November 06 2015

Overcoming Crohn’s: How I Dropped Sugar and Gained 30 Pounds

By Guest

It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

real_life_stories_stories-1-2Going straight to the point: Discovering I had Crohn’s disease after a few weeks in the hospital was the best thing that ever happened to me. I definitely would NOT have made that statement in the heat of the moment back three years ago, but I hit my 31st birthday and I’ve never had more vitality (for myself) and understanding of the human body (for sharing).

For years prior to my hospitalization I woke up every morning feeling poisoned. I had frequent mouth ulcers, the lymph nodes in my armpits where constantly swelling up and painful, I was always, always tired, I had bad acne on my back that didn’t seem to correlate to anything, foul flatulence, dandruff, joint pain, a smattering of skin allergies and I sunburned really, really easily (I’m a Northern Canadian who’s been living in Southern Spain for the last eight years, it is SUNNY here).

1-hospitalDespite this, I just couldn’t get help from doctors. I had visited a few over the years, but when they caught wind of my marathon running and regular rock climbing, it seemed like they would shut off, “this kid is obviously making it up,” I’m sure they thought. It didn’t seem to matter that my symptoms were chronic and that everyday for years, I was just an iota weaker and sicker than the previous. Nope. Doctors would tell me; you need to rest more, use antibacterial soap, eat more eggs, don’t worry, it’s not sinister, etc. Hahahaha. As a matter of fact, two days before being hospitalized a blood specialist told me to not worry, everything was going to be alright. Right.

So at some point along the way, I read about the vegan diet and got on board. I really wanted to be well and I didn’t want my health to come from a pill. So for a month I went from sick to sicker, I moved to loose vegetarianism from there until the hospital. Foregoing meat was a bad idea, but it got me into the kitchen and for the first time in my life, I started making every meal I ate, something indispensable for my future switch to paleo.


– Spent years getting sick.
– Largely ignored by doctors.
– Found fleeting hope in veganism.
– Hospitalized with Crohn’s.

Hospitals suck. If you’re there right now, my condolences. If you’ve been there, you already know how pleasant 6 am blood drawings and nasty chemical IV’s really are. My arms looked like those of a crack addicts and felt like a dry well, the nurses were having a hard time getting blood out of me. I’m pretty sure I cried at least once while there and I praise God for the friends that came out to see me. For three weeks I had a visitor everyday. Visit your friend in the hospital, it’s time well spent.

I left the hospital here in Spain to go back home to Canada for Christmas. If I was going to be desperately ill, I might as well have my family around. Despite the fact that a hefty dose of corticoids were helping keep my bowel movement count in check, I still had never known so much pain. So I read.

I read The Maker’s Diet by Dr. Jordan Rubin, I read Wheat Belly by Dr. Williams Davis, I read the grand daddy of all nutritional books Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price, I read some Breaking the Vicious Cycle, and I read Winnie the Pooh (in dark moments you need a little light). I was convinced that diet was going to save me yet!

I went back to Spain and a few weeks later I relapsed. I was getting better but then one weekend, BOOM! Back to square one: 20+ bowel movements a day and continued weight loss (I started this ordeal at 76 kg and at this time I was 57 kg). Through the reading I had completed I knew in my head what needed to be done, but in my heart I hadn’t been ready to dive in head first. The relapse only lasted a few horrible days, but it was at that point that I went through my cupboards and threw away anything with sugar, cereals, legumes, and preservatives. I also threw away fruit, dates, and nuts. I threw away coffee, tea, alcohol, chocolate (even the dark stuff). Everything. I wanted health and a good friend told me that big problems require big solutions.

2-really skinny

This all helped, but I was still limping by. My intestines were continuously inflamed, my ileum constantly hurt (I didn’t even know what that was before this ordeal), and even eating free range chicken soup frequently resulted in long nights of vomiting, pain and diarrhea.

The pain wouldn’t stop and my waist kept shrinking. It’s scary to be in a weight loss free-fall. I threw up my hands up in desperation and decided I was done with eating for a while. It seemed so pointless to watch it flow right on out undigested.

Three days later I was noticeably better.

Ever since then, through regular weekly fasting, through stress management, and through high-nutrient/toxin-free eating, I have made steady progress. Not one of the previously mentioned symptoms are currently an issue, I weigh a very stable 70 kg, I am on zero drugs or supplements (but don’t tell my doctor, she’d freak out), and I am just an iota stronger every day. I can blow through a half-marathon without prepping. I do a lot of sport climbing, which I feel is one of the ultimate “paleo” exercises.


I love working out less for a body whose form and tone easily rivals that of the marathon running version of me, who basically gave up his social life to find enough time for running.

I came to Marks Daily Apple through a friend once I already found myself on the path of improving my life through diet and lifestyle, but in the years since I’ve read nearly every article posted and have thoroughly enjoyed impressing my medical doctor girlfriend with the amazing recipes. I’ve been so encouraged by every success story I’ve read. This site gets a high endorsement from me for it’s tempered view on health and for the gamut of topics covered. I recommend it to any friends looking to get started on a better life, it’s some of the best free information out there.

Every human body is endowed with an incredible capacity to heal itself and it desires in every moment to heal itself, it just needs the resources to do so.

Be strong!


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31 thoughts on “Overcoming Crohn’s: How I Dropped Sugar and Gained 30 Pounds”

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  1. You my friend just might have healed yourself by taking control! What an awesome achievement. I really enjoy these “weight gain” stories , such profound achievements.

  2. Congrats James! What a difficult and painful journey! Your story truly inspires.

    To see how far you’ve come with your health obstacles is really awesome. It takes a lot of courage to try something radical but when one is as sick as you were, it is the only choice sometimes. Thanks so much for sharing, it really means a lot.

    Continue to thrive!

  3. James, I’m so happy for you! May your success be an encouragement to others “healthy” and otherwise.

  4. Way to go James! Great story of perseverance. I find that is the best way for people to truly heal themselves.

  5. Great going James. Expressing genetics though the way we all evolved is so cool, isn’t It? Glad you are feeling better.

  6. James, what an incredible achievement. Your experience with Crohn’s pretty much mirrors my own. I switched to a paleo diet about 2 years ago as drugs had made a big improvement to my condition but I still wasn’t 100%, however I have been a bit scared to come off those drugs. How did you come off drugs? Did you just stop seeing your doctor? Stop filling prescriptions? Did you do it gradually or cold turkey? I know I won’t have support from my doctor to do this so I’m looking for advice from people who’ve done it. Thank you!

  7. Wow, that is an incredible journey – congrats on reclaiming your health.

  8. Hi James,

    I have been reading….

    The ‘Standard American Diet’ is such a cruel joke.

    Just like Weston Price’s stuff, the above link has amazing stuff. Now if I can just figure out how to do a meaningful analysis of the meat I eat [trace minerals, amino acids, lipids] I will have another tool to help improve what I eat!

    Probably someone on this list knows what to ask for and where to get meat tested?


    1. Hi John, I’m curious as to why you want econometrics. (I like data too). Would a deductive, a priori methodology-similar to praxeology in studying human behavior- suffice?

  9. Interesting. So you feel that by taking a break from eating that allowed the inflammation to go down and you were finally able to start fresh? I was able to switch off grains pretty easily a few years ago, but still use too much sugar and truth be told, corn chips are still part of my diet. I’m at a good weight, 114 lbs, and I don’t have any problems, still, it seems that you have gone all the way and I have only gone part way. Good for you! I am glad that you were able to turn that around.

    1. Check into The Gut Balance Revolution. I think that the fasting helps kill off the bad bacteria by starving them out. Obviously sugar feeds them which in turn ramps up the damage to your intestine’s.

  10. Felicidades por haber tomado el control de tú salud, muy motivante el final de tu experiencia.

    Cada cuerpo humano está dotado de una increíble capacidad de curarse a sí mismo y que desea en cada momento para curarse a sí mismo, sólo tiene los recursos para hacerlo.

    ¡Sé fuerte!

  11. Great story. I love to hear a focus other than weight loss. In the end it all comes down to how we feel!!!

  12. Fantastic at finding answers for your Crohn’s and I’m jealous! All that energy you have sounds delicious. I have an IBD condition myself, and while doing better I’m not quite there at your level concerning energy. Best of luck, continued success, and hold on tight to the rocks.

  13. Congratulations,
    So what does an average day of eating look like for you?

  14. Yeah hospitals suck. Every time I go there is because a family or friend is sick. Anyways, been trying to cut back sugar and caffeine for years but have been unsuccessful.

  15. If you love ‘Winnie The Pooh’ and primal living then you’ll love ‘The Tao of Pooh’, a little book I stumbled upon in a lovely little nature B&B one day. I suggest you read it at the top of a long climb. I would myself, but I’m afraid of heights 😉
    Excellent story, and best wishes to you!

  16. Congrats on finding health & vitality again! I wish you continued success! Is your medical doctor girlfriend paleo as well? It’s nice to see doctors who don’t follow the SAD.

  17. Congratulations! It sounds as though you are well on the road to a healthy life. I have a good friend with Crohn’s who manages to keep the inflammation down through a primal/paleo diet, and a daily dose of enteric cucurmin. If you have not tried that, you might want to look into it.
    Good luck!

  18. Congrats to you. Fellow Crohnies would love more details. Do you fast one day a week? Take any supplements? do you eat fermented foods? What do you honk was the key to your well-being?

  19. That’s an impressive story about curing Crohn’s.
    What is it that you eat then? Only pastured/free range meat and eggs?
    Keto diet?

  20. ReMARKable story 🙂 You did a wonderful job. It is pretty hard to go against all common knowledge and into the deep, but your body seems to show you the way. Thank you for sharing your story and I know it can inspire others!

  21. James good for you. I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and was taking medication for years,until I change my diet to Paleo and ocassionaly I do intermediate fasting.. The doctors told me the disease would never go away. I’ve been medication free for about four years. During my last colonoscopy ( my 4 th), the doctors did a biopsy to look for that disease and found nothing.. I attribute it to cutting sugar out of the diet which cuts the inflimation out of the body.