Life and Living with Crohn's Disease

Life and Crohn's

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Overtraining and Recovery for the Stomach #WIAW

Welcome to Wednesday, my favorite fools. Yes, yes, we all know what Wednesday typically means for the blogging world, and for those of us that don’t command 5000 site hits a day, and we shall get to the food portion soon enough. But first, some life updates/thoughts as of yesterday.

I have a rather eerie story from yesterday for you all. As I’m sure you know/were inundated with, yesterday was the first anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings. That was such a crazy, crazy week, for all of us, I am sure. And for those of us in the running community, we definitely experienced a gamut of emotions, and continue to do so, in response. Many of us took to the roads, to the treadmills, and otherwise, in the following days to pay our respects, and many also reprised that tradition yesterday, and I was no exception.

But here is where it gets interesting: without any conscious effort/planning/forethought (I realized this after I was about 1 mile into my run, and to be honest, I had ruminated on the events earlier in the day and intended this run to be for the joy of the run), I started running at precisely the same time as the first explosion, 2:49 PM. I would never make such a thing up. Wild, huh? And to further drive home the message that I apparently am a bit more invested that I originally thought I was, not only was I running for the sheer, can’t hold us down, this is my freedom, enjoyment of it, I went and picked up a race packet and bib afterwards.

Boston. Runner. Marathoner. Strong.

Worn all day to show my support.

Worn all day to show my support.


There is no way to easily transition away from that, so please feel free to take a minute and then to continue, and I’ll try to get myself back on track as well. A few more things and then on with the food:

Yup, we had snow. Nope, I am not going to show a picture of it, and I didn’t take a picture of it either because as all of us know, if you didn’t take a picture of it, it didn’t happen. Therefore, no picture = didn’t happen, right? Right.

Did anyone take my advice to heart and act a little selfishly? I did, actually. First of all, I took care of my Yoga for Trade cleaning shift for the week. BRING ON THE CHATURANGAS. I’m planning on taking class with my fave Linnea today (holy cow, girlfriend worked us OUT on Monday. LAWD). I didn’t know this, but she is getting married this weekend! A little sadface (this in the completely selfish way) because I won’t get to enjoy her classes, but I’m too excited for her to care THAT much. Also, I have a race (?) so who knows whether or not I will be going that day anyway. Other selfishness? I told Alex that he was on his own, dinner-wise. My allergies got really bad yesterday and (sorry, I know that this is lovely) with the jank going down the back of my throat, my stomach was no happy. No happy a’all. So I waved the white flag and let him figure it out.


Now, FOOD! Thanks Jenn for being unapologetically awesome and putting up with all of us brats πŸ˜€


Keeping in mind that it was less what I hate that upset my digestion than the environment, I would like to chat for a minute about a few trends in particular that I’m sure we have all noticed in the past yearish, particularly in the blogging community: the heightened diagnosis of food intolerance. I am not going to get into the politics of restrictive, specialized diets–perhaps another day, and I do think that my perspective on the matter is an interesting one in light of my own food issues–instead, I would like to offer what I hope is a point of comfort for those finding themselves struggling with difficult guts, intolerances to foods that one loves, and other manner of “I can’t eat that, but I wish I could, because I used to love it.”

Ah Paree

Ah Paree

I have Crohn’s Disease. Crohn’s Disease affects what, how, when, and why I eat (hopefully not who, but one can’t say for sure). The way I eat now, my diet during those first few months and years after I was diagnosed, and how I ate prior to my diagnosis are all markedly different from each other. Growing up, I ate like a typical American kid: candy, candy bars, ChipsAhoy, Powerade, Gushers, Doritos, Chunky soups, fries, chicken fingers, burgers, quesadillas, fajitas, biscuits, pancakes, salads (yes, I did love veggies, many other kids do, too), mayo, etc. Immediately following my diagnosis, those elements didn’t really change–I felt awful no matter what, so it was pretty much whatever I felt like eating. One thing that did become a mainstay then, and has been ever since, was yogurt. I was, ahem, so cleaned out that they were worried about any sort of bacteria in my gut, so we started me on a yogurt regiment (actually, gogurt was a fave. And Ro-gurt, a la Scooby Doo).

If you don't like Scooby Doo, please leave the Suzlyfe. Immediately.

If you don’t like Scooby Doo, please leave the Suzlyfe. Immediately.

By about 6 months after I was diagnosed, we had started to whittle down certain parts of my diet in an effort to make me in any degree more comfortable. Also, Mom had been researching her tail off by then, so she was doing what she could. By the following summer (12 months after I first got really ill), these foods had necessarily disappeared from my diet:

*milk/cheese/non-yogurt diary


*some other fruits (berries were very difficult for me)

*celery, corn tomatoes (major major sadface but absolutely NO)

*onions (these were not a part of my diet to begin with, so that was fine)

*veggie-wise, I could basically just do romaine and carrots (thank god, I was a horseback rider)

*red meat–basically, I stuck to chicken and turkey

*butter, oil


*super-grainy bread (blended whole grain was fine, if I remember correctly)

*anything super-rich, super-sugary, super-whatevery. Until we got my body calmed down, I got very used to the chicken, bread, oatmeal, and eggs diet. Oh and yogurt (dur).

*diet sodas; artificial sweeteners (::sniff:: Coca-cola…)

*fried foods (::double sniff::)

unimpressed meme

Basically, if it had acid, a peel, fiber, fat, lactose, or chemicals, it was no go. Luckily, I like Goldfish. I had a lot of Goldfish. This was also the time I got really really really sick of plain water.

Fast forward a few years, and I started to re-introduce things back into my diet: whole grain bread, other meats, other veggies, tomatoes! soda, fruit, fruit with skins… and then I started to really get interested in cooking. And I got ballsy. And I said, ef it all, it’s on.

This is actually a pretty tame one, but I don't have a better picture.

This is actually a pretty tame one, but I don’t have a better picture.

My diet now? Let me tell you, it is VERY atypical of the average Crohn’s patient:

*Veggies (all of them, and as much as them as my grubby hands can touch)



*diet soda (but I try to keep these to treats, they still make my stomach gurgle)


*ice cream daily

*as oaty a bread as you can give me

*spicy foods




I am not gloating, this is meant to inspire you to realize that all is not lost! Before I had Crohn’s I COULDN’T TOUCH ONIONS OR GARLIC. Now? I cook onions every day without fail. I cut up tomatoes in monster salads. I eat squash. I shudder at the idea of my cabinets not containing popcorn, and I can’t tell you the last time my freezer was without ice cream and it was “okay.” I heart Cholula and hot sauce and vinegar. Annie’s Lite Goddess dressing is my goddess. I only eat bread that is multigrain. And I eat all the cottage cheese and greek yogurt I want, and I like to sweeten them with stevia or even, dare I say it, Equal (GAAASP). I like Sugar Free Jello (on occasion), my fave ice cream is Edy’s Slow Churned, and mmmmmm Cherry Limeade Slurpee.

Joy to the world

Joy to the world

That said, I stay away from butter, milk, and oil–luckily, I don’t care for dairy milk beyond cottage cheese and yogurt (nope, not a big cheese person. I’ll take the wine, though), and I don’t like things that feel greasy–and I love trail mix but I think anyone would agree with me that lots of dried fruit product the same effect in all people.

Disclaimer: No, I am not dumb enough to combine all of these things at once. MODERATION my friends. Also, I won’t touch Quest Bars because they have 17 g of fiber in them and claim to be “natural” even though the ingredient list is similar to that on my shampoo bottle. Thanks, but no thanks.

My brain when I see the ingredient list.

My brain when I see the ingredient list.

What I am trying to say is this: if what you love to eat isn’t loving you right now, hope is not lost. Sometimes, your belly needs a break–it may be, for lack of a better metaphor, suffering from similar symptoms that your body does when it is overtrained. Your tummy? It needs a time out, just like we all do after we have been hitting it hard. Every time you eat, your stomach is working out, and those things that upset it? That is high intensity training, which can only be sustained for so long. So think of the time off from your favorite foods as the time after a figure competition, or a marathon/goal race. Yes, you are being told to sit out something you love. And don’t think I don’t still ogle every fry that walks by. But here is the difference: I can have a few of them now, without worry. I’ve run the marathon, and now I can just enjoy getting out there and having a nice little jog when I feel like it.


Even Zoe is tired thinking about all of that work. Wait. She is always sleepy.

What do you think of this idea, that your stomach might be overloaded in the same way that our body does after a long training session? 

Are there any foods that you can eat now, that you never were able to before? 

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  • Reply pickyrunner

    I could live on goldfish and ice cream. It becomes clearer every day why we’re friends.

    April 16, 2014 at 7:14 am
  • Reply Your mommy, Clare

    I love your comparison, and yes, I agree.
    As said “mom” who took you through all those drive-thrus and tortured you with Ebola carrying monkeys, you ate a very typical kids diet at the time!
    But, we had dinner as a family and there were always a protein, a starch and a green veggie or salad and no bread( unless Grandpa was there) or dessert.
    It was the junk we ate in the car that was notorious-and we spent a lot if time in one.
    When I’m in Cabo, my eating is excellent cause we don’t have fast food or drive thrus. When I get back here, 2 out of 3 meals are “in the car” again.
    My eating NEEDS a time out.
    I’ve been on a fast food eating marathon for the past 2 weeks…..and I can feel it. I’m sore, stiff and tired.
    It’s the sugar and salt and diet soft drinks.
    I’m going to put my GI tract in a “time out” for a few days– it needs it, and so do I !

    April 16, 2014 at 7:43 am
    • Reply SuzLyfe

      I definitely think that you do better in Cabo because, to be quite frank, you don’t give yourself the “out” of oh, I’m eating in the car, so throw it all to hell! We talked about this when I was home–you are the type (and many of us are also guilty of this) that once you fall, you throw in the towel. Think of it this way, next time you feel yourself starting to slip up, remember what we always had to keep in mind in the show ring–if you mess up, put it behind you and finish the class. Especially for you–your body needs you to take care of it. And while, yes, cookies are great, they are also chock-full of preservatives (never mind the butter or whatever), and after being in Cabo, and not having any of that, your body just can’t deal.

      April 16, 2014 at 5:33 pm
  • Reply ranchcookie

    Such a great post πŸ™‚ I just went through something similar about two years ago and had to cut out a lot but now I am back to eating things like greek yogurt and cottage cheese that I also LOVE! In moderation of course too πŸ™‚

    April 16, 2014 at 7:48 am
    • Reply SuzLyfe

      I’m glad that you have been able to return to eating what you like! People look at these things like death sentences, but it is really so different when people are trying to lose weight? They cut thing out of their diets then, too! Perspective is such a huge part of it!

      April 16, 2014 at 5:30 pm
  • Reply Laura

    Oh my goodness, I feel the same way about Quest Bars. Plus, I think they taste… Umm.. You, know. Anyway, when I was diagnosed with Celiac’s, my mom literally figured everything out for me, and it rocked. I still have to be careful though, because even a little will ruin my day. I love that you are so passionate about life and making it work for you. And I have a serious dessert craving now thankyouverymuch oh, and I think we definitely have to train our stomachs. It us a muscle after all…

    April 16, 2014 at 8:23 am
    • Reply SuzLyfe

      Tis true, tis true. It really is about knowing your triggers–and for Celiac’s especially. People don’t always understand that it is an ALLERGY. Not a trend. Like, your body REJECTS it. People understand peanut allergies, but not Celiacs, which is mind boggling to me.

      April 16, 2014 at 5:28 pm
      • Reply Laura

        I know! People act like I’m making a choice all the time! Like somehow I’d choose not to eat amazing and delicious cake. Haters.

        April 17, 2014 at 8:37 am
        • Reply SuzLyfe

          Haters gon hate. Eaters gon’ eat πŸ˜€

          April 18, 2014 at 8:08 am
      • Reply Laura

        Oh and pizza!

        April 17, 2014 at 8:38 am
  • Reply Laura

    I have Crohns as well and I’m forever testing my tolerance for veggies!!
    I crave raw veggies and hummus like some people crave chocolate!

    April 19, 2014 at 6:57 am
    • Reply SuzLyfe

      Preach.I totally understand the veggie craving. I love me some veg and dip–but hummus for me (still) can have some…consequences. Which suxxxxxx. But the other day I had half of one of those little pretzel and hummus packs and was ok! But yeah, beans and suz don’t mix well!
      Their not raw but steamed veggies might work–give you the same flavor, if not better, but easier to digest!
      OH and sweet potato purred makes a great dip–just sayin.

      April 19, 2014 at 4:42 pm
  • Reply Amber

    I love this post, and actually agree with it…that the stomach can be overworked or overtrained…. depending on the foods you’re eating. Although, not everyone’s intestines will allow certain foods, BUT depending on how long I’ve been flare up/symptom free, I can indulge in fattier/saltier/heavier foods and be okay πŸ™‚ other times..not so much
    Amber recently posted…Protein Packed PizzaMy Profile

    April 16, 2015 at 5:43 am
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