During a flare up there are certain foods you should avoid and certain things you can do to possibly speed up the recovery process and avoid the need for drugs (I ended up on a maintenance dose of Lialda, but I feel if I implemented these steps sooner I could’ve avoided that altogether).
Here are my 7 recommendations for getting through a Crohn’s flare up:
1. The first 24 hours: detox your system
I got to the point I couldn’t even keep water down – that was when I knew I was in trouble. However, forcing water and other liquids down was aggravating my condition even further. So I stopped.
I stopped and did nothing for 24 hours.
Sometimes all your body needs is to be left alone to do its “stuff”. By the next day, I was able to tolerate liquids again.
What happens in Crohn’s disease is that the system can become agitated and a simple 24 hour resting period can prove to be very beneficial.
The next step was to just relax, which again is not that easy to do when you’re in excruciating pain.
During the flare up all I really wanted to do anyway was lie down and sleep (because if I went to sleep then I wouldn’t feel any pain).
So I just gave in and did just that. I took the time to just rest myself. You have to force yourself to put your to-do list to the side so your body can recharge.
3. Start back with liquids only
Once I was able to consume water again I introduced some broth. A couple of days later I started on Ensure as well.
I needed to get some type of nutrition back in me. Believe it or not, I survived on nothing but these liquids for about 3 weeks. This is not the most ideal diet to be on for that length of time, but in my case I think my system benefited extremely well from this. Not only did I feel better, my skin all of sudden became really clear (a sign that I had flushed out the bad stuff).
4. Take a multivitamin
As soon as I started back on liquids I resumed taking my multivitamin and iron supplement.
Because Crohn’s disease affects the way nutrients are absorbed, during a flare up it can become even more of a concern. Also, iron deficiency is very common (I also have a history of iron-deficiency anemia).
It’s hard to even stand up sometimes during a flare up, but one thing I have noticed is when I would take the time to walk around (even if it was just around the house) I would feel a little better.
If you are hospitalized with Crohn’s this is also something they try to get you to do.
Walking gets the intestines moving and helps alleviate the gas pains you may start experiencing due to an empty stomach and due to starting back with eating food again.
6. Introduce soft foods slowly
After my 3 week liquid diet I could tell my system was now able to handle the next step…soft foods.
I started on applesauce, then a couple of days later, I would dissolve crackers in my broth to make a thicker consistency. I then slowly added mashed potatoes and a baked potato (no skin) to my diet.
7. Limit high fiber foods
High-fiber foods cause contractions once they enter the large intestine and can cause cramping as a result. They may also cause diarrhea, since they’re not completely digested by the small intestine.
Unfortunately, limiting high-fiber foods means eating refined carbohydrate products. So when I started to add things like toast back into my diet, I had to use white bread.
Soon after slowly re-introducing solid food I felt better and better every day. Today, I’m back to the diet I had prior to my flare up. Life is good again!
If you’re curious as to what happened to the maintenance dose of Lialda, read here.