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Baby Step Changes May Have Saved My Husband’s Life Without Us Even Noticing

Crohn’s Disease, high triglycerides, heart attack risk…all healed with a real food diet and grain-free elimination meal planner.

But it seems like a page out of someone else’s life when I think about my husband’s diagnosis.

Healing from Crohn's Disease and High Triglycerides with Real Food Changes

He was just 19 years old, a college kid experiencing worse-than-average intestinal distress after every cafeteria meal.

I was just The Girlfriend who heard the retelling of the doctor’s visits, the way his family doc pressed on a certain area in his lower abdomen which hurt like the dickens, and guessed – both immediately and correctly – that the eventual diagnosis would be Crohn’s Disease.

Crohn’s is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease in which the immune system basically attacks the small intestine, thinking it’s an intruder that needs to be eradicated each time the person eats.

It’s characterized by pain in the stomach after eating, continual diarrhea, weight loss, and inflammation in the small intestine.

I mostly remember a lot of laying down on the couch after meals, some missing class because of pain, and the process of trying different medications that lasted all the way through college. He went through the lower, gentle-side-effects class of drugs for Crohn’s, then he had an expensive infusion of something that I think was called Humera, but that might be the new name for the old one which was found to be totally dangerous – yikes!

Finally he was put on Prednisone, a steroid drug with a list of quite nasty possible side effects as long as my arm. He was very fortunate in that he didn’t really experience any of them, and it was the thing that finally worked.

Life just…moved forward.

We went to class.

We went to bars on Fridays and drank cheap beer.

We helped out at church, took walks around campus, kept counting the days until that degree would be in our hands.

Crohn’s wasn’t his life, it was just this thing that happened to him once.

Then in April of our senior year, he had a major episode – I honestly don’t even know what happened, blood in the stool, pain beyond belief? – and landed himself in a hospital bed for a weekend.

The doctors said it looked like he had a hole in his intestine or would soon and that he needed surgery. Now.

Having intestine taken out of your body three weeks before final exams is not exactly the way one wants to close their college career, and my husband and his family were somehow able to convince the doctors to let him wait until graduation.

That’s how he ended up lying on a gurney in a hospital gown just two days after he walked in cap and gown to receive his diploma, his pain at a “9,” the number you give only because there’s a sliver of a chance that “number 10” pain might exist beyond the blinding feeling in your gut at the moment.

Ten inches of the end of his small intestine had become medical waste, and while everything was stitched back up, it would take five days for his bowels to be kind enough to speak to him again and a long, vertical, worm-like pink scar will forever hurt his chances of being a swimsuit beauty.

That’s Life…Isn’t It?

feeling sick from Crohn's Disease

When readers email me with questions and include the story of a young person’s diagnosis, I always think, “Oh, how awful, how terrible, how do you get through that at such a young age!?”

But my husband was 19-22 when all of this happened.

That is young. That is when people are supposed to be in the prime of their health, having fun, living life without a worry in the world beyond getting to class on time and if the cute girl down the hall will go out dancing with you. (She didn’t at first actually…and then she [I] did, obviously, in case you were wondering!)

Somehow, what really is a tragic health crisis when I write it all down, just became part of the fabric of our lives. It was a big deal…it had to be…but I don’t think it felt monumental at the time and certainly doesn’t in retrospect.

#MyNewNormal

our new normal - healthy diet, no disease symptoms

I was challenged to think about whether our family had a #MyNewNormal story to tell, and I was stumped.

I didn’t think we had a major health transformation. I didn’t think we had a story.

Don’t look now, but I think the length of this post telling our story will beg to differ. Smile

our new normal - healthy diet, no disease symptoms

Us at a local sustainable restaurant for our 10th anniversary…

My husband’s Crohn’s Disease has always been sort of a background track to our lives – the music that plays in a scary movie when you’re yelling at the main character, “No, do NOT go into the dark basement alone, you idiot!”

Except that it really plays too faintly to hear much at all over the cacophony of life.

Every so often we pray for our kids to never inherit it.

But not daily.

More seldom still, we pray in gratitude that his Crohn’s has remained mostly at bay for over a decade now with nary a symptom since the surgery.

But most of the time, we forget all about it.

Until we read about someone else battling Crohn’s or colitis and how awful it has made their entire life. How much pain they’re in. How many foods they can’t tolerate. How many daily medicines they’re on.

And then we remember.

Yes, that’s a word in our history too.

A word in our present.

But it’s barely a reality beyond the word, the diagnosis, the knowledge that it’s there, looming, able to kick in and wreak havoc at any second.

When we pray at night, we often go weeks without remembering to thank God for its absence and beg for it never to return. Sometimes I am surprised that it’s still there, lurking in the darkness. When I do remember the disease, I worry and pray for my children.

You see, Crohn’s is chronic.

It will always be there, even if masked. It’s also hereditary, one of those mystical diseases that no one understands completely, but there are both genetic and environmental factors.

I wonder about my children.

Will the city water with fluoride and chlorine set off whatever gene they may or may not have inherited from their father? Is it chemicals in processed food? (His mother’s best dinner guests are Mr. Stouffer and Mrs. Sara Lee.)

Could the way I serve them grains throw the switch one way or the other? Does my son’s tendency toward loose-goosey BMs, so different from my daughter’s occasional constipation, mean he’s got a tendency toward Crohn’s, too? Or will she be the one?

It makes my heart expand and tickle my face, crushing my lungs with the weight of the “What if?”

How Did We Cure Crohn’s Disease?

You’d think that writing a healthy food blog, the Crohn’s Disease would be a constant topic, practically the thread that sews everything together. But mostly it weaves its way into our story and my posts from time to time, poking in to say hello and then retreating just as quickly.

Every few weeks or months, someone will email or message me asking about Crohn’s, telling a horrific story about their loved one and how bad it’s become or about a new diagnosis, their relief to know what’s been so painful for so long, and their fear of the unknown beyond.

They ask what we do to keep my husband so healthy.

I always feel like I don’t have anything to say.

We’ve just been lucky, I think.

He hardly ever even has a flare up, when after surgery in 2002 we were told it would surely be “back” within 5-7 years and likely result in another surgery by ten years.

We’re at twelve and counting.

He’s not giving himself daily injections.

He doesn’t have pain after eating meals.

He has only had about two months of diarrhea plus an occasional visit from the D-word after a meal to remind us that yes, he does have a chronic disease.

He’s not actually on any medications at all, and he certainly is far from being a candidate for surgery.

And yet I’ve never written our story.

I didn’t think we had one, because #MyNewNormal was just that – normal. It was a part of our lives, simply the way we lived.

But perhaps the way we’ve chosen to live and eat really has made all the difference in the world.

We don’t notice what we’re missing.

And that’s a good thing.

Because There’s More to the Story…

You know men would never go to the doctor on their own volition unless their big toe was hanging off their foot, green and rotting, or they were in so much pain they couldn’t even enjoy watching a baseball game on TV, right?

I’m being unfair to be funny here, but the truth is, in my experience with the men in our family, I think God must have created marriage so that men would have someone to tell them to get their yearly physical.

Grandma Dzia Dzia and Paul

My dad’s bladder cancer, for example, was beatable in large part because it was caught early, via microscopic blood in his urine at his routine physical. He was in no pain and hadn’t noticed feeling badly at all.

When my husband and I first got married, I encouraged and nudged and cajoled him to get a physical (and made the appointment).

In 2006, then, he finally did the whole rigmarole and got the blood tests done to have his cholesterol checked, yadda yadda yadda.

At age 27, we didn’t really expect anything significant, but my grandmother had been in the hospital for heart surgery and all the grandkids were told to get their numbers run. Since I had to, he had to too!

I still remember getting the test results in the mail.

Doc had circled the triglyceride number – 360 – and scribbled “too high!” next to it, and then the words, “low fat diet” nearby.

That was it.

In case you’re unfamiliar with triglycerides, like we had been blissfully ignorant until that moment, the recommendation is to stay below 150.

His HDL (usually called “good” cholesterol) should have been 50 or above, and it was ringing in at 31.

My husband’s numbers were such that, years later while listening to a talk on cholesterol and diabetes, I would learn that he was a heart attack waiting to happen at age 27, and the doctor gave us 5 words of wisdom. (More on that later in the story.)

He could have lost a patient.

“Please, Doc, Tell Us What to Do!”

I called and ask for more information, and for my troubles, I was rewarded with two pamphlets, one piece of paper each, mailed to us.

One detailed what an 1800-calorie “low fat/low cholesterol” diet looked like, the other, a 1500-calorie diet.

This, for my active, 5-foot-eleven, broad shouldered, 200-pound husband.

He stayed under 2200-2500 calories a day for Lent once and was hungry all the time and couldn’t wait for the 40 days to be over. 1500 calories would have seen him wasting away…

It was recommended that he use meat substitutes, “heart healthy” spreads or margarine instead of butter, slash fat from his dairy (we already had been for years), eat no more than two eggs per week, avoid coconut oil like the plague and stick to corn, vegetable and soybean oil, and eat 9 servings of grains a day.

Here’s an example breakfast to start the day off right:

  • 1 whole English muffin
  • 3/4 c. corn flakes
  • 1/2 c. orange juice
  • 1 c. skim milk
  • 1 tsp. margarine
  • coffee , tea, sugar substitute

Gahhhhhhh! So much starch, sugars, no fat…did you know triglycerides form in the blood when there is too much sugar being stored in the body??? To me, this looks like a recipe for high triglycerides, to be honest.

Looking back on the “treatment” we received for deadly heart un-health, I feel like modern medicine has become what school would be if the teachers gave a big exam, handed back the results and said, “Hmmm, you got a D-. That’s not very good. Be sure to work harder to learn more, follow the instructions on this one sheet of paper, and I’ll see you again in 12 months and we’ll see how you do on this test again.”

And the Report Card Says…

Before I tell you what has happened in our household between 2006 and the present, let’s start with the numbers, which are pretty cool:

2007

  • Total cholesterol: 169 (doc marked “good”)
  • LDL: 96 (also marked “good”)
  • HDL: 35
  • Triglycerides: 192 (marked “little high”)

2008

  • Total cholesterol: 182
  • LDL: 80
  • HDL: 36
  • Triglycerides: 331 (marked “very high – a low carboyhdrate diet will help”)

Tell me the irony is not lost on you that just two years before, the same doctor had recommended a low FAT diet for the exact same problem…

2009

  • Total cholesterol: 196 (“good”)
  • LDL: 102 (“good”)
  • HDL: 50
  • Triglycerides: 221 (This number and the number showing that the trigs should be <150 were both circled. How helpful. Thanks, doc.)

late 2010

  • Total cholesterol: 181 (“good”)
  • LDL: 91 (“good”)
  • HDL: 32 (low – “more exercise!”)
  • Triglycerides: 291 (high – “lower carbohydrate diet”)

early 2012

  • Total cholesterol: 169
  • LDL: 96
  • HDL: 56
  • Triglycerides: 83

2013

  • Total cholesterol: 200
  • LDL: 136
  • HDL: 48
  • Triglycerides: 79

New doctor, no personal notes whatsoever – the total and LDL cholesterol both got an “H” flag for high, being 1 point and 6 points over the recommendation, respectively. The auto-generated comments say: “The cholesterol/HDL ratio is desirable since it indicates a reduced risk of coronary artery disease.”

What Numbers Even Matter???

Two flags for “high” on that last report, and yet I’m beyond thrilled with it.

Because those numbers do not reflect any research-based risk for death by heart attack.

I have recently read (okay, skimmed) The Great Cholesterol Myth and learned a lot about how statins work, how cholesterol actually works, and what really matters.

I went down that path because I listened to a talk during the Diabetes Summit (now over) by Jonny Bowden, one of the authors of the book. He happens to be a nutritionist with a master’s degree in psychology, but both the interviewer (Dr. Brian Mohl) and his co-author, Dr. Stephen Sinatra, are both cardiologists, so I felt reasonably secure in trusting their information, particularly when it already resonated with our experience and traditional foods.

They talked about cholesterol numbers a lot and how the total cholesterol is not the important one. Study after study shows that while statin drugs DO work quite well to lower total cholesterol, there is ZERO statistical difference in the number of people dying from heart attacks with low, average and high cholesterol.

So lowering your cholesterol will make your doctor happier with your numbers, but it won’t change your risk of death at all.

Cool.

Here’s what really DOES impact one’s risk of heart attack: the ratio of triglycerides to HDL.

I don’t have the transcript, but I can hear the words in my memory like this:

“If someone has, say, a ratio of 2:1, they’re totally safe. They’re not going to have a heart attack anytime soon. If they get up toward more like 5:1, then you need to start thinking about some lifestyle changes, get that back down a bit. But if you see TEN-TO-ONE, well, then, you’re in big trouble. You’re practically a walking heart attack. That’s a serious problem…”

I did what any curious wife would do, vaguely remembering the old test results and wondering just what the ratios actually were: I pulled all the paperwork from 2006 to the present and started doing some math.

2013 = 2 : 1

There was some jumping around and cheering out loud at this, at midnight. I hope I didn’t bother the neighbors. Smile I was feeling pretty darn good about that.

2012 = <2 : 1

2010 = 9 : 1

2009 = 4.5 : 1

2008 = 9 : 1

2007 = 5.5 : 1

2006 = 11.6 : 1

I wasn’t cheering anymore. It was both gratifying and terrifying to see this math plain as day and watch the current 2:1 gradually shift to the 11:1 of 8 years ago.

A walking heart attack.

family history of heart disease is scary!
  • His maternal grandfather died quite young of a massive heart attack.
  • His mom’s brother had a very-nearly-fatal heart attack at age 33, where if an ambulance hadn’t literally been in the nearest parking lot at the moment he pulled off the freeway, just 1-2 minutes away, he would not be here to be the jovial 50-something-year-old that everyone adores as “the cool uncle” today.
  • And six years ago, his mother was a few percent blockage away from dying of a “widow maker” at age 57. That’s the kind of heart attack you can’t survive even if you’re sitting in the hospital when it happens.

When I said above that his doctor could have lost a patient, with my husband’s numbers as they were at age 27, 29, and even into his 30s with that 9:1 ratio in 2010, I get chills thinking about how quickly that reality could have set in.

I don’t ever want to be the “widow” in “widow-maker.”

Healing from Crohn's Disease and High Triglycerides with Real Food Changes

But Katie…What Have You Done to Cure Crohn’s and Lower Triglycerides?

I know, I know, we don’t just want to be a storytelling blog today. I’m sure you’d like to hear what changes we’ve made – since you know he’s on zero medications – to get that 11:1 ratio down to 2:1.

At first, we focused on getting his HDL up. We ate more avocado. We attempted “healthy fats.” We rededicated ourselves to low-fat dairy, and my husband started exercising more.

We were pretty happy with the HDL finally getting up to 50 in 2009…which was when I started this blog. We had switched to whole, raw milk, and we ditched all the trans fats we had left and started eating coconut oil. We pretty much did the opposite of what the doctor ordered in the field of fats, and neither of our weight or cholesterol numbers has gone up because of it.

It was in the fall of 2010, after a summer of eating fun food, that the Crohn’s health crisis reared its ugly head.

My husband experienced two months of daily diarrhea.

Nothing significant showed in a stool test, the prescription anti-diarrheal meds from the doctor made absolutely no change, and he was starting to get miserable – and a little worried. Was this it? Was Crohn’s Disease finally coming out of the background to take over our lives for good?

As God’s providence would have it, Jordan Rubin of The Maker’s Diet was speaking in our area that September, and upon coming home from hearing his story of finally controlling his Crohn’s Disease through diet, I came home and told poor hubby that he was cutting out all grains, legumes and dairy from his diet, effective at breakfast the next day.

He of course wasn’t thrilled with the idea, but he did it.

And the diarrhea went away.

100%.

He had better digestive output than he had ever seen in his entire life and memory.

Guess how long that took to work?

Two. Days.

Two days of a grain-free diet, and he was better, for all intents and purposes.

I called the doctor’s office, eager to share our success so they could share with other patients…and they didn’t care. Nowadays I would expect that response, but back then I wasn’t yet quite as disenchanted with the medical community as I have become.

Forget the English muffins, skim milk, low-fat everything…forget the doctor’s orders…we flew in the face of almost every nutritional recommendation we were given, and finally, we won.

Our “treatment?”

  • cutting out soda pop completely (he had been a 2-3 per week sort of guy previously) in February 2012 to the present
  • cutting grains entirely and then overall decreasing them BIG time
  • staying away from gluten (which we think is likely a problem, but when he has it occasionally, it doesn’t bother him in the short term – Dr. Tom O’Bryan says that of all the proteins in gluten, one is strongly correlated with Crohn’s Disease, and it’s not the one tested for in a standard blood test, but we did an elimination diet as a family and learned a lot!)
  • cutting nearly completely (eating out and organic tortilla chips are the exceptions) soybean oil and corn oil
  • eating a ton of eggs – up to 4 dozen a week for our family of 5!
  • sticking with full-fat dairy and LOTS of coconut oil
  • decreasing sugary desserts, but not 100% by any means
  • using less refined sugars and no refined flour in our home cooking
  • vigorous exercise 3-5 times a week, usually – this may or may not be making a huge difference, but it’s part of #MyNewNormal for sure
half marathon

We pretty much ate traditional, real food, homemade, very little processed stuff, and as much sourced from well-fed animals and well-raised produce as possible (but certainly not 100% organic).

It’s what this blog has always been based on, with the one fine-tuning moment of cutting those grains and gluten. Any recipe you find here, especially from 2011 onward, is going to reflect the habits that have worked for us.

As you can see from the numbers, not only did our real food, low-sweetener, low-grain diet seem to keep Crohn’s Disease symptoms at bay, but it also rocked out his triglycerides number and even improved his HDL.

Now he’s stuck with me for the next 60 years (hopefully more) rather than threatening me with a widow-maker to escape the chaos of a household of four children.

And I sure am thankful.

Crohn’s Disease Is Genetic – So What About Our Kids?

Digestion is certainly never something I thought much about as a teen or young adult, or even a young wife.

When you become a mom, though, suddenly you think, worry and talk a lot about poop.

You wonder if your baby is going often enough.

Enough quantity.

When he starts food, you know the diapers will change, and you hope the way your baby’s changed is perfectly normal.

Especially when you have an autoimmune digestive disease in the family.

I’ve always wondered about the quality of my oldest’s digestion and “output,” since it seemed to be looser than most other kids – yes, I know this because parents talk about poop! Winking smile

IBD is nothing to sneeze at. Our prayers as a couple often include begging God to protect our children from Crohn’s entering their lives.

One summer when he was in late elementary school, we finally decided to run a full spectrum gluten array blood test on him. I didn’t like having him in a limbo middle ground place with gluten: I’m not sure that he is sensitive so I don’t restrict him from consuming it, and yet I feel like he might be so I stress out every time he eats it – not a healthy attitude for me.

We have the results…which I don’t understand. So now the next step is finding a practitioner who can help us evaluate the data so we know once and for all.

Because Crohn’s Disease has a genetic component, it will always be possible that our kids develop it. But we’re banking on getting the environmental component right and not turning on that genetic “switch” that would wreck their guts.

I Didn’t Even Notice

 What’s funny about a New Normal, to be honest, is that you forget how far you’ve come.

We took so many tiny baby steps that all piled up to get us wayyyyyy to the end of the spectrum and far from the mainstream, but it doesn’t feel like we did a drastic change or massive dietary overhaul.

Going grain-free that first time was daunting, and I’m sure at the time it felt like a huge deal and was hard to deal with, but now it’s just…life. I hope that gives you some hope if you’re scared of embarking on an elimination diet meal plan. It really does get better.

I was fortunate to be in a blogging community full of resources, recipes, and advice, and that made it all much, much easier.

I had a lot more support than a one-page pamphlet with no recipes and a few “eat this way” words on a test report paper!

And now that we’re so deep into it, my husband has even taken charge of his own health in some big ways. Some of my favorite moments from the last two years:

  • “Hon, I think I’m done with Burger King. I’m over it. I don’t need to ever go there again…”
  • He sends me articles about butter being redeemed and trans fats being outlawed, with emails saying, “You’re right again, babe.”
  • He questions doctors’ opinions all the time now. I’ve made him a skeptic!
  • This year he finally decided on his own volition to take gluten-free bread on his 5-day camping trip, where he and a dozen friends usually subsist on cured meat, white bread and beer. He came home thrilled, having enjoyed his time much, much more because he didn’t feel like crud the whole time!

I’m glad to finally have a post to share with people when they ask about Crohn’s Disease and what we’ve done, how perhaps, the choices we’ve made have vaulted us into the “lucky” winner’s circle even more than a twist of fate or random chance ever would have.

We’re living the New Normal. We call ourselves a healthy family. And every time the dishes pile up and stress us out or we have a spat because I don’t want to eat out to save our sanity yet risk our health…we need to remember what we’re missing.

I hope we get to keep missing it.

Want to hear the husband’s perspective? He was kind enough to sit down for an interview with me to share about his 10-year journey from cereal and soda to greens in his eggs and being on the same page as his wife. 

I’d love to hear more about your own real food journey, your quiet baby steps or life-changing 180-degree moments, or field any questions you have! I definitely spent more time telling the story than describing the solution, but really, nearly everything I write here on KS is the solution, one step at a time.

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

43 thoughts on “Baby Step Changes May Have Saved My Husband’s Life Without Us Even Noticing”

  1. I’m looking to find some help getting my crohns back into remission. I am a 38 man now and I got Jordan’s book “the makers diet” about 14 years ago and finally had it with the pharma drugs not working for me and god willing went on to follow the makers diet program and left all the Doctors criticisms about what I was going to do in the wind. This was 12 years ago now and I never looked back.
    I followed the guidelines pretty strict for the first couple years and then got comfortable in my ways and got off track but not to far off because I still felt fine. Fast forward to early 2018 I had a couple heart attacks at the age of only 35. They found I had major 90% blockage in my main artery so they placed 2 stents in to open the artery. I was then put on several drugs to keep my body from rejecting the stents which are a good thing but made me fee horrible the first year. I then got reported down to taking only 2 meds there after. One being only baby 81mg aspirin which is understandable and the other is 80 mg of Atorvastatin to keep cholesterol low. Which my cholesterol wasn’t even found to be high in the first place even during my heart surgery. They said they didn’t know what to put me on to prevent my unknown make-up blockage from coming back. They just said it was a hereditary thing. But since being on the Atorvastatin I still would wake up all the time feeling terrible. Now here in 2021 I have had my Crohn’s disease back in full effect even with me complete back on track with the makers diet program. I have been back in the ER then hospitalized and of coarse the doctors are telling me I need to get back on the high end drugs. I will have to since I’m not able to get my body back in remission alone with my knowledge of how to follow the makers diet program. I hope someone is willing to call me or consult with me about my problems. Please I ask you of a brother of Christ and a born again Christian for someone to please reach out to me. I know Jordan no longer does 1 on 1 consultations and have been trying to get in touch with him or Dr. Axe. Katie do you have time to discuss this with me at all?
    I look forward to your response
    Yours Truly, Eric

    1. Hi Eric,
      I wish I felt like I knew enough to talk with you about Crohn’s. We’re an n=1 story, you know? I know that different people have such different trigger foods. There are lots of functional docs who specialize in autoimmune diseases and root causes and could help get you some tests to figure out what your body is actually experiencing. A few names I know include Dr. Mark Davis, Joel Sprechman, https://www.facebook.com/onegreatgut/, Steve Wright, Jordan Reasoner SCD Lifestyle, www.drbrighten.com, Christa Orrechio https://www.kitchenstewardship.com/gut-thrive-in-5-review/ , https://www.facebook.com/drlauryn, https://carolynmessere.practicebetter.io/, https://www.jillcarnahan.com/my-story/

      Someone on that list is sure to have your answer!
      Blessings,
      Katie

  2. I have Crohn’s.. I’ve had it since 1994. I’ve been a vegetarian since 1990. I eat a very clean diet. I run marathons. I do triathlons. I have a great BMI. Yet, I’ve had surgeries. I’ve had hospital time. And I too have high triglycerides. It runs in my family. No amount of diet or exercise will “fix” it. In addition, everyone with Crohn’s is very different when it comes to diet and what works for their gut. I’m glad this worked for your partner and those who are sharing their experiences.

    I think it’s really important to stress that everyone is different and doing everything within your power doesn’t exclude you from have a relapse, having issues, or getting new aliments associated with Crohn’s. Ignoring this (or comments from others that blame diet or X for their issues, or by doing Y you’ll be “cured”) is a level of victim blaming and not helpful. I love hearing positive success stories, but it’s also important to note that this is one experience and diseases such as Crohn’s are very individualized. I was devastated when I did everything right and still found myself back in the hospital. This is the reality of this diesease, and all auto-immune diseases. We can do lots to help, but it doesn’t mean it’s a cure. I do love the message of being sure you found the right doctors who listen, care, and understand your unique situation. That’s definitely key!

    Good luck in the continued journey to health. And keep sharing your stories.

  3. I’m so glad I found this post again. When my 31 year-old husband was recently prescribed a triglyceride-lowering medication due to his extremely high levels and a pretty scary family history, I remembered reading this and gave it a re-read. We’re going to try going mostly grain-free, with the occasional exception so he keeps his sanity. One question: Is your husband now eating legumes, potatoes and fruit? If so, about how much “in moderation” is he eating them? I told my husband we definitely can’t simply replace grains with beans, as it will have a similar effect on the body. But I’m hoping he can include them in moderation as part of achieving our goal of him eventually getting off of the medication. Thanks, Katie!

    1. Hey Rachel,
      We really only do grain-free now for about 6-8 weeks of the year, and the rest of the time we eat less grains than your average American and are gluten-free at home except for beer and plenty of cheats when “out.” His trigs were ok this last checkup, although not as awesome as the reading in this post <100. We eat lots of beans, potatoes and fruit! You might try something like a Whole30 as a sort of “system reset” and see how it’s going after 30 (or maybe 60) days of that, and then see what he can tolerate beyond that. I think once we (a) got his levels down, which included lots of healthy fats, and (b) got some new habits, staying “mostly” on track was much easier and was still effective. Some say you have to cut dairy to really keep trigs under control (Whole30 does that but we don’t as a general rule for my husband). But again, when we initially lowered his trigs a ton, it wasn’t like we did the perfect diet. He never cut 100% of sweeteners until this spring’s Whole30 for example, we only did short stints of grain-free and I don’t know if we ever did totally legume-free too until the Whole30. So hopefully for you guys, some big changes will make a big impact rather than a gazillion big changes! God bless your efforts!!!!! 🙂 Katie

  4. Awesome article! Thanks so much for sharing all of it. It certainly wasn’t an easily “put together” story of your lives. But, the detail is what makes the case for healthy eating, whether you have a disease or not.

  5. My infant son had HORRIBLE eczema that was only being somewhat controlled by topical steroids. A friend suggested I cut dairy from my diet, as he was being exposed via my breast milk. My pediatrician was astounded at the result. I was able to discontinue the steroids entirely within one month. His skin is beautifully clear, his eyes no longer itch, and his temperament is much improved. I had an appointment with a pediatric dermatologist, but the issue had been resolve thru diet prior to the appointment. I kept the appointment anyway, to share the information with the doc. I was, unfortunately, dismissed, and told, “all mothers think there is something dietary causing these skin problems. 95% of the time there is no cause! it’s just eczema.” I refuse to believe this and was discouraged by this close minded doctor. But it didn’t matter, because my son was better.

    When he was old enough, he had blood testing, which showed a moderate milk allergy. Finally I had the proof of what I had known all along. The pediatrician told me, that he can have milk in small amounts, but we haven’t gone there yet. Why would you give someone any amount of something they are allergic to?

    I would tell others to do their research and talk to supportive people. And mothers should trust their guts.

    My family and I have so far to go in our journey toward real food, and it’s so overwhelming. But your website is so encouraging, Katie. Always informative and never intimidating or judge mental of where we are. Thank you for your passion and incredible resource.

    1. Smart mama, Stephanie!! It’s so frustrating to be dismissed in the face of clear evidence in your own child that you’ve done something amazing. Trust your gut!! I love this too: “Why would you give someone any amount of something they are allergic to?”

      Way to go!!
      🙂 Katie

  6. Mae Webb Winter That is such an early diagnosis – and so much happened before he would have tried any dietary interventions like this, that’s for sure. Ouch – I can totally see why you look at my husband’s story and think of all the silver linings! I’m in a hotel and not sure of INternet tonight, but I do need to pop in there and add this note – I appreciate your comment. 🙂 Katie

  7. Mae via Facebook

    Oh… My. This sounds great.. For YOUR husband and HIS Crohn’s. And I am truly happy that his health is so good! But one thing you don’t touch on, at all, that I wish you would, Is That, as with many AI disorders, the disease varies from patient to patient, as does the treatment, the onset, the solutions, etc.

    For example my husband (who we’ve discussed before via email, blog comments, and this page) was symptomatic at 2 and diagnosed before the age of 6. He had undergone 2 resections by the age of 20, and has had portions of intestines removed which DEMAND certain medications, supplements and dietary restrictions which fly in the face of what you describe as “working” for your husband.

    I read your story and think “he was in college! How amazing! His surgery was not emergent because of a massive infection ? How fortunate!”

    Again. I am happy for your family and I enjoy and find value in your writing. However I don’t think it’s worthless to remind readers, especially about a disease as serious as this, that they need to find a gastroenterologist THAT THEY TRUST and CAN INTELLIGENTLY COLLABORATE WITH to ensure both continuity of care and the support of what may prove to be a very necessary community of medical specialists.

  8. I have had IBS since childhood. Ate the Sad diet all my life and finally went gluten/grain/sugar free 2 and 1/2 years ago. My triglicerides dropped from 352 to 53 in six months. I was a 9:1 ratio and now am a 1.5:1 ratio. Loved reading this blog post. People think I am crazy when I tell them how I eat, but the numbers speak for themselves. So glad your husband is doing so well!

  9. Amy via Facebook

    Love that 🙂 my 6 year old son has been making some very wise health observations and choices. Very proud! And my 3 year old frowned and said “cake has sugar in it!” Lol lol lol he was talking about his 18 year old beother’s birthday cake:)

  10. Darla Newton Goodman Promise promise…it’s one baby step at a time. Take the bun off your hamburger. Eat the cheese, skip the crackers. Tiny little things. This post might help you: http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2013/07/29/eating-grain-free-resources-and-recipes-all-in-one-place/ and if you want to try gluten-free first instead of grain-free, I have a free guide to keep it simple too: http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/subscribe-to-the-monthly-newsletter/

    Whatever your story is, whatever path you take next – good luck!!! 🙂 Katie

  11. Darla via Facebook

    Jennifer Kennedy Polson, you know it makes me both scared and hopeful. Hopeful that it might really help and I could feel good again and at the same time scared that it might really help and I would have to make that big of a change….

  12. Dawn via Facebook

    I was also diagnosed with Crohn’s at age 10. I am 36 now and been confirmed from an MD last Dec through a colonoscopy that I have a completely healthy, normal colon with old scar tissue. Hurray for real, whole foods! Love your story! Many blessings to you!

  13. I am so blessed to read this today. My 11 year old son was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at the tender age of 7. He has had countless colonoscopies and lots of meds. Currently on apriso 4 capsules a day! And still has an inflammation marker of 187- normal is anything under 50.(just got these results today). He had a biopsy and showed no celiac disease but we did a gluten free diet for awhile but found myself in tears at whole foods partly due to the stress of having a child with this condition and u can’t fx it and my son just wanted to eat what everyone else was eating. I am exploring on myself first with a raw diet ( trying to lose weight and get clear skin) . We r replacing processed snacks with fresh fruit . Have replaced cow milk with Almond and rice milk. Making small changes and hopefully when are go back for testing in November with my son And praying for good report.

    1. Melissa,
      Good for you, Mama, making good changes. It can be the little things. With colitis, because it’s inflammatory, I’d say hit those grains as much as you can and watch out for corn and soy oils.

      Small changes add up!! Here are some ideas if you want to try a big change: http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2013/07/29/eating-grain-free-resources-and-recipes-all-in-one-place/ or to go GF and not cry, use my beginner’s guide, free here: http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/subscribe-to-the-monthly-newsletter/

      Good luck – I’m feeling for you today. 🙁 It’s tough seeing your baby in pain!
      Katie

  14. Angela Anthony

    At age 25 my husband, who was otherwise healthy, began having problems with his knees. By age 26, after a TON of testing, he was found to have hereditary poly sensory nerve disease and a connective tissue disease of unknown origin. He was considered disabled. With the consent of his doctors, I have weaned him off from probably 6 of the medications he was on. He’s only on 4 now. We have eliminated so much of the “junk” from our diets, which seemed to help a little. But it was him not eating anything from the nightshade family, ie: potatoes and tomatoes, that the swelling in his knees was gone! And I mean GONE! So is 90% of the knee pain. He out ran our 14 year old son in an air soft war! Now I need to kick him of his pepsi addiction. I am a firm believer of real food = better health! You sure won’t hear my kids complain when they get to eat home made pumpkin bars for breakfast made with einkorn, our pumpkin, coconut oil, sucanat, and farm fresh eggs 🙂

    1. Angela,

      Isn’t it a GREAT feeling when you finally figure out what the culprit is? My son had negative allergy tests for dairy but once removed he had a 180 turn around. So glad your family is better 🙂 I agree – my son loves when muffins are on the breakfast menu. Feels like a treat to them.

  15. I’m struggling with the triglycerides issue currently. Turned 30 this summer, got my blood tested and I have triglycerides in the high 400s. Doctor suggested exactly the same thing (high carb, low fat) it even suggests TV dinners, pop and non-chocolate candy as good things to eat!! I know it’s wrong, I didn’t even think about following it. He also put me on medication that I have no desire to take, I wish I could find a doctor who believes the right thing and can help me on the correct journey to health. Is there a way to even find one? (I’m in metro Detroit – so hi neighbor!)

    1. Jen,

      Are you on Facebook? Finding a mom’s group, or through a church, or library, etc. that has lots of moms that chat you can find their recommendations. I’m in some local cloth diaper and babywearing groups where off-topic chatter is allowed. And if you don’t have kids you could search for hobby or interest groups as well. Word-of-mouth is the best way to find a doctor.

      I think that nutrition is really a small part of a doctor’s schooling and I don’t think they are required to take ongoing courses in it, either. I know plenty of people who settle and there are times when I just smile and nod at my dr’s advice for the kids and don’t follow it when I know better.

      1. I’m baby-less, but very close with a mom who does all the things mentioned, I’ll check with her.

        And that’s exactly what I did at my doctor appointment. Listen, smile, go home and know it’s wrong with no intention to follow.

    2. Jen,
      Ugh. Pop??? Yowza.

      Finding an on-board doctor is…tough. Usually you have to get all the way to a naturopath, but sometimes you can find a D.O. who will help. Here are some ideas for how to start looking: http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2012/04/17/monday-mission-do-you-have-a-naturally-minded-doctor/

      But honestly…you can do this yourself. Slash the sugars, no white flour, and reduce your grains. Eat real fats. Cut corn and soybean oil. (although with trigs, I think it’s all about carbs really.) See what happens without doc’s help! Good luck!!! 🙂 Katie

  16. Kathy via Facebook

    Great post. Went through something similar with my husband and Crohn’s. Before he married me, he was hospitalized 2-3 times a year for serious flares. Now we are eating 98% real food (with plenty of good fat, of course) and the Dr. told him last week after his latest colonoscopy that there is no sign of the disease! For my husband, flares were triggered specifically by soy. We are not grain free, but do eat properly prepared grains (sprouted, soaked, Einkorn).

    1. I discovered thru trial&error that when I avoided processed foods and as many preservatives as I could – I didn’t have as much issue with the Crohn’s. Stress management for me was a big help too. Now my Gastro doc says I’m in “deep remission” and next colonoscopy is scheduled for 5 years out! YES!!!! Glad to see someone else kick Crohnies’ butt like I did! (but you found out about cooking traditional before I did!)

      I was in complete remission for 12 years after my first resection (re-emerged in 2002, a year after my 3rd and final pregnancy) and I am hopeful that as I maintain my eating habits, that I will AVOID any more resections. I DO have a stent in the “widowmaker’s location” and my TGs were slightly high in the 90’s, A1C was slightly elevated (around 5.1), but my HDL and LDL were opposite what they should have been (Total Chol of 180, and have been 180 since I got married 20 yrs ago)

      But I’m doing well, slight flares/ minor episodes are now due to stress (went back to school, got a certificate and am now working full-time after a 20 yr hiatus to bear & raise my kiddos 🙂 ) or not maintaining my diet…. I need to learn how to cook a LOT on my days off!!!!

  17. Great post! I am still shocked at how the doctors don’t take diet and food into consideration when treating people. Diet is an important component of our daily routine and it effects our well-being a lot, even to the point we would never thought off!
    One of my relatives has cancer and no dietary recommendations were given beyond “everything in moderation”! We told her to cut out grains and sugar as they are the fuel for cancer. Doctors really need to start paying attention to food as food can be a powerful medicine. Wrong advice can make people sick….

    1. Andrew Stigaard

      In my judgment, 90% of disease is caused by a poor diet. The more you educate yourself about good nutrition, the healthier you will become. An ounce of prevention… is what we all need. I praise this website for promoting good nutrition.

      http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/02/20/vitamin-d-fights-crohns-disease.aspx

  18. Sometimes getting healthy can cause issues 😉 I know lots of people who lost weight only to have gall bladder issues. Matt needed his out only 6 weeks before our wedding, at age 22. It took over a year for doctors to figure out what was bothering him as being a young male was NOT the typical candidate for this surgery! This was after losing 135 pounds in a normal amount of time (not drastic). 7 years later and he’s super healthy and always researching, thanks to blogs like this one 😉

  19. I had the heart attack, had a CABG and came home on piles of meds.

    I did everything right, including keeping my bG tight (I’m a T2 diabetic) and remained mostly bedridden for almost 2 years.

    And then decided to try some alternative things and bought raw milk. My bp went down for the first time in years.

    There have been lots of other things I’ve done, many of which did involve supplements and/or bioidentical hormones. When you spend 40 years eating the wrong foods, you can wind up pretty broken and need a jumpstart to heal. But real food is the cornerstone of my recovery.

    BTW, I got my hospital records and my cholesterol panel was PERFECT when I had my MI. Only thing out-of-range was my A1c, indicator of bad bG control.

    Turns out cholesterol is irrelevant but even slightly elevated bG, not even enough to qualify one as prediabetic, is a HUGE risk factor.

  20. In June I had a lipid panel run and my triglycerides were over 500. I freaked out and tried to eat the low fat diet the doctor told me to eat. Well I was always hungry and didn’t really believe in low fat. I bought Cholesterol Clarity by Jimmy Moore. I found out I was right about the low fat and instead increased my sat fat intake. I also am using a workout video and walking. The only other change I made was to give up that one drink a day. I thought that was a healthy habit but found out that is not always true and it raises triglycerides. I was retested after 6 weeks and my number was down to 200 and my good cholesterol up from 39 to 48.

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