To be honest, I didn’t know a lot about Crohn’s disease before researching for and writing this post, but after receiving several questions asking if it’s possible to carb cycle with this disease, I figured I better get educated :).
(To learn about Crohn’s disease, check out the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America’s website for some great information including its causes and symptoms).
Before I share what I’ve found, as with any medical issue, please work with your health care team to put together the nutrition plan that’s best for you and your unique situation. Carb cycling might be the answer, it might not be, or maybe a modified version of one of the four carb cycles might be the perfect fit for you. A Registered Dietician would definitely be a helpful resource to add to your health care team. Go to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ website to find one in your area.
Here are some general nutritional guidelines for those with Crohn’s disease and some of my ideas on how they relate to carb cycling:
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals. Instead of eating three large meals a day, opt for five smaller ones. This fits in perfectly with all four carb cycles!
- Drink plenty of liquids. Water is the best option. Caffeinated drinks can make diarrhea worse, and soda drinks can cause gas—both of which can worsen your symptoms. Water is our beverage of choice in carb cycling (although others are acceptable), and we suggest drinking half your body weight in ounces of water every day (if you weigh 150 pounds, then you’d drink 75 ounces/day).
- Avoid high fat, greasy, and fried foods. Many people with Crohn’s disease have a harder time digesting and absorbing fat, so fat moves through their digestive track quickly, often causing diarrhea. We suggest staying away from these types of foods except on reward days and in moderation (if your doctor gives you the okay). Three-for-three for carb cycling so far!
- High fiber foods (lentils, beans, legumes, cabbage, broccoli, onions, wholes grains, bran, nuts, popcorn, and seeds) may bother some people with Crohn’s disease. If raw fruits and vegetables are also trigger foods (those that cause symptoms to worsen), try preparing them a different way (steaming, stewing, or boiling). Carb cycling allows you to choose which healthy fats and carbs you eat for every meal, so… this guideline also fits!
- If dairy products are trigger foods, work with your health care team to find the correct supplements that will allow you to consume these nutrient and calorie rich products without the irritation they can cause. With carb cycling we recommend eating low-fat and non-fat dairy products, so discuss this with your health care team.
- Avoid spicy foods if they cause problems. There are enough food options in carb cycling that choosing and cooking non-spicy foods should not be a problem.
- Eat a balanced diet from all the food groups. Carb cycling is also right in line with this guideline.
For more examples of “acceptable” carb cycling foods and recommended serving sizes, register at chrispowell.com, and you’ll receive a our FREE printable carb cycling food guide. This will make choosing foods for your Crohn’s disease nutrition plan even easier for you and your healthcare team!
Moving along – I’ve also been asked how the Paleo Diet compares with carb cycling as a nutrition plan for those with Crohn’s disease. To be quite honest, both seem to be great options in this situation, as both plans stress whole foods (lean meats, fish, fruits and veggies, eggs, nuts and seeds, and healthy fats). Carb cycling, however, also allows grains, legumes, dairy, potatoes, some salt, and some refined oils (Canola oil, for example). For more information on the Paleo diet, check out the Paleo Diet’s website for a list of recommended foods on this plan. Reminder again – check with your healthcare professional to choose the plan right for you.
For even more information about Crohn’s disease, please visit the following websites:
As with any nutrition plan, especially when you’re dealing with a health issue like Crohn’s disease, be sure use whatever resources you have (carb cycling, the Paleo Diet, those listed above, and others)—including your health care team—to put together the perfect plan for you. It is still totally possible, even with Crohn’s disease, to live a full, healthy, and happy life.
For additional ideas on how to make this happen, visit I’ll Be Determined, where you’ll find lots of helpful information on how to make the right choices to help you reach your goals in all areas of your life.