Your Teenager and Crohn’s: How To Start Coping With Diet

Your Teenager and Crohn’s: How To Start Coping With Diet

My daughter was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease around the time she was 15. She probably had been developing the symptoms for quite awhile before this. But I was not aware of it.

Without my knowing it she had started to have huge cravings for high sugar items such as candy bars and sweets and was eating them on a regular basis at school. At home she was still eating our meals but starting to feel discomfort after eating. At first we thought it might be indigestion or time of month cramps. Together with our doctor, we began a round of investigation.

By the time she was diagnosed she was experiencing intense stomach/intestinal pain, diarrhoea, gas, bloating, was starting to lose weight and also had anal lesions.

Changes in Diet Are Not Easy When Others Are Eating Your Favourite Foods

Before the medical test results came back I went to a naturopath who suggested a radical change of diet for my daughter. More importantly, I felt it would have to be a change of diet for our household because I could not contemplate cooking two menus at each meal. I had been attempting to come to terms with this advice which seemed like a hugely difficult, if not impossible, challenge.

For this reason, I am well aware of how difficult this diet aspect can seem at first. As a single working mom I did not know if I had the strength or the inner resources to see it through.

But then my daughter nearly died from an acute inflammatory appendicitis attack and I felt I had no choice. We would plunge into the diet and tackle the inevitable ‘but I really, really, really want {insert item} right now, why can’t I just try it this once?’

Chicken Egg drop Soup, Boiled Chicken and Mashed Carrots: Diet After Acute Symptoms

Once my daughter came home from the hospital we started on a regimen of chicken egg drop soup, boiled chicken and mashed carrots. For breakfast boiled eggs would have probably been best but she didn’t like them so initially chicken egg drop soup was it.

I still held my breath every time she ate, dreading any return of stomach pain. But the bland diet which we were following on the advice of the naturopath was directly from a book, Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet, written by Elaine Gottschall, a researcher who had studied the dietary aspect of Inflammatory bowel disease for years and it seemed to be working. (See Crohn’s, Celiac or Ulcerative Colitis: First Simple Diet Steps)

Expanding the Menu

Once I was sure my daughter’s stomach was comfortable with the above limited menu we tried the following foods:

Baked apple with a little honey and cinnamon.

This was actually delicious. There is nothing like the smell of apples baking and the taste of baked apple with a skin that is a little crunchy.

A note about cinnamon: most varieties of cinnamon sold in stores are actually cassia, not real cinnamon. Cassia has been shown to have a fairly high level of coumarin. It is believed that coumarin can cause liver damage in particularly sensitive individuals when eaten in quantity (As reported in a white paper by BfR: The German Insitiute for Risk Assessment: Selected Questions about coumarin in cinnamon and other foods).

Sometimes cinnamon made from cassia has added sugar. It is best to get Sri Lankan (Ceylon) cinnamon from a natural health source if you are going to use it. It tends to be cheaper in bulk than if you buy it already packaged.

Chicken soup with a puff omelette.

This was my mother’s recipe that she used to make for me when I was growing up. It is simple and good.

Take two eggs – they’re better at room temperature but it’s not absolutely necessary.

Separate the egg whites into one medium bowel and the egg yolks into a smaller bowel. Beat the egg whites until peaks start to form. Beat the egg yolks with a pinch of salt until they are light yellow.

Gently fold the yolks into the whites and carefully pour over chicken soup which is simmering in a medium sauce pan. Cover and allow to simmer a few minutes until eggs are done.

The puff omelette will be steamed on top of the soup. Gently loosen omelette if stuck to the sides of the pan and serve. Sprinkle with dill or parsley if desired.

Chicken Lettuce Soup

For variety, and because I was worried about the effects of raw food on my daughter’s stomach, I would simmer chicken soup and throw in two or three handfuls of field greens, chopped Swiss chard, spinach or kale leaves, allow them to soften and then puree with a blender or wand.

Puff Omelette with Apple Sauce

I love this omelette. There are variations when additional foods are allowed but this is the simplest version.

Make the puff omelette recipe above and add a teaspoon or two of honey instead of the salt.

Gently heat one teaspoon to one tablespoon of olive oil in a medium to large frying pan. When the pan is heated pour in the batter. Allow to cook until at least the bottom half is set. Slide out the omelette onto a large plate, add another teaspoon of olive oil to the pan and flip the omelette over into the pan to cook the other side.

Serve with homemade apple sauce (simmer together cored cut up apples, honey, a little lemon juice and some cinnamon if desired).

For Drinks: Other than water, I would make my daughter hot water into which I grated a little fresh ginger. Once the water cooled to warm I would add a teaspoon or so of unpasteurized honey and some lemon juice.

The naturopath had also mentioned the benefits of whole leaf aloe vera juice for the digestive system and the intestines, so I would give my daughter a quarter ounce or so about three times a day. It is important though to make sure to get the whole leaf aloe juice and not just plain aloe juice.

Both ginger and aloe are an acquired taste to some extent. The taste of ginger is quite pungent in a drink so starting with small grated amounts such as an eighth of a teaspoon and working up to a quarter, then a half and then a teaspoon or more is best done gradually.

Getting Bolder: Graduating to More Daring Foods

Once I was sure my daughter was digesting the above foods comfortably. I decided to branch out – especially as she was getting hungry.

We decided to take the plunge and try pressed cottage cheese. According to Elaine Gottschall, the author of Breaking the Vicious Cycle, pressed cottage cheese, cultured butter and some hard cheeses are lactose free. So these food items are tolerated by many people who are otherwise sensitive to milk and food items containing milk ingredients.

My purpose in trying the cottage cheese at this stage was because I intended to start making bread to increase food variety. The main ingredients in the bread recipe I intended to use were dry pressed cottage cheese and almond flour. I was really hoping the cottage cheese would be a go. Otherwise I would have to try and invent something else.

Aw Ma! This is Baby Food

The recipe I used to put the pressed cottage cheese to the test was again one that my mom had made for me. But it took a bit of convincing to get my daughter to try it.

Mashed banana and pressed cottage cheese: roughly mash a banana with about one quarter to one half cup (to taste) of dry pressed cottage cheese. Add lemon juice (or orange juice if tolerated), honey to taste and a sprinkling of real cinnamon.

Luckily my daughter tolerated pressed cottage cheese over the next few days and we went on to make bread, grilled cheese sandwiches, and many more items, including muffins.

Peer Pressure is Hard to Fight

Your teen goes to school and sees other kids eating anything they want including candy, chips, chocolate bars and other tempting junk. What now?

Making school lunches was not easy. I worried about what other kids were eating and tempting my daughter with. But once I began making the special bread for her and knowing that she could tolerate hard cheese and tuna and chicken, it got easier. I was wary at first about raw veggies because they can cause problems for some sensitive stomachs, so I would lightly steam them or cook them for supper rather than giving her anything raw for lunch in the early months of the diet. For some reason she tolerated apples well so an apple went into her lunch bag as well.

But after a few weeks, she was not happy. She wanted out.

So I sat her down and told her that I was well aware that I could not follow her everywhere to make sure she was keeping to her diet. I said she had a choice. Try the diet or sit on the toilet for the rest of her life when she had the inevitable bouts of inflammation. She went to her room and closed the door.

We finally came to a compromise agreement that she would try the diet for six months. If by the end of six months she was still having attacks and wasn’t feeling better then we would revisit what to do next. I was so relieved I felt I could do anything –make 20 loaves of bread, freeze 10 casseroles, or leap over tall buildings in a single night.

I was convinced that she would get better after having spoken at length with Elaine Gottschall, the author of the diet book I was following.

I am still grateful to Mrs. Gottschall for her wisdom, the time she took to give me much needed advice and encouragement over the phone and the knowledge she undertook to share with the rest of us.

Categories: Diet, Health, Nutrition, Weight Loss