From Crohn's Disease to Intuitive Eating, a Journey to Wellness

A bathroom with white sink and toilet
GI distress can trigger fear around food

Spending hours in the bathroom.

Being afraid to leave the house in fear of not being able to find a bathroom the minute your digestive track decides to erupt.

Unable to freely enjoy intimacy with your partner.

This is how life rolls for people with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

While both conditions can be managed with the help of medication, it's all too common for folks to also get prescribed restrictive elimination diets. Yes, therapeutic diets have their place in clinically diagnosed disease management, but they also create a slippery slope when it comes to a relationship with food.

I have worked with a handful of clients over the years who had reasonably healthy relationships with food until they started experiencing significant gastrointestinal (GI) distress, related to IBD or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Like the flip of a switch, they went from freedom with food to fearing food - compounded by well-intended medical advice to cut out a significant number of foods.

Not only do symptoms of pain, discomfort, and anxiety related to bathroom-uncertainty contribute to the sense of fear, diet-wellness culture also contributes to emotional turmoil.

Imagine being dissatisfied with your body's appearance. Then feeling physical GI discomfort, and being told by your GI doc to cut out more than 1/2 the food in your pantry.

Initially, you might feel overwhelmed by the dietary limitations. But it doesn't take long for your body-shame-brain to say, "oh hey, maybe now you WILL lose those X pounds you've been struggling with" - To the point that you never want to get off the elimination diet and try reintroducing foods after your GI has become more stable again.

My recent guest on Savor Food & Body, fellow anti-diet dietitian Emily Marshall RDN and owner of True Being RD, shared her experience being diagnosed with Crohn's disease during early adolescents - the perfect age for negative body image and disordered eating to take hold.

We talk about how restrictive, therapeutic diets didn't work for her long term and how she found a great sense of well-being through Intuitive Eating. We also talked about the importance of patient or client-centered care, which is essential for creating body trust and autonomy.

We hope you find the conversation helpful!

If you're an active, middle-aged woman who also experiences living with a chronic illness and you want to learn more about how Intuitive Eating can be a part of your wellness journey, consider joining our upcoming Body Image & Intuitive Eating 6-Week Online Workshop.

You'll receive action-packed tools, resources, professional coaching, and access to an amazing community of women who are all about cheering supporting each other on the Savor Food & Body journey. Find details and registration HERE.