Crohn's Disease Forum » Diet, Fitness, and Supplements » HOW do you cook for a crohnie?

02-16-2007, 10:03 AM   #1
HOW do you cook for a crohnie?

Does anybody know what cooking methods are safest for crohnies?

Is it best to cut a chicken breast up into little bits and throw it into a wok with veggies? Or best to pop it under the grill with a little seasoning?

And when it comes to beef (Mmmm... only occasionally), is a rare steak easier on the digestive system or one that is well done? Well done meat is stringier but the fibres in rare meat are all still connected to eachother...

Is sushi ok? I LOVE slimy raw fish but is it easier to be broken down once cooked?

And don't even get me STARTED on the veggies!! I'm having to totally re-learn how to cook.

These are all questions I'm not sure I want the answer to... I ADORE steak tartar but am afraid to be told I can't eat ever it again.

Any books that get into the nitty gritty of cooking with crohn's?????

Last edited by Megatron; 02-16-2007 at 10:08 AM.
02-16-2007, 12:51 PM   #2
Senior Member
DanSJVDavis's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2007
All good questions. And I woulda had something to post but my power outage ate it, so I gotta start over.

One of the buggers about the whole Crohnís problem is that what some people can tolerate diet-wise other cannot. One personís advice doesnít necessarily help another. My usual major bit of advice in this regard is try new foods in small doses at first to make sure itís not going to bother you. Trial and error sucks, but it seems the only way we can figure out what our own bodies can tolerate. If you canít remember everything, keep a log of the things you eat and what gave you issues and either cut back or cut out those foods.

I almost think that if you were going to create a cookbook youíd have to have three sections; one for mild Crohnís, one for moderate Crohnís, and one for major Crohnís. Even then you still have the people with ostomies and the people with other surgeries that may even only be able to tolerate certain things.

As far as myself, I typically eat a lot of grilled food, both because itís a bit healthier as far as eliminating fat, but also because I love adding a little wood smoke to the food in my outdoor grill. Iíll even grill in the dead of winter and if I had propane in my tank right now Iíd probably be grilling in the current -8 degree Fahrenheit (around -22 celsius) temperatures in Ohio.

I tend to eat a lot of chicken and fish. Usually Iíll use the boneless, skinless breasts and my favorite fish is tilapia and catfish (both low in mercury, by the way) and a little grilled salmon or tuna from time to time. I also like red snapper. Iíve never had true sushi so donít really know how my body processes that. My only experience thus far has been the kind with the Krab, California rolls, I think theyíre called and I tolerate that fine. I can eat deep-fried fish when Iím feeling pretty good, but I have to take some antacid and anti-gas first. I think it has something to do with the fact that I donít reabsorb bile anymore because of my loss of ileum and bile helps carry fats through the body to be absorbed and it doesnít get absorbed very well and causes gasÖa lot of gas. Probably also can account for the frequent burning stools I have as bile and stomach acid kinda pass on through without being absorbed.

I have about a million ways I fix chicken breasts, as itís probably the most tolerable meat on my gut aside from fish. If I eat beef itís usually in the form of hamburger or something slow cooked (baked steak, slow cooked chuck roast, Swiss steak, etc) as the collagen and connective tissues are already pretty processed or broken down. My hamburger choices are massive, from Salisbury steak to homemade sloppy Joes. I can tolerate hamburger pretty well because itís already ground up and further chewing pretty much gets it to a point my bowels can process, but Iíd also say my Crohnís right now is only mild to moderate.

Far as rare/raw meat goes; Iím not a big fan of it anyway, so I donít have a problem not eating it. I also take a tip from Alton Brown of Good Eats on the Food Network and cut against the grain to make the beef fibers smaller. Cutting with the grain of the meat creates those long strings of beef that are so hard to chew. My experience with steak tartar (when itís not just chopped raw steak, that is) is that itís cut real super thin against the grain, if Iím correct? That makes the fibers smaller and easier to chew and also easier to digest incidentally. Same goes for rare roasts. I might suggest some papaya juice or some other natural juice that has natural enzymes that break down meat. They say papaya juice makes a good marinade because of those properties, making the meat more tender. I tend to avoid rare or raw meat anyway just to be safe from any bacteria that mightíve gotten by the olí FDA here in the US.

Pork seems tolerable as well as long as I trim the fat pretty good. Some folks have problems with pork as it tends to be hard on the gallbladder. I donít have this problem. I have a whole pork loin out in the freezer right now thatís just awaiting my purchase of some propane for my grill and then Iím slow smokiní that puppy to make some pulled pork sandwiches. Mmmmmmmmm! Pulled pork sandwiches!

Veggies are indeed a problem, at least, if you like them crunchy. Again, Iíve never had a problem with this as Iím not a big fan of semi-cooked veggies. I even like my Chinese food to be a bit more fork tender, even though I use chopsticks. I do like fresh veggies with dip from time to time, which kinda sucks though. Again, if I eat any fresh veggies Iíll eat the less stringy varieties, like the florets of cauliflower or broccoli and skinless cucumbers with small to no seeds in them or sliced tomatoes with no skin and I chew them extra well. Iíll even skin sweet peppers and eat those. I also donít eat ANY fresh veggie if Iím having a flare. I save those as a treat for my good days. I donít eat anything with thick indigestible hulls like corn. Iíll eat cooked sweet peas, but I cook them pretty well and chew them a lot before they go down my gullet. Same goes for beans. I LOVE country style green beans, where they are cooked down real super tender in water mixed with some bacon drippings. Not very heart healthy, but damn theyíre good! Just drink a glass of wine with Ďem to help the fats pass through the blood. Makes a hillbilly feel all sophisticated.

Potatoes are my friend during a flare. Itís water soluble fiber, so itís good on the gut. Iíll make a lot of baked or mashed potatoes during the bad times and change up the ingredients to make them something new each time. I donít usually have issues with sour cream or cheese, so Iíll mix that into the potatoes. And potatoes are a good source of potassium for those of you on Prednisone, as prednisone tends to leech your potassium.

All in all, I usually donít have major issues with lactose intolerance, unless I havenít had any dairy for a while, but I know that quite a few people with Crohnís do. Cream sauces donít seem to bother me so I make quite a few of those with white wine or an alfredo sauce using olive oil instead of the butter. Iíll even make my own cream sauce for my tuna casserole. Heck, large quantities of garlic seem to give me more issues than dairy does.

Iíll also eat quite a bit of pasta, but lately I have to make it less aldente because of my distinct lack of molars to chew with. I really need to find some money laying in the street so I can just get dentures.

Things that Iíve had to give up because of Crohnís that I hated to give up: Corn, corn/tortilla chips, though I can eat bugles and cheese puffs and my theory is that the corn flour is more processed and finer than the rougher corn meal or flour in tortilla chips or corn chips. Popcorn went away too and I used to eat an entire bag of popcorn in one sitting while reading a book. That loss really made me sad. SaladÖI only eat salad when Iím feeling pretty healthy and then only if itís made from red leaf, green leaf, butter/bibb, or spinach, or a mixture of those. And I still chew it very well. Iíll tend to eat salsa if the bits are fine, but I eat it with baked Lays or Pringles or other chip that holds up well to liquid and isnít made from corn meal.

Itís taken me a long time to learn what I can and cannot tolerate and when, and Iím still finding foods that I canít eat from time to time. Iím just very happy that I have a family of country cooks that taught me the ropes and for shows like Good Eats that teach you the whyís of cooking food and not just the cooking of the food itself. I think Iíve learned more from that show on food preparation than any other place and it has given me a wealth of knowledge on how to modify the base model to get what I need out of cooking to satisfy my palate and still keep my Crohnís in check.

And with all that long-windedness said and done I still say to anyone out there to keep track of what you eat and keep in mind the things you can and canít eat and when, because what may be tolerable to some isnít always tolerable to others. Eat what you can and keep experimenting. If thereís one thing Crohnís does it teaches us to be better cooks for our own bodies and keeps us away from a lot of fast food, which in the end is a good thing.

Also, chew, chew, chew your food. The more you chew the more you break down the food, the more saliva enzymes are mixed in to further break it down. Though my mealtimes have doubled in the time it takes me to eat I feel better knowing that when I swallow Iím not swallowing a big hunk of something thatís bound to get stuck because Iím eating too fast or not chewing properly. The fast people can wait for my ass to get done. They donít have to deal with the issues of a stricture, I do.
***22 or so years with the Crohn's monkey on my back, 4 surgeries, occasional joint and back issues, but still going strong***

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02-16-2007, 03:31 PM   #3
Jeff D.
Senior Member
Join Date: Apr 2006
Try everything out and seee what works best for you. Keep a food journal of what works and what doesn't work. I will tell you from my experience that in a month you will have a pretty good understanding of what you can eat. Ask any questions you have.

GOod luck
02-17-2007, 10:08 AM   #4
I too eat only grilled or baked food, never fried. I eat plenty of chicken, fish, salad, veg, pork, turkey, eggs, pasta, but tend to avoid, beef, lamb, spicy foods, milk in excess, tomato based things (gives me acid) and fruit. As the others have said, it really is about trial and error.

02-18-2007, 09:10 AM   #5
Senior Member
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Halifax, NS, Canada

My Support Groups:
Of all of the advice offered on here, the key ones I would suggest you concentrate on are: keep a daily food diary.. the food you eat today may take 18 to 36+ hours to affect your disease.. Experiment, eat smaller portions spreadout thru the day. Trial & error is accurate, do you want that huge meal to be an error?
Balance.. All the food guides for people with or without Crohns suggest balanced diets.. If your body is sensitive to fat, fibre, residue, sugars/'ose' foods, then you just have to slide the scale of your personal balance to the lower end of the scale

I use only boneless, skinless chicken. I then boil it first to further reduce the fat. I can then bake, broil, barbecue, etc.. I eat only low fat fish, typically canned in H2O
(yeah, there are plenty of fish I'd like to eat, esp for the Omega3 oil, but its safer to wach my fat intake and get the Omega3 benefits other ways). I can't eat any fresh or raw veggies, and I have to watch my intake of gassy veggies no matter how overcooked they are (and I so miss my Cajun Grilled Caesar Salad Supremes)

As for cook books specifically dealing with cooking for crohns, I haven't found any, and I've tried all of the nutrition counsellors and hospital dieticians.. but all you'd really need is to examine what you've been told to eat, and what to avoid, and try to find interesting ways to prepare the foods you tolerate using legit methods.

Dx'd July, 2006
Meds: Flagyl, Cipro, Pred, AZA.. to no effect
Low Dose Naltrexone Nov 2007 - May 2014
Remicade June 17th, 2014
02-19-2007, 04:18 AM   #6
Senior Member
Mazen's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Beirut, Lebanon
Try reading the book "The New Eating Right for a bad gut" by James Scala. It's specifically for IBD and has some good tips.
02-19-2007, 10:13 PM   #7
Senior Member
Join Date: Jan 2007
hello,everyone is right a food dairy is the way to go, because everyone is different.I can't eat fresh friut or veggies which sucks sometimes.Good luck finding things you like and can eat
03-07-2007, 04:27 PM   #8
DanSJVDavis: Wow, that was a long post. Instead of replying-with-quote, I just wanted to ask a question about potatoes: do you peel them? do the skins of the potatoes irritate you?
03-07-2007, 04:28 PM   #9
That's it, I'm starting a food diary on Saturday. I'm gonna 'learn' this disease!
03-07-2007, 04:31 PM   #10
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DanSJVDavis's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2007
I peel them. Aside from not being as digestible as the flesh of the potato, my poor hillbilly/pirate teeth have a hard time with them. If I bake the potato I scoop out the flesh and toss the peel.
03-07-2007, 04:37 PM   #11
DanSJVDavis said:
I peel them. Aside from not being as digestible as the flesh of the potato, my poor hillbilly/pirate teeth have a hard time with them. If I bake the potato I scoop out the flesh and toss the peel.
It's so funny, just about a year ago, before this disease started up in me, I would always do whatever I could to maxmimize fibre intake. Tons of fresh veggies and fruits, nuts, whole seeds, I'd never peel vegetables or fruits.... and now it's a 180-degree turn!
03-07-2007, 08:04 PM   #12
same here. right after my first surgery I had to eat 100% differently than the "healthy" diet i had prior

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