Today is special for two reasons – it’s Halloween and it’s the anniversary of my calmingcrohns blog. I set up calmingcrohns to share the learning of living with Crohn’s dis ease. In the last year, my blog has covered a number of subjects including dietary tips, the benefits of practicing yoga as well as posts on meditation, mindfulness and how thoughts influence our experience of life.
As I started this blog a year ago to share ideas and experiences, I thought the least I could do was to post an anniversary edition on a similar topic to my debut blog. On 31st October 2016 my first blog was Halloween inspired about boiling bones for bone broth and the health benefits of the antibacterial, anti-inflammatory nutrient dense soup. In a similar fashion, this post is about getting ‘greens’ into your diet, whether you are a Crohn’s sufferer or not.
Raw can be tricky to digest but juicing does the hard work for you
We hear a lot about how beneficial it is to eat ‘raw’ vegetables. With IBD, beyond soft lettuce, raw is a ‘no no’ as it’s hard to digest ‘raw’ greens and we are used to steaming or boiling the life out our veg to break down the fibre.
I make one exception to the no raw rule – I have a green juice every morning.
After the lemon and ginger elixir, it’s the first thing I have in the morning. I use a NutriBullet blender/mixer. Juicing may be equally, if not more beneficial than eating greens. Just how ‘green’ I go depends on how well I am – if my gut is feeling really strong I use kale. Generally, I go all Popeye and use spinach. My preference is for baby spinach as it is softer and more gentle. If I’m experiencing a tricky tummy then I will use gentle lettuce instead of the kale or spinach.
I also add a stick of celery as it’s good for cleansing the gut and a little parsley for it’s anti inflammatory effects. There are also claims that parsley can help to prevent osteoporosis – another delight that many Crohn’s sufferers have to contend with.
Tricks for Treats
As for the treat side of things – that’s the sweet spot. Choose your poison – I either add pineapple (which turns alkaline as it hits the digestive tract) or a banana which even babies can digest (apparently). Papaya is also a good choice – again for it’s anti inflammatory effects, or avocado (for good fats!) Avocado and banana thickens the juice, whereas pineapple makes it more juice like in consistency. I would suggest that you play around with what works best for you. As I’ve said before diet isn’t a one size fits all and you need to work out what works for your body, not mine.
To make the vegetables and fruit into a drink I add coconut water or water. You can then add any extras – I personally love root ginger to ward off coughs and colds, Floradix (liquid iron supplement) if I’m low on iron (which many Crohn’s sufferers and some women can be). My current favourite treat is the energy boosting superfood cacao nibs with all of the goodness of dark chocolate (without the guilt). Cacao nibs are said to be high in antioxidants thanks to the phytonutrients which help absorb the free radicals that cause damage in the body.
If the fibre of the green juice is too much for your gut then use a sieve to strain the juice away from the fibrous matter.
Well, the intake of green vegetables means you are getting your ‘phytonutrients’ – or plant matter. Phytonutrients apparently lower the risk of developing disease, anaemia, cancer, etc. They are also full of antioxidants which helps to ward off bugs and can help prevent damage to cells throughout the body. It can also help the immune system – as Crohn’s is auto immune this is vitally important. Greens are also anti-aging, so a daily dose may also help to turn back time!
What’s the trick?
Ok, so I mentioned treat, now where’s the trick? The trick is to get so addicted to this that it becomes one of your many life supporting elements of your healthy eating toolbox!
Happy Halloween folks – go green beyond Halloween.
Sample green juice recipe:
handful of baby spinach
1 stick of celery
1 banana (substitute fruit as above)
fresh parsley to taste
1 tbsp sliced root ginger
splash of coconut water and water
1 – 2 tbsp cacao nibs
Add ingredients to a nutribullet/other, and pulse until smooth. I generally add the cocoa nibs last. Pour and serve immediately and enjoy.