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Can you lose weight with Crohn's Disease or Irritable Bowel Syndrome??

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 I am a 33 yr old woman that was just diagnosed with Crohn's, had a bowel resection and I lost over half of my colon.  After my surgery I gained 70lbs in less than a year (guess because I couldn't eat for six months).

With this disease, I have found that many veggies and fruits aggravate my condition.  It seems the more I diet and eat healthy foods, the sicker I get.  At least twice a month I am bloated to the point I look 12months pregnant. And the real kicker is that I have 3 sizes of clothes in my closet. 

I have looked through all of the forums and have not found anyone discussing this topic.Has anyone else had success losing weight with Crohn's or IBS?  Is there a meal plan or recommendation on food types out there?

I really want to lose this weight and any advise or point in the right direction would help!

Edited Mar 13 2010 21:09 by nycgirl
Reason: 3/4/10: Stickied; 3/14/10: Unstickied
64 Replies (last)
I'm having a lot of trouble losing weight with IBS. I don't have any suggestions yet at this point, but I'd be interested in seeing what other people have to say.
Hi! I've started a couple of threads about IBD and prednisone etc. Personally, when I'm sick only fatty foods work. Any fruits or veggies cause problems. The exceptions are bananas, peeled and cooked apples, and cooked carrots. Everyone is different, though.

Sorry you had to have a resection. What kind of maintenance meds are you on? Message me if you like, I've been there! To answer your question, I've lost over 30 lbs despite the disease  :D

Thank you both for the posts!  When I tell my doctor that only fatty foods work when I am sick, she looked at me like I was crazy!  I am sad that you have IBD, but I am sooooo glad to have someone to share my thoughts, frustrations and anxiety! 

If you don't mind, I would like to add you both to my friends list so I can keep in touch. 




I've had both for some years now - my doctor has made recommendations on diet, and how to handle these problems.

I think if you first start with the doctor; get a recommended diet, and then (since some people have told me about the 'fatty foods' remedy) go according to what works for you.

I guess I'll take a look on the I-net to see if there might be something more I could add to your needs, since I've worked mine out by NOT eating anything fried or fatty. 

What works the very best for me is:  No more than one serving of fish/poultry/meat a week.  No more than one egg a week.  No cheese - maybe a bite now and again, but that simply raises havoc with me.

No cabbage - I bloat on that, and broccoli.

What does work best?  Sweet potatoes, carrots, string beans, tomatoes, and spinach.

I can tolerate virtually ALL fruits.

I never eat pop corn - makes me really bloat up.  Never eat corn or potato chips - more bloat.

I drink lots of club soda - this works great.  I drink only one cup of coffee (again, bloating).  Tomato and Orange Juice work perfectly in my system.

I eat 'very tiny' meals (not even called meals really) - about 10 times a day.  I make up the 'real meal' - keep it in a container, and 'nibble' - minimizes the bloat.

When I'm really 'suffering', I BLEND my foods; sorry to say, it's a bit thicker than baby-food so not much 'texture or fun', but it quiets the problem within 3 days (and lots of chicken broth - it has a type of fat I can tolerate).

By nature of the foods that I can tolerate (most are low in calorie), it's a given one can not gain weight on my diet; more often, lose (which is why I'm not overweight I guess).

Walking is the best exercise; anything too 'intense' on my mid-section, and there I go with the bloating.

Getting good sound sleep seems to help me; avoiding stress is a must for me.

Anyway, I'll put you down as a friend just so I can easily get back to you with any new suggestions and information I find.  Diane - Nevada.

Hi - back again; got some information from a FREE download (32 pages).  Most of the download is about the causes; symptoms, etc.  Since everyone who's posted here, already knows they have this problem, I figured just the key facts (diet) are needed.

#1 - Eliminate all dairy - even goat's milk.

#2 - Remove cheese (particularly swiss, cheddar, and parmesan)

#3 - Remove Ice Cream, sour cream cream cheese and cottage cheese

#4 - No creamy salad dressings

#5 - Don't even do yogurt

Eliminate packaged foods that contain milk, milk solids, milk proteins, milk by-products, lactose, whey, and casein.

#6 - No butter

#7 - To start with (until symptoms are under control) - Eliminate eggs.  I found once I got things squared away, I could have 1 egg (sometimes 2) a week - but no more than 4 to 6 a month is the absolute maximum.

NOTE:  Since weight-loss diets often include yogurt and cottage cheese as well as low-caloried eggs (such as Atkins), you can see why you could really compound the problem if you're dieting/trying to lose weight.

NO GLUTEN:  Remove foods made from wheat, oats, barley and rye (I can only eat rye bread on occasion without problem).  I can eat oatmeal once or twice a week without too much reaction, but I don't travel and eat oatmeal because it causes me to have to make a 'quick trip' - and sometimes pain and gas.   USE ONLY APPLE CIDER VINEGAR AND BALSAMIC VINEGAR (and as my great grandmother did, start your day with one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar; one teaspoon of honey in a glass of PURE water, to set up the pH balance in your system).

Now for the legume family - so many people are using beans as a protein alternative (low cost/low calorie) - again, if you're dieting, you're prone to picking the wrong foods because diets often recommend these foods to LOSE weight.

No beans, navy, kidney, black, red, refried.  No chick peas.  No lentils.  No soy such as tofu or powers. 

GREEN BEANS, PEAS, AND LIMA BEANS are the lowest risk for problem.  DO NOT EAT SPLIT PEA SOUP - I love it, but I pay for it. 


DRINK LOTS OF WATER THAT IS AS PURE AS YOU CAN FIND - Reverse Osmosis is what we're set up with; it works great.  CLUB SODA - it has no artificial sweeteners which CAUSE LOTS OF TROUBLE.

DO NOT GULP WATER OR TAKE IN LARGE AMOUNTS AT A TIME.  Sip, sip, sip and get your 8 to 10 glasses over the course of 14 hours.


COMBINE FOODS:  Do NOT combine fruit with your meal - eat it BEFORE OR AFTER your meal.  SAME WITH FRUIT JUICES.

ELIMINATE FRUCTOSE:  Sugar, molasses, maple syrup, corn, corn syrup.

FOODS TO ELIMINATE WHILE RE-REGULATING YOUR BODY:  For 21 days, eat no beets, carrots, peas, onions, tomatoes, eggplant, sweet potatoes, squash.  This is the HARDEST THING TO DO - but I did it, and what a wonderful relief and results.  ONLY AFTER I GOT BACK ON TRACK, did I add these foods back in since I JUST LOVE 90% of those I've listed here.

FOOD THAT DOESN'T CAUSE PROBLEMS:  Lean beef; chicken (white meat only); fish, a periodic egg.  You can have rice, and RED potatoes, spinach and nuts.  THIS IS THE RESTRICTED DIET for that 21 day period until you've cleaned out your system of bad bacteria, etc.

GET RID OF ANTIOBITICS - that really fouls up the system.

STOP WITH PAIN MEDICATIONS - do your best for 21 days.

DO YOUR BEST TO ELIMINATE STRESS AND ANXIETY (I was given a medication that I took once a day for 21 days to help me with this - no longer take it).

ELIMINATE FATS AND OILS - they are 'killers' to me and many.  BEST OIL is Olive oil.  TAKE FLAXSEED OIL OR A GOOD FISH OIL EACH DAY.

ELIMINATE ALL FOODS AND DRINKS THAT HAVE ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS.  Obviously many diet foods have these sweeteners - it can be a real detriment to the one who's on a diet, yet is suffering from Crohn's. 

THE WORST IRRITANT RE ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS:  Aspartame (NutraSweet and Equal).  This is why I stick to tea, water, and club soda (I eliminated my diet tonic water because of this sweetener).

WHAT MY DOCTOR DID TO HELP ME GET BACK TO 'NORMAL':  I had chicken broth - LOTS OF IT.  I LOVE red potatoes, so I baked them - ate them just as they are; nothing added (they are so good).  I'd make up chicken breasts (baked); add the potatoes, and LOTS OF SPINACH.  I'd eat a chicken breast (1/2) for breakfast with either orange juice; an orange, or tomatoes and tomato juice.  I had chicken broth for lunch - adding bits of chicken and lima beans = a mild soup.  I often put in left-over potatoes into this little soup of mine - it was tasty, and I could tolerate celery, so that was cut up and plopped in as well.

DINNER?  Fish, fish, fish (salmon, tilapia, and cod did best for me).  MORE SPINACH - never too much of that as I saw it.  On the day I could have that 'one egg', I made it soft-boiled and ate that with my fish and spinach (love this combination).

ANOTHER GOOD MEAL - lunch or dinner:  Spinach leaves; 1/2 of soft-boiled egg (sliced or crumbled), and that chilled left-over fish = good salad, and about 10 grapes sliced on top with a vinegarette dressing (or just a splash of red wine vinegar).

WHAT YOU WON'T HAVE FOR 21 DAYS:  You will eat the same foods that AGREE WITH YOU, over and over, but you'll feel so good each day (no pain), you'll simply NOT want anything else.

WHEN YOU DO BEEF:  Very lean - and I'd do a slow roast on the meat; chill it - chop it into cubes, and make that SPINACH SALAD again.  I'd cut it into strips - eat with green peppers (which I could tolerate well) in a 'chilled' state, or heat them together, and serve over rice (and you can do this with chicken or turkey as well).

LOTS OF TURKEY - really agreed with me.  I love it all by itself - this was my snack, as was melon (often the two of them comprised my lunch) - I tolerated melon very well. 

MY EMPHASIS:  The fruits; the few vegetables, and the poultry/fish PLUS LOTS OF CHICKEN BROTH.

Once my system cleared, up I really was slow to add anything back because I didn't want the misery.  I read through the list of allowed foods; added a couple in - tried for a week, and when nothing went wrong, I continued until I found what I could add back without slipping back.

I no longer have the bloat or pain; my slacks 'fit' the same way every day, and I can travel without becoming miserable. 

I remember one of the worst times:  I was feeling great; heading to Palm Springs, and stopped for breakfast.  I decided to have eggs; ham, whole-wheat toast, coffee, and orange juice.  Of course I made the mistake of drinking the juice withi my meal; had 3 cups of coffee, and by the time I'd traveled 5 miles down the road, I looked like I was 5 months pregnant, and WAS IN PAIN - sweating, and had to find a bathroom at a rest-stop.  After that happened, I VOWED I'D NEVER make this mistake again (and haven't).

ONE LITTLE THING THAT ALSO WORKS FOR ME:  Never eat within one hour of driving more than 20 miles - traveling longer than that on a full stomach, really fouls things up for me.

AGAIN:  I nibble my meals that I make up - spread them out; never fill my stomach 'full' because I'm in trouble.  I NEVER EAT PIZZA - it simply kills me!  Anything with spice and nitrate in it (Pepperoni, Salami, etc.) make me so sick, I end up in bed with the heating pad on and a bloat that simply rises up so high, I think I'm going to burst!

If you want to download your own 32-page booklet, use Google - type in Crohn's disease diet Dr. Dahlman, and you'll get to his site.  You have to fill in a form to get the FREE download; I used my g-mail (lots of gigabytes there) to avoid using my private e-mail.  You give your name (I used only my first) + e-mail, and hit 'get free download' tab.  WITHIN ABOUT 2 MINUTES, the e-mail came in.  You go to the link they provide you; you have to go BACK to the Dr. Dahlman Online (it prompts), and then you DO IT AGAIN (the first time is so they can verify your e-mail address).  The SECOND TIME, you get the download in less than a minute.  It's a PDF file - open, and read.    Because I'm such a 'veteran' of this disease, I PRINTED ONLY THE KEY INFORMATION THAT I WANTED TO KEEP.

I hope this helps you in your meal planning, and YOU GET THE RELIEF I FINALLY GOT after nearly 50 years of fighting this battle.  Take care. Diane - Nevada

All I can say SixtyFive is Wow!  Everything that is listed as a no-no are my favorite foods.....dairy....cheese.....ohhh sweet cheese...I will miss you!

What I have to say is that this is really tough! I love (and I really do mean love) to cook and to eat.  It is still hard for me to believe the severity of this condition. I didn't have anyone to talk about it with before.  Even my doctor stated that she didn't know much about crohn's, because each patient is different.  I really appreciate you taking the time out to get this informtion.  I had reviewed WebMD and Mayo, but they told me symptoms and causes, which most of us with any form of IBS is already familiar.

I am going to take the time right now to do some research.  Talk with you soon.


That plan may or may not work for you. Everyone is different and there are many plans out there that claim to work miracles. I have tried some very restricted diets with less-than-stellar results.

For example, it's true that people with IBS or IBD have higher rates of lactose and milk fat intolerances, but not everyone needs to avoid dairy. I tried going dairy, nut, red meat, refined sugar, and gluten-free for several months and nothing changed.

Sixtyfivealive - do you follow this diet all the time, or only when you are having symptoms? Raw green pepper absolutely kills me!

Me too ser25!  Raw green or red Peppers and onions hurt me something bad.  I keep getting depressed about trying to lose weight because after about a week of eating "healthier" foods, I am struck with a serious attack.  The pain gets me discouraged.

I have been writing down what I eat and realized that I am not even close to the recommended daily intake of calories.  They state that I should have at least 1350, but I am lucky if I break 900 calories a day.  I think part of it may be my work, because I rarely have time to eat and the other part is the Crohn's.  If you are in severe pain everytime you eat, you stop eating. 

I know I need more exercise.  Maybe that is my solution to weight loss

Hi - no, I don't have to follow this diet UNLESS it flares up.  For me, it takes about 21 days of being STRICT.  I've had so many flare-ups in my life, that I can't count.  However, I always go back to this diet; it works for me just beautifully.

Obviously, I can't guarantee 100% of this to anyone because there could be other food allergies, and individual conditions that might affect the overall outcome.  Still, I think it's worth giving it a try when (so far) you've said your doctor has given you little because she has little knowledge of it.

The hardest thing for me to do is GIVE UP DAIRY.  However, I had a flare-up in November of 2007; away went the dairy (and it's still gone).  At best, I have cottage cheese and a little swiss cheese each week; but no milk or ice cream - no sour cream or cream cheese.  I don't do creamy salad dressings any more.

I gave up all chocolate because of the milk solids - haven't had any since November.

I've had an egg or two; always end up with cramps.  So, I've decided to only have those when I've put something ELSE in my stomach so the egg does't hit 'so hard'.

I have only 1/2 slice of bread a day; stay 'comfy' with that.

In November we'd had a Mexican dinner - there were the beans; the tortillas, and sour cream on top of my burrito.  I 'blew up' like a balloon - heating pad; club soda, and pain all night; pain the next day - periodic pain ... it's not worth the pain to me.

Anyway, since green pepper isn't a 'must' on anyone's menu, by all means DITCH IT.  Regards, Diane 



" If you are in severe pain everytime you eat, you stop eating.  " - AMEN!

So you lose a bunch of weight, then you go on prednisone, eat everything in sight, gain 15 lbs...

berrywrap12, I am so with you on the pain, bloating, frustration, etc. Are you dealing with IBS as well as IBD? It's totally possible to have both. Have you tried increasing your fat intake %? It really helps me with the pain.

Lol - I'm eating green pepper on a daily basis since I found the maintenance drug that works for me. I forgot how good vegetables are!
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Hi everyone!

I too have Crohn's disease...I was diagnosed in 1992.  My disease has been my weight control and 'diet' since then.  Note that I'm saying "my disease" since we all know that every individual with Crohn's or Colitis is different.  I've only had two big flare ups in my life - when I was first diagnosed and about 3 years ago.  My disease was always my weight control because the everyday pain (which we learn to live with) and my decreased appetite kept my calorie intake at bay.  I've always said that IBD is just another form of bulemia!!!

Anyway, 3 years ago, my whole system went to hell in a hand basket.  Medications were poured into my system but none helped.  I finally had to have surgery where the surgeon removed almost 2 feet of my bowel.  The good news?  I have no pain anymore and I can eat for the first time since 1992.  The bad news?  I can eat for the first time since 1992.  Food was always my enemy!  As soon as I would go to eat, I would get a pain then lose my appetite. So, as I said earlier, weight control.  But now???  The pain is gone and I'm enjoying food again.

Since my flare up 3 years ago, I ballooned to 202 lbs (with the help of our friend prednisone, of course).  But I was enjoying eating so much that I put the weight in the back of my mind.  Now, I'm greedy.....I want it all....I want to be pain-free AND still enjoy eating.  For me, this is very new.  I've already lost some weight...I'm down to 170 lbs.  I joined this website to help me get the rest of the way.

I didn't think there were any others like me out there.....those of us with IBD AND overweight.  Thanks everyone for being out there.

I have IBS and mannn....Does it ever complicate weightloss.

But I've found that a really important part of both helping your medical condition as well as aiding your weight-loss is understanding what works for YOUR body. I don't think any food list that allows/restricts foods will help you in that endeavour, so I think food lists should be taken with a grain of salt.

Certain supplements can also work wonders, and I have a feeling that the ingredients in Lean+ are helping me too(hydroxycitric acid, alpha lipoic acid, coleus forskohlii, grapefruit extract). You're supposed to take 4 a day for weightloss, but I only take 2, and mostly just take it for the positive effect it seems to have on my digestion...Maybe it's the thermogenesis. Or maybe it's only psychosomatic lol...

I had the whole bloat-thing going on for quite some time, and to a very BAD extent - I didn't know what to do. I normally ate an ultra-low-fat diet and had this high-fibre cereal for breakfast, of which I ran out one day, so I mixed-up a protein shake and made a small mixture of a little avocado with some honey mustard, nuts, seeds, and an egg-white omlette. I felt really good, and helped my bloating go down a LOT. So I decided to get rid of the cereal completely, and further get rid of bread and incorporate more fats...Within days the bloating was going away, and it was because I was eating MORE FAT. I have no clue why...

I reduced my intake of dairy, but did not totally eliminate it, and that seemed to help me too.

For me, AVOCADOS have helped a great deal. I have no idea why, but they really seem to aid me in digestion for some reason.

It also seems to effect me how I prepare vegetables. If I eat broccoli, it helps to totally cut them up, almost shred them up.

But yeah, if you haven't already....Try cooking with avocados. They might help. They sure did help me :)

I've had good luck with the avocado too!  I like your 'blend' - it's good we can help each other with ideas.  Diane

Me too!! It's great to be able to compare notes and share helpful tips! I mean, doctors and meds help, sure... But I find that a customized approach is best, and let's face it: doctor's go by the book. And no body is exactly the same!!! You gotta find-out what works for you.

Avocados rock! I found further info that supports that it aids in digestion(besides the fact that it works like a charm for me!) but also supporting evidence that the combination of food eaten has a huge impact on how it'll digest. Of course every online article should be taken with a grain of salt, but this article seems to agree with everything that has worked for me, so maybe there's something to it...It's an article about foods causing constipation: tion.htm

Hope this helps!!!



I so understand exactly what you're goin through. you could be telling my story. after my bowel resection it took time to be able to eat again and when I was able I ate so much because I was so starved plus I was drinking ensure, recommended by my doctor. Then I went on prednisone and ballooned up to 160lb's from 110lb's. I feel so depressed about it. I too have multiple sizes in my closet because I yoyo in weight so much. I've started working out again since I've recovered. (I had my surgeries over this past summer) Exercise seems to help. But the food is my issue. I have uncontrollable cravings ever since this last flare and I don't know why. I just can't seem to help myself. I just wanna eat all the time. I'm always hungry. It's just crazy because just this past summer food was repugnant to me. Even the sight of food made me wanna vomit. I think that this disease is different for everybody. I know that some people can eat veggies and other can't some can eat fried food and some can't etc. Also I think weight training helps if you've had any extended period of time bedridden from a flare. Your muscles start to atrophy within and couple of weeks when you can't be active so when you do get outta bed and start feeling better it's good to start with some light freeweights. It really helped me get my strength back. Anyway, I'd like to add you to my friends list. I think a lot of people don't understand how much this disease affects you and how difficult it can be to live with. Best of luck to you.
Original Post by berrywrap12:

 If you are in severe pain everytime you eat, you stop eating.

 This is true to the letter.  I'm having an extremely difficult time gaining (desperately-needed) weight because my Superior Mesenteric Artery (SMA) Syndrome and IBS make every bite hit my stomach like broken glass.  I wish someone would invent a food pill that I could just take 3 times a day.  Until my duodenojejunostomy (a type of open surgery used to treat SMA, not IBS) this Thursday, I have to stick to an all-liquid diet.  I put everything and anything in the blender, whether it's bananas or chicken.  It's the only way food can enter my stomach without making me want to cry.

In any case, I'd like to invite anyone here struggling with IBS to visit this forum.  It offers a wealth of information and Q&A's from other C-C users who have experience with various intestinal disorders and diseases.

Godspeed to everyone battling these horrible conditions – just remember, you are stronger than it!


P.S.  If you've never heard of SMA Syndrome before, it's because it has a demographic of only about 0.013%.  If you are curious, check out the Wikipedia Encycopedia Article that I authored and provided the diagrams and photos for. 

I totally understand your pain Jenn.  Sorry I haven't posted as I had a flare up that required a few days in the ward (hospital ward that is : ).

It is crazy how this disease has affected my life.  Jenn I was diagnosed in 2006, four days before I had my surgery.  Can you believe it.  I am still trying to cope and it has been two years on Jan. 25th.  That is why I started this post.  Like you I gained weight because I was able to eat again.  Add in the fact that I stopped smoking the day I had my surgery, I don't need to tell you how food was sooooo much more delicious than ever before. 

Everytime I would start to lose a few pounds, here comes the Crohn's again.  I would get discouraged and stop trying to lose weight.  Crohn's was the perfect excuse!  However, thanks to the new people I met here, I have lost 6 pounds since January 1. Yay me! I have been trying to find a healthy balance between foods that don't hurt me and the food that is no good for me (as far as weight loss).

I hope you all don't mind, but I am adding you all to my friends list.


I cannot find out how to respond directly to a message, so forgive the numerous posts.  I am replying as I read them.I have never in my life used an avacado. I have not tasted one either.  That is what I like about this website, I learn new veggies and how to make them.  Can one of you tell me how to prepare the avacado.  I mean do you have to skin it; are there parts you cannot eat; and lastly, how do you cook the things?When you blend it, is it raw or cooked?

Ser, I don't know.  My doctor is not very forthcoming with information, as I am her first Crohn's patient.  It all happened so fast, I didn't even realize what really happened or is happening in my body until this past summer.  My gastro doctor uses the term Crohn's.  She says it is a form of IBD.  I am new to the information and it seems that they lump all of the conditions associated with the bowel as a form of IBD/IBS.  I really do not know which is correct. 

I have a story that only you gals would appreciate.  I woke up twice during the colonoscopy.  Man was the doctor going to town.  He is shoving it up there all excited, I remember as he was moving the darn camera he was saying "do you see that" as he kept shoving it up there.  I was traumatized.  I was screaming, the doctor was screaming, and the nurse was screaming "wait doctor, she's not out"...all I can say is OMG!  I can laugh at it now, but I remember it clear as much for the amnesia drug! LOL

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Hello there! I too am a crohn's sufferer who's had a resection. I had my entire ileum removed along with about 6 more inches of my small intestine. And like you i gained about 50 pounds in like 5 months! It was so wonderful to eat again :)  But here i am a year and a half later and almost everything i eat now hurts in one way or another. MOstly bloating and gas but diarrhea also (which is all i have because of the missing ileum). So it's been a major adjustment for me. I try and eat healthy so that i can lose the weight i want to but all the "healthy" foods hurt as well. Especially veggies and bananas for some reason.  I love salads but they hurt too much at times. I've tried some exercising but if it involoves using my stomach or ab muscle pain usually follows. I had two abcess form on my ab muscles which led to my resectioning.  It's good to know that there are people out there dealing with the same things i am.  Oh and i am currently only taking Azathioprine for "maintenance".  Hope things get better for you.


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