Saturday, December 10, 2016

Caffeine continued and new foods

Weaning off caffeine:

So, I have been weaning myself off coffee. I still haven't managed to give it up. I am stuck at 1 cup of half-caff a day, followed by 1 cup of Chai Tea. I do not have caffeine the rest of the day. My hope is to switch to Chai Tea completely without feeling like a zombie.  And then, switch to herbal with no caffeine at all. However, caffeine is a huge crutch for me, and I don't know if I will succeed. Part of me thinks that the smell of coffee itself is a necessary part of beginning my day. Afterall, that is how I have started my day since age 18.

New Foods:

For a while, I had become very complacent with my diet. Why rock the boat? I'm doing well on the foods I can have. My family has travel plans approaching, and my daughter told me she wants me to be able to eat more kinds of foods on our trip. I had shared with her that I really quit trying new foods, so for the past two weeks, I've been making an effort.

I have added potatoes as long as they do not contain dairy.
Artichoke Bottoms, yes bottoms, not hearts, the leaves are not digestible for "normal" folks
Different varieties of Goat Cheese. Did you know they make all kinds?
Blueberries and Cherries
Baked Chips
Ritz Crackers
and Jack Fruit, which I think I already mentioned.

I have also cheated with no repercussions twice this month; I do not plan to make this a habit. What did I have? A brat one occasion, and a slice of pizza on the other.

Happy dieting!

More Later. Thanks, Heather

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Results of the Diet

November 11, 2016, I had my annual colonoscopy. Yep, I'm up to one a year until my ulcers clear up. After my first surgery (1995), I had three ulcers around the site of my surgery for 15 years. No medication could clear them up, and they tried every medication available. I have two ulcers around the site of my second surgery (2013) that they first saw last year. I also had some other issues, and I was on Humira. This year my other issues cleared up with the diet but my ulcers remain. My guess is the culprit is coffee.

How does one give up coffee? I have tried in the past and I feel like a zombie; a zombie with a headache. So I have been decreasing the amount of coffee I have every day. I have traded in my 16 oz Tigger mug for my 8 oz Star Wars mug. Now I only drink 8oz of coffee a day. When I run out of this bag of coffee, I am going to switch to half-caf. And I can't get English Breakfast tea or any other caffeine replacement because caffeine is the problem. Did you know caffeine destroys the lining of your colon and causes ulcers? I didn't. But now I do, and I am determined to show my doctors that Crohn's can be controlled through diet.

You may recall that the first rule of the diet I am following is no caffeine, and it is the only rule I have not followed. I admit it; I'm addicted. Who wants to be addicted? It will be a process to go off of coffee, and I plan to replace it with B vitamin enriched smoothies and Herbal Tea. How great would it be to have no ulcers and to prove the doctors wrong?  My doctor was already impressed with my results and has agreed to let me stay on the diet without medication for at least three more months. At my next checkup, he will re-evaluate, and I hope he allows me to do keep the disease under control through diet for an entire year.

My plan to go off sugar didn't completely work. I am off of desserts, but I am eating things that have sugar in it like cranberry sauce, and Airborne Immune Support Gummies. I also have been using brown sugar in my coffee. I won't miss the flavor of coffee. In the past, when I have tried to go off coffee, I have gone cold-turkey. I hope that weaning off of it will make me avoid debilitating headaches and complete lack of focus. Wish me luck.

More later. Thanks, Heather

P.S. On Nov.16. 2016, my son and his wife were blessed with a new baby boy, Carter. He's the best.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Say Cheese!

Great news! I have added goat cheese and feta to my safe list. My food selections are really shaping up. I have gone off of pre and probiotics for now. Sometimes these supplements just seem to make me worse. I have gone on glutamine, Zinc, and digestive enzymes, and I am doing very well. I also finally added a green vegetable, spinach, thoroughly cooked.

I went to my gastroenterologist a few days ago. I have been off of Humira since July 10,  I had a flare in August and got in under control with my new diet, which I found in an English newspaper:

He was not discouraging, but he clearly did not believe that it is working. He told me that if my next colonoscopy shows improvement he may recommend the diet to other patients. I am going to mark that in the win column. I feel confident that I will be improved over last year.

My favorite things to eat for dinner are:
Ritz Crackers and Goat Cheese with Cranberry Sauce
Turkey Burgers with Sweet Potatoes
Curried Tuna with Rice and Black Olives
Grilled Salmon with spinach and feta
and Flour Tortillas with Daiya Cheddar and a little Texas Pete microwaved for one minute.

I keep lunch pretty light. I have been eating Lactaid Cottage Cheese and Applesauce or my version of chicken soup, which has no chicken, just broth. I cook carrots and rice and combine the carrots, rice, and chicken broth and spice it to taste. It's pretty good.

Breakfast has been homemade rice cereal, my version of a smoothie - Daiya yogurt, one cup milk, and selected fruit juices, pomegranate, grape, etc., a Daiya tortilla, eggs, or a combination therein.

Staying on the diet has been challenging during Halloween, and will get much worse during the holidays, but I keep the reward of good health in my mind and think of the people that would give anything to alter their diet and be well.

More later. Thanks, Heather

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Tips from The Daniel Plan

In addition to diet, I also take some supplements. Boswellia is the supplement I swear by for helping inflammation of the gut. For the next few weeks I am going to try some of the tips from the Daniel Plan:

Here are the 7 steps from The Daniel Plan:


  1. Eat whole unprocessed foods. Make sure to include plenty of fiber from foods like vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
  1. Eliminate food allergies. If you think you have food sensitivities, try an elimination diet. Cut out gluten, dairy, yeast, corn, soy, and eggs for a week or two and see how your gut feels and what happens to your other symptoms.
  1. Treat any infections or overgrowth of bugs – Parasites, small bowel bacteria, and yeasts can all inhibit proper gut function. You must treat these infections if you want to heal.
  1. Replenish your digestive enzymes. When you don't have enough digestive enzymes in your gut, you can't properly convert the foods you eat into the raw materials necessary to run your body and brain. Take broad-spectrum digestive enzymes with your food to solve the problem.
  1. Rebuild your rain forest of friendly bacteria. Take probiotic supplements. They will help you rebuild the healthy bacteria so essential to good gut health.
  1. Get good fat. Take extra omega-3 supplements, which help cool inflammation in the gut.
  1. Heal your gut lining. Use gut-healing nutrients such as glutamine and zinc to repair the lining in your gut so it can resume its normal function.         

I have been taking Advil every day for a long time. According to the above steps, I need to stop. So that is one thing I am going to try. Making an appointment with the Chiropractor will be a must because the only way I can function without Advil is to get regular adjustments. I'm on track with steps one and two. What bothers me about step three is it does not tell you how one would be aware of such infections or overgrowths. I do always have thrush on my tongue so maybe a yeast cleanse is in order. I am going to use CandiGone and stop eating sugar for two weeks. Next, I am going to add digestive supplements, zinc, and Omega 3, and Glutamine to my daily vitamins. I already take probiotics and prebiotics.

So here's my plan:

Make an appointment with the Chiropractor and go off Advil

Stop eating sugar

Take CandiGone for whatever a full cycle is

Get Zinc, Omega 3, Glutamine, and Digestive Enzymes to add to my daily vitamins

I take Vitamin C, Calcium, Magnesium, D3, Boswellia, and a multivitamin

I am doing pretty well on my diet. I have no cramps or bloating. My only disappointment is the few foods I can eat. Thank goodness for the Daiya products and the Lactaid products. I could be more imaginative in how I cook, but I work full time and I'm in graduate school, who has time?
More later. Thanks, Heather

Monday, October 24, 2016

Your Cheatin' Heart

Yesterday morning my daughter arrived in Charlotte back from a trip to Colorado. She and her boyfriend did not stick around for breakfast, as they were in a hurry to get back to Asheville. My husband and I decided to go to breakfast anyway. I had scrambled eggs, turkey sausage, grits, and rye buttered toast. I was sick all day.

It is so easy to convince yourself that one time will be okay. I should have just had scrambled eggs and white toast with jelly. It's just not worth it.

So today, and probably for the next few days, I will be back on a very tame diet.

Breakfast was Rice Cereal. Lunch will be Daiya Cheddar Tortillas, and dinner will be a smoothie.

You cheat, you pay.

More Later. Thanks, Heather

Thursday, October 20, 2016


I can eat eggs! This news opens my menu up to all kinds of things. Two nights ago I made Turkey Meatloaf; it was terrific. I had sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce with it. It feels really good now that my meals are looking more substantial and less like gruel. Tonight I am going to make a squash casserole.

I tried bread this week, too. That didn't go too well. I think I can tolerate it now and then, but truthfully, I am better off without it. I also found out this week that I can eat melon. It was cantaloupe. My mother took me out for lunch and I had salmon, rice, and cantaloupe. It was nice to be able to eat a full meal out. Most places have salmon on the menu.

I have crossed rice noodles off my list. Apparently, the only grain I can handle is rice. Even with rice, I can't eat it at night. I have been buying Basmati Rice and I bring one cup of rice to a boil in 1 and a half cups of milk, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cover it for 15 minutes. I put spices and sugar in the milk. I use ginger, cinnamon sugar, and pumpkin pie spice. Once it has simmered for 15 minutes, I remove it from the heat and let it sit another 10 minutes, I add a little more milk before it sits for 10 minutes to make it creamier. This portion makes three good breakfasts for me.

I have been alternating the rice dish with smoothies for breakfast. My smoothies have Daiya yogurt, 1 cup of Lactaid Milk, a half cup of grape juice, and a half cup of Papaya Nectar, and a half scoop of Sun Warrior Vanilla Protein Powder. They're pretty good.

Lunch has been an alternation of Ritz Crackers with Egg Salad or three vegetable plate - beets, carrots, and applesauce. It's interesting to me that all of the vegetables I have been able to eat so far are root vegetables. My mom says I should explore the Chinese Market near my house, they have other types of root vegetables.

Dinner has been soup, I had success making my own squash soup with crackers, tortillas with Daiya shredded cheddar and a little Texas Pete, some version of ground turkey or salmon with vegetables. I'm happy with the way my choices have grown and how much I have learned about what I cannot have.

There are so many people with illnesses that would give anything to be able to alter their diets to be well. It's a very small sacrifice when you look at it in that light. Do I miss doughnuts? Of course. But I have zero cramps, normal bowel movements, and a flat-for-me tummy. I wish I had done this years ago.

More later. Thanks, Heather

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Safe List... so far

I am finally reaching the end of my safe list foods. This week I tried beets. They made me gurgle a bit; but they caused no bloating, cramping, or other symptoms. I have also noticed that time of day has an effect on me and when I eat certain foods. I don't seem to be able to tolerate any type of grain after lunch, not even rice. I stick with fish or turkey burgers and vegetables for dinner.

Here's what I can have:
rice & rice noodles
beets, carrots, seedless squash, black olives
Lactaid products, Daiya products, and dairy in moderation with Lactaid tablet
fish, ground turkey
dairy-free condiments
gelatin, pretzels, hard candy
herbal tea, no-pulp juices, water

Here's what I still need to try on the "safe list":
asparagus tips, mushrooms, and spinach
melon, applesauce, and avocado
peanut butter and eggs
plain cakes, cookies, and vanilla wafers

Here's what didn't work, even if I had high hopes at first:
bread and egg noodles
green beans
banana and canned pears
chicken and pork

I'm a little afraid to try green vegetables and other fruits; but I will never know if I don't try. Wish me luck.

My husband, who has extremely bad acid reflux and had to have pre-cancerous polyps removed is wondering why his condition just gets worse. He drinks two monsters a day, and he eats these horrible Hormel meals or his latest, Chicken fried Beef Steak followed up with some Little Debbie Swiss Rolls. What could be the issue?

More later. Thanks, Heather

Sunday, October 9, 2016


An elimination diet requires a lot of willpower, and  I have been doing pretty well, until Thursday when I met my son and his family for lunch at , you guessed it, a Mexican restaurant. I ordered a burrito, but I only had the pork tips and Mexican rice. It was incredibly delicious. No surprise, it gave me heartburn, but my tummy tolerated it pretty well. I should have just had the Mexican rice and nothing else. There's a certain amount of peer pressure involved at restaurants to order something "normal."

I hate the Humira commercials. They're not as bad as they used to be, and you're welcome. I am a Reference Librarian, and I called them once to tell them that I was prepared to launch a class action lawsuit since those commercials are some of the only information most people have about Crohn's disease. The first ones were one had a lady clutching her stomach and wandering in circles looking for a restroom, the other had a guy that was hoping to get through his job interview before his symptoms hit. They had new commercials within the week, coincidence? Maybe. The current one that I can't stand has a guy talking about how he was just managing his symptoms and on Pizza Day, he has to bring his lunch. Then they show him on Humira happily buying a burrito and an apple. While it is true that you can get away with eating a lot more on these biologic drugs, it is also true that you are taking a chance on their list of side effects. Lymphoma, other cancers, TB, horrific infections.

Okay, so once you cheat once, it's a slippery slope. Friday, I stayed home from work because of that sore throat thing that is going around campus. I got hungry and plumaged  around the refrigerator until I happened upon my husband's leftovers of Hamburger Helper. I had a small portion, and it was so yummy. I have crossed Hamburger Helper off of my list, not that it was on there to start with.

Saturday I was back on track. I had a lovely breakfast, but way too much of it. I boiled Basmati Rice in milk and spiced it with ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon sugar, and a pinch of salt. I think it will become a regular on my menu. I had butternut squash soup for lunch. I made it with frozen, pre-cubed squash which I boiled, mashed, and added Lactaid Milk, some protein powder, Jane's Krazy salt, ginger, and pumpkin pie spice. Of course, the protein powder is never a treat, but it's not too bad.

For dinner, I just snacked on black olives, and I went to sleep really early, still fighting off this cold. The key to willpower is wanting to continue with the progress you have made. A few slices of pizza could set you back a week. On the up side I have added black olives and butternut squash to my list of acceptable foods. I love black olives.  Good luck with keeping that willpower in check.

More later. Thanks, Heather

Thursday, October 6, 2016


Over the weekend, I abandoned meat, and sad to say, it really helped. This week I have been eating ground turkey and that went pretty well.

I'll be honest, it's discouraging how few things are agreeing with me. My criterion is pretty strict. If I bloat or my tummy dances all over the place, that's it. I don't have to get diarrhea from a food to decide that it is not for me. It took me several days to realize that chicken was a culprit. What do they call that? Oh,yeah, denial.

What southerner wants to live without chicken.

So my list as of now includes: salmon, ground turkey, carrots, rice, egg noodles in moderation, flour tortillas, Daiya shredded cheddar and Daiya yogurt, grape juice, herbal tea, Lactaid Milk, Jello, Cool Whip, Marshmallows, and pretzels.

No fruit or vegetable except carrots has passed my test. Butternut squash is on the menu for tonight. I even found that mashed potatoes disagreed with me.

The good news? I'm back to completely normal. My belly is nice and flat. Well, as flat as it ever gets after being cut open twice.

Today I am going to shop for a new smoothie recipe. Wish me luck!

More later. Thanks, Heather

Monday, October 3, 2016

More Elimination - Rice Noodles or Thai Peanut Sauce and Meat

I think I have to subtract rice noodles from my list. Actually, I don't know if it is the rice noodles or the fantastic Thai Peanut Sauce I doused them with. Probably the latter since it tastes so good.

What am I calling "normal" and "completely normal"?   Crohn's has a lot to it that no one wants to talk about, that's why I've never attended a support group, or posted pictures of my colonoscopies - yes, I have seen this done. So normal, to me, is no more than two bowel movements a day with no blood. Completely normal, is the same with no loose stools. Yuck, that's out of the way. While on the liquid diet, and even with rice and carrots I was completely normal. Now instead of trying new foods, I am trying to get back to that state. I have eliminated meat over the weekend, and I think now I will pull back on spicy sauces. :(

I am all done with my Peptamen, but I do think I will continue with the shakes for breakfast. I'll have to play with the ingredients. I still haven't tried bananas. I'm going to eat one for a snack today to see how it goes before I incorporate them into shakes.

The good news is, I have no cramping, eczema, or Crohn's related arthritis. I feel great.

Well, I have to get ready for work. I'm pretty excited about today. I am going to lead a library instruction class with our new English professor, Owen Arnett, she seems cool. I have found some new materials that I think will be very helpful for our Rhetoric classes. I read a great article that led me to the BEAM Lesson Plan, which really breaks down the new frames for Information Literacy, and will help the kids incorporate their sources into their writing. I'm such a geek. But that's forgiveable, I am a librarian.

More Later. Thanks, Heather

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Elemental Diet Rules

So, this diet starts the way most Crohn's diets start - with a liquid diet, but there's a twist. Instead of three days, you are supposed to stay on the liquid diet for two to three weeks. Also, instead of Ensure, you are supposed to use the elemental diet. There are several products on the market, I used Peptamen 1.5 Elemental Nutrition, unflavored. The cost was high but so is the cost of Humira, so I pressed on. Peptamen is supposed to be safe for Lactose Intolerance, but it does contain whey, so I took Lactaid tablets, just to be on the safe side. My shake in the morning consists of 1 box of Peptamen, 2 or 3 tablespoons of strawberry jello, a tablespoon of Coolwhip, and just a squirt of strawberry syrup; for the rest of the day I had tea, water, grape juice, and chicken broth. By the fourth day, I was symptom free.

I stuck with just liquid for six days. Then I added rice to my broth on the seventh day. The eighth day I tried carrots, too. Thoroughly cooked carrots, to be precise. The ninth day I had mashed potatoes and everything was going well. Now, the actual diet recommends that you add one new food every four days. I have had two surgeries, so it does not take me long to find out what my reaction to food is. The tenth day I took pears and rice with me for lunch. Just a little Dole fruit cup packed in water. I was sick for the rest of the day. So pears were the first thing I marked off my list.

The diet also gives a list of safe foods that you may resume eating after your two weeks are up. Pears are on this list, so I decided to just try one new food each day. When I have something that sets me off I go back to the liquid diet for a day and then try again. I have marked off green beans, too. So far I can eat: chicken, salmon, rice, homemade mashed potatoes, rice noodles, Lactaid Milk, Daiya Products, Jello and Pretzels.

Here's the safe list:

Grains: rice, bread, egg noodles, rice noodles Fruits: banana, melon, applesauce, canned pears, avocado
Dairy: lactose-free products, or dairy in moderation with lactase supplements
Vegetables: thoroughly cooked asparagus tips,beets, carrots, mushrooms, spinach, and squash with no seeds
Meats: Lean, Tender, and Soft, preferably grilled, roasted or broiled chicken, fish, and pork
Sweets and Snacks: Gelatin and Sorbet, Plain cookies and cakes, Pretzels, and Hard Candy
Beverages: Tea, no-pulp juices, water Condiments: no restrictions

P.S. You are also supposed to give up coffee. I have cut back to one mug a day, but I need it to wake up, Tea just isn't the same.

More Later. Thanks, Heather

Friday, September 30, 2016

My life with Crohn's - finding the diet proposed by K Teahon, I Bjarnason, M Pearson, and A J Levi

My name is Heather Smith and I have had Crohn's disease since age 9. I am 48. I have been through pretty much all Crohn's has to offer. My official diagnosis was made when I was 14.

When I was 9 I had a GP that took me off of milk, eggs, roughage, and steak as well as other tough meats. I was in remission using this diet for two years which was carefully monitored by my loving mother. As I got older, I began to eat other things, and by age 13 I was a ghost. I lost so much weight that I did not menstruate again until I was nearly 15.

After being out of school for over a year, a diagnoses was finally made. Crohn's with both small and large intestine involvement. Lucky me. Actually, I did feel lucky. I was in the pediatric ward and as I walked the halls I saw numerous five year old kids and younger with terminal cancer. Crohn's, my doctor said, could be managed through medication and diet. These methods sort of worked. I never felt completely well. My pattern was a year or two of good health followed by six months or more of devastating illness.

As I got older, I noticed that the gastroenterologists (when did they quit being proctologists?) did not advocate a specific diet, especially after I started biologics.

Remicade quit working for me after three years, and so did Humira. In July, I took my last dose of Humira, July 10, 2016, to be exact. It made my tongue swell up for three days. That was it for me. What now? I wondered. It was then that I stumbled on this article: after reading this article in The Daily Mail:

It states that 85% of patients went into complete remission using this diet. This is day 17 for me and it is going great.

More Later. Thanks, Heather