A Healing Update, and a New Blog Challenge

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:

  1. 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.)
  2. Eat yummy food that will nourish me.
  3. 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!

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19 Responses to A Healing Update, and a New Blog Challenge

  1. vanessa May 30, 2012 at 10:42 am #

    sondi, you’re brilliant & very inspiring. thanks for all the great food ideas. im a holisitic nutritionist and have a 1 & 2 yr old w/ baby 3 on the way. from day 1 i have given them whole foods and stayed away from milk and gluten and sugars. all of their meals & snacks are home made and i am so very thankful for all your help in keeping the momentum going! namaste!

    • Sondi Bruner May 30, 2012 at 11:28 am #

      Thank you for your support!

  2. reciperenovator May 30, 2012 at 10:44 am #

    Sondi, SO sorry to hear this. I will definitely keep you in my thoughts and any simple recipes I make I’ll try to remember to send your way via Twitter. This simple salad might work for you, and it IS yummy. http://reciperenovator.com/special-diets/vegan/beet-potato-carrot-salad-pickles-capers-russian/

    • Sondi Bruner May 30, 2012 at 11:26 am #

      Thanks, Stephanie. I saw that salad and am totally going to make it – I have an empty jar of dill pickle juice I’ve been looking to use! :)

  3. Marina May 30, 2012 at 10:47 am #

    So sorry to hear that you’re facing another medical challenge Sondi. But I like your idea of simple foods and I’m looking forward to trying out some of the delicious recipes that you’ll be posting… 😉

    • Sondi Bruner May 30, 2012 at 11:28 am #

      I have some good recipes coming, and lots of ideas!

  4. Christy May 30, 2012 at 10:48 am #

    I cook recipes with fewer ingredients because it is cheaper when you are trying to be healthy (and I’m lazy) :). Here are two of my favorite:
    http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/baked_parmesan_tomatoes.html
    http://picky-palate.com/2008/04/29/grilled-balsamic-chicken-bruschetta-2/

  5. Vickie Cooper May 30, 2012 at 11:07 am #

    I would appreciate all the recipes that you have to share, as my body is having major issues and I know I need to drastically change my diet. I just started reading The China Study which I’m finding to be very informative and thinking a good guide as to how we should be eating. Looking forward to your posts!

  6. Jan May 30, 2012 at 11:11 am #

    I admire you and what you are trying to do to heal. Keep sharing and I will keep experimenting along with you!

  7. Bonnie Duchscherer May 30, 2012 at 1:37 pm #

    When I was at my worst I found I could just manage one thing at a time ,and that was a steamed vegetables made into soup with the steaming liquid . I would try to eat a cup every few hours. With the help of my doctors and Josh Gilatis a clinical nutritionalist, I am now pain free, and am getting my life back. My diet will always be glutin and dairy free. Also whole foods , and lots of juicing. I am impressed that you are working with a specialist who understands, and you have taken classes with Meghan who has been in your situation as well, but each persons body reacts differently so you need to listen closely to yours. I will be 70 this year and have had 10 major flair ups over my life time, so my moto is keep it simple. You are on the right track, get a good team working for you, but always remember you are in charge. Good luck, it’s one day at a time but you have started early so your progress to health should be good. The one thing about not feeling well is when you are better it’s so appreciated. Will follow your journey and any thing I can help with I will.
    Cheers, Bonnie

    • Sondi Bruner May 30, 2012 at 5:37 pm #

      Bonnie, thanks for your warm and encouraging thoughts. I definitely need to take it one day at a time, and remember that I’m in this for the marathon, not the sprint! I’m glad that you have had success with Josh and supportive doctors. That is a key part of getting well, too!

  8. glutenfreehappytummy May 30, 2012 at 2:32 pm #

    wow, good for you for taking control of your health! i also have IBD (Ulcerative Colitis) and have gone the same route as you – using diet instead of the intense drugs therapies so quickly prescribed. ((Although I am on asacol)) Best of luck as you move forward in your healing. my thoughts and prayers are with you. Are you following the SCD? i’m on the Body Ecology Diet, but that’s only because I have Candida right now, so that needs to be tackled. Hugs!

    • Sondi Bruner May 30, 2012 at 5:35 pm #

      The SCD is one of the only diets I haven’t tried for my Crohn’s! I don’t eat a ton of grains anyway, and they don’t seem to bother me when I do, so I haven’t really felt the need to try it. I hear it works wonders, though.

  9. Gilda Rovan May 31, 2012 at 6:16 am #

    Hi Sweetie, So sorry you are having a minor setback (I have so much faith in you) but proud that you are so self-empowered regarding your health. Many of the Toronto ROHP’s recommend a pure & predigested protein powder with hydrolyzed lactoalbumin, fructose, & gentle fibre, that you could add to your shakes called ProFibe which can help repair the gut. (Vitamost). Use with organic fresh, whole fruits, fresh non-starchy vegetables, your Omega 3 oil. No fruit juice, just purified water (fav: RO water). Eliminate all dairy, grains, legumes, potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes, parsnips, beets, carrots, pumpkin, squash, turnips, all sugar, and all alcoholic beverages. You need protein to rebuild. This is only protein so you still need your nutrients which your veggie smoothies can give you. Also, ask your naturopath about Ferrum Phos 6X Tissue Cell Salts and B12 with intrinsic factor for iron and don’t forget your HMF Forte acidophilus. Your experience will help so many! I’m always here if you need me. Luv

    • Sondi Bruner May 31, 2012 at 8:28 am #

      Thanks for all of your suggestions! Dr. Marr has given me a protein supplement which, surprisingly, I am enjoying. He also gave me a B12 shot. Right now, he is trying to cut down on a lot of my supplements, and then we’ll talk about adding more in later. That’s a lot of food to give up!! What would I eat?!

      • Gilda Rovan May 31, 2012 at 2:04 pm #

        This diet is designed to heal the gut in the deepest layers so organic fruit, veggies, and the protein powder allowing nothing to irritate the gut – like a scab that you allow to heal by leaving it alone. Grains irritate the gut. Sugars feed the bugs, hence no starchy veggies, and the acidophilus kills them off taking a great load off of your immune system. Good fats keep you from losing weight which could be a problem for you. It is tough but your diet isn’t that far away from this. If you can do this for at least a month, you will feel much better. Work with Jason to help you manage your food.

  10. Davina June 2, 2012 at 4:50 pm #

    I know how you feel. I was diagnosed with celiac and at times feel like I have to stop all the supplements and just go back to the basics: whole, fresh, healthy food. I made this dish and love it…was also a big hit at a potluck. Powerhouse meal that was easy to make and so yummy!
    http://teaformonkeys.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/kale-and-quinoa-salad/

    • Sondi Bruner June 2, 2012 at 7:01 pm #

      That looks delish! Thanks for sharing.

  11. A Table in the Sun June 3, 2012 at 12:43 pm #

    I love that you shared honestly about your health challenges. I have been on much the same journey. I’m lucky that it didn’t hit me until close to 50 yrs old, but it sure is frustrating remaking my diet continually….no gluten…no dairy… no soy….SCD….candida diet….start supplements…stop supplements….yikes! I am trying to focus on good whole foods from my garden since this brings enjoyment and nutrients at the same time. It’s a journey……