. And the good news is that his symptoms cleared up right away when we went back to that way of eating. He is not taking the Low Dose Naltrexone any longer, but is taking the probiotics and the cod liver oil. He has never had a flare or a bad day since about 6 months on the GAPS diet.
My husbands gastro told him that medication and surgery were his only options. He told him that what he ate did not matter. He was WRONG. When we went back after those 3 years and told him he was healed, he yelled at my husband and told him to get back on the meds, you cant heal Chrons, and he was going to most likely die if he did not listen to him. We have not been back since
Hi Stacia! I’m glad to hear that your husband had success with the GAPS diet. It can be a tricky one to follow at first. It’s not just one thing that addresses symptoms, and it sounds like you both have tried a lot of different elements over the years. Your husband is fortunate to have you in his corner. I wish both of you continued good health!
Thanks for sharing your story I am now suffering from crohn’s and I’m in quite a flare that I can’t seem to get help for. I have a allergy to all the biologic they tried on me. But the last 13 years the Dr’s said I had ulcerative colitis and was treated for that until I almost died. I had to have my colon removed totally except a few inches for a reconnect. It was only then they seen I didn’t have uc I had crohn’s. Now I’m lost medicine still doesn’t work or help. I have a 8 year old still at home that needs me. Any suggestions for me on how to get back to being healthy.?
Hi Emma. I’m sorry to hear you’ve been ill and that there were errors in your original diagnosis. I’ve laid out everything I did personally in this post. I always recommend working with an alternative health practitioner to help you devise a customized protocol that will help your unique situation. It can be immensely helpful to work with someone one-to-one rather than trying to figure it all out by yourself.
Question what does your daily menu look like?
It’s hard to answer this question as diets are constantly evolving, especially for me during the last few years as I was pregnant and breastfeeding. I drink a lot of elixirs, eat a lot of seasonal veggies and fruit, eat some grains but try to limit them, eat small amounts of high quality animal protein, and love ghee and other nutritious fats.
You’re an inspiration beyond words!! I’ve had a very similar journey as you, my thoughts couldn’t have been expressed if I would have said them myself. My issue is that my husband of 31years thinks I’m crazy and buying into the ” dark web ” for misinformation!! It’s frustrating trying to get better when your not backed up by someone you’ve spent the majority of your life with, but I’m working on it and doing this for ME! Thank you so much for always keeping things real and sending positivity with every post!!
To health, mj
Thank you so much, MJ! I’m honoured that you find my journey inspirational. It can certainly be challenging when our lifestyle conflicts with family and friends who are close to us. I wrote a blog post about this here: https://www.meghantelpner.com/blog/partner-doesnt-support-health-habits/. You’re right when you say that we can only change our behaviour and focus on our own health goals. Keep going!
I am 21 years old and was just diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. I have many ulcers throughout my digestive tract and desire to heal myself naturally but am starting Humira as I am fearful that my ulcers will worsen and I will develop fistulas. I have started a regimen very similar to yours and have decided to stop the pill.
Hi Meghan..just read your story. So much, you would think, I wrote…you say it so well. Your journey was my journey too. I was hospitalized for 2 months in 3 different hospitals here in Toronto. They all disappointed me to no end..”.let’s just book you for surgery you will not get better..this is The Cure”.
I learned of you after I found a way to cure myself (wish I knew of you in 2011)..very much like you did. I love you for all you are doing to give back. I wrote a little book, my son put together in the Library…it’s called “Stop The Bleeding”. I wanted to take it to The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation now that it had a cover and all. They were not the least bit interested in my healing. I had made an appointment with a nurse at their office. I offered her my book and she simply was not one bit interested.
I was diagnosed in 2011 and was really sick until 2014 and then doing research every day the search went on til today,… now being and feeling better than I did most of my adult life. and “the search” still goes on but now I live a new way here on earth with joy in my heart and no blood ever. You said “a perfect storm” in your writing. My husband who really helped me used those exact words when he would explain how I got so bad so fast to our family and friends.
You are so helpful and inspiring.
with much love
Thank you for all this great information on crohns. My son was just diagnosed with crohns last week. It does run on his dads side of the family and I believe diet and lifestyle flipped the switch on for him. He’s getting married on 9/21/19, I’m sure that added stress hasn’t helped. I have diabetes and have been researching health and well being for 20 years. His doctor told him the meds are all he needs and he doesn’t have to change the way he eats. I advised him to eat healthy Whole Foods, to stick to cooked vegetables until he’s feeling better and to eliminate gluten and dairy. His dietician recommended rice and to limit red meats but his doctor went ahead and told him it’s ok to eat red meats. I really wish mainstream doctors would learn about how different foods affect the body before giving advice. I’ve been stressing a whole food diet to my two kids for a long time but they’re young and aren’t worried too much about their health. Hopefully my son will take his crohns diagnosis seriously and make some changes.
Hi Gina. I’m sorry to hear about your son’s diagnosis. I’m sure you will be a great resource and source of support for him!
Thank you so much for sharing your journey. August 2019 is where my journey is starting, where the doctors want to put me on the medications that I do not want to go on. Trying to find direction and another path, so your story is an inspiration that there may be hope. Thank you ❤️
I want to quickly share this, On June 13th I found Navia’s Diabetes healing comment (“google” Molemen Herbs Cure” ) I read that article from end to end because everything the writer was saying made absolute sense. The truth is there are herbal holistic medicine therapies that could totally eradicate this virus from the body meanwhile there has been proofs and lots of testimonies to that effect. Go look that up for yourself if you need help.
Your story is inspiring and I wish I could feel as inspired by it as others. But my situation is too complicated now. I was diagnosed with Chron’s 15 years ago and had a small bowel resection at that time. Since then I’ve controlled my diet in a way that closely matched your advice. To control occasional flare ups I took naturopathic medication prescribed by a naturopathic Doctor. My gastro did a colonoscopy last year and found that inflammation was spreading. He wanted me to take the new biologic medication. I refused. Now I find myself in a bigger fix. I’ve been affected by ESBL bacteria. The hospital doctors say it is caused by Chron’s. It has affected my urinary tract. The doctors say the infected gut sending the bacteria to the urinary tract. Left untreated it can infect blood and lead to a life threatening situation. I’ll now have to go through a series of tests and follow the treatment plans prescribed by the hospital. I’m just frustrated that my 15 years’ experiment to live an independent life is coming to an end.
Hi Rashed – thank you for sharing your experiences here. I’m so sorry that you are going through this, and I can see why you’re frustrated. It sounds like you’ve done the best that you can to support your health. Pursuing a lifesaving medical intervention isn’t a failure, and following a medical treatment plan doesn’t mean that you need to throw everything you’ve done for the last 15 years out the window. I hope you are able to take the best from both worlds to enhance your health, wellness and healing.
I have Crohns and I’m following your protocol most of the time. I want to know if it is safe to eat organic lactose free plain yogurt. Also, I’m finding the Crohns has gotten worse because I haven’t felt safe getting acupuncture. Any suggestions?
I’m sorry to hear that you aren’t feeling well, Kae. I typically recommend people with autoimmune diseases avoid dairy products, especially if they are in a flareup. I also have a newer post about Crohn’s with a ton of resources that you might find helpful: https://www.meghantelpner.com/blog/crohns-disease-and-colitis-healing-diets-and-other-resources/. Hopefully you’ll be able to return to acupuncture soon!
Thank you. The first honest story and site explaining a path to healing and not claiming it’s 100% effective for everyone. Your honesty is greatly appreciated. I’ve been in a UC flair for almost 2 years. I did 5 months of intense Vegan diet along with 4 months on prednisone, and now I’m on Entyvio. I’m very slowly getting better, and I’m confident the mental game is more impactful for me than diet alone. Reading your page was a breath of fresh air. Thanks again.
(BTW I’m trying Hypnosis now and it so far is greatly more relaxing that meditation ever was for me – 10 years meditation experience.
Thank you for sharing your Crohn’s journey.
Hi! I have crohn’s disease. I don’t really get when you talk about having minimal grains. I have searched on the internet and those grains are wheat, coockies, milk etc. and those are food that you say that you cannot eat.
Could you tell me a list of minimal grain food.
Thank you very much for writing this article.
I am desperate to improve my health. When I search on the internet I find several contradictions because on one webpage it sais that a specific food is good for my sickness but on the other one it sais it is bad.
I don’t know what to do, i want to get well.
Many people consume grains at breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. A food has grains or it doesn’t – so when I say I eat minimal grains, I mean I focus on limiting the amount I eat. When I choose to eat grains, it’s gluten-free grains like rice, wild rice, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, etc. The internet is valuable for doing research about IBD, but it can also be confusing. If you are feeling overwhelmed I recommend working with a qualified health practitioner to help create a customized protocol that works for your unique situation.
Thank you very much for your clarification! Now I really get it! I found another article from your that explains it very well.
No alcohol, no sugars, no processed food, no coffee, no gluten, no dairy. Restriction of legumes and cereals.
Almost like a paleo diet.
It is really curious that almost all the trendy (and healthy) diets eliminate that.
Thank you very much! I am going to try it! If I get better I will buy your books for sure! I have already subscribed your youtube chanel!
My son was diagnosed beginning of the year with Crohn’s we are having a really hard time finding foods he can tolerate. Your story was very helpful t me. Please tell me more about foods. Thank you so much
Hi Tonia. It can take time to figure out what is best tolerated, and sometimes more foods can be added as the gut heals. I’ve addressed diet in a bit more detail in this post: https://www.meghantelpner.com/blog/crohns-disease-and-colitis-healing-diets-and-other-resources/. I also recommend working with a health practitioner who can create a customized protocol for your son.
More than 12 years I m struggling with Crohns disease. The pain is so severe and moving around my stomach and abdomen at different level and time. During this long period I have followed many medications yet I couldn’t recovered from Crohns. I seek your advice desperately.
Hi Mohan! I’m so sorry to hear about your pain. I don’t work with clients one to one, and highly recommend working with a practitioner who can take a full health history and devise a customized plan for you based on your unique needs. I have another blog post with additional resources and education that you may find helpful https://www.meghantelpner.com/blog/crohns-disease-and-colitis-healing-diets-and-other-resources/, but ultimately a one to one practitioner is a better bet if your disease is severe and you need more solutions to resolve it.
Hi! Enjoyed the read! How long was the process from beginning your journey to being healed?
Hi Sam! It was about 3 months.
This is a great read. Some of us know what we need to do buydont have the strength to do it. But we should never give up and every little bit helps. This is a great article and I will use it to get motivated!
Thank YOU so much!
I was told I had IBS in 2015 and went on medication. That didn’t sit well with me and in 2016 i stopped medication and decided to try and be vegan. My symptoms were gone thanks to plant medicine and, Recently I have become aware that I have picked up on some old habits. I was asking for guidance and here, this beautiful piece that you have written, has spoken volumes to my heart. Thank you so much for sharing your journey and for the confirming what my heart has been wanting for me to see.
Thank you for sharing, Stephanie. I wish you well on your health journey!
Thank you for this great post! I was diagnosed with Crohns back in 2010, I am very health conscious and have to admit, I have not been as strict on my diet as I should have been. I have had several stays in the hospital, and am now cleaning up my diet for good.
My question to you is: have you or do you take medication for the Crohns? I have been on medication since I was diagnosed and I very much want to get completely off of it.
Hi Natalie! I’ve never take medication for Crohn’s disease.
Hi.. I am tushara Kondapalli from Hyderabad, India. I have gone through your post which is quite impressive and inspiring. Am a Crohn’s patient and is severe for the past 1 year. Am on a homeopathic treatment. Recurring bouts are a bother for me. I am 21 years. Please do suggest ways and means of tackling this menace.
Hi Tushara! I’m sorry to hear you’ve been struggling. I have a few more resources that you might find helpful in this post: https://www.meghantelpner.com/blog/crohns-disease-and-colitis-healing-diets-and-other-resources/. I’d recommend working with a health practitioner who can create a customized protocol for you based on your personal health history and your unique needs.
Hey Meghan !
Thanks for the inspirational article. I have been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease 3 months ago and have started the steroid treatment.
I have already cut out sugar and dairy and switched to complete plant-based diet. Fingers crossed.
Do you still regularly visit your doctor and check for inflammation of intestines etc ? Which medical marker helps you to confirm that Corhn’s is not relapsing in your body ? (I know symptoms is one thing, but medical proof?)
Hi Shubham! Wishing you the best of luck and good health on your journey. I don’t see a gastroenterologist. I’m fortunate that my husband is a brilliant functional medicine practitioner so we are able to do functional medicine testing based on any health concerns I have. I have more resources about Crohn’s in this post, in case you didn’t see this one: https://www.meghantelpner.com/blog/crohns-disease-and-colitis-healing-diets-and-other-resources/
Your article brought on the tears; I suppose it’s a little PTSD from improperly educated GI Doctors misinforming me over the past 20 years and memories of the pain, all the pain. I am 34 now and only recently have been in long-term remission. I am appalled by how little education medical practitioners receive in nutrition. I am also enthralled by how naive most are to the body-mind connection. Doctor after doctor lacked understanding. Doctor after doctor gave such minimal advice. Doctor after doctor provided little to zero encouragement. Doctor after doctor offered nothing more than a procedure scheduling or a written prescription. I am not optimistic for the future of our health care system and am so frustrated and sad for all current and future auto-immune disease patients- or whatever we should call ourselves- as well as for all patients of our Western health care business who are not educated and empowered like I am now. After years of trying basically everything I was suggested to try or adhering to everything I read about, I finally had an epiphany that I have to stick to what works for me. I could not get derailed or distracted by what made sense to the consensus or to the general population. It was not obvious that not all cases of Crohn’s (or any diseases for that matter) are alike. I too stopped working and have dedicated a huge portion of my time and energy to the research of inflammation and overall health. I have implemented what works for keeping my symptoms in check and I have to say it’s been extremely challenging at times but also very liberating to do what works for me and only me. If I had to narrow down all I’ve learned to two things, without a doubt, they’d be:
1) Yoga, yoga, yoga
2) Zero animal products, zero.
I have to conclude by telling you that your perspective and dialogue is helpful to reassuring me/us that we’re not alone and that resisting corporate healthcare protocols is not crazy and is, in fact, sound, despite of it all. Sometimes it can be stress-inducing when you’re defiant, particularly when your well-being, and life, are potentially at stake!
Thank you for your kind words and for sharing your story, Linnea. I wish you continued remission.
Hello and thank you so much for your article. My son has Crohn’s disease and is doing the SCD diet. Although he used to take methotrexate and Humira, he is no longer taking them. Can you tell me if you take any drugs in addition to your diet and lifestyle changes?
Hi Teresa! No, I am not taking any drugs for Crohn’s.
First of all I thank you for your explanation. I just discovered that I had crohn
And your article is like my bible. I’m afraid and I’m trying to find a way to heal. I read a lot of crohn’s medicines and it has a lot of side effects. I do believe that a good lifestyle including meditation and yoga is very helpful. And I do believe that when I was doing breathing techniques in yoga before helped me to not to notice that I have crohn. And after one year of stopping exercising the crohn appeared. I need help to start from somewhere. I’m quitting my job even if rationally it’s a highly risked decision (in Lebanon we are in the middle of an unusual financial and economical crises and hyperinflation) and the medicines are very expensive and I would like to live without this need. I’m writing to you maybe because everything is stressing me a lot.
I feel that I need support. I don’t want to depend of medicines anymore + I’m becoming diabetic again maybe :(
Thank you 🙏
Hi Caroline! Thank you for your comment. I have another post about Crohn’s resources that you may find helpful: https://www.meghantelpner.com/blog/crohns-disease-and-colitis-healing-diets-and-other-resources/. If you can, I’d also recommend seeking out a health care practitioner in your area who can work with you to create a customized plan based on your individual health needs (this isn’t the type of support I provide in my business).
Spot on about how doctors know nothing about diet and it is infuriating. I have experienced the same “diet does not affect Crohn’s” crap more than a few times from “specialists”. They just want to throw drugs at us. I have had Crohn’s for over 30 years, been hospitalized more than a few times, spent a week in intensive care where I almost died due to a drug given to me by my gastro specialist to “help” the Crohn’s, lost 50cms of my bowel due to the disease and after being in good health and remission for 11 years due to exercise and a good diet it has returned. Now my doctor wants to put me on the strongest medication – methotrexate – and I am loathe to pursue that line of treatment. I am ramping up healthy lifestyle and eating – no more “treats” (which are rare for me anyway). No dairy and no gluten were the two best things I ever did, along with plenty of broad leaf veggies and like you say, absolutely nothing processed. It all helps. A reaffirming article. Glad I read it.
Thank you for sharing your story, Larry. Wishing you success with the next stage of your journey!
This does seem like a piece of content marketing to drive people to shop on the site.
I agree with many of the comments, how bad was the condition in the first place. Mine was pretty extreme. I couldn’t leave the hospital without medication. I couldn’t walk for a week, nor work for a year.
100% vegetarian, non-drinker/non-smoker, flare ups still plague me 10 years later.
Maybe people can heal, but curing is not yet available.
Great find Meghan getting relief from Crohns. I have suffered for 36 years. Malabsorption of B12 and Potassium have been biggest issues. Had reflux bad at night and found that 1/4tsp. of NoSalt mixed with 4.5 oz. water took the reflux issue away along with getting Potassium. After a solid week of this regimen a sharp pain left side stomach just below ribs subsided. Gastro Dr. dislikes fact not seeing him regular may cease altogether though I need to monitor blood constituents. Just recently found out my copper level at ’16’ after walking issues developed. Crohns will sneak up on you with multiple issues so be careful when you do avoid the medical complex.
Thank you so much for sharing your story. Myself and many family members/friend of mine suffer from auto immune disorders, and I have strongly believed that diet and environmental factors play huge roles in that. For example: my mother was diagnosed with fibromyalgia shortly after her and my dad divorced, modern doctors offered her no cure but antidepressants and to apply for disability! Neither of which improved her quality of life!
Our bodies are meant to heal themselves and plants/herbs/food are meant to nourish that process. I firmly believe every ailment can be healed, if we simply allow ourselves to get back to the basics in ALL aspects of life. (Physically, mentally, spiritually)
Thank you so much for reaffirming that.
I read your article and commend the progress and determination you have to keep this disease from coming back. I too (had) Crohn’s Disease and I say had because i am 30 years+ in what the medical society calls a remission. I cannot say I have done anything close to what you or many others have done to maintain that, I just believe in my mind it is gone. I had surgery done at 18 and I am now 43 years old and no symptoms. I do stay away from certain foods that may block my system and try to stay in shape but not much else, just a prayer every night that it does not come back. I went thru a very horrible time and do not want to feel that again. I thank God everyday that I have no symptoms and commend you and others in their efforts in keeping it at bay for good. Great article.
Fifteen years ago I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease.
Thirteen years ago I came across your story. My symptoms were not manageable and I was not ready to begin the IV treatments.
The doctor was aware of the reduction of stress in healing.
A friend was aware of the diet component.
As a nurse it was hard to believe that diet could affect my disease but I went in with both modalities.
Within 6 months my symptoms were gone and I was in remission.
I continued a strict organic, gluten free diet for 3 years. My diet is not as strict but I am very aware of what I eat and like you I prepare most of my own meals. Mostly organic fresh meats, fruits, and vegetables. Natural anti inflammatory food; ginger etc is important supplement in my diet.
After 15 years my doctor on Thursday after a colonoscopy said I did not have Crohn’s.
Since she did not believe it could be cured I must have never had the disease.
Too funny, I was diagnosed by over 6 different colonoscopy’s over the 15 years and an initial biopsy.
Keep sharing your story.
I am grateful I read it.
I understand a complete diet change is not easy but so worth the results.
Stress reduction is also critical in health.
Grace to you,
Thank you for sharing your story, Pam. It’s absolutely wonderful news that you are in remission. Wishing you continued health and healing!
Hi Meghan! It was so inspiring to read your story! Thank you so much! I would like to know if you are still taking medicine or when in your healing process you stopped.
Thank you very much!
Hi Elena! I never took medicine. After my diagnosis, I did my own protocol for several months but I truly cannot I say I’ve ‘stopped’ my healing process. My routines and protocols have evolved over the years based on my unique needs, but I continue to work on my health by including the practices I’ve described above.
This is amazing! Thank you for sharing Meghan! Don’t pay attention to the awful comments some people added earlier in the thread. Thanks so much for sharing!!!