Crohn's Disease Forum » Diet, Fitness, and Supplements » Increase energy for work

06-10-2011, 10:51 PM   #1
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Increase energy for work

Hello everyone. I was diagnosed last week with Crohns and have been experiencing the normal effects. Heres my dilemma, in addition to the many already on hand. I am a career firefighter and do not really know how this is going to interfere with my job. Bathroom breaks are one thing, but trying to explain to someone why their loved one died because I was to weak or in too much pain to do my job is NOT AN OPTION. Any ideas or suggestions how I can decrease my fatigue or at the very least have enough in reserves to get me through a 24 hour shift. Right now my main complaints are fatigue, insomnia, joint pain, constipation, and a massive hankering for Chinese food washed down by a nice, black German beer. Thanks for any help. I really mean it. You guys keep my wife from running me over with her car due to all the worrying I do.
06-10-2011, 10:58 PM   #2
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Are you on any medications? You may need some medications to keep your symptoms under control.

A very basic starting point is to drink liquid supplements like Boost or Ensure. These will give you nutrients and usually energy. Avoid problem foods - usually fried, greasy, or things with nuts, shells, seeds, spicy foods, and others.

To help with your constipation, you may want to try a simple probiotic. One of the most popular is acidophilus. I recommend acidophilus pearls.
Diagnosed Crohn's 2001
7 Compression Fractures in spine due to long-term steroids
Adrenal Insufficiency
Extreme malabsorption
Previous ileostomy - currently have colostomy
PEG Tube
Several surgeries incl. Fistulas, Abscesses, Resection
2 Deep Vein Thrombosis
Completely bedbound as of 2010

Currently on:
Tysabri (first dose 6/2011)
Probiotics Align+Acidophilus
Iron/Multivitamin/Zinc/Calcium/Vitamin D
Krill oil
06-10-2011, 11:07 PM   #3
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I am on the high dosage of Prednisone as well as Protonix and a multi-vitamin. Hydration isn't a problem but food sometimes is. If its a busy shift, I may not see the station for hours and find myself in the fast food line or convenience store with the rest of the crew looking for substance. I was told by the dietician to stay away from energy drinks as well as others like ensure. Do not know about Ensure but the energy drinks are mainly sugar and can play havoc on the body's attempt to regulate insulin levels, especially under duress. Who with Crohns or any other pain in the @#$ sickness has stress? I am mainly a chicken and fish eater but am attempting the low fiber diet for now. It will be an interesting week. Thanks for the suggestions.
06-11-2011, 03:42 AM   #4
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I am confident your dietician told you to avoid "energy drinks" but that probably didnt include things like "Ensure" and "Boost".

You definitely should avoid conventional energy drinks that contain ingredients like caffeine, sugar, stimulants and additives.

Ensure/Boost do contain some sugar, but its certainly not a high amount and it provides balanced nutrition - certainly better then what you get at the convenience store.

I eat a low fiber diet as do many Crohns disease sufferers, and find it to be helpful. Very often, anything with lots of fiber will "scrape" your digestive tract (ow!)

I think instead of grabbing fast food, you should carry a good nutritional drink (Boost High Protein is a good one, or Boost Plus if you want more calories and fat). If possible, you can also make it into a protein shake, adding things like bananas, (be careful with fruit if its acidic, or has seeds or is very pulpy and fiberous)

Things like chicken breast and fish are low in fiber and can be eaten - they just need to be prepared correctly. Baked and grilled are good options, but can be difficult.

Sometimes, you will find a nice gem such as an item at a fast food place that you can eat. For instance, I can eat the GRILLED Chicken ranch snack wrap offered by mcdonalds. Try to find items you can eat at popular chain food places. However, if you are in a flare, most people with Crohns will tell you - you want to get nutrition and energy? Start drinking your Boost/Ensure!!!!!
06-11-2011, 11:14 AM   #5
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Tek254, please email me at [email protected]. I know exactly what you are dealing with. You and I both know that food and Ensure are not going to help any. Please email me, and I will explain what works for me. Thanks
06-11-2011, 11:45 AM   #6
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Since this IS a public forum, and you seem to have some sort of secret method for gaining energy without eating or getting any nutrition, I think the members here would like to know. I see no reason why you cant post your ideas for everyone to see.
06-11-2011, 12:23 PM   #7
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Join Date: Jun 2011
Hi - I understand where you are coming from - have managed to work for the last 12 yrs whilst having crohns and managing my tiredness and diet as best as I can. You may find you have better phases and can live 'normally'. However, a word of warning, I am now a nurse and was eating energy foods to keep me going at work at the expense of my crohns and have just spent 5 days in hospital with the result of a liquid only diet for the next six weeks. Don't ignore the crohns, manage it the best you can. I also used to follow a low resideu/low fibre diet when I was able to. Can you get a dieticians appt to discuss it???
06-11-2011, 02:16 PM   #8
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Have you got time to make food beforehand? You could always make a lot of tuna pasta / potatoes with a sauce etc and then split it up into small portions to take to work, doesnt need keeping cool so will last the whole day. Much cheaper and better for you than fast food.
Also I find i get into trouble if i eat big meals, i think little and often is the key
06-11-2011, 04:01 PM   #9
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wow Someone has the same symptoms as me - fatigue, insomnia, pain, constipation - I thought I was the only one!! Its been 18 months since my dx and I still haven't got it sorted out
06-11-2011, 09:56 PM   #10
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Wow. I am surprised by the number of repsonses and ideas. Thanks a bunch.
06-11-2011, 11:28 PM   #11
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Hi: Your chicken and fish diet is an excellent one -- great sources of good protein etc. etc. Ensure is quite well balanced and there is a high protein version that I quite like.

My #1 fatigue and energy turnaround has come from increased exercise. As a firefighter, I am confident that you already exercise regularly and are very fit, but if you find that maybe you exercise less than you did pre-Crohn's, upping the exercise could potentially help. Pushing through the fatigue and pain to work out might make a person feel worse for a few hours (exercise can make my gut pretty unhappy) but I believe that the long-term benefits to fatigue and energy are well worth the effort. I can feel like garbage, decide to drag myself to the gym (sometimes with the promise that I can quit after 30 mins if it's really truly horrible), and I'll leave an hour or so later feeling on top of the world and completely re-energized.
Dx: Moderate Crohn's in 3 locations
Doctor's orders: 200 mg Imuran
Have used: 4500 mg Pentasa, 4500 mg Salofalk, Flagyl, Cipro, 50 mg Prednisone, 9 mg Entocort.
Turned my Crohn's life around: ginger for nausea.
Claim to fame: "loopy and floppy" colon
06-12-2011, 09:27 AM   #12
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Ditto what everyone else has said, little and often works for me too.
But.. Chinese food is full of MSG, and gives you a terrific hangover effect.
Keep your electrolytes up with Dioralyte and eat bananas.
Try a low residue diet instead, pack chicken and rice in a Tupperware box and graze on it all day. And, drink lots of water all day long.


Dx Crohn's in TI 2005 symptoms for 15 years prior

BEEN ON -Azathioprine, 6MP, Prednisolone, Pentasa, Budesonide, Metronidazole, Humira, Methotrexate,

NOW ON -Amitriptyline 25mg
21/02/14 Right hemicolectomy surgery!/profile.p...4208290&ref=ts

No-one should make you feel inferior without your consent!

06-14-2011, 06:09 AM   #13
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I can relate to the love of Chinese food! Don't know why I used to enjoy that food so much. It never seemed to love me back.

Personally, what helped me with energy was eating paleo/ low carb, along with low fiber. I've read of people having issues with wheat in particular when having a bowel condition. Not sure if it was the gluten that did me in, or just low carb eating in general that helped. But regardless, on the diet tend to have better energy, and a less grumpy gut compared to the past.

Best of luck! Hope you find what works for you.
06-14-2011, 08:53 AM   #14
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@Tek -

Yes, it IS possible to work in a high-stress job - the main thing you need to do is get your symptoms under control - is there a plan to get you on any maintenance medications after the prednisone? Usually that is used to get things under control so the maintenance meds can get working too....I should know, been there, done that many a time!

As for food - good suggestion as far as getting things like grilled chicken vs. fried at a fast food place, and to pack your own - easy enough to throw in a bag....also the Boost is a good choice - I like that MUCH better than ensure! Chocolate is what I would usually drink.....

Another thing for tiredness you can try is B-12 - you should have your levels checked to see if you might need injections (I get them every 2 months) or take orally.....

'At least' you have constipation vs the big D!.....not fun finding a private spot on a fire scene to use a toilet- although I HAVE heard of them being used while fighting a fire (saw pictures too! lol)...when you gotta go, you gotta go!!!

I can relate with the emergency services - been involved in one way or another for over 20 years myself - Fire/EMS/Police.....

If you want to talk more, feel free to send me a PM! (You aren't on the site too, are you?)

30 plus years and counting with UC/Crohn's!
on remicade since 11/05

While my experiences may not be what everyone has had- I feel it is worthwhile to share any and all experiences that may be beneficial to others.
06-14-2011, 09:41 PM   #15
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Thanks to all for offering advice. I was wondering about the special "crohns diets" I have read about, i.e. SCd diet, No more Crohns, GAPS. Anyone have luck on these. Talk about bland, whew. Also, Ensure? Be gentle on me, it was suggested I quit smoking and drinking coffee. To me, smokes and a pot of coffee is the All-American breakfast. Lock up the firearms if i am going to be denied both as well as yummy, fatty, greasy, on-your-way-to-an-early-grave food. This completely and utterly sucks.
06-14-2011, 09:57 PM   #16
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Diets can work, its just finding the right diet. It takes a whole lot of experimenting. Supplements and medication have their place too. Its often a combination of these things that get people on the right track.

You need to take better care of yourself, smoking, coffee, and terrible greasy food is a sure way to a colostomy bag, IMO. I know because I have been there. A college student, burning the candle at both ends, drinking coffee, chain smoking, and eating donuts and fast food. I didnt even get a chance to graduate before my bowel perforated almost killing me. I had go back and start that last semester all over again, but at least I got a second chance.

I dont think its a mistake that I went into remission for 4 years, 3 of which were unmedicated, when I quit smoking and started eating healthy, and taking a good maintainance med for a year. I have long remissions when I take care of myself, and short ones with constant flares when I dont.
06-14-2011, 10:05 PM   #17
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LOL! I love the post above tek! There is ALOT of different ideas about what would help you, but guess what, even though we each have crohns our bodies react differently. Shock! lol! I truly feel for you and the delima of the smokes/coffee. Hey, they'll have to pry my cup of coffee from my cold dead fingers before I give it up! I love it! I just had to cut back just a wee little bit. I do still crave and indulge in the yummy, fatty, greasy, on-my-way-to-an-early-grave food occasionally. (Oh yea!)
As for helping with the energy thing, I actually lived on Insure for several years, and that was just to be able to take care of myself let alone work-ugh! I have discovered the more natural and easily digestible foods are the best. Its a live and learn kind of thing, ya know. I currently take a nutritional supplement, eat way better and even throw in a little zumba! After all the meds I've tried (not knocking any of them to any one who is sensitive to the subject just sharing my experience) none ever worked effectively for me. But I gave each and every one a shot because I just want to live my life the absolute best that I can.
I can tell you to take care of your body, rest when its tired, feed it what it needs as you can, and always live a little with the indulgence of your favorite foods, it makes all the stomach aches, cramps, running to the bathroom, not running to the bathroom (lol), loosing weight, and fatigue a distant memory even if its just for a little while. Yup! Good luck and hang in there!
Remember: We have crohns butt crohns doesn't have us!

Crohns- Severe
Date diagnosed: 06/2006
Current Gastro Doctor: University of Virginia Med. Center
Surgeries: 9
Meds previously taken: Prednisone, imuran, metho, remicade, cimzia, humira, pentasa, prilosec, on and on and on. (tried all meds to date- except tysabri!)
Trials: 6
Previous Nutrient Supplements: Insure, oil, B-12 shots, prescription D and Calcium, etc.
Current Meds: Prilosec
Current Nutrient Supplements: Juice Plus, Insure, biotin (helps with my hair loss)
Recommends: Zumba
06-20-2011, 01:18 PM   #18
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quote ''To me, smokes and a pot of coffee is the All-American breakfast. Lock up the firearms if i am going to be denied both as well as yummy, fatty, greasy, on-your-way-to-an-early-grave food. This completely and utterly sucks.'' Oh Yeah! Although not american myself- I feeeeeeel you!!! Better be prepared though, with Crohn's, wanting or not, you are often weeks without any food. Keep it to small portions of these yummy, fatty, greasy, on-your-way-to-an-early-grave food. Don't deny yourself all pleasures, just limit the portions.
CIDP: Immunoglobin IV every 1 to 2 months and Neurontin
Psoriatic Arthritis
partial ileo/colectomy, galbladder removed.
Medication: salofalk, vit. D, Folic Acid, Prednizolone, probiotics, Flagyl, Ciproxin, Azathiprine, L-Carnitine, Magnesium, Budesonide Methotrexate and Prednizolone (which covers all three autoimmunes
probiotics, vit. D, folic Acid (injections), Magnesium
I quit all medication (by myself) nine months ago and am searching into natural healing methods and meds.
06-25-2011, 07:06 AM   #19
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Thanks for the advice. Sticking with a 1500 calorie diet on the low fiber side. Doing OK. Don't ask about smoking. Have cut down coffee to two cups a day, no other caffeine. Started drinking green tea, not bad. Figuring out a exercise program with a personal trainer I work with. Basically will be circuit training but may add swimming ( YMCA). let you know how it works out.
06-25-2011, 08:18 AM   #20
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My best advise I could give you is get a memembership to Costco/Sam's Club and buy a boat load of Gatorade. I know I don't need to tell you what it's like to wear 50+ lbs of turnout gear on a 90+ degree today. With Crohn's you need to stay hydrated big time.
07-16-2011, 03:24 PM   #21
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Hi there,

Have you thought about getting some professional fitness help? I am thinking about the sort of professional trainers who coach people who undertake endurance events. They will have lots of advice for you about how to combat fatigue and how to effectively and efficicently use your body when you need to use it. I'm not suggesting that you need to do more workouts, just get some good coaching from someone who knows about extreme endurance.

For the joint pain, stress and insomnia I would suggest a Yoga class, I teach Yoga and all my students say that they get their best night's sleep when they come to class :-)

Also, try to make sure that you have at least one day a week for complete rest and relaxation.
07-18-2011, 12:13 AM   #22
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Tek: I am surprised that on prednisone you are not constantly awak ena fully energized. That stuff has me wired when I'm on it.

I will say that a diet change will probably help you, as it did me when my girlfriend got tired of me being sick and forced me onto one. You have to cut out corn syrup and corn derivatives, and ensure is a big one there. I love fried food and fast food SO MUCH, and once I felt better I found I could eat it sparingly and not have any effects. But for a few months I'd suggest reaaaaallly paying attention to the ingredients when you grocery shop, get lots of fish, salmon, a little tuna, and cardines in olive oil have become one of my favorite things. Take some fish oil and cod liver oil and a b12 or b6 pill helps me with energy. (its like the energy drink without the rest of the crap they throw in.) If you find one thats 1000mg pills you're good to go.

And I agree with Chinton, when I finally started yoga I slept way better. There are dvds with specific and quick 20 minute exercises for morning and before bed, designed to get your body ready for the day and maintain a high level of alertness, as well as calm the muscles and prepare them for sleep.

And lastly, thanks for being one of the awesome people out there that chose such a tough profession that helps ordinary citizens daily. Being a firefighter, I'm sure you'll kick Crohn's ass soon enough, it just takes strategy, research, and some sacrifice ( I miss Popeyes Chicken so much...).
Crohns Vet since 95"
Currently on: 3200mg Asacol
Stubornness meter: Relaxed.

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