Over the last year, I’ve chronicled my struggles with the symptoms of Crohn’s disease and my journey to heal myself without medication. (For those who are new to the blog, welcome! You can catch up on all the details over here, if you’d like.)
This spring, after I returned from my rocking internship in Meghan Telpner’s kitchen, I felt depleted. Tired. Sluggish. Anxious, but without reason. I sensed that despite the drastic reduction in symptoms I was experiencing due to lifestyle and diet changes, there was still inflammation and malabsorption at a very deep level in my gut.
Blood results have revealed my iron stores are dropping, though I’m not yet anemic. And a bone scan showed my bone density has decreased by more than 8 percent in the last two years, which means I now have the bones of a post-menopausal woman. And I’m only 32.
That sucks. What’s the solution?
It was time for fresh eyes and a new approach. I went to see Dr. Jason Marr, an incredible naturopathic doctor who practices science-based medicine alongside Eastern therapies.
I won’t bore you with a re-enactment of my appointments, but essentially the conclusion is I need to simplify my diet. A lot.
My goal when eating is to make food as nutrient-dense as I can. Since I don’t always have a voracious appetite, I figure the best way to get everything I need is to pack as much stuff as possible into one meal.
For example, when I make a smoothie, I have at least a dozen things in it: two or three different greens, fruits, individual amino acids, chlorella (a green powder), camu camu, mushroom powder, maca, Irish moss, hemp seeds, bee pollen, flax oil, the list is endless.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with transforming a regular smoothie into a powerhouse. However, when trying to heal, all those different things can be difficult for my gut to handle, since my pancreas needs to produce a variety of enzymes to digest them.
The solution? I’ll be drastically simplifying meals so my body has less work to do, as well as cutting down on some of my supplements.
Sounds boring. What will you be eating?
Let me be clear: I’m not transitioning to a Western medicine-recommended IBD diet of meal replacement drinks, white rice and toast.
I’ll still be consuming whole, fresh, nutrient-rich foods – it’s just that I’ll be eating a fewer number of them in one sitting.
So what does that mean? Blog challenge!
Over the next little while, I’m going to experiment with creating dishes that have limited ingredients, but are still packed with flavour. Is it possible? I totally think so!
Here are my rules:
- Aim for dishes that have 5-7 ingredients, excluding salt. (Yes, I know salt is an ingredient, too. But it’s indispensable to my cooking, so I’ll consider it a given that I’ll be using it. All other herbs and spices will be counted.)
- Eat yummy food that will nourish me.
- Play and have fun.
As always, I’ll be sharing my favourite and most delicious experiments with you. I’d love your help, too – do you have any tips for keeping meals simple? Got a great recipe or resource? Please share in the comments!