How I used fasting and diet to pull out of a mini Crohn’s flare up and yes, vegetables really do hate me…
Things started going downhill two months ago in July. Over the summer, I started playing around with adding different vegetables into my keto-carnivore diet. One by one–and spread out over the course of a few weeks–I tried an asparagus spear, butter lettuce, white rice, sweet potatoes, and even dark chocolate. Then in mid-July, it was time for my 7th colonoscopy (I think, I lost count), followed up by an MRI two weeks later, to see how my Crohn’s Disease was doing.
The good news, no sign of Crohn’s! The bad news, my doctor said I was severely constipated and that I needed to eat more fiber. So (trying to be a good patient as this was a new doctor for me), I tried the recommended supplement…that was a mistake. Then I went natural and added prunes and kiwi fruit to my diet…and once again, it was a mistake. My constipation was only getting worse and by the end of July, I was in pain, back to using Fleet’s enemas and Miralax, and my bowel movements were far from normal.
And then it hit.
It wasn’t my worst flare up ever, but it was the worst one I’ve had in the last three years. As Crohn’s does, it came on suddenly. It was the beginning of August and my bowel movements had turned into urgent diarrhea, accompanied by blood and mucus. Looking on the bright side, the diarrhea only lasted for a couple of days; but, the blood, mucus (a lot of mucus), and constipation lingered. I spent many days so distended that I looked five months pregnant (not to mention frustrated, depressed, and in pain). My pants didn’t even fit and I felt like I was blowing up like the blueberry girl in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. I pulled out all my leggings and loose, flowing tops to hide the discomfort and pain. Finally, in mid-August, I threw my hands up and took a good hard look at how my diet had gone off the rails over the past six weeks and what I needed to do to get back on course.
Obviously, I had strayed very far from my carnivore way of eating. But, unintentionally, I had also stopped taking all my supplements. With the chaos of entertaining visitors for nearly the entire month of August, I forgot to take my CBD oil and Intestinal Fortitude products for well over a week. Knowing my gut needed some major healing (and help moving things along…thanks to an unfortunately named “tortuous” colon), I put together a game plan that included longer fasting periods, a limited diet, and supplements.
So, for the sake of posterity (and, well, mostly so that I can always come back here and refer to my own blog in the future to remember what happened and what worked this time!), here’s what I did next…
Part 1, Fasting:
Because I’ve already been practicing intermittent fasting for well over a year and I’ve done a few longer fasts that went past the 36-hour mark, I knew I was ready to buckle down and do some intense fasting for however long I needed. From all the research I had done, I knew that fasts over 24 hours appeared to bring on more autophagy (cellular cleaning; clearing out and recycling all the damaged cells in our body) than shorter, intermittent fasts. Fasting also has beneficial impacts on the gut microbiome, boosts the immune system, and it would give my gut plenty of rest and a chance to heal between meals.
But, I don’t like not eating for a whole day, mostly just because I like food. Mentally and emotionally, I like to look forward to at least one meal a day. So, with a little creativity and knowing how my body responds during a 36-hour fasting window, I came up with an alternate day fasting schedule that would allow me to eat every day 🙂
In short, I alternated days with breakfast and dinner. So the weekly eating schedule roughly broke down like this: Sunday, breakfast around 7am; Monday, black coffee in the morning and dinner around 7pm, which then ended a 36-hour fasting window; Tuesday, breakfast; Wednesday, dinner; Thursday, breakfast; Friday, dinner; and Saturday, dinner. That provided three days a week of fasting periods between 33-36 hours (depending on what time I broke the fast at dinner) and lots of autophagy.
Another reason for this fasting rhythm/schedule is because I know that after a big dinner in the evening, followed by a big breakfast the next day, I’m not going to be hungry for the rest of the day. So, it’s no problem to not eat that night. Then, for me, I’ve noticed that the 12-24 hour mark is the point where I may get hungry, but this schedule allows me to sleep through the “worst” times. Once I hit the 24-hour mark, I have lots of energy, no hunger, and feel amazing. So that means the next day, I can easily breeze through no breakfast or lunch and simply look forward to a big feast that night.
Part 2, Diet:
The next key thing was to tighten the reins on my diet. Meat has always been a “safe” food for me and I feel well on a carnivore diet. But, over the past year, my constipation has gotten worse even on a carnivore diet (as noted by my doctor and MRI results…) and a single avocado a day wasn’t helping. Since I knew oatmeal was also a safe food for me, I thought I would include it into the mix to see if that would help. My only concern with oatmeal is that it would knock me out of ketosis, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but over the years I’ve found that I feel best when I’m in ketosis and following a very low-carb diet. However, knowing that I would have some long fasting windows to keep bringing me back into ketosis after eating, combined with the fact that one serving of oatmeal and an avocado would be the only carbohydrates in my diet, I was confident I’d stay in a state of ketosis for the majority of the time.
I honestly don’t really know why I thought oatmeal would be beneficial, I just knew it was a food I could tolerate and I had an innate sense that my body needed some form of carbohydrate to function better…seeing as it was still struggling with just meat and avocados. When I now Google search for the effects of oatmeal on digestion, it seems it was the right call…and I can tell you that as I sit here and write this today, my gut is very, very happy 🙂
So, once I dialed back my diet and stopped experimenting with foods that I knew were most likely going to give me trouble, my diet ended up consisting of: oatmeal (prepared as overnight oats with cinnamon and berries), ground beef, ribeye steaks, eggs, avocado, Espresso Bellavitano cheese by Sartori (if you haven’t had it, it’s amazing!!!), chicken buns (this is an incredible bun made with chicken and eggs that I’ll have to share the recipe on a later post), and my “protreat” fat bombs. For condiments, I used avocado oil mayonnaise, Taco Bell hot sauce (this actually doesn’t bother me!), and sour cream. Oh, and don’t forget the occasional glass of wine! Cheers!
Now, as I seem to have gotten pretty wordy at this point, I’m going to stop the blog here and pick up next week with the remaining changes I made in supplementation, fitness, and sleep to help pull me out of this flare! So, until next week!