Liquid diets: How to thrive and what to avoid

When you battle inflammatory bowel disease, chances are there will be several times throughout your journey where you are limited to only drinking liquids—whether it’s preparing for an upcoming procedure or needing to rest your bowel during a flare-up. It can be extremely dreadful to function in a workplace or in a social situation, when you’re limited to drinking liquids or sipping on some broth.

meandamandaWhen I was a news anchor in Springfield, Illinois, I used to interview and participate in cooking segments with a registered dietitian named Amanda Figge. She is extremely passionate and well-versed about nutrition and health and practices what she preaches in her daily life.

“Nutrition holds the key to the difference between going on or off certain medications, improving your performance and strength at the gym, raising energy levels, and reducing pain and inflammation, to name a few. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to healthy eating,” Amanda explains.

One of Amanda’s recent posts on social media really peaked my interest. She included a photo of Ensure. If you have IBD, chances are you’ve relied on these at some point. I know I have. In her post, Amanda wrote:ensure

“Ensure is one of the worst “nutritional” beverages to supplement in the diet. Yes, I fully understand the body just needs to receive nutrients in any way, shape or form it can. But when longevity and health are a prime concern, QUALITY should be a priority. As you can see, Ensure provides an assortment of vitamins and minerals, but in order to get those nutrients, you have to consume a bottle chalk-full of chemicals and high-inflammatory agents.”

She went on to say:

“Sugar is the third ingredient. Corn maltodextrin is a highly processed refined carbohydrate. Soy protein should be avoided. Artificial flavors/sweeteners are no way to treat the body nicely. You’re basically consuming a multi-vitamin that was covered in sugar, lit with a cigarette and left in the middle of a freeway during rush hour traffic.”

Whew. Intense. If you’re like me—and have depended on these meal supplement drinks when you’re in the hospital, fighting a flare at home or struggling to eat—those words probably struck a chord with you, too. Amanda’s focus is to heal the body with whole foods and eliminating potential sources of inflammation. Inflammation is the immune system’s first response to an acute or chronic condition. Chronic inflammation can be caused by cancer and its treatments, autoimmune disorders such as fibromyalgia and Crohn’s, metabolic complications such as diabetes and even neurological conditions like depression.

“While I believe it’s important for all people to practice low inflammatory eating habits (focusing on a whole foods diet and limiting processed foods, chemicals and added sugars), it is especially important for individuals experiencing chronic inflammation to adopt these protocols. Ensure is often provided to those undergoing chemotherapy or recovering from a bowel flare-up. While it may be appropriate for some, creating a homemade nutritional supplement can have far less chemicals and more immune-boosting benefits,” says Amanda.

If you’re put on a liquid diet to calm your bowel and to heal, avoid lactose, gluten, sugar-substitutes and soy. Making homemade shakes allows you to have complete control of the nutrients you are putting into your body. Here are two of Amanda’s favorite smoothie recipes:

 Creamy Chocolate Banana Smoothie

  • 1 scoop of chocolate whey protein isolate (lactose-free and naturally sweetened)
  • ½ frozen banana
  • ½ small avocado
  • 1 spoonful of peanut butter or almond butter
  • Handful of ice cubes
  • Unsweetened almond milk (1/2 cup- 1 cup)

Blend all ingredients in food processor or mixer. Using less almond milk will make the smoothie extra rich and thick.

Berry Bliss Smoothie

  • 1 scoop vanilla whey protein isolate (lactose-free and naturally sweetened)
  • ½ -1 cup frozen blueberries
  • ½ frozen banana
  • 1-2 handfuls of spinach
  • Unsweetened almond milk (1/2 cup- 1 cup)

Blend all ingredients in food processor or mixer. Using less almond milk will make the smoothie extra rich and thick. IMG_5890

Another option instead of whey protein isolate would be collagen peptides. These specific amino acids can additionally help support proper gut function and strengthen immunity. L-glutamine powder is an additional supplement Amanda recommends that promotes gut healing. This powder can easily be added to smoothies and beverages.

I don’t know about you, but the next time I’m on a liquid diet, I’m going to take Amanda’s advice to heart. While we may not have control of our well-being with Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, this knowledge and background enables us to grab the reins and give our body the best shot to heal, in a healthy way.


One thought on “Liquid diets: How to thrive and what to avoid

  1. Invisibly Me says:

    Great recipe, and an interesting note on Ensure, I’m pretty sure that (or something incredibly similar!) is what I’m always given and turn my nose up at in hospital because after a few sips I feel sick. x


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