The Quirks of Crohn’s Disease

The Quirks of Crohn’s Disease

Most people without IBD don’t realize that a lot of sleeping and eating quirks come with Crohn’s disease. But those of us with the illness can relate to the strange eating and sleeping schedules we follow.

Here are some of mine:

I need a TON of sleep. Even with 10 hours, which I try to get every night, I’m always exhausted — and often need naps, too. Because I’m fortunate to work part-time from home as a writer, most days I can nap as I need to. The exhaustion comes on suddenly and without warning. There’s no use in even trying to keep myself awake. I can go off for a solid two hours of sleep at nap time. Sometimes, even longer.

I eat a lot of dry Froot Loops. I don’t know why, but dry children’s cereals generally work well for me. I have them for breakfast every morning, and I’ve been known to grab mugfuls throughout the day. I know the cereal is soothing and easy on the stomach, so maybe that’s my attraction. But I can feel like a freak with this one. It’s embarrassing to tell my friends that I eat Froot Loops like they’re going out of style. (I try not to talk about it.)

I chew ice because I have pica. Pica is a craving to chew or eat things with no nutritional value, or things that aren’t even food. Pica is often associated with pregnancy — I’ve known women who wanted to eat laundry detergent, dirt, and chalk — to name a few items — during their pregnancies. But Pica also occurs when a person has anemia. My doctor told me that craving ice with anemia is normal. I go through a lot of ice, and I have a specific way I like the cubes. I like to flavor the ice with a little diet soda,  since plain frozen water doesn’t do it for me. I go through many cups of ice a day. This makes my husband crazy when, at the movies or a restaurant, I’m munching on ice. He’s certain that people can hear it. (I don’t think they can. We quibble about this.)

When I’m in a flare, the only foods I seem to tolerate are soup — either French onion, or more commonly, chicken noodle of some sort — and a baked potato or fries. We go to restaurants for dinner and that’s what I eat. Then I DO feel strange. But they’re cravings and I can’t help it. Potatoes, in general, are huge for me during flares. I like a certain brand of baked chips, and it’s not uncommon for me to eat an entire bag during a flare because it’s all I’m eating. You can tell how well I feel by whether or not those chips are in my house. (They’re currently not.)

I’d love to hear from my fellow IBD sufferers — what odd foods or combinations of foods do you eat? Are you a big sleeper, like me? Add your preferences, thoughts, or particularities to the comments section. Thanks!


Note: IBD News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of IBD News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to IBD.

Margarida graduated with a BS in Health Sciences from the University of Lisbon and a MSc in Biotechnology from Instituto Superior Técnico (IST-UL). She worked as a molecular biologist research associate at a Cambridge UK-based biotech company that discovers and develops therapeutic, fully human monoclonal antibodies.
Margarida graduated with a BS in Health Sciences from the University of Lisbon and a MSc in Biotechnology from Instituto Superior Técnico (IST-UL). She worked as a molecular biologist research associate at a Cambridge UK-based biotech company that discovers and develops therapeutic, fully human monoclonal antibodies.
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  1. GuyWithCrohns says:

    Vanilla Ice cream helps me during a flair up. Don’t know why. I prefer strawberry generally, but if I need something when the meds aren’t working, Vanilla Ice cream will help. Frosted Honey Nut Cheerios are also a good snack for me. I don’t have many weird foods, but I do forage *all* day long.

    • Paul Large says:

      I’m loving reading all your comments. Makes me feel normal lol. Yes a good 10 hours a must and a nap sometimes it use to be everyday 2 hours minimum but not as bad as if late. In terms of food my go to is the mini hit oatmeal maple and brown sugar I’m not able to cut the coffee out but I’ve cut back quit a bit. When I was working it was 6-8 cappuccinos per day. Ugh.

  2. Ebony says:

    During a flare I drink milk lots of it. It’s sometimes all I can tolerate. I also eat my fair share of potatoes ?

  3. Robert says:

    Fruit Loops and French Fries, wow. You might want to check out the SCD diet and stick with it for a year. Yikes, good luck.

    • Debby'sGotCrohns says:

      That’s a pretty rude thing to say to someone with IBD. Just because it may have worked for you doesn’t mean it will work for someone else. IBD and diet are very subjective things. You can’t just tell someone to “do this diet” and magically they are better. The last thing we need is someone judging us because that happens to be all we can eat during a flare.

      • Deanna Pace says:

        Thank you Debbie for that statement. I get so bothered by people who think that if you change what your eating you will be all better and cured.

  4. Daleep says:

    May I suggest that you stay off milk and gluten products for a few months. Eat mostly freshly cooked foods and organic if you can. That’s what I’ve been doing and it’s helped me tremendously. No flare ups now for two years. And I’m not on any meds.
    Yogic breathing has helped a lot as well.

  5. Jen says:

    Honey nut cheerios. Rice a Roni. Goldfish crackers. Cinnamon toast from scratch under the broiler. Hot water with lemon and honey. Nap time anytime for me too!

  6. Grace says:

    A few years ago, I went through the whole ice chomping thing, even though the cold bothered my my sensitive teeth. I was obsessed with ice, and also experienced the weird reactions! When my gut is getting sluggish and bloated and I know it’s unhappy, or if I’m working through a partial intestinal blockage, I go for things like toast, cheetos, popcorn twists, puddings and Lipton chicken noodle soup. There will always be those people who “don’t understand how these crappy foods could possibly help yo when you’re not well”… unfortunately they will never be able to actually understand, no matter how hard they try or you try. You just have to accept That, or find the people who do and open up and feel comfortable with them and share with them (like what we’re doing here! 🙂 )

  7. Rainy Hickman-Linsdeau says:

    I love your blog. I have suffered from Crohn’s for 20 years. I have had two bowl obstruction surgeries that sent me into remission for long periods of time. Crohn’s came back in December of 2016 and I am once again stuck in hell. I have tried Humira which made me sick as hell and now and going on Stelara, which I hope works. I found your blog and I love it. I feel as if I am not along in my daily fight of this horrible disease. Most common people do not understand the daily struggles, quirks and eating habits that we have developed just to get through a day. I am trying to work while I’m in the middle of this flair up. I am covered my FMLA, but I heard that someone had actually said that I was off of work sick too much. I feelings were hurt. Just live a day in my shoes and come back and talk to me or google Crohn’s and educated yourself. I too sleep a lot. My quirky diet consists of Polish sausage and rice and of course potatoes. Thank you for writing this blog. I love it and look forward to your posts.

  8. Laura says:

    For whatever reason whether it’s IBD or just a bug I always go for a scrambled egg and toast is usually my first food.

  9. Anita Shields says:

    Sleep, sleep and more sleep! Me too. Combine my Crohn’s with Humira and Ciprelex to combat my anxiety and I can sleep any time of the day! Chocolate is my craving, but that is not very unusual for a female in her late60’s, lol

  10. Alahia says:

    I eat vanilla ice cream during a flare and it can’t just be plain vanilla it has to be french vanilla ice cream. I sleep almost 20 hours when I’m not feeling good. I also crave Chinese food when I’m in a flare. I have no clue why.

  11. Nancy Farrar says:

    I really enjoyed this essay. I was diagnosed just 2.5 years ago. I have failed Humira and am now on Entyvio, Asacol, methotrexate and Flagyl. Sometimes Cipro also. I experience food cravings also. Right now it is baked potatoes. For a while, it was bean burritos from Taco Bell. It varies. I have found that if I can eat something without big consequences, then that’s what I eat. I have also found that what worked today, may not work tomorrow. No rhyme or reason. Fresh tomatoes seen to be a problem all the time though. I say, whatever works for you is what you should do.

  12. Emily says:

    When I’m flaring or I’m having a bad day mashed potatoes, grilled chicken, dry children’s cereal(Lucky Charms minus the marshmallows for me) and sunchips(specifically sunchips) are the only things I can eat…oh and bread not toasted or buttered, just fresh bread.

    Only thing I have issues with is staying hydrated. I need to drink more water and dislike flavoured waters…only started drinking Gatorade last year

  13. Penny says:

    My go to comfort food’s in a flare are 34° rosemary crackers. I have literally bought these by the case. Fresh artisan bread,pumpernickel, French bread ok,ok I’m obsessed w/any kind of bread. Potatoes and homemade chicken bone broth. Diagnosed w/Crohn’s in High School my senior yr. 36 now w/Ten plus surgeries under my belt. This article was refreshing to read,TY!

  14. Kate says:

    I have ulcerative colitis not chrohns, but all I can sometimes eat during a flare are sprinkle donuts and poutine. Very Canadian of me.
    I love that you took the time to write about this! It’s strangely soothing to know others have weird food quirks too!

  15. Mary Jo says:

    It was interesting to read your post and the ones following. I crave things and sometimes just eat for the sake of eating. I never related it to the disease. Likely because I’ve had it for over 40 years. Now I don’t feel so bad. Food doesn’t help when I’m having a flare up but I eat it as a comfort thing. Probably the worst thing I could be doing though. I go for pizza. Ice cream and potato chips too. The part about the Pica is interesting. I like chewy candies like gummy bears, jelly beans and ju jubes and keep putting them in my mouth without realizing how many I’ve eaten. I try not to buy them but some days I give in.

  16. Treena says:

    If I am flaring, I can’t eat anything but soup. If I’m in the hospital, that’s all they’ll give me anyway.. that and jell-o.

    When I’m not flaring chocolate never lets me down or makes me ill like chips can (not nachos, though, but I can’t eat a lot of those).

  17. ken says:

    I also sleep about 10 hrs a day when doing well. I will nap much of the day if im not feeling well. A Chronsy bowel movement puts me down for an hour or more, just like you say. It comes on as a wall of weakness that overwhelms me. I MUST sit or laydown for between 1/2 to 2 hours.

    Food cravings for me are Meat. Red meat most specifically when im doing well and I eat all i can at those periods to try and minimize the malabsorption issues of short gut syndrome. Rice noodle soups and peanut butter sandwiches are my goto foods for bad days.

    • Jaime says:

      Always feeling “foggy” & run down, especially when I first wake up. I never nap though, because if I do it’s for hours and I might as well just say good night! (Who has time for that when you have 2 kids?🙃)
      Food – I eat plain & boring when the smaller waves of a flare happens. If the waves become a little more intense I increase the plain & boring = broiled chicken breast, chicken soups, broths, saltines & other plain type crackers, tea biscuits, plain bagels with minimal butter (maybe a wee bit of peanut butter when my husband is out of the house – he’s allergic 😔), flat ginger ale, jello, vanilla pudding….
      Sometimes I get to the point of just fighting through the hunger for awhile; then just liquids, medication & sleep until it seems to calm.
      It seems that everyone I talk to have their similarities, but everyone has their own tricks for dealing.
      Keep on keeping on my friends!

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