Patient Blogs | Crohn's Disease
Tips and Tricks I Use Eating With Crohn’s Disease
photo of hands of woman preparing salad

Living with Crohn’s disease for over half my life, one of the hardest things I’ve had to alter was my food consumption. Like many people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), there are certain foods that aggravate my symptoms.

It took several years to pinpoint the finer details of my diet. It obviously hasn’t been easy. I still make mistakes every now and then. However, I have more energy, and my daily life is more enjoyable because of it. Here are some tips that have helped make how I eat more manageable.

Meal prepping: If I can be completely honest, I despise prepping. Cooking is only therapeutic when I feel inspired to experiment with a new recipe. Otherwise, spending hours in the kitchen is not how I want to spend my Sunday. Not to mention the amount of cleaning afterward. Nevertheless, I have a history of getting anxious when I don’t have food readily available, so prepping a few days’ worth of lunches and dinners puts my mind at ease.

To make things feel less time-consuming, I mostly cook the same ingredients for different dishes, and use different methods of cooking such as soups in the pressure cooker, stir fries on the stovetop, and sheet pan meals roasted in the oven. That way, my meals are prepared simultaneously. Lastly, I need some entertainment in the background, so I enjoy listening to crime or history podcasts.

Season, season, season: If you take anything away from this article, it should be to go wild on the spices! One of the unfortunate things I experienced when I first started cooking for myself was that I could barely taste my food. I’m sure part of it was my taste buds did not change fast enough to work with my food restrictions.

The other (more important) part was that I went from a heavily flavored Middle Eastern-inspired cuisine to something much milder. I realized that following recipes to the exact measurements listed doesn’t always work, and that I sometimes had to double the spice amount (except for salt) for my dishes to be palatable. Now I’m more confident in combining nd eyeballing spice blends, but that was a rough obstacle to get over.

Bring food to events: Even if it’s a potluck, I always must bring my own food to gatherings since there are a lot of foods the average person eats that make me sick for days. It was challenging for me at first, not only because I would feel out of place, but because it’s considered disrespectful not to eat food offered by others in my culture. Most people are used to it now, but I’ve had to explain several times over the years that it’s for my health and nothing personal.

Plan ahead for outings: Just because I’m on a special diet doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy eating out every once in a while. Thankfully, more restaurants and caterers are accommodating people with specific dietary requirements. I research menus online or (depending on how much time I have) contact the establishment to figure out what I can eat.

There are plenty of ways to keep up with dietary needs. To people who are just figuring this out, don’t despair. It’s a major learning curve, but I hope these tips help you understand that there’s no need to overly change your lifestyle. There are many things in life to enjoy, so grab that thermos with the meal you made, and go explore!




Photo Credit: gruizza / iStock via Getty Images

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Basmah Ali

Basmah Ali

Diagnosed since 2003

Basmah Ali has been living with Crohn's disease for 18 years. She is working toward becoming a certified wellness coach and loves sharing food and lifestyle tips on Instagram. Ali is a part of Girls With Guts, an organization addressing obstacles women of color encounter while living with inflammatory bowel disease. She enjoys traveling, weightlifting, reading, and playing with her nephews and nieces. Connect with her on Instagram and Twitter.

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