Sunday, December 11, 2011

More on The Healing Diet

At the moment, I am sitting on a couch in Kris’s apartment in Banner Elk with Kris, Byron and Geoff. They are all snowboard instructors, as am I, at Beech Mountain. I enjoy snowboarding too much to let this disease keep me from doing it. But they are all eating pizza at the momentJ I would love to join them, but the cheese, pepperoni, and flour in the bread all will wreak havoc on my colon. So the biggest aspect of healing the ulcers comes from will power and discipline. I likely am going to leave and head up to The Frog and The Monkey (the only healthy restaurant in Banner Elk) to help me with willpowerJ

Ultimately, you MUST do what you have to do to avoid the foods and things that aggravate your digestive tract, even if that means avoiding the situations that tempt you.

When I was going to the hospital to get my Colonoscopy prior to my diagnosis, I remember telling Stephanie and Richard, my friends that took me there, that when I was feeling better I was going to order a small pizza from Papa Johns and eat the entire thing. I have yet to do that, and it’s been three months. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to do that again, but I’ll make it my goal to find something that I enjoy just as muchJ

My health is worth more than the temporary pleasure of the palate. This is something I tell myself regularly when I am tempted. I remember how miserable I was walking my dog looking and feeling like a zombie, and I remind myself that I can pleasure my palate at the expense of becoming a zombie again.

Now for the discussing on diet…would it surprise you that raw vegetables digest faster than cooked vegetables? It’s true….read on…

As you know, with Crohn’s or colitis, the colon is obviously not in its optimum condition and due to the inflammation and ulcers, nutrients are not absorbed through the intestinal wall as it would be if the colon was healthy. So it is important to make sure that you eat in a manner that allows for maximum assimilation of nutrients and that is gentle on the digestive tract. This means that food should be raw to start with because when food is cooked at 118 degrees or higher, it loses its enzymes as well as its nutrients.

Raw food, and foods prepared at 118 degrees or lower, not only has all of their nutrients, but they have enzymes that assist in the digestive process so that your digestive enzymes don’t have to do all the work. This basically means that the digestive tract gets help digesting the food from the food itself. But this does not occur with cooked food because the high temperatures kill the enzymes, and therefore, cooked food takes longer to digest than uncooked food.

Ultimately, raw fruits and vegetables are the best to ensure that you get all of your nutrients and that the food enzymes will be in tact so that they can assist in digesting the food.

Also, food digests at different rates. For example, melons digest very fast. Within 20 or 30 minutes they exit the stomach, and therefore the assimilation of nutrients also begins to happen very quickly. But if the melon gets caught up in the stomach with foods that digest slowly, for example, seeds and nuts that take two to three hours to exit the stomach, then it will ferment before it ever gets to the intestines where the nutrients are absorbed. The melon not only becomes empty calories to some extent, but the fermenting of the melon may create discomfort of some sort in your gut due to the gas, acid, and even alcohol it creates.

Therefore, I have learned that eating foods in the proper combination according to the time in which it takes to digest properly is important to proper digestion for the maximum assimilation of nutrients and so that the food enzymes can aide in the digestive process.

Melons, are best eaten alone, because of how fast they travel through the digestive system. Sweet soft fruits digest very fast as well, but not as fast as melons, so sweet fruits are best eaten with other sweet fruits and non-starchy vegetables, but not with starchy vegetables, which digest much slower. Basically, the guidelines below can be used as a guideline for proper food combining:

Melons:  Always eat alone

Sweet Fruits: 
  • Eat alone
  • Eat with other sweet fruits
  • Eat with green non-starchy vegetables

 Non-Starchy Vegetables:
  • Eat alone
  • Eat with any vegetable

Keep in mind that during the time you are concentrating on healing the ulcers, the foods you eat should predominantly be fruits and vegetables that are alkaline forming and they should have low acid levels themselves. A lemon, for example, is an alkaline forming food, but it contains too much citrus acid that will aggravate your ulcers.

As your ulcers begin to heal, you may add some seeds and nuts in moderation, and only after soaking them in water. More on the reasons behind that later. But seeds and nuts digest very slowly, so never eat them with sweet fruits that digest quickly. Eat them alone or with non-starchy vegetables. At the early stage of healing Crohn’s or colitis, avoid these entirely.

Here is a typical day:

Breakfast:                        2 Bananas in a smoothie with spring water, coconut water, or celery juice

Day Time Snacks:          A pear, grapes, mango or banana are my favorite fruit snacks

Lunch:                              Cantaloupe, honey dew, watermelon or any other type of melon

Dinner:                             Steamed sweet potatoes or squash. Or a salad with either blended/juiced fruits for a dressing, or topped with raisins or chopped dates for additional flavor.

Night Time Snack:          Juiced vegetables including carrots, celery, cucumber, bok choy, romaine and red sweet pepper (this is good for the vitamins needed to combat anemia).

Today I’m up at Beech Mountain, and eating on the road is more difficult. When at a restaurant, a salad of mixed greens topped with raisins seems readily available, mixed vegetables, and sweet potatoes are often available too. Ask for the vegetables steamed instead of cooked. Steaming vegetables is better than baking or frying because it occurs at a significantly lower temperature and therefore the food keeps more of the nutrients. As prior mentioned, cooking fruits and vegetables basically kills the enzymes and losses their nutrients.

Today, this was my menu:

Breakfast:                        2 Banana smoothie with spring water

Lunch:                              Watermelon that I had cut up in advance knowing I wouldn’t no be close to a kitchen or restaurant that could accommodate my diet.

Snacks:                            I made dehydrated sweet potato chips last night and took them with me for snacks.

Dinner:                              I haven’t quite figured it out yet, but I likely will go up to The Frog and The Monkey, which is a restaurant in Banner Elk that has healthy choices. I will likely have a salad and maybe some baked sweet potato fries.

As you will notice, everything today, except the baked sweet potatoes, was uncooked and prepared by me. I have found that is the easiest way to stay true to the diet. I strive to keep 80-90% of my diet uncooked to ensure I get the nutrients I need.

Lastly, I do have some things I cheat with that I really enjoy eating. I’ll share a couple recipes with you in the near future, but zucchini lasagna and chocolate ice cream are two of them. Both have ingredients that are not recommended at this time, but since I am feeling great, I am testing some boundaries in moderation. Stay tuned…

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