Archive Monthly Archives: March 2022

11 Things I Wish I’d Done Differently When I Was First Diagnosed with Crohn’s

Mistakes and missteps. We’ve all made them in our life.

I’ve made plenty in my 35 years with Crohn’s.

Today, I’m sharing with you the top 11 missteps I made in my early days (and even into my not so early days) with Inflammatory Bowel Disease with the hope that my mistakes can help you can avoid some of these pitfalls and find your healing path much sooner than I did.

Here we go!

Three Things You’ll Learn in This Episode

  • The #1 reason I finally have a great collaborative relationship with my doctor and what it took to get there
  • What prioritizing YOU really means
  • The truth behind why more doctors don’t prescribe food for their patients and the reason why (spoiler: it’s not their fault)
  • And much, much more. This episode is chock full of gut healing goodness!

Rate, Review and Subscribe on Apple Podcasts

Mentioned in This Episode:

How to Find an IBD Doctor You’ll Rave About

Episode Resources:

Time Spent Becoming a Doctor

Status of Nutrition Education in Medical Schools

Connect With Karyn:

Karyn on Facebook

Schedule Your FREE 30-Minute IBD Consult

Episode Transcript:

Mistakes and missteps. We’ve all made them in our life. I’ve made plenty in my 35 years with Crohn’s. Today, I’m sharing with you my top 11 missteps with the hope that you can avoid some of these pitfalls and find your healing path much sooner than I did. Here we go!


Hey there my friend. Welcome once again. I’m so happy to be sharing this space with you today. I’ve got lots to share with you this week as we take a walk down misstep memory lane so let’s go for it and just dive in.

This was an emotional episode for me to put together. Going back and looking at all my mistakes, everything I did wrong while I was finding my way with Inflammatory Bowel Disease. While I was going through and making notes and thinking of ideas to share with you, I often found myself welling up with tears, occasionally having to just stop and take a moment for the losses and the wasted time I spent along the way. So many missteps. So yeah, this one is personal, but I’m sharing it, warts and all, with the hope that it will give you insights and a-ha moments so you don’t needlessly suffer. We suffer enough with Crohn’s and colitis. Today, let’s see what we can do to ease some of that suffering for you.

So, keeping in mind this might come across a little bit shaky or emotional at times, here’s the 11 things I wish I’d done differently when I was first diagnosed with Crohn’s and 11 things you can do differently too start from wherever you’re at on your healing journey today.

#1- If were to start over, I would start with food, not use it as a last resort.

The idea that food has nothing to do with how our Crohn’s or colitis shows up in our body is utterly preposterous! Why is this nonsense still being petaled by well-meaning, but under-educated doctors is beyond my comprehension. And it’s not their fault. As crazy as it sounds, medical students aren’t taught about the link between the state of the digestive tract and the quality of the food we put in our body in their gastrointestinal education. In their reported 40,000 hours of training doctors receive in United States medical schools, and according to the Journal of Clinical Nutrition, on average med students receive 23.9 hours in nutritional instruction. 23.9 hours out of 40,000 hours of medical training. If we’re going to be mad at anyone for this injustice, it’s the pharma happy and sometimes big pharma entwined medical schools that are going about this all wrong.

It’s no wonder your doctor’s first response for IBD is, “Let’s get you on some biologics.”

But just because that’s your doctor’s first inclination to put you on meds, doesn’t mean it’s the only path for you. I wish to God I would have known about gut healing food 35 years ago when I got this wrenching and life altering diagnosis. There was no internet back then. There was no one pointing me in a different direction.

Now there’s a lot I could say negative about the internet and social media. I often think about the struggles it’s creating for our children. But with the negative and darkness also comes the light. The amazing content, vocal voices for change, and regular people like you and me trying to make a difference in our IBD lives and help others in the process.

The internet has changed everything for our C + C life. We now have the power to see success stories, research studies, ideas, opinions all about food leading the way to intestinal healing—all at our fingertips. So, yeah, if I could start over again, I would do thinks differently. I would start with food, no matter what my doctor told me. And just let me say, huge point here so if you’ve started multitasking, come back to me. Starting with food doesn’t mean an only food approach and it doesn’t mean I’m anti-medicine.

Why can’t we do both?

And keep a goal of when your IBD is in remission, mainly using food to stay that way? Why not keep that in the forefront of your mind as your ultimate goal? I wonder, if I had had this information sooner, about the power of gut healing food, could I have saved myself from 3 bowel resections and the lasting impact that’s having on my life? I’ll never know. I started using food as my main healing source 20 years into my disease, not soon enough.

But you have the power now. You have the power and the resources to use food to help you heal. There is no one size fits all diet, but there is the diet that works best for you. Keep striving to find what that diet looks like for you. It’s a decision you will never regret. And if you start to feel overwhelmed by all the gut healing diet information that’s available to you, again, thanks to the internet, that’s where I come in. That’s what I’m here for, so reach out and we’ll get you the help you need to move forward with food as the star, instead of a last resort.

#2- If I were starting over again, just diagnosed with Crohn’s, I would make friends with others who have IBD.

Family is great. OK, family is supposed to be great. Blood is thicker than water, right? But even if you have the most supportive, understanding, compassionate, responsive family, if they don’t have IBD, it’s really hard for them to put themselves in your place—to truly get what you’re going through and give you the support you need.

We need to connect with people who get what we go through on a day to day basis. People who can laugh and cry with us over our trips to the bathroom, our challenges getting pregnant, or difficulties navigating IBD in the workplace, and motherhood and IBD—and that’s just a few of the things we have in common.

IBD friends give us the touchstone we need to feel like we are not alone and we are not crazy.

Very early on in my IBD journey, I couldn’t have been more than 17, my mom took me to a Crohn’s and colitis support group meeting. I was young and scared and a lot overwhelmed. When one woman took me aside and told me I should just end my suffering and get an ostomy bag, I freaked out. I didn’t even know what an ostomy bag was, she proudly showed me hers and, I’m embarrassed to say that it scared the crap out of me. I don’t know why. I think it just was too much for me in that moment, and then I never went back.

I wish I wouldn’t have stopped there. I wish I would have kept searching for a like-minded IBD pal who I could bounce ideas off of, cry with, fight this invisible disease with… someone who got me and the challenges I was experiencing.

It took years and years before I finally connected with another IBD gal who just got me, we were on a similar path with similar health goals and her support meant the world to me. This buddy was an IBD centered Health Coach and she is the reason I am in this field today, why I continue to help people who are struggling on their C + C journey, why it’s part of my DNA now to help others like me and no matter what life brings, will always be a part of me.

Find your IBD clan. They will help you more than you can even begin to realize. Remember, your clan doesn’t have to be local and live. There’s a big world wide web out there and you can get support even if you never meet in person. And if you don’t have anyone like-minded in your corner just yet, I’m here for you my friend. I love having IBD besties all around the world.

#3- If I were starting over with IBD, I would grow a backbone with my doctor sooner.

For 20 years I played the part of the good little girl. Take this medicine… sure, how much? Prednisone for a whole year? Why not! You need this intestinal surgery and by the way, while we were in there, we didn’t ask your permission, but we just took your appendix just in case. Really?

For 20 years I never questioned. And do you know what? Not one day in that 20 years did I feel better. Did I feel even close to OK. Anti-inflammatories, 5-ASA meds, steroids, immunomodulators, surgeries… and I was sick and tired every day.

It wasn’t until I started to ask questions, started to experiment with how much control I could exert over my life before I started to have days where I felt great. Gloriously great! Years of remission great!

Now a days, I still respect my doctor. I still see him as the expert that he is. And the reason I can feel that way about him is because I painstakingly picked him out. Doctor after doctor after doctor, I finally found a doctor I could communicate with. And if that’s been a challenge for you, I want you to go waaaaayyy back in the podcast, way back to Episode 10 and check out the episode titled “How to Find an IBD Doctor You’ll Rave About.” It will help you find the doctor of your dreams.

But even though I have found a doctor I like and trust, I know longer think of him as the end all, be all decision maker. He’s my consultant, he has more knowledge than me about the gastrointestinal tract, he’s my go-to on all things IBD procedure and medicine related. But he’s not the ultimate decider of my fate. He’s not my judge and jury.

We have an honest relationship and with that in mind, I tell him when I’m not going to follow his advice. And you know what? I think when he saw our relationship as a partnership and not me putting him on a pedestal of the “all knowing doctor,” he was relieved. It meant that he didn’t need to have all the answers all the time. We could work on things together and bat around ideas like any true and lasting collaboration works best.

Don’t be spineless with your doctor. Let them know where you stand. Appreciate their value, but at the same time, stand in your truth with your head held high and convictions strong. That’s what having a backbone with your doctor looks like.

#4- If I had to do it all over again, I’d prioritize me above all a lot sooner.

She doesn’t mean prioritize yourself above her kids, does she? Yes, I mean above your kids. Prioritize you over everyone. Because guess what? And this is particularly difficult for moms to hear because we are taught that our kids always have to come first. Well guess what? When you take care of you, I mean really do what you need to do in the self-care department, you are able to have the energy, the health, and the vitality you need to bring that love back to all those around you—especially your kids.

In my health coaching practice, I talk to moms about this over and over. It’s so hard for us moms. The guilt over putting ourselves first. It makes us feel ashamed, embarrassed, entitled. But the same moms who just can’t or won’t do it, are also never fully there for their kids. You’re have assing the birthday party, the activities, putting dinner on the table, the bedtime story… you’re never fully there because you feel like crap.

When you take the time for you, prioritize you, you will not believe how present and engaged you can actually be… and not just with your kids. With your partner, at work, with your friends, your parents, your neighbors, your pets… and the list goes on and on.

Prioritizing you though, I want to add that this is such an individual process. Only you know where you struggle in this department and where you could really use some “you” attention. For me, I spent way too many years putting everyone’s needs above my own and when I finally stopped being an under-educated doormat about my Crohn’s and decided that it had gotten me nowhere, that was when I declared I was starting the year of ME. That’s what started me down the path of self-care.

At the time, I had two young kids and they weren’t getting the mom they deserved. And I wasn’t living the life I deserved. The year of ME was about eating gut healing food, taking time for restorative yoga, setting up morning meditations (even if they were just 5 minutes) or my morning pages where I’d write about anything that was on my mind, making time to hang out with friends and engage deeply, meeting new IBD friends, and most importantly, taking time to breath. So many stress and anxiety management techniques out there, but prioritizing conscious deep breathing was probably the best decision I ever made for the health of my mind, body, and soul.

When you come up with your own priority plan, whatever that looks like for you, I highly encourage you to write it down. Declare it to yourself, declare it to your family, post it on social if you’re comfortable. But own it and hold yourself accountable to it. Prioritizing you won’t just make your life better. It will make life better for those around you as well.

#5- If I was starting over with IBD, I’d keep all copies of my patient records.

After 35 years, 8 moves, more procedures than I can count, lots of gastroenterologists and treatment plans, I wish I would have kept copies of my Crohn’s history. Even if you’re not moving to a different state, what if you just switch doctors? It’s been known to happen.

I can’t tell you how many times a doctor will ask me a question, and I just can’t remember the answer. If you’re newly diagnosed, you might think that sounds crazy, but for me this is year and years and my memory ain’t what it used to be. You’ll blink and it will be that long for you as well. For the last 10-15 years, I’ve done a much better job of keeping my records, much of it in paper format, so that not only do my doctors know my medical history, but I do as well. And that’s even more important in my opinion.

#6- If I had to do it over again and was just diagnosed with Crohn’s, I’d be more open and vulnerable about my illness with family and friends (and heck, strangers too).

Over the years, I’ve gotten much more comfortable talking about Inflammatory Bowel Disease. See, I can even say it without cringing. In fact, it’s not unheard of for me to strike up a conversation with a stranger and nudge something about IBD into the conversation. Knowledge is power and the more people who are aware of what IBD is, the better. We never know who has the financial ability to put money into researching remedies and cures for our important cause or who needs this information, maybe because they’ve had similar symptoms or a loved one with similar symptoms and bringing IBD out into the open shines a light for them.

But I wasn’t always this way. I was just a teenager when Crohn’s came into my life. I was young, insecure, and all I wanted to do was fit in. It’s hard to fit in when you’ve got Crohn’s or colitis. I makes you different. I didn’t want anyone to know I had a poop disorder. Afterall, I was the only in the world who pooped, right?

So I hid it. I hid my Crohn’s from boyfriends, my college roommates, my co-workers, my friends, lots of my family members. I pretended everything was fine after I spent 20 minutes in the bathroom. I said, “It wasn’t me,” when my smelly farts took over a room.

I was embarrassed. On the outside, I looked like a fresh faced co-ed with not a care in the world. I was the swan, looking calm and serene on the outside while I paddled furiously underneath the surface.

And all those closed walls, stoic energy, perfectionism, and denial got me nowhere. I started to resent those around me for not getting what I went through. I started getting angry at myself because I was the one who entrapped myself within these walls.

And then I met my husband. And he was the first person I opened up to about my struggles. Just a little chink in my armor, but little by little his patience and willingness to be there for me with no agenda and no judgment made my walls begin to crumble.

That’s how it started for me and ever since, I’ve slowly opened up more and more about this invisible illness and this is what I’ve learned in the process.

I learned that being vulnerable and honest is not weak. It’s about the strongest thing you can do.

Being vulnerable is being human and real honest human connection is the greatest gift we have in this life.

I learned that perfectionism is over-rated. I can have an abundant, rich life even when I strive for B+ every day.

You don’t have to let everyone in, but have a select group that you can be you with. Vulnerable, present, and beautiful. Your life will be richer for it.

#7- If I had to do it over again, I’d put more value on my own intuition.

We know ourselves so much more than we give ourselves credit for. We know when something’s wrong with our health. We know when the answers we are getting don’t add up. We know in our heart when we need to move in a different direction.

Trusting your gut instincts come with time. They come with learning about who you are and what makes you tick. The best advice I can give on this is to never be so caught up in the business of life that you never slow down to listen to that inner voice that tells you what direction you were meant to move in.

Many times, early on with Crohn’s, I thought to myself, this advice that I’m getting, it doesn’t sound right, but I ignored my inner knowing and went in another direction. Like when my doctor put me on what was supposed to be a month long course of steroids. That month turned into 3 months and I said, are you sure I can be on this so long? And that three months turned into 6 months and I questioned the doctor again, but still remained on steroids. And that 6 months became a year and finally it took my absolute rage, depression, suicidal thoughts by this point and my mom telling the doctor, “enough” for me to finally be taken off this toxic medication.

But over time, as I learned more about myself, about how I felt about root cause healing vs cover up short term support, I learned to trust myself and my instincts. So that when I was going through infertility and the doctor told me that nothing was wrong medically. I just wasn’t getting pregnant because I was too thin, I said uh-uh. There’s something else going on here and I was right. When I instinctively knew after 6 months on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet that it was time for me to see how I’d do without meds, and I was right. It was time. And when my doctor was convinced my gallbladder had to come out, but I knew instinctively that with all the intestines I had had removed, I needed to figure out how to save my gallbladder and not take it out. I needed it to help me digest fat. And I was right.

Intuition is huge. Listen to your gut. We have more intuition in our gut than most. Your intuition will not steer you wrong.

#8- If I was just getting diagnosed with IBD, I’d set boundaries around worry and anxiety time and live a fuller life.

It seems like those of us with Crohn’s and colitis seem predisposed to feel anxiety and worry more deeply. There’s actually some interesting research on this very topic that shows that people with digestive disorders are more in tune with emotions like this. We feel them deeper and it’s not because we have a “nervous stomach.” It’s biological. Part of our make up.

But we can’t worry so much and stress so much that we miss out on life. Is it scary to leave the house when you’ve got IBD? It can be. I’ve met a lot of people who have become shut in’s due to this having this illness. It’s not uncommon. But we can’t let IBD create so much worry and anxiety in us that we let our life pass us by.

Early on, I worried and stressed about what my future would hold, what I was doing wrong, why this happened to me… I worried way too much. And I learned that while I might not be able to get rid of my anxiety completely, I had the power to decide that I was in charge, not my illness and not only that. I also decided that I wasn’t going to let this stress and anxiety keep me from living the full life that I deserved.

If worry or stress or anxiety are a struggle for you too, it’s not about getting over these emotions or even ignoring these emotions. It’s about allowing them a small space to take up in your life, and then putting them in an imaginary box so you can live the full and complete life you were meant to live.

A full life is going to look different for all of us, but just make sure you aren’t letting your fear get in the way of anything you want to do. You deserve to be happy. You may have to take a couple detours to get there, just make sure that you do get there.

#9- If I could go back in time, I’d cultivate my Wheel of Wellness a whole lot sooner.

If you’re a long time listener to the podcast, you’ve heard me talk about cultivating your Wheel of Wellness. It’s been instrumental in keeping my Crohn’s symptoms managed and it is crucial for you as well.

Your Wheel of Wellness is an invisible wheel (just like a bike wheel) with all the spokes bikes have. And each spoke represents something that supports our gut health and our overall health. Your Wheels of Wellness should absolutely have your doctor in a prominent spot. The gut healing food you eat is another spoke, medication may be a spoke as well. But other spokes are important too. Spokes that have to do with your mental and spiritual health like your faith or meditation and lifestyle factors like a good sleep regime and your stress management tool belt that helps you when life gets chaotic.

For a long time (20 years), I didn’t have a Wheel of Wellness. My support system consisted of my doctor and no one else. It took me a too long to learn that your doctor should be part of the equation, but not the whole equation. Autoimmune diseases like Crohn ‘s and colitis are absolutely impacted by our mindset and our lifestyle, and our support system, and the food we eat, and the kind of movement or exercise that supports our body. We need multiple spokes to create the life we want and the life we deserve.

If you want to adopt just one thing you’ve heard today, start here. At first, you might say, whoa, that’s a little ambitious to start, but when you come at your Wheel of Wellness from the B+ mom perspective, you know that you can take all the time you need to cultivate your Wheel of Wellness. In fact, I highly encourage you to just add one spoke at a time. Try them out, switch them out. Keep tweaking, changing, and growing your Wheel of Wellness and it will serve you for your lifetime.

#10- If I was just diagnosed with IBD now, I hope that I would take some time to learn everything I can about my disease and my options for healing.

It’s not enough anymore to just go through the motions and do what we are told. We don’t have the excuse of I don’t know where to look or there’s just no information out there. There’s information galore. All we have to do is start looking for it.

I have no doubt that you are much better at this than I was years ago. In the information age and technology age, everything we ever wanted to know about IBD, about it’s symptoms, treatments (both from a medical vantage point to a root cause natural vantage point) is available to us. So go out and do your research my dear. Then, you’ll be armed with information and be a true collaborator for your care and your well-being when it’s time for your doctor’s appointments and time to make a treatment plan for you.

#11- I saved my biggest IBD lesson for last. It’s my latest IBD ah-ha and one I probably only realized about 10 years ago. But man, was this one was a game changer. If I were to just be diagnosed with IBD again, I know that I’d stop asking everyone with C + C what works for them because the only thing that matters is what works for me.

I spent way too many years trying to copy what I was seeing others do. It worked for them so it’s got to work for me. She’s follows a vegan diet and her Crohn’s is in remission. That must be the way I’ll heal too. She swears by this particular brand of vitamins. If I want to heal, that’s what I have to buy. It’s like keeping up with the Jones’—IBD style.

And after SCD (the Specific Carbohydrate Diet) worked so well for me, I started out my IBD coaching practice by putting everyone on SCD. Big mistake! Guess what? It’s not the ultimate healing diet for everyone.

I wish I had a magic “one size fits all” cure. I wish there was one diet, one supplement, one medication, one lifestyle path that fit for everyone with IBD, but the truth is there’s not. Ways to find remission are as diverse as our microbiome. And I think that’s exactly what it is. It all comes back to our microbiome. Each one of us is made up of a diverse group of bugs—trillions of those microscopic creepy crawlers (appetizing, right?) and so what works for one microbiome is not what works for another. Finding healing and finding remission with Crohn’s and colitis is about gathering information from others, but then taking that information and personalizing it to find the healing path that works for you and your microbiome.

Just don’t give up because finding your healing path is complicated. Because I know that finding your way is possible. We all can do this. In the end might not look like what you thought it would and it might not be perfect, but you can find success. I firmly believe that.

OK my friend, that’s 11 Things I Wish I’d Done Differently When I Was First Diagnosed with Crohn’s. Which one of these resonate with you? If it’s not too late for me 35 years in, it’s not too late for you. You only have to pick up on one idea to start a revolution in your life.  What will that be for you? I’d love to continue this conversation with you.  E-mail me at and tell me. I can’t want to hear what stood out for you.

Until we meet again, I’m wishing you a cheeky and gut healing journey. Chat soon!

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
This podcast, video, and blog post is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

The Secret to Manageable, Tolerable, and Even Enjoyable Colonoscopies

What’s the first word that comes to your mind when I say colonoscopy? I’ll start… Dread.

OK now you go on the count of three. 1-2-3…

Don’t worry if I can’t hear you because it’s more important that you know your word. Plus, I’m feeling you cosmically because I’ve heard it all when it comes to the colonoscopy. I’ve heard clients and Gut Love Community members describe a colonoscopy with words like sucks, scared, pointless, gross, overwhelming, anxious, and of course the word prep, that one comes up a lot.

Oh the prep.

Like I said, my word is dread. And you’d think by now after having as many colonoscopies as I’ve had (and that number is way too high to count), you’d think it would be old hat and I’d be over the dread because it’s not like I don’t know what’s coming.  With a colonoscopy though, I’m not fearing the unknown, I’m fearing the known.

I’m not sure there’s a way to completely dissolve my dread over colonoscopies, but the good news is that after years of having them, I finally figured out the secret to having more than just negative emotions about colonoscopies. When you plan, and truly dial in your colonoscopy experience, there can be positive emotions and experiences mixed in there as well. Afterall, we’re women, with the right information we have no problem forming higher level, deeply faceted emotions.

Would I rather never have a colonoscopy again?

Hell yes, but for me with the stricturing type of Crohn’s (where your intestines love to cave in and collapse on themselves), that’s never going happen so at least I can say that I’ve discovered the secret (or should I say secrets because there’s lots of them) to more manageable, tolerable, and dare I say enjoyable colonoscopies.

Three Things You’ll Learn in This Episode

  • 11 tried and true tips to move your colonoscopy experience from horrible to manageable
  • This simple yet powerful step done two days before your procedure that’s game changing for every colonoscopy
  • The odorless, tasteless bowel prep that’s good enough for America’s top IBD hospitals

Rate, Review and Subscribe on Apple Podcasts

Mentioned in This Episode:

Your Soups On Recipe Resource

Your Juicing and Smoothie Recipe Booklet

Episode Resources:

The Cleveland Clinic Colonoscopy Prep with Miralax

Optimizing Adequacy of Bowel Cleansing for Colonoscopy: Recommendations From the U.S. Multi-Society Task Force on Colorectal Cancer

Split-Dose vs Same Day Bowel Preparation for Afternoon Colonoscopies: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials

Split-Dose Bowel Preparation Improves Adequacy of Bowel Preparation and Gastroenterologists’ Adherence to National Colorectal Cancer Screening and Surveillance Guidelines

Connect With Karyn:

Karyn on Facebook

Schedule Your FREE 30-Minute IBD Consult

Episode Transcript:


I’ll start… Dread.

OK now you go on the count of three. 1-2-3… Don’t worry if I can’t hear you because it’s more important that you know your word. Plus, I’m feeling you cosmically because I’ve heard it all when it comes to the colonoscopy. I’ve heard clients and Gut Love Community members describe a colonoscopy with words like sucks, scared, pointless, gross, overwhelming, anxious, and of course the word prep, that one comes up a lot. Oh the prep.

Like I said, my word is dread. And you’d think by now after having as many colonoscopies as I’ve had (and that number is way too high to count), you’d think it would be old hat and I’d be over the dread because it’s not like I don’t know what’s coming.  With a colonoscopy though, I’m not fearing the unknown, I’m fearing the known.

I’m not sure there’s a way to completely dissolve my dread over colonoscopies, but the good news is that after years of having them, I finally figured out the secret to having more than just negative emotions about colonoscopies. When you plan, and truly dial in your colonoscopy experience, there can be positive emotions and experiences mixed in there as well. Afterall, we’re women, with the right information we have no problem forming higher level, deeply faceted emotions.

Would I rather never have a colonoscopy again? Hell yes, but for me with the stricturing type of Crohn’s (where your intestines love to cave in and collapse on themselves), that’s never going happen so at least I can say that I’ve discovered the secret (or should I say secrets because there’s lots of them) to more manageable, tolerable, and dare I say enjoyable colonoscopies.

It’s my 411 on all things colonoscopy related, especially the prep. Here we go!


Hey my friend, Karyn Haley with you today on the Cheeky Podcast. 80 episodes in. That’s how far we’ve come together. How have we not talked about this before? Colonoscopies are something that all of us deal with when we have Crohn’s and colitis. I have notes upon notes upon notes to help people when they’re going into a colonoscopy but for the podcast, I wanted to wait until one was really fresh in my mind so that I could give you my best most up-to-date insights. Information that could really help you the next time or the first time you go in for this procedure because it doesn’t have to be as scary or as horrible as it seems to turn out for so many of us.

Let’s bump up your colonoscopy experience and take it from horrible to at the very least tolerable and I’ll even tell you about the parts that you can actually enjoy.

In true “me” fashion, you know I love to get into the weeds and the details of our IBD topics, so in this episode, I’m taking you all the way through the colonoscopy experience because it’s not just about the procedure itself. It’s about the prep and the days leading up to the prep and the days and months after the procedure that still reverberate in our bellies. Oh, we’re getting into it all so buckle up, get something to write with and let’s get into it.

Now before we get to deep, it bears mentioning that when I’m talking about colonoscopies here, I’m mainly talking about my own experience coupled with client experiences as well. These experiences may not completely coincide with your colonoscopy experience, but I bet there will be tidbits that will fit for you. Things you can take away to help with your experience. If any of what we talk about today helps you out, then listening to this episode will be worth it.

You also know that I’m not a medical professional and I’m not talking about colonoscopies as a medical professional today. I’m talking about my experience from the patient side. You’ll always want to talk to your doctor about the specifics of your case before adopting the ideas mentioned today because we’re all different. There’s a couple scientifically researched ideas we’ll talk about regarding the various preps and how to best take them for the colonoscopy and you can see all of that research to make an informed decision for yourself in the show notes at

OK, sound good? Let’s start and we’ll go in order of the way things will happen for you if you are in a true colonoscopy situation. So we’ll start a few days before the procedure.

Chances are by a few days before, you’ve already been to your doctor. He or she has set a date and time for your colonoscopy and you have all the “what to do and when to do it” handouts from your provider. And let me just say as a side note, while we are on the topic of the date/time for your procedure, personally, I like to schedule my colonoscopies for the first thing in the morning. The first procedure of the day and yes, you can request this. As long as your procedure isn’t urgent or an emergency, they will make it happen for you. You just have to ask. After the prep, you might be exhausted, or not feel well, your bottom may be sore, you might be hangry by this time because you haven’t eaten in 24 hours. So my motto is, get it over with and get on with your life. When we talk about the prep, we’ll talk about other ways to think about this, other options for you to consider (and it’s crucial to tailor this to what works best for you), but for me, it’s first thing in the morning for the colonoscopy.

OK, so a few days prior, sometimes there are medications that need to be stopped and even some supplements that may need to be paused until after the procedure, but the biggest thing you’ll want to do a few days prior is get your supplies ready. As you’ll see, if you want to have a successful and tolerable and even somewhat enjoyable experience, there’s more to get ready than just the prep. And rushing around getting things together the day your prep is not the way to get through this thing calm, cool, and collected. So, keep calm with getting your colonoscopy supplies ahead of time and carry on. We’ll talk in greater detail about what those supplies will be, but planning is key here. Before the shi*t hits the fan (or the toilet), make sure you have everything you need for a successful prep.

Two days prior to your procedure is when things really rev up in the colonoscopy department. You have all your supplies including all your food and drinks and you’re ready to go. When I start my two days before with colonoscopy preparations, it ensures that I will be cleaned out for the procedure which means the doc can get a good look around (you definitely don’t want to be doing this again for quite a while, am I right?) and that I may not need all of the prep. Again, this is me personally. I’m tiny and size and weight does make a difference.

Food is a big part of the two days before your procedure and I’m going to get to that, but I also want to say that this is also a day to be as relaxed as possible. You’ve got a big day coming up tomorrow and the next day as well. Give your body the rest it needs to be to bring your best self to the table.  So that means, no appointments, no extra activities, have a normal day, try and let any negative events go—just think Zen two days before. Trust me, it’s a small thing, but it matters.

Now on to the most important thing I do two days prior to my colonoscopy (1 day before the prep). I change the way I normally eat so that my diet is very, very low residue. Now, if you’ve had a colonoscopy before, your doc may have told you, two days before, begin to eat a low fiber, low residue diet. No nuts, seeds, no popcorn, etc.

I once had a doctor who recommended taking this idea one step further. I’ve tried it several times since and it’s been a game changer for every colonoscopy experience since. The more in your digestive system when you start your prep, the more that needs to come up. The less in your digestive system, the less that needs to come out. So with the low residue foods I just mentioned, I also add to that two days prior, no meat, no dairy, no raw, no bread, no cereal… easy to digest food only. Foods that don’t stay in my body long and foods that my body doesn’t have to work hard to digest.

So what do I eat two days before? I eat eggs, well-cooked veggies… I might have a mashed banana, applesauce or pear sauce, and loads and loads of bone broth. Beef stock, chicken stock… so good and soothing for your gut and rich so it stays with you. If you’re a big meat and potatoes lady, this might make you feel hungry (eating this way) so the bone broth is important because it keeps you fuller longer. I also eat homemade pureed soups, and drink smoothies and fresh pressed juices.

See how all of this two days before is either drinkable or easy to digest. Make the prep easier on your digestive system. Two days before your procedure and one day before your prep, go low, low, low residue. If you want some help with smoothie idea, juicing ideas and soup ideas for this day, I’ve got you covered. Back in episode 22 and episode 24 of the podcast, I talked all about smoothies and juicing and about the gut healing power of soup. In these episodes, I offered extra recipe resources to help you get started and they are still available. To this day, these are two of my most downloaded resources I offer. Maybe you already have them. When it’s colonoscopy time, it’s time to dust them off or go get them ASAP. You can get your juice and smoothie recipes at and your soup recipes at All the soup recipes can be pureed so that’s a bonus because when all of this is behind you, you can go back and make some of the soups in their traditional form.

There’s one last but not least thing I must mention about two days prior and that is, in keeping with your Zen attitude, to go to bed early and get a good night’s sleep. You want to be well rested for tomorrow.

OK, that’s two days prior. Now lets’ look at the big day—the colonoscopy prep day. Because if you’ve been through this before, you know that this really is the big day. After this day, the colonoscopy procedure itself is a walk in the park. First, let’s talk food, or more to the point the non-food you’ll be consuming. Today is fasting, clear liquid day. You’ve already done lots of the work the day before with your low, low residue diet. Today, you are just taking it one step further.

Today is about clear liquids. Your doctor will give you a list of approved liquids, but I’ll also add in my two cents of some of my favorite beverages. The main liquids I consume on prep day are homemade or high quality commercial bone broth, tea, and water. These are my healthy go-to’s I drink with no limits. They are the driver’s behind staying physically strong, keeping my gut as happy as it can be that day, and knowing I’m still adding to my health. Other things I keep on hand are coconut water, apple juice, white grape juice, ginger ale, homemade jello (made with one of the clear juices I mentioned), fruit pops made with real fruit like mango or lemon (no dark colors like red or purple or blue), Italian ice (again lemon or mango) and I find that throughout the day, it’s helpful for me to rotate between a hot beverage and a cold beverage. It just keeps it more interesting and palatable.

So that’s pretty much what you’ll be drinking and can drink until midnight on prep day. Your list may be a little different than mine, but it’s all liquid and it’s all clear.

OK, now the next part of the day we should definitely cover are general prep day Tips. I’ve got  11 tried and true tips to get you through, as well as find enjoyable pockets in this challenging day. This is where little pieces of enjoyment can filter in. If the day is going to be crappy (pun intended) we might as well find ways to have enjoyable moments in there as well. We deserve it!

#1- Whatever prep you are given, make sure it’s super cold. HUGE. Make it cold.

#2- Drink through a straw. And put that straw to the back of the throat and just efficiently suck it down so you taste as little as possible. You want a tight suck here to avoid air, but the straw really helps you avoid all the bad taste.

#3- Have lemon wedges available to suck on after each gulp. Bite into it like you just downed a shot of tequila. In fact, close your eyes and pretend it’s tequila. It tastes better. Just be careful because you don’t want to swallow lots of pulp. You can avoid this by spitting it out after. Not pretty, but who cares?

#4- Another option instead of or in addition to the lemon wedge is to have a chaser. Again, like my reference to shots—much better than what you’re drinking and I am so not a shot gal! Your chaser should be different than what you are drinking your prep with. It could be lemonade, tea, apple jucie—but be careful with your choice because after this, you may not ever want to drink that juice again. It’s about the pared association and all that.

When you were a kid and you had the flu, did you ever not want to eat what you had right before you threw up? Same principle. I remember so vividly this one time throwing up after chewing grape huba buba gum. Do you remember huba buba gum? To this day, I can’t go near grape gum. Same principal so choose your chaser wisely.

#5- There’s several things I’m going to recommend you have on hand. One of those things is a heating pad or a hot water bottle pad. Very soothing when your belly is doing summersaults.

#6- Another thing that’s great to have handy just in case is sitz bath. I talk about this contraption all the time and I’m amazed by how many C + Cer’s don’t know what I’m talking about. A sitz bath is a round bucket you fill with warm water. It sits on your toilet and you can soak a sore bum in it. I got through my whole freshman year in college with a sitz bath. Look it up on Amazon. You’ll love it.

#7- Again, just in case, it’s a good idea to have a bucket or as my mom who was a nurse always called it, an emesis basin handy. Sometimes the prep can make you feel nauseous. You may never need it, but having it ahead of time and not needing it is better than running to puke in the toilet you just pooped in.

#8- Throughout the day, always have whatever you’re drinking close by. Remember, it’s clear liquids only today, so have that drink handy always. And keep sipping it so you stay as full as you can. You never want to go in search for something to drink when you are hangry. It doesn’t turn out well.

#9- When it’s time for your prep, whether it’s time for you to start going to the bathroom or not, this is your time. Once you start the prep, you are in YOU time and no one else’s time. This means that you create a space close to your bathroom. Ideally in your bedroom where a bathroom is close by. Gather up your electronics—streaming shows are going to be your best friend today. Thank God today we can help the prep time pass binge watching our favorite TV show. If you are a magazine gal, stock up on guilty pleasure magazines like Us or People. Maybe you’re into crafting or gardening or health magazines. I like to gather these up as well so I have options and they to give me something else to do when I get bored watching TV. Music and candles are a must too. They just bring peace and calm to any environment. Bring all of these things to your spot and hunker down when you start the prep, not when you start to go #2. The whole prep time is your time. Comfy blankets, even a boyfriend pillow (you may have had one when you were pregnant) is great. Dust that off get it out. Create your own safe YOU space. One that ideally has a bed or a couch and is close to the bathroom. Let your family know that during this time there’s no distractions other than the ones that you choose to take your mind off the prep. No work, no family obligations, no pets to take out, just you. Enlist the help of older kids, your spouse, your parent, a friend… whoever can make sure you don’t get disturbed—someone who can help you make it happen. Remember, it’s your time and you deserve it.

And when I talk about the enjoyment part of prep day, this is it. This is your enjoyment. All the creature comforts that will make this day all you. Yes, it can suck to have to keep getting interrupted to go to the bathroom, but then you can get back to your comfy space and know it’s all about you and it’s just for you.

#10- Along with comfy blankets and other creature comforts, make sure you are wearing clothes that say comfy to you. No zippers or tight fitting pants. Comfy is the name of the game.

#11- Last tip before we get into the lovely prep is that if you start to get anxious, know that it’s completely normal. Lots of people do. If your distractions don’t help, use the time to journal or go inward and visualize yourself in a different place. Wherever your happy place is. Deep breathing and meditation can help too. If you’re a long time listener, you know I love the free app Insight Timer. Download it on your app store. It’s great for anxiety during moments like this.

OK, that’s 11 tried and true tips you can use no matter what prep you choose. Now, today is all about the prep and it’s where I get the most questions and the biggest complaints from you so let’s spend some time here because I want this part, the worst part of it all, to be as annoyance and pain free as possible for you. Doing those 11 tried and true tips is part of it, but let’s dive a little deeper and talk specifically about your colonoscopy prep.

In terms of what you may be taking to get yourself cleaned out, there’s several options doctors prescribe. Some you will need a prescription for and some are over the counter. If you’ve never had a colonoscopy before, or if you’re wondering what else is out there (at least in the U.S.), these are the common ones. There’s Suprep which is not super tasting in any way shape or form. There MoviPrep, which is nothing like watching a movie, there’s also a particularly bad tasting prep called GoLYTELY. Are you serious? Go lightly? I beg to differ. I’ve had all of these at one time or another. But probably the worst tasting was GoLYTELY. Way back in the day, it was the only prep on the market. It comes in this huge jug. It looks like water, but it tastes worse than drinking gallons of ocean water.

I remember my first time with this prep. It was the summer before I went to college. I was living at home and my mom recruited all my brothers (I’ve got 3 older brothers) go come home and support me. We all sat around the kitchen table. Me with my go-not-so-lightly and my brothers, each with a can of beer. Every time I chugged a glass of GoLYTELY, they would chug a beer. Crazy as that seems, it was very sweet and very supportive. We sat around and laughed and played cards until the mixture sent me to the toilet, but I’ll never forget it. I never felt more supported by my older bros.

Fleets phosphosoda is an over the counter prep, but my favorite prep and the one that’s been a game changer for colonoscopies for me is the Miralax/Dulcolac prep. Sure, none of these preps are a walk in the park, but at least with this method, there’s no bad taste because when you mix the Miralax with your beverage of choice, if just tastes like your juice. It may not be as strong of a prep as some of the others I mentioned earlier and I think that’s why some doctors don’t prescribe it, but with my low, low residue diet the day the day before, there’s not that much in my digestive tract so it just cleans out what’s there.

And it’s not just my doc prescribing this prep method. The Cleveland Clinic, one of the premier IBD hospitals in the country has this protocol as a colonoscopy prep on their website. I’ll link to their info in the show notes so you can check it out and talk to your doctor if a better tasting, gentler prep is something that sounds good to you. Of course, like I mentioned earlier, everyone is different and this all needs to be approved by your doctor, but it’s certainly worth printing it out and asking your doctor if it’s a possibility for you because it’s so much more palatable than Suprep and the like.

Whatever prep you do, it won’t be the most fun part of your day, but as we all know, sometimes a colonoscopy is necessary. And remember, the prep is very time limited—maybe 12 hours of your life. You can do it. It will pass. And it’s scary to think about what your doctor might find. That makes all of this more nerve wracking as well. But it also can to give you and your doctor exactly the information you need to move forward. This is your official starting place so you can move forward with confidence you are on the right path.

When you get that packet of information from your doctor about your colonoscopy and the prep, chances are there will be times slated on what to drink and when to drink it. This is something you can also discuss with your doctor. Many of my preps have said to start at 5pm in the evening, but if I do that, I know I’ll be up all night going to the bathroom.  I’ll end up cranky, exhausted, angry, and hangry by morning. Personally, I like to start my prep at noon. That way, by 8pm I’m done, usually cleaned out and I can still drink fluids and relax until bedtime. I also like the earlier start time for me because it gives me some flexibility with the pacing of drinking the prep. If I start to feel a little nauseous and upset in my belly, I can slow it down a little because there’s no rush.

Another option to consider when it comes to prep timing is something called split dosing. It’s when you take ½ of the prep the night before and the other half in the morning. I’m seeing lots of my clients talking about their doctors using this method lately and it seems very interesting. I’ve pulled a couple research articles showing the benefits of split dosing to put in the show notes. One study found that split dosing of the colonoscopy prep improves the quality of the bowel prep. If this is something that’s of interest to you, you can print the studies out to share with your doctor to see if it’s a good fit for you.

In the case of having your procedure scheduled for after 12pm the next day, the split dosing option really makes sense to me. You can do part of the prep in the evening, hopefully get a good night’s sleep and then start again in the morning with the second ½ of the dose. The Cleveland Clinic literature about the colonoscopy prep talks about split dosing as a preferred method even if you are scheduled for your colonoscopy before noon the next day. I’m sure it’s because of this latest research showing that it improves the quality of the prep. Of course, let’s say you are scheduled at 9am the next day. This would mean getting up in the wee hours to do the second half of the prep. It’s not the way I prefer because I really value that good night sleep the night before, but isn’t it good to know that we have options? It’s about picking the one that’s best for you.

OK, we’ve covered a lot today about colonoscopies. Probably more than you ever even wanted to know about the days leading up to the colonoscopy procedure. We talked about a few days before ideas for success, how to eat a couple days prior, and some ideas for your clear liquids day, tried and true tips for the prep day, different types of procedure preps and time of day to consider taking them. So much for you to think about and hopefully it will help when it’s colonoscopy time for you again. Remember, as with all episodes, take what serves you and leave the rest behind.

For the colonoscopy itself, I’m going to leave you in the capable hands of your doctor. There’s choices to be made about whether to have it in a hospital setting or a clinic, whether to be put out, put in twilight sedation or given nothing at all. Lots to consider there, but that’s really a good conversation for you to have with your doctor. For the most part, by the time you get to the colonoscopy itself, the hard part is over. You did it the day before and the procedure itself will be a snap after all you’ve been through. There’s just one more part of the colonoscopy that far too few providers are talking about. The after part. Later that day, that week, next month… what happens after the colonoscopy, besides the treatment plan your doctor you and you discuss?

Here’s the deal with a colonoscopy. For the purposes of this episode, we are assuming you need the procedure. There is no way around it. You’re experiencing symptoms that make it necessary for it to happen. In my opinion, doctors can be alittle colonoscopy happy and I’m curious if colonoscopies are a little over prescribed, but that’s a topic for another episode. For today, we’re going with the theory that you needed this procedure. It brought about great information for you to move forward, but the problem now is that you’ve completely cleaned out your digestive tract—the good bugs, the bad bugs—all in rapid succession and then you had a procedure where the colonoscopy scope was inserted and as sterile as that can possibly be, it’s possible that there were some bad bugs introduced into your digestive tract as well. The whole thing from prep to finish is quite an assault on your body. So, how can you best serve your body now? How can you make sure you get back on track and with the healthiest digestion possible?

Well, first let’s talk about the right after. Like that day, after. That day, after your procedure, you’re going to want to rest. You may have been put under or even just with twilight sedation, you’re not going to be quite yourself. You aren’t allowed to drive after for a reason so resting is key. You might also feel ravenous. How long has it been since you’ve had solid food? Well, a while. But before you eat like a horse, it’s a good idea to start small and see if your body is ready for solid food again. A good after colonoscopy meal might be some mint tea, an egg, some bone broth or some soup… light, easy to digest foods. See how you do with that first.

If your first meal goes well, it’s OK to add more for the second meal. Just take it easy and build back up slowly. Many people experience gas, bloating, some loose stool after the colonoscopy procedure and eating in a way that supports your digestive system is helpful to get you back on track sooner.

After a day of rest and eating with your bowel’s needs in mind, it’s a good idea to get on a probiotic to start to restore your microbiome. Repopulate, rebuild, and re-balance your gut. Probiotics are a good way to get moving in that direction. If you eat fermented foods like homemade yogurt or sauerkraut, that can be helpful too.

Remember, this clean out and this procedure really wreak havoc on your digestive system. It will take time to get back on track. Be patient. It will happen. You know, one of the things I see clients for most is getting back on track after a colonoscopy. Clients will often say, “I was never the same after that colonoscopy.”

Not enough is being said about this. It’s not something we hear about from our providers, but gut dysbiosis after a colonoscopy is really common and needs to be handled carefully, patiently, but also deliberately. If this is you, if you’re struggling right now after a colonoscopy, know that it’s very normal. I hear about it all the time and it can get better. I’m here to help. Reach out at and we’ll figure it out together.

So after the colonoscopy, gentle gentle, gentle, on your system. Get back to your normal diet slowly. Try a probiotic to help repopulate the gut and if you’re still struggling, get in touch. I’m happy to help.

What did I miss? What did I not cover today with regard to the colonoscopy? Whatever questions or comments you have, I’m here for you. No one should feel like they are going into a colonoscopy afraid and alone. I did this episode because I want you to know that you are not alone. With Crohn’s and colitis, we all go through this at some point. And even though a colonoscopy will never be up there with your top life experiences, it doesn’t have to been horrendous either. You can get through it with a little planning and a lot of self care.

You’ve got this my dear. Now go conquer that colonoscopy!

Until we meet again, I’m wishing you a cheeky and healthy gut healing journey. Chat soon!

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
This podcast, video, and blog post is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

5 Dairy Free Ways to Get Your Gut Bacteria Back in Balance

One of my favorite parts of having The Cheeky Podcast for Moms with IBD is that I get to connect with you.

Lately I’ve had lots of questions about whether or not it’s OK to skip the yogurt on the SCD diet. More and more IBD gals are finding that dairy just doesn’t work for them in the form of the SCD yogurt, but they know just how important all the bacterial benefits of the yogurt are.

So the question I’m getting is, “Karyn, is there a way I can get bacterial benefits even if I don’t do the fermented homemade yogurt?”

And the answer is a resounding, “Yes, absolutely.

There are other ways to get your beneficial bacteria, those gut bugs, other than the traditional fermented yogurt.

Three Things You’ll Learn in This Episode

  • 4 never changing gut bacteria balancing guidelines
  • 5 non-dairy options that work to help balance the bacteria in your gut
  • How to decide which non-dairy bacterial balancing option is best for the stage you‘re at on your gut healing journey

Rate, Review and Subscribe on Apple Podcasts

Mentioned in This Episode:

From the Desk of Gut Love: Tomatoes: Yes or No?

From the Desk of Gut Love: Which Nut Butter Should I Choose?

SCD Yogurt Recipe Collection with FAQ

Visbiome Probiotic

Episode Resources:

Kefir Grains

How to Make Water Kefir

Kefir and SCD

The Kefir Guru Shares His Wisdom

Dairy Free Fermentation: Fermenting Without Whey

Fermentation Supplies

Fannetastic Food

Connect With Karyn:

Karyn on Facebook

Schedule Your FREE 30-Minute IBD Consult

Episode Transcript:


Before we get down to gut healing business, I want to tell you that this episode is brought to you by my new Crohn’s and colitis article series, From the Desk of Gut Love. This is a brand new endeavor for our Gut Love Community and it’s my way of taking what we’re doing here on the podcast, exploring all our gut healing options and lifting up moms with IBD in ways that are lacking from what we typically get from our doctors, but taking the spirit of the show into a new format—the written word—with lots more helpful information and lots of gut healing recipes.

The recipe part will be a huge piece. It’s something I always wanted to share with you, but it’s tough to do that through this podcast medium. Over the years of eating for my IBD, I’ve created and cultivated gajillons of recipes and this article series will be a great way for me to share them with you. Plus, I’ll also be highlighting well-known gut healing recipe developers there as well.

From the Desk of Gut Love Articles is 100% IBD centered—for example, this week’s topic is how to find the gut healthiest nut butters in a sea of grocery store options and included in the article are two gut healing and delish nut butter recipes I know you are going to love.

So, it’s real world IBD question we all have, mixed with recipes galore! Something for everyone in a format you can digest when it’s convenient for you.

Articles will come out every other week and if you want to know when they are released for all the eye opening, gut healing info as well as for the gut healing recipes, you’ve got to be a Gut Love Community Member. That’s where you’ll hear about every new article first.

So far in the series, two articles have been released. The first one is titled “Tomatoes: Yes or No.” Tomatoes are a big topic of conversation for those of us with C + C and this article will help you decide if tomatoes are something you can include in your diet. The answer might surprise you if you thought tomatoes were a “no” for you before, and it features a raw and cooked version of my Chicken Salad Stuffed Tomatoes. I already mentioned the second article that just came out. It’s titled “Which Nut Butter Should I Choose?” This one is action-packed with everything you could ever want to know about the healthiest nut butters for you and of course it also has nut butter gut healing recipes for you to check out.

If you want to see what the series is all about and decide if this is a format you like as an additional IBD resource, you can check out Tomatoes: Yes or No? at and the latest nut butter article is at

I’ll leave these links in the show notes at but I wanted you to have the direct link as well.

If you like getting your IBD information when it’s convenient for you, reading it when you’re in line at the school pick up, in the doctor’s office, or even on the toilet, and if you like adding gut healing recipes to your stash, From the Desk of Gut Love Articles is for you. And remember, if you join us in the Gut Love Community and you’ll never miss when a new article comes out. There’s a link to join right in each article.

On with the show.


Hey dear one, how are you feeling today? It’s Karyn Haley with you and I hope you are doing well, but if not, know that I’m sending you love and light and good gut health vibes today and always. I’ve got my aromatherapy candle next to me. It’s called Stress Relief and it’s got eucalyptus and spearmint in it. It’s definitely giving me some stress relief that I deeply need today.

One of my favorite parts of having a podcast is getting to connect with you. I love hearing your courageous stories, and love getting your questions. You know I don’t always have the answer, but when it comes to Crohn’s and colitis, I’m like a basset hound, nose to the ground, researching, tracking information down and I won’t stop until I find answers for you, so keep your thoughts and ideas coming my way.

Lately I’ve had lots of questions about whether or not it’s OK to skip the yogurt on the SCD diet. More and more C + Cer’s are finding that dairy just doesn’t work for them in the form of the SCD yogurt, but they know just how important all the bacterial benefits of the yogurt are. So the question I’m getting is, “Karyn, is there a way I can get bacterial benefits even if I don’t do the fermented homemade yogurt.”

And the answer is a resounding, “Yes, absolutely. There are other ways to get your beneficial bacteria, those gut bugs, other than the traditional fermented yogurt.

Now, before we get into what those ways are, I want to say just a few important reminders about these gut bugs, the beneficial bacteria. You may know this already, but it’s always a good reminder and if you’re new to this world of filling your body with beneficial bacteria, it will give you a better understanding of the how’s and why’s of gut bacteria.


#1 You don’t need to be on SCD to benefit from good bacteria.

  • This isn’t just an SCD conversation. This is a conversation all of us with C + C need to be having.
  • Most people with gut challenges will benefit from some form of fermented foods, supplements, yogurt, etc… some form of good bacteria
  • And if you’re saying, “Well I’m that girl who doesn’t benefit!” I hear what you are saying. Some people, especially IBDer’s can really struggle introducing beneficial bacteria. It can really whack out your system at first. And there’s a myriad of reasons why this might happen. Undiagnosed infections, severe dysbiosis, food sensitivities, hormonal challenges… too many causes to mention. Just know it is completely normal to struggle with the introduction of beneficial bacteria, and this is why, when you incorporate bacterial balancing food and supplements, it’s good to work with someone who knows about the nuances of the microbiome so they can help you figure out the best way forward for you.
  • Even if you initially struggle, with proper care, I truly believe it can work out for you so don’t give up, just get help.

#2 Even if you are sensitive to dairy, you may still tolerate SCD style yogurt (24-hour fermented yogurt).

  • Many people skip the yogurt initially because they know they don’t tolerate cow’s milk.
  • And it’s OK to skip it for whatever reason—the fact that dairy can be inflammatory, the fact it’s not 100% lactose free, the fact that you just don’t like yogurt….
  • But here’s the thing about SCD type yogurt. It is virtually lactose free, so even if you don’t tolerate straight cow’s milk, you may tolerate this type of yogurt. Some even try it with goat’s milk or sheep’s milk (both dairy options) and tolerate it just fine. There’s lots of options here.
  • The fermentation process of 24-yogurt (unlike the 8-hour of most yogurts at the grocery store) allows it to add in the beneficial bacteria while at the same time, eat away at the milk sugar (the lactose) so by the time it’s done, most of the lactose is gone.
  • Now it’s important for me to mention here that there are two parts of dairy that tend to be a problem for us—lactose (the milk sugar) and casein (a protein found in milk). Like I said, the lactose is virtually nil, but the casein is still present. So, staying away from all dairy yogurt absolutely makes sense if you are sensitive to casein, but if it’s lactose you’re worried about, you may still want to give it a try.
  • Of course, like we are going to talk about today, there’s other non-dairy ways to get your gut bugs so, no sweat, but I just wanted to throw that out there to make sure you are staying away from the traditional yogurt for the right reasons.

#3 The non-dairy method you choose should be based on your symptoms because some work better for some symptoms than others.

  • As we talk about the non-dairy methods today, I’ll be sharing with you who they tend to work best for with regard to if diarrhea is your chief complaint vs constipation, also some are better for those in remission vs in a flare up.
  • I’ll give you all the details so you can decide with is best for you.

#4 Whatever method of fermented (bacterial balancing) you choose, always, always, always start low and slow.

  • Bacterial balancing is like walking on a tight rope. It’s tricky business.
  • I’ve seen so many fail on this path or give up too easily because they just didn’t go slow enough
  • We are not like everyone else who takes probiotic supplements or eats fermented foods so we can’t base our experience on what theirs is like. Our guts are more sensitive and have more dysbiosis so when you introduce any of the non-dairy options I mention today, go slow, slow, slow. Like tortoise slow.
  • I can’t stress this enough. I have clients who start with just a tiny drop on their tongue and stay there until they are ready to progress. It can be done, but don’t rush it.

OK, with that said, let’s dive in with:


#1 Non-Dairy Yogurt

We’ll start with the way that is most similar to your 24-hour fermented yogurt method and work our way out from there so #1 is non-dairy yogurt. 5-10 years ago no one was talking about non-dairy yogurt—we heard about yogurt with all its beneficial bacteria, but it was made from dairy options like cows, sheep, or goats. Today, almond milk and coconut milk and soy milk yogurts is everywhere. Now, I don’t recommend those store bought options for most because they just haven’t had the long fermentation time and the added ingredients are usually crap, and don’t get me started on the reasons why I’m not a fan of soy yogurt (that’s a topic for another episode) but you can make your own non-dairy yogurt using nut milks at home. The process is very similar to how you make homemade dairy milk. And if you’ve never done it before, it’s quick to pick up and relatively simple actually.

Personally, when we’re talking non-dairy yogurt as your beneficial gut bacteria option, I’ve had the most success with coconut milk yogurt. Almond and cashew milk yogurt are more delicate and I just don’t have the patience for them, but go for it with whatever way works for you.

If you’re interested in trying out homemade coconut milk yogurt as your non-dairy beneficial bacteria, I’ve got you covered with my SCD yogurt recipe collection. If you go to you can download the recipes and coconut milk yogurt is featured there with your step-by-step guide to make it in your own home in a yogurt maker as well as in an instant pot. It’s also got a fabulous FAQ section to answer all your yogurt making questions as you get started. I’ll leave a link in the show notes if you prefer to get it there, if you’re driving or can’t write the link down, but you can also get it at

OK so that’s non-dairy gut balancing bacteria idea #1. This one works best if your main symptom is diarrhea or if you go back and forth between diarrhea and constipation. It can be used in remission to keep the gut bugs balanced and happy or during a flare up to quiet the gut dysbiosis. Just remember, this is not a “let’s go crazy” with 2 cups a day to start thing. It’s a low and slow process, especially if you are in a flare-up or having gastro symptoms.

#2 A Probiotic Supplement

#2 on our list of non-dairy bacterial gut balancers is taking a probiotic. This is a pretty easy option. No yogurt to make, a lot of times found in capsule form. So it’s really your easiet and most convenient option. The only challenge with getting your gut bugs with probiotics is that the selection is so vast, most of it crap, that it’s easy to get taken advantage of with a worthless product that’s doing you no good.

Now there are different types of probiotics, there’s the spore type, there’s another type called saccharomyces boulardii, but today we are going to focus on the most widely used type—the lacto bifido strains of probiotic.

For Lacto Bifido Probiotics:

  • Always look at the added ingredients—so much filler and junk in many brands. And also, look for dairy. There are some brands that have dairy as an ingredient, completely defeating your desire to be non-dairy here.
  • Buy from companies who participate in random batch test testing, buy pharmaceutical grade probiotics. Usually the best places to buy these is online.
  • Buy a multi-strain probiotic. Yes, this goes directly against SCD protocol and in full disclosure, I took SCD legal probiotics only for my first 2 years on the diet, but the research is pretty clear now, mulit-strain are best for gut dysbiosis. Even cooler, are specifically targeted strains of probiotics for your symptoms, for your IBD and other ailments, but if you’re just getting started, buy one with a wide variety of bacterial strains—again unless you are following SCD to a T which I completely get. And then it’s acidophilus bacteria for you all the way.
  • When it comes to IBD and probiotics, go big or go home. Most store bought probiotics contain 1, 2, or 3 billion CFU (colony forming units) of bacteria. There haven’t been many studies on probiotics specifically for IBD, but those studies that have been conducted usually recommend probiotics like Visbiome—ones with very high CFU’s like 112 billion, 450 billion, and even 900 billion CFU’s. Big difference from that drug store brand, huh? Now, not everyone needs to be that high, but in general, and remember everyone is an individual here so check with your doctor on this first, it’s a good idea to start in low CFU range and bump up slowly and go as high as you need to, to find symptom relief. And that could get high up there, into the Visbiome range. One last thing I want to metion about Visbiome is that it specifically comes in capsule form and sachet powder packets. I really like the sachets for IBDer’s  because we can mix them with water or unsweetened applesauce for better absorption.

There’s a lot of debate about whether getting your bacterial strains in probiotic form is worth it since stomach acid may kill the bacteria. Since it’s not food grade, it doesn’t work. There’s also debate on storing it in the frig vs brands that say store at room temp and take with food or take without food. The bottom line for me is, if it helps go for it.  I take a probiotic and I eat probiotic rich foods. Both help in different ways so I do both.

#3 Sauerkraut

From non-dairy yogurt to supplementing with probiotics, we now move to one of my favorite ways to get non-dairy gut healthy bacteria in your body and that’s through sauerkraut—one of the world’s best fermented foods.

Now, I have to mention this because maybe you’re like I used to be. Maybe you’re thinking sauerkraut, oh yuck! It’s smelly and maybe your parents made you eat it, or maybe it just sounds gross. But I encourage you to take a second look, because sauerkraut, just like brussel sprouts are actually delish when you give them a second look as an adult.

Sauerkraut can be made at home with your own cabbage, but I prefer to buy mine. There’s just so many homemade things I do for my gut health, and I spend so much time in the kitchen, that if there’s something I can buy (which is a rarity for those of us on SCD), I will always buy it. But if you want to make your own, I say go for it! More power to you.

I have made my own at home before—a few times—and it was really much work at all. It’s just important to make sure mold isn’t growing in your cabbage as it ferments. You can always remove that part from the top, but it’s best to not have it there in the first place.

If you do choose to buy yours at the grocery store, it’s important to know that not all sauerkraut is created equal and not all sauerkraut has probiotics in it. So choose wisely.

Look for brands that say, “live cultures” or “probiotic” on the label. This will ensure you are getting the benefit you are looking for. Your sauerkraut should also be found in the refrigerator section of your grocery store, not on the canned food aisle—that’s dead giveaway that there’s not bacterial benefit. When you find your sauerkraut in the refrigerator section, look for a type that’s packaged in a glass jar or a bag—not in a can. It’s helpful to read the ingredients too to make sure sauerkraut is the first ingredient. It’s OK is spices and salt are in there as well, but vinegar is a no-no because it means the product has been pasteurized and preserved to increase its shelf life.

I really like Bubbies brand as well as Eden Foods for sauerkrauts in a jar. There’s another brand I buy occasionally called Farmhouse Culture. You’ll find that one in a bag.

The best way to take your sauerkraut is raw, and you don’t need a lot to get great benefit. Even just a couple spoonfuls a day is great. The reason you don’t want to heat it up is because heating kills off the beneficial bacteria and the whole reason you’re eating it in the first place.

Now, because the best way to eat sauerkraut is raw, and raw can be troublesome on an inflamed belly, I always recommend staying away from this option if you are in a flare-up. It likely won’t make the flare up worse, but it will make you feel worse with die off symptoms (which are just a toxin release in the body which results in symptoms of everything from brain fog to skin rashes to gut disturbances). Instead, stick with the non-dairy yogurt or probiotic supplement.

So, when is it a good idea to choose sauerkraut over non-dairy yogurt? This non-dairy probiotic option is great for those with constipation. It’s also a great option when a little bit of healing has taken place or you can also use sauerkraut to help you maintain gut balance in remission.

If you’re having a nasty flare and you are having lots of diarrhea and you still want to choose sauerkraut as your probiotic of choice, I highly encourage you to start with just the sauerkraut juice—maybe ½ tsp to start. Very small. You can even put it in a full glass of water to dilute it if you need to. Then slowly start working your way to lessening the water and increasing the juice until eventually you are ready for the real deal—the sauerkraut.

It can work, there is no one answer here. It’s about experimenting with all of the options I’m giving you today to help you decide which one is best for you.

#4 Kefir

We’ve come to #4 on our list of non-dairy bacterial balancing options and this one is kefir. Some call it kefir, I always say kefir so there you go. Same thing. If you’ve seen kefir in the grocery store, you’re probably seeing dairy kefir. Even if you are lucky enough to find a non-dairy option, I highly recommend you make it at home. Like the non-dairy yogurt options in the grocery store, it’s just not fermented long enough, it has added ingredients we don’t do well with, so it can make us feel really sick after consuming it. But, when kefir is made at home, you control everything that goes in and you make sure if ferments long enough.

Kefir is one of those non-dairy ferments that can be challenging due to the potency of the bacteria. The die off reaction can be much stronger, so if you really are in the throws of a flare, I would start with one of the earlier ideas I mentioned—preferably the yogurt or the probiotic supplements.

Your non-dairy kefir options are a kefir made from coconut water or even just water. You will need kefir grains to get started. Think of kefir grains as your starter. It’s a culture of bacteria and yeasts that help the coconut water or plain water ferment and grow beneficial bacteria.

One side note on kefir worth mentioning is that the coconut water kefir is not SCD legal since it contains coconut water made from the “young coconut.” Kind of like how we always want to choose the more mature or brown bananas on SCD because they contain less starch. The state of the food is just as important as the food itself.

Whether you choose coconut water and plain water kefir, as long as you have your kefir grains and a good recipe, it’s not that hard to make. It’s like any of these non-dairy fermented recipes we’re talking about today, once you have the recipe and you’ve practiced a time or two, you’ll have the formula for life.

I’ll leave links to my favorite kefir grains as well as link sto coconut water and water kefir in the show notes so you can get started experimenting with this bountiful bacterial beverage. Wow, how’s that for alliteration?

#5 Lacto-Fermented Veggies

The last non-dairy bacterial balancing idea we should talk about today is a more advanced method for when you’ve moved through all the previous non-dairy methods and you’re ready to kick bacterial balance and fermentation into high gear. And that last idea is lacto-fermented veggies. Pickles, carrots, green beans, cauliflower, garlic… honestly so many veggies can be lacto-fermented to give them more gut healing bacteria and more gut love for your body.

Because this type of veggies are raw and they pack a bacterial punch, it’s important to make sure you are ready before you dive in. But when you’re there my friend, definitely start experimenting at home here because again, it’s easy, it’s fun… so worth it for your continued gut health.

So you might be thinking, is this different than the fermented yogurt or the fermented sauerkraut we talked about earlier? Nope not at its core. The process is absolutely similar. Here, we’re just kicking it up a notch with veggies that aren’t as easy to digest so they are definitely best for when your gut has healed enough to really take in the health of these health foods.

With lacto fermented veggies, a lot of the recipes use whey as their fermentation starter. Well, if you know anything about whey, you know that it is not dairy free. Whey is the liquidy byproduct of milk, yogurt, cheese, etc… If you’ve ever bought commercial yogurt at the store and you opened the container to find a milky liquid floating at the top, that’s whey. Really healthy if you tolerate it, full of protein, but not dairy free.

But there are lacto-fermented veggie recipes that don’t use whey at all. Instead, they add completely dairy free salty brine to the veggies and over the course of a few days, the veggies grow beneficial bacteria just as they would if you used bacteria rich, but dairy friendly whey.

You see, all vegetables contain lactic acid bacteria. When we add brine to the veggies, we create a salty, acidic environment that’s strong enough to kill the bad bacteria but weak enough to keep the good. It’s so simple, yet so cool at the same time.

If you are dying to get stared with your salty brine and veggies to create some gut love in your belly, I’ve got you covered. I’ll leave you links in the show notes to my favorite lacto-fermented veggie recipe sites to help get you started.

OK my friend, how are you feeling now? Maybe before this episode you were thinking, I’ll never find some good quality non-dairy ways to feed my good bacteria bugs and make my gut healthy and strong. Or maybe you do consume fermented dairy, but you’re looking to branch out and try something new. At least now you know your best options for your gut healing and your gut health and how and when to use them. So, which do you think you’ll try? Let’s recap and I’ll remind you about your 5 non-dairy bacterial balancing options.


  • First there was non-dairy yogurt, great probiotic benefit, good for inflamed, achy, flare up bellies.
  • Then, there’s your probiotic supplements, but remember to go low and slow there. Good quality probiotic dosing for C + Cer’s can get high and we don’t want a die off reaction to set you back.
  • We also talked about my favorite fermented vegetable, sauerkraut. Delish and nutrish, especially if a little healing has taken place or your chief complaint is constipation.
  • After that, it was on to homemade kefir or kefir. Choose the coconut water or the plain water variety for a burst of non-dairy gut bacteria benefit. This is another one that’s best for further down the line after a bit of healing takes place because it really packs a bacteria punch.
  • Lastly, our most advanced non-dairy bacterial balancing maintenance comes from our lacto-fermented veggies. Cucumbers turning into delicious pickles, fermented carrots, and green beans… I don’t think there’s a veggie out there that you can’t ferment.


That’s a wrap my friend. A real quick reminder, if you want to check out my brand spakin’ new addition: From the Desk of Gut Love Article Series, you can go to either or, or hell check out both and see if it’s something valuable for you. Remember there’s recipes in each article and I won’t be offended if you just go for the recipes. I’m a sucker for a good recipe too!

There were lots of links mentioned today. The best place to catch them all is in the show notes at They will all lead you in the non-dairy bacterial balancing direction you want to go in.

Until we meet again, I’m wishing you a cheeky and healthy gut healing journey.

Chat soon!

Episode Transcript:

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
This podcast, video, and blog post is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Which Nut Butter Should I Choose?



When you were a kid, I bet PB & J was all the rage in your house. It was in mine.

Nut butter is a paradise for kids.

And what’s not to love? Gooey, creamy, salty peanut butter (just the right amount slathered on fluffy white bread) paired with your favorite sweet jelly (I always liked grape) giving your childhood tastebuds the perfect flavor profile that made you smile and say that profound one word all kids know, “Yum!”

Typically, my family bought Jiff. My mom always told us it was the best, but I wasn’t beholden to one brand or flavor. Peter Pan, Skippy, crunchy, creamy… it was all delicious to me.

Did your mom ever buy Smuckers Goober Grape?

It never showed up in my house (I think I remember my mom saying it was too expensive), but I definitely ran into it at my friend’s houses. Peanut butter and grape jelly piped into a pinwheel of goodness all in the same jar?

It’s got to be better if they’re put together!

As you got older, you might have thought you outgrew peanut butter. Afterall, there’s not many adults packing a PB & J for lunch (at least adults that admit it). But somewhere between 2005-2010, a nut butter explosion took over the world.

Move over childhood peanut butter.

Almond butter was the first unique nut butter incantation. Then, cashew, walnut, pecan, macadamia, and hazelnut butters stocked our grocery store shelves and today, your lunch and snacks may not be the stuff of your childhood world of peanut butter, but it’s most likely nut butter centered and our lives are richer and healthier for it.

With so many options to choose from in the nut butter category (have you seen the size of the nut butter grocery aisle these days?), and with us trying hard to make the best, most nutritious, gut healing choices to help our Crohn’s and colitis bellies, it’s hard to know which of these delicious nut buttery concoctions are the best for us to eat.

There’s a minefield of decisions to be made when you’re standing in the nut butter aisle. With questions like:

  • Is there one nut that’s healthier than the rest?
  • Are nut butters just nuts or are there added ingredients in there to look out for?
  • Do I have to buy the annoying “natural” nut butter with the oil on top I have to stir?
  • Should I even be eating nut butter at all? Is it making my IBD worse?

It’s questions like these that kept rolling around in my mind, so with an open heart and a gut full of inquisitive and nutty questions, I set out to get us some answers.

Five Things You’ll Learn in This Gut Love Spotlight Article:

  • The top 7 nut butters on the market based on gut health, taste, and versatility of use
  • How to avoid the annoying stirring and hardening of your refrigerated nut butter
  • My super simple “make at home” nut butter recipe
  • A super delish and gut nutrish nut butter cookie recipe
  • And the award for the best all around nut butter goes to…

Join our IBD mom tribe: The Gut Love Community of Moms


Well, maybe, and I promise I’ll get to that, but for the most part the healthiest nut butter depends on what you’re looking for.

  • Are you trying to gain weight with some high quality healthy fats?
  • Or are you trying to lose some weight with a lower fat nut butter?
  • Is high protein, low carb your goal?
  • Are you allergic or sensitive to legumes, tree nuts or seeds?

All of the answers to these questions will impact which nut butter you chose, and which one is healthiest for YOU.

With that said, there are some nut butters and seed butters that are considered healthier than others. I’ve outlined 7 of the best ones here so you can have all the information you need right at your fingertips. Hopefully with this nut butter knowledge and know how, next time you visit the endless nut butter aisle, you can get in and out in 3 second flat.

And of course, after I outline all 7 with their pros and cons, I’ll give you my top nut butter picks.



The OG of the nut butters actually got its start way back thousands of years ago as a nut in South America. But peanut butter, as we know it today in the United States was most likely invented by Dr. John Harvey Kellogg (yep, the cereal) in 1895.* Americans have been enjoying peanut butter ever since.

Technically though, peanut butter isn’t a nut butter at all since peanuts are a legume and not a tree nut. That’s a bonus for you if you’re sensitive or allergic to tree nuts, but not so much if you’re sensitive to this legume.

Peanut butter can be used in practically every meal you can imagine. From cookies, to a snack dipper, to smoothies, and savory foods, or maybe even eating it straight from the jar (who, me?) peanut butter is used in all sorts of dishes.

The Pros:

  • It’s your cheapest option with peanut butter being less expensive than those other fancy nut butters
  • It’s high in essential vitamins like copper, manganese, iron, and folate
  • It’s a good source of protein (7 grams per serving)
  • If you’re looking for some healthy fats, PB has got a whopping 16 grams per serving, most of it monounsaturated and polyunsaturated

The Cons:

  • Peanut butter jars are typically filled with crappy ingredients from sugar to hydrogenated vegetable, cottonseed, or soybean oils, and don’t get me started on the added salt
  • Not great in the omega-3 department and has way too many omega-6’s, sure we need them but we’re already getting too many in the Standard American Diet so PB can pack on too many
  • Potential source of aflatoxins (natural toxin in peanuts and known carcinogen—esp liver cancer) but thankfully in the U.S. crops are tested and if they are over 20 parts per billion, they don’t get used
  • Peanut butter contains lectins—anti-nutrients that can be difficult for sensitive bellies (like ours) to digest

Which peanut butter brands are gut healthiest?

I really like Once Again (organic and salt free)

Santa Cruz makes an organic version (salt added)

Bottom line: There’s some good nutrition in peanut butter, but pound for pound it doesn’t have the nutrient punch of the other nut butters

*Interesting fun fact: A few years ago, the Consumers Union did a test to see how much aflatoxin was in store bought peanut butter and they found lower amounts in Skippy and Peter Pan than in the freshly prepared store-bought varieties.


Cashews were discovered in Brazil around 1558, but because the nut is surrounded by this really hard coating, they were thought to be inedible at first. Thankfully, they’re rich creamy taste was discovered inside the shell and we’ve had a love affair with them since.

Cashew butter is a great choice in nut butters because its taste is mild, so it blends into anything you add it to and you’re left with a rich, creamy taste that is all its own. From smoothies, to cooking and baking, cashew butter can be found in any dish that calls for nut butter.

The Pros:

  • Cashew butter is so creamy, it can replace milk or cream in recipes (yay if you’re dairy free)
  • It’s full of minerals galore: copper, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, and biotin which is great for our hair and nails
  • 16 grams of fat per serving—80% of that monounsaturated and polyunsaturated—so it’s a good option if you are trying to gain or keep weight on
  • Low in carbohydrates

The Cons:

  • Doesn’t contain many omega-3’s to help us fight inflammation and improve our brain and heart health
  • That 16 grams of fat might be a little too much if weight loss is your goal, eat in moderation
  • Not as high in protein as other nut and seed butters—5 grams per serving
  • Cashew butter is pricey, much higher than peanut butter
  • Higher in oxalates than some nut butters (not as high as almond though), if you are sensitive to oxalates which are naturally occurring compounds in some plants, stay away due to their link to kidney stones, kidney disease, and gallbladder challenges

Which cashew butter brands are gut healthiest?

Jiva Organics Raw Cashew Butter (organic and raw- ‘nough said)

Julie’s Real has only one ingredient– cashews

Bottom line: Cashew butter is super versatile, full of healthy nutrients, and good fats. It’s a great option as long as high protein isn’t your goal.


Just like peanut butter, almond butter owes its auspicious start to Dr. John Harvey Kellogg.* The Journal of the American Medical Association mentions his almond butter in 1913. Even though Kellogg was experimenting with almond butter in the early 1900’s, it took another 100 years before this product became a household favorite for nut butter enthusiasts and those veering away from peanut butter in favor of something healthier.

Almond butter gets a gold star for all the amazing dishes it’s featured in. From smoothies to baking, dipping in apples or bananas to a post workout snack, even being the star of Asian dishes. This nut butter belongs in every gut healthy mamas’ home. You never know when a little almond butter will come in handy.

The Pros:

  • Almond butter is packed with fiber (not all nut butters can say that)
  • It’s high in calcium and magnesium so it’s great for bone health
  • It’s high in those anti-inflammatory, brain and heart boosting omega 3’s
  • Talk about mineral rich, almond butter is a great source of potassium, manganese, iron and Vitamin E
  • With 18 grams of “good” fat, 7 grams of protein and a low carbohydrate load, this nut butter gets an A+ in health class

The Cons:

  • Unfortunately, almonds are high in oxalates—that naturally occurring compound found in plants that dangerous for certain people, if you are prone to kidney stones, kidney disease, gallbladder issues, or you are sensitive to digesting foods with high levels of oxalates, almond butter is not the butter for you
  • For some the high but healthy fat content is a bonus, for others it’s a curse, not the best option if low fat is your goal
  • Almond butter isn’t cheap, it’s right up there with cashew butter on its hefty price tag

Which almond butter brands are gut healthiest?

MaraNatha Organic Almond Butter (yes it’s organic, and almonds are the only ingredient)

Wild Friend Classic Almond Butter (no palm oil, and just a dash of salt)

Bottom line: You just can’t get healthier than almond butter. It’s creamy, mild flavor makes it the nut butter of choice for every dish from appetizer to desserts.

*Interesting fun fact: Dr. Kellogg, who is credited with making the first almond butter in the U.S. was a nutritionist. Interesting field for someone in the nutrition-less market of cereal production.


Sunflower butter is the baby of the nut and seed butter industry. While we can trace peanut butter’s roots back thousands of years, sunflower butter is the new kid on the block. Developed as an alternative nut butter after peanut allergies began to crop up everywhere in the early 2000’s, sunflower butter quickly took up steam and began entering the hearts and bellies of nut and seed butter lovers everywhere.

If you are allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, or you’re just looking to branch out with something new and exciting, sunflower butter is the perfect purchase. It’s great when it’s used simply, spread on toast, but its flavor profile is also complex enough that it can be used in any baking or cooking dish.

The Pros:

  • Sunflower butter takes the cake as our highest “healthy fat” butter on this list with a whopping 19 grams of fat per serving (mostly monounsaturated), sunflower butter is a great treat if weight gain or weight stability is your goal (it’s definitely a consideration for many of us with IBD)
  • It’s also high in protein—8 grams per serving while still being a low carbohydrate food
  • It’s high in nutrients like fiber, magnesium, niacin, Vitamin E and Vitamin A
  • And because the solids and the oils in sunflower butter don’t separate, you don’t need to stir it (that’ a relief)

The Cons:

  • Many IBDer’s like that seed butter is high in fat, but if you’re trying to watch out for fat grams or you don’t digest fat well, this one is too high
  • Because sunflower seeds can be a little bitter, many brands add sugar, they think it’s going to make it taste better but all it does it take away the delicious flavor of the seed and make it taste like candy
  • If you’re a peanut butter gal, this butter may take some getting used to, it’s got an earthy quality that makes it different from other nut butters, especially peanut butter

Which sunflower butter brands are gut healthiest?

Once Again makes my favorite sunflower seed butter (unsweetened and delish)

SunButter Organic Sunflower Butter (organic and no added ingredients)

Bottom line: Whether you are allergic to peanuts or tree nuts, or you’re just looking for a nut butter alternative, sunflower butter is worth a try. I did a taste test switch-a-roo on my kids and they weren’t fooled, but they liked it nonetheless.


Walnuts originated in Persia (today’s Iran). They quickly became popular as an item to trade and spread throughout Europe and Asia. Some of the earliest English dishes recorded talk about using walnuts and grinding them into a paste with a mortar.

Walnut butter is different than other nut butters. It’s lighter in color but heartier in texture. It’s meaty flavor makes it the perfect accompaniment in savory dishes. As good as walnut butter is in dinner cuisine, it’s just as delicious in sweet foods like cookies and cake batter because of its high fat content.

The Pros:

  • Walnut butter is a good source of Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA) from omega 3’s so it’s a great nut butter to use for its anti-inflammatory, brain, and heart health properties
  • Omega 3’s are highest in this nut butter over all others
  • Walnut butter is high in fat—14 grams per serving– to help you maintain your weight, not as high as some of our other contenders, but very high indeed, most monounsaturated but also some saturated fat as well
  • One of the highest antioxidants in the nut butter family

The Cons:

  • Not as high in protein as some of the other nuts, about 3 grams per serving
  • If saturated fat is a concern for you, walnut butter may not be your best option
  • Walnuts go rancid quickly, always keep refrigerated and smell before you use

Which walnut butter brands are gut healthiest?

Artisana Organics Raw Walnut Butter (organic and raw, superfood healthy)

Bottom line: We know walnuts are healthy and full of omega’s and antioxidants. Think of walnut butter as an extension of the walnut. Don’t be afraid to experiment with walnut butter in cooking and baking. It gives all your dishes a rich and intriguing flavor.


Pistachios have grown in the middle east for thousands of years. Just like walnuts, they got their humble beginnings in Persia (Iran). Pistachios were a favorite of the Queen of Sheba and Alexander the Great. Like walnuts, pistachios made their way into Europe by way of Greece, Italy, and Spain. Pistachio butter is a relative newcomer to the nut butter aisle, but it’s rich taste and decadent green color has all the makings of a hit as big as avocado toast.

Just like smashed avocados, pistachio butter is great on toast, but it’s also delish in cookies, green smoothies, and even in salad dressings. Talk about gourmet.

The Pros:

  • Pistachio butter is unique, it’s a different look and flavor from the more traditional nut butters
  • It’s high in protein making it a great energy boosting snack (6 grams per serving)
  • This nut butter is loaded with B vitamins (more energy please)
  • With 13 grams of fat, pistachio butter is a great option to maintain weight or help you put a little weight on
  • Pistachio butter is cholesterol free and has as much potassium as a banana

The Cons:

  • It’s pricey, not to worry though, I’ll tell you how to make your own below
  • Pistachio butter has a unique flavor so it’s best if you like pistachios, not everyone does
  • At first, it might seem like pistachio butter isn’t very versatile, but all you have to do is think outside the traditional nut butter box and you’ll see all the ways you can use this treat

Which pistachio butter brands are gut healthiest?

NutRaw Pistachio Butter (organic and raw, with a hint of vanilla that makes the flavor pop)

Il Colle Del Gusto Sicilian Pistachio Spread (delish, but does contain rice flour)

Bottom line: Pistachio butter is a new and exciting alternative to traditional nut butters like almond and cashew. Buy some or make your own and start experimenting. From pesto’s to salad dressing, cookies, to smoothies, pistachio butter is the unique flavor you’ve been missing.


Pecans are one of the most delicious and most loved nuts worldwide, but this nut is most popular in North America and its roots can be traced back to this part of the world in the 1600’s. The name “pecan” is Native American and used to be used to describe all nuts needing a stone to crack.

Pecan butter is a relatively new invention in the world of nut butters. It’s delicious, creamy texture makes it versatile in many foods. Pecan butter can be used as a dip, in cookies, other baking treats or anywhere you want to impart a super rich flavor that has depth.

The Pros:

  • Pecans have the highest phytochemical concentration of antioxidants of all the nut butters (400% more than almond butter and 566% more than peanut butter)
  • If weight gain or weight maintenance is your goal pecans are fantastic, with 20 grams of fat per serving (most of it from polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats with a hint of saturated as well)
  • Vitamins and minerals galore, pecans are high in Vitamins A, B, and E and minerals calcium, magnesium, potassium, and zinc
  • Pecans are a great source of choline—brain food—so you’re supporting your brain function as well as your gut function

The Cons:

  • Watching calories and fat? This is a nut for moderation due to its higher fat and calorie content
  • Not a stand out in the protein department (only 4 grams per serving)
  • The price: like some of the more unusual nut butters, you’ll pay for high quality pecan butter

Which pecan butter brands are gut healthiest?

Artisana Raw Pecan Butter (organic and raw, blended with cashews so it’s extra creamy)

Guidry Organic Farms Pecan Butter (100% organic pecans, does contain salt)

Bottom line: Pecan butter is a decadent choice, it’s different, it’s delicious, and it’s a welcome change up to some of the more traditional nut butters. And if you are eating it in moderation, it will last a long time. Pecan butter is made by truly artisanal brands so buying pecan butter is more than just filling your belly with something gut healthy, it’s a gastric experience.

Now you’ve got some nut butter options!

No more plain peanut butter for you. Sure, it’s a classic and deserves a spot in your frig, but now you have no excuses so start branching out.

Besides knowing all the pros and cons of the best nut butters around, there’s a few more things to keep in mind when you purchase this gut healthy treat.


#1 Know where to store your nut butter.

Nut butter (straight up nut and nut flours too) can go bad quickly, but storing them properly will increase how long you can keep it. Always store nut butter according to the directions on the jar. If it says, “refrigerate,” definitely refrigerate.

When nut butter goes bad it gets smelly, hard, and darker than normal. It can also have a dry appearance. Don’t chance it. Your nut butter has gone rancid. Throw it away.

#2 Just because it says peanut butter doesn’t mean that’s all that’s in it.

Always read the ingredients on your nut butter label. I used to think brands where transparent. I thought, if I’m buying orange juice, it’s just oranges. If I’m buying chicken broth, it’s just chicken broth.

Dead wrong!!!

Nut butters work the same way. Just because the label on the front says cashew butter doesn’t mean there’s only cashews in there.

Nut butter companies are notorious for added ingredients. Always, always read the back label before you purchase. Even on brands you trust because companies change ingredients to save money all the time.

Be on the lookout for sugar, salt, hydrogenated oils like palm, cottonseed, and soybean oils. Never buy a nut butter that says, “reduced fat.” And beware of the label, “natural.” The FDA has no regulations on this term. “Natural” could me anything and it doesn’t mean the product is healthier.

#3 When it comes to nut butters, organic is best.

I know, everyone says organic is better, and that is true for the most part.

But there are foods where organic is just down right necessary to protect your gut. When conventional nuts are grown, they are ladened with pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Then, in the packaging of nut butter, artificial ingredients and more chemicals are added.

Not when it’s organic.

Pesticides and chemical fertilizers have been shown to have a direct negative impact on our gut health, keeping us from putting together all the puzzle pieces to find remission. Buying organic nut butter ensures you are putting quality ingredients in your gut.

#4 Like the groundhog, refrigerated nut butter needs to poke its head out before being used.

We all get annoyed by healthier, but trickier refrigerated nut butter. Trust me though. It is worth it and it is usually healthier. The trick to not go crazy while you spread is to take it out about 10-15 minutes before you use it. The oils in the nut butter soften at room temperature making it much easier to spread.

#5 The foolproof way to avoid the hard, solid mess at the bottom of the jar.

Have you noticed that before you refrigerate that nut butter, it’s smooth and creamy, and easy to spread? Yep, that’s because of the same principle I just mentioned in #4. The oils in the nut butter soften at room temperature.

Take advantage of the softness when you bring your jar home. Pop the top, scoop the nut butter out into a blender or a food processor—you can even keep it in the jar and stir with a knife or an immersion blender—whatever method you choose, stir it up before you place it in the frig.

We’ve all forgotten on occasion and what happens? It becomes a hard, solid mess when we go to use it. Avoid the extra annoyance and just mix it before you put it away. If you follow this tip and #4, you’ll love each and every experience your nut butter has to offer.

#6 Homemade is easier than you think (and cheaper with better ingredients).

We’re spending a fortune on store-bought nut butter. And why? When we could so easily make our own at home. All you need is some high quality nuts and a blender or food processor. Follow the simple steps below to get yourself started.



#1 Gather your RAW nuts or seeds (any amount will do- I usually use 2-3 cups).

#2 Unless you’re a purest, mixing nuts and seeds gives a more complex, richer flavor.

Nuts that mix well are almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, cashews, walnuts, and sunflower seeds but use your imagination and make any combo you want.

#3 Optional but really important for the flavor is to give the nuts a quick roast in the oven.

Just set them on a sheet pan and pop them in a 350 degree oven.

Roast, times will vary depending on the nut, but usually 8-10 minutes is all they need.

Remove from the oven and let the nuts/seeds cool for a few minutes.

#4 Pour your nuts into a high speed blender or food processor and begin to process.

At first you’ll think nothing is happening, but be patient. It can take up to 10-15 minutes to get a really creamy nut butter.

#5 If the nuts are too dry while blending, consider adding water or oil, 1 Tbsp at a time, to keep it smooth and creamy.

Most nuts have plenty of their own oils and you won’t need to do this, but it’s good to know what to do just in case.

#6 At the end, when your mixture is creamy, now you can decide on your add ins.

Some options include: raw cacao, salt, vanilla, maple syrup, honey, a few chopped crunchy bits of nuts if you like it crunchy.

Pulse a couple more times to mix in your add in and you’re done.



All the nut butter options, the history of the nut, the pros, the cons, the brands, and the nut storage and usage tips are great, but I know what you really want to know…


After careful consideration of all the nuts we’ve explored, it’s time to reveal the TOP WINNERS.

The prize for the best PROTEIN PUNCH nut butter is… Sunflower Butter

The prize for the MOST UNIQUE nut butter is… Pistachio Butter

The prize for the MOST VERSATILE nut butter goes to… Cashew Butter

And our OVERALL WINNER in the nut butter category for its high fat, high fiber, high omega-3’s, high protein, with good amounts of calcium and antioxidants goes to…  


Walnut butter gets a second place in the overall winner category. It may not have all the health benefits of almond butter, but the omega-3’s in walnut butter just can’t be beat.


OK my friend, that’s a wrap on everything you need to know about nut butter—except for the best part—a delish and nutrish nut butter cookie recipe I know you are going to love.

This recipe is a staple in my house. There’s always Nut Butter Bliss Cookies in the freezer. They are the perfect treat that you can just take out and try to wait a few minute to thaw and pop in your mouth. Sometimes I don’t wait for the thawing and they’re just as good then too.

I chose this nut butter recipe because it’s so versatile. You could use any of the nut butters mentioned today and they would turn out delish. I’ve used the traditional peanut butter, but I’ve also experimented with cashew butter, pecan butter, even pistachio butter… all turned out amazing.

Experiment with your own nut butter of choice and see how they work out for you.





1 3/4 cups gluten free flour (I prefer finely ground almond flour)

¼ cup coconut flour

1/2 tsp baking soda 

1/4 tsp salt

1 stick butter, softened (ghee or coconut oil works too)

1/2 c honey 

1 c nut butter of your choice

1 tsp vanilla

1 egg

1 pk of Enjoy Life  dark chocolate chunks or mini chips (optional)


Place the gluten free flour, coconut flour, salt and baking soda in a large mixing bowl. Stir until well combined. Add butter, honey, nut butter, vanilla and egg. Beat cookie mixture on medium-high speed for 2 to 3 minutes or until the mixture resembles cookie batter.

Cover the batter with wax paper and place in the refrigerator for 45 minutes.

Remove from the refrigerator and preheat oven to 325°.

For traditional criss cross style cookies:

Using a cookie scooper, scoop the batter onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. Cookies should be 2-inch rounded balls. After cookies are placed on a baking sheet, flatten each cookie slightly with your hand. Next, take a fork and gently press a criss cross pattern in each cookie. Place cookies in the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes. Cookies are done when they are golden brown. Allow cookies to cool.

For traditional “nut butter kiss” style cookies:

Using a cookie scooper, scoop the batter onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. Cookies should be 2-inch rounded balls. After cookies are placed on a baking sheet, flatten slightly with fingers. Place cookies in the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes. Cookies are done when they are golden brown.  Immediately after removing the cookies from the oven, place one chocolate chunk in the center of each cookie. Allow to cool.

For nut butter mini chip style cookies:

After cookies are blended (before going in the frig) and ½ cup mini chips to the nut butter batter. Stir until the chips are combined. After removing the batter from the frig, using a cookie scooper, scoop the batter onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. Cookies should be 2-inch rounded balls. After cookies are placed on a baking sheet, flatten each cookie slightly with your hand. Place cookies in the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes. Cookies are done when they are golden brown. 

Allow cookies to cool. Dare you to try and eat just one!

*This recipe doubles really well. Also, I like to keep mine in the freezer and just pull out one or two at a time.

Resources To Take the Conversation Further:

Nut Butters General Guidelines:

Nine Best Healthiest Nut Butters to Spread on Everything According to Nutritionists

7 Healthy, Protein Packed Nut Butters

Soluble and Insoluble Oxalate Content of Nuts

Nut Butters: Which One is Healthiest

Peanut Butter:

Peanut Butter Nutrition and Health Benefits

Perplexed About Peanuts?

History of Peanuts and Peanut Butter

Once Again Peanut Butter

Santa Cruz Dark Roasted Creamy Peanut Butter

Cashew Butter:

Cashew Butter Nutrition and Health Benefits

Nine Best Healthy Nut Butters

Jiva Organics Raw Cashew Butter

Julie’s Real Cashew Butter

Almond Butter:

Health Benefits of Almond Butter

The Rise of the American Almond Craze in One Nutty Chart

MaraNatha Organic Almond Butter

Wild Friends Almond Butter

Sunflower Butter:

Sunflower Seed Butter Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Sun Butter Makes Its Market Debut

Once Again Sunflower Butter

Organic Sun Butter

Pecan Butter:

Pecan Butter Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Raw Pecan Butter Has 400% the Antioxidants vs Almond, Peanut Butter

America’s Favorite Nut: A Brief History

Guidry Organic Farms Pecan Butter

Artisana Organics Raw Pecan Butter

Walnut Butter:

Walnut Butter Nutrition Facts

Artisana Organics Walnut Butter

Pistachio Butter:

History- Pistachio Origins

NutRaw Pistachio Butter

Il Colle De Gusto Sicilian Pistachio Butter

Connect With Karyn:

Karyn on Facebook

Schedule Your FREE 30-Minute IBD Consult

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
This podcast, video, and blog post is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.



Are IBDer’s Being Left in the Covid Dust?

The good news is that Covid infections are down, hospitalizations are down, and the death rate is lowering in many areas across the globe.

And it’s about time.

Two years my friend. Wow, what a long, strange trip it’s been.

The challenging news for those of us with Crohn’s and colitis and others with autoimmune diseases and those who are immunosuppressed due to illness or medication is that while the risk may be lower for us to contract Covid, the risk is not gone.

So us IBDer’s, we’re left in our own personal battle of tug a war, feeling like we’ve just been left behind to fend for ourselves while everyone else goes out to unite and celebrate.

How can those with Crohn’s and colitis cope with the feeling of being left behind and what steps can we take to continue to feel cautiously safe in, yet again, another new normal. Let’s talk it out.

Three Things You’ll Learn in This Episode

  • Why Covid freedom doesn’t necessarily mean freedom for us
  • 5 Ways to safely jump on the Covid freedom train while keeping your Crohn’s and colitis in a healthy place
  • Finding the balance between, “It sucks to be me” and moving on

Rate, Review and Subscribe on Apple Podcasts

Mentioned in This Episode:

Episode 69: The New Year’s Resolution Every IBD Mom Needs to Make

Episode 70: Using Whole Foods to Crush Your Crohn’s & Colitis

Episode 71: 2 Diets Tailor-Made for Crohn’s & Colitis

Episode 72: Finding Crohn’s & Colitis Relief with the Autoimmune Paleo Approach

Force of Nature Cleaning Products

Episode Resources:

The Strategy of Boosting the Immune System Under the Covid-19 Pandemic

The Millions of People Stuck in Pandemic Limbo

Connect With Karyn:

Karyn on Facebook

Schedule Your FREE 30-Minute IBD Consult

Episode Transcript:


The good news is that Covid infections are down, hospitalizations are down, and the death rate is lowering in many areas across the globe.

And it’s about time.

Two years my friend. Wow, what a long, strange trip it’s been.

The challenging news for those of us with Crohn’s and colitis and others with autoimmune diseases and those who are immunosuppressed due to illness or medication is that while the risk may be lower for us to contract Covid, the risk is not gone.

So us IBDer’s, we’re left in our own personal battle of tug a war, feeling like we’ve just been left behind to fend for ourselves while everyone else goes out to unite and celebrate.

How can those with Crohn’s and colitis cope with the feeling of being left behind and what steps can we take to continue to feel cautiously safe in, yet again, another new normal. Let’s talk it out.


Hello my friend, welcome to another episode of The Cheeky Podcast for Moms with IBD. I’m your host Karyn Haley and today is a glorious day to be alive. Covid infections are down, the death rates are lowering, mask mandates are like poof, they’re going away, groups are congregating again, friends are calling saying, “Hey, let’s get together.” But while so much has changed with openings for so much of the population (mostly healthy population), the question remains, “What’s changed for us?”

With Inflammatory Bowel Disease, we’ve always dealt with a dysfunctional immune system. Our immune system is attacking itself. And so, if we are the luckiest of the lucky, we combat the disease with diet and lifestyle changes, maybe some supplements… and we move on, hoping the remissions holds. Not exactly cured, because even in remission, C + C loves to lurk in the back of our minds, doesn’t it? “Will it come back, what will I do if it comes back?” Still, with autoimmune challenges in there deep down, we think I’m OK, for now. As long as a 100 foot tsunami named Covid-19 doesn’t crash through my window and take me down.


And then there’s the C + Cer’s who aren’t in remission from diet and lifestyle alone. Those immunosuppressives and biologics and steroids, they can be a game changer. They can help us lead normal, functioning lives. Thank God for science and doctors. As long as a 100 ft tsunami named Covid-19 doesn’t crash through our window and take us down.

Well, that unfortunate tsunami came and it struck us down, whether we got Covid or not. Sure, if you contracted the virus, having Covid was probably one of the worst things that ever happened to you. It was scary and horrendous, but I’m guessing since you’re here with me right now, you made it through. But just like that healthy mama who’s in remission because the diet and lifestyle thing is working for her, just like that mama who’s got it pulled together with medication, or like many mamas out there who are still trying to figure all of this out… even 2 years later with pandemic restrictions lifting, we are all still living in fear of Covid.

And the toll it’s taken on us mentally. Holy cow! After being isolated for 2 freakin’ years. Anxiety and depression is real. As real as it gets. The mental toll can be just as damaging as the physical. And we’re not the only ones who felt it. Our kids have suffered greatly—no matter their age. Unattended play dates and pre-school time, Zoom school, missed graduations, parties, hanging out with friends and boyfriends and girlfriends, and after school activities.  All of their isolation being a further burden on us—feeling guilty because how much our kids are able to do is directly a result of our condition.


And now, in March of 2022, Covid hasn’t gone away completely, yet, our friends, our family members, our co-workers, maybe even our kids… they got to get back to living. And I don’t blame them. I want to get back to living.

But what about us? The autoimmune challenged. The further immune compromised by way of medication.

I don’t know about you but getting back out there in this “it’s still out here lurking in the shadows but there’s low Covid numbers and we’re sick and tired of being cooped up inside so we’re coming out world” mentality scares the hell out of me. It’s like the fear of public speaking, or putting yourself out there on a dating app, or jumping out of an airplane all rolled into one gigantic “AAAAAAAHHHHHHH.”

That’s what’s playing in my head most of the time.

But the world is moving on. I see it all around me. Do you see it around you?

Scrolling through Facebook or Instagram, you’d think hedonism took over. Friends traveling, getting together for parties. I keep looking at adorable pictures of friends with their arms around each other and all I can think is two things: #1 How can they stand so close to each other and not freak and #2 I wish I was with there.

Of course, I don’t begrudge anyone for these fabulous times they’re having. It’s fantastic! It’s the way it should be. But sometimes, don’t you get the feeling that those of us with C + C and those with other medical conditions are just getting a little left behind? We don’t live in the same world as our carefree friends. We live in a world where we are constantly monitoring our poops. “How many did I have today, what was the consistency, what score would that be on the Bristol Stool Chart? We label every stomach twinge, every belly ache. We worry when sniffles or fevers come along because we know they can lead to a weakened state that sets the stage for a flare up. And with Covid, these worries have doubled.


But before we go down a rabbit whole of woe is me, doesn’t it suck to be me, it’ not fair that we are getting left behind… you know that level of negativity is never going to be me. I’ve been thinking about this for a few weeks now as things have been opening up in the U.S. Not giving lots of negative energy to it, but just thinking, huh, I’m so grateful the Covid numbers are down. Our country and our world needs this more than anything, but how is this affecting me? I’ve been checking in with myself on how I feel about this so that I can process, even feel sad a little and then find a healthy way to move on.

Well, the reason I’m taping this particular episode today is because I think I’ve figure this out and even though we need to allow ourselves to sit in, “Doesn’t that suck” for a beat. We do need to move on because it’s just not mentally healthy to live there all the time.

If you’ve been feeling a bit stung by everyone seeming like their moving on, where you’re still concerned about how Covid might impact you, and how you might navigate this new freedom and carefree spirit everyone is adopting, I’m here with some advice to help you feel the feels, but then press on just like we all do everyday. It’s like life with Crohn’s and colitis. We’re not getting rid of it, so how can we live our best life with it.

I know we can. Even with the world opening up when those of us with IBD still need to be careful, we will, and we must march on like only IBD moms can. Marching on, for us, may just look a little different. But we will get through this, we will walk through, just like we always do.

I’ve got 5 ways you can jump on the Covid freedom train, while staying true to your physical and mental health.


#1 If social media has become the bane of your existence lately with the faces of friends and family breaking free, going maskless, and partying like it’s 1999, it’s a good idea to take a social media break– for now, or more realistically, limit your use. How about to once a day? And of course you can temporarily hide posts from anything your finding triggering.

Remember though that taking a social media hiatus is not about cutting yourself off you’re your friends. We need connections now more than ever. If you’re still feeling like you’ll serve your health best by being a homebody, keep the Zoom friend calls going. Organize a group text with your besties. You probably already did that during the pandemic, so hop back on there and keep it going. The weather is warming up. Plan some outside hangouts. If you must go inside a restaurant, try to go at off hours when the risk of Covid exposure is lower.

And the silver lining with your social circle still remaining small is that you don’t have to interact with people you don’t want to– yet. Be intentional with the friends in your circle who are uplifting and positive and ones who don’t shame you for still needing to be protective of your health.  

#2 Even though states and businesses may be getting rid of mask mandates, you keep that N95 or KN95 mask on girl. I’m still keeping mine on. Uh oh, a few of you might be thinking. Plugging my ears.. la la la la…  She’s getting into masks and I’m not a masker. Yes, I’m a masker. If you’re not, hit the forward button a couple times and catch back up with us in tip #3. Anyhoo—Like I was saying, keep wearing that mask. In my state, I’d say I see about 40% with them still on and 60% with them off. And God bless them. If there are no health concerns for them and cases are way down where they live, I get it.  And also, that the 60/40 number I mentioned, I get that keeping the mask on isn’t too challenging for me, since I still see many others masking where I live, but if you live in an area where no one’s masking, that makes this idea of keeping your mask on more challenging. And I’ve got to tell you, this one is all about mental strength.

I remember last June (remember, we thought we’d seen the last of Covid?). My son was in a dance recital at a big theater. Of course, we didn’t want to miss his performance. It was his stage debut. He deserved to be there with his parents beaming (under masks) the whole time. So my hubby and I went to the theater donning our masks. Do you know we were the only ones with them on? In the whole theater. 100’s of people. I looked. Not another soul with a mask on. It felt a little weird, but I knew that for my health, it was important to stay vigilant about Covid. Mental strength. Hold out for just a little longer mama. I know happier days, and maskless days are ahead for us too.

#3 Take the time to educate those around you. Do you have friends who say, “Why can’t you just come to the book club?” or “Why are you still being so careful?” Remember, we live just a bit differently because we always need to put our health first. It’s always front and center in our mind. Life may not look like that for others. Most of the time, those friends mean well. They care about us. So why not take the time to explain why those precautions are still important for you. The more people we help to understand what Crohn’s and colitis is all about, the more people know what we go through on a daily basis.

Talking about C + C is one of my favorite things to do. My friends know that once I get started, I don’t stop. And unlike 35 years ago when I was diagnosed, IBD as a diagnosis is growing, so chances are your friends know someone with IBD. Explaining that your meds suppress your immune system or that you just need to be careful because Covid could be worse for you goes a long way to deepen your relationship with your friends.

#4 As much as you can, let it go. Now listen, Covid, our beliefs about how to keep ourselves safe, about masking, not masking, to vaccinate or not vaccinate is such a touchy subject. I’m just giving my own opinions here. I’d love to hear yours too. No judgement just an exchange of enlightened minds and ideas. So take this tip of letting it go—letting a bit of the tight Covid reigns we hold so dear, go, in whatever way this makes sense for you.

For me, I had to let go of some of the restrictions I had been following since early pandemic days and of my very insular world, just a bit even, though I knew it would put me at greater risk of contracting Covid. I’ve got two college age kids and one tween who wanted to go out, see their friends, have experiences, to enjoy life again. Their lives have been on hold far too long. With Covid rates going down and testing more rapidly availability than ever in the U.S., I had to let them begin to get back to life. So I let go, just a bit.

There’s still no one coming in my house that’s not a family member. My kids are still wearing masks when they are indoors, but they’re hanging out with friends more and trying to get back to life as much as possible. To help me feel more comfortable with all this, we’re Covid testing everyone on a regular basis so if one of us does get Covid, we’ll know it right away. And everyone in the family is trying to respect each other’s big circles.

I guess I have to explain that. In our family we think of thoughts and ideas as big and little circles. Little circles are thoughts and ideas where we are able to see both sides— it’s the grey in our world. But big circles are our thoughts and ideas that are pretty set in stone. Ones we don’t want to cave on. When it comes to letting go just a little, we try to respect each other’s big circles as best we can.

#5 To combat the feeling that the world is frolicking around and getting out and about more, keep yourself as healthy as you possibly can so that you can get out and about in the world more too. IBD healthy, immune system healthy, bacterial balance healthy, mind healthy. Assessing where you’re at with those things will tell you how open your world can be by how healthy you are feeling in the moment.

And the cool thing is that there’s no rule that says you have to make up your mind about how open you will be one day and then not change your mind the next. This is a fluid thing and where you’re at with your physical and mental health in the moment will dictate where you are with easing up on Covid restrictions.


So how can you do that? How can you be as healthy as you can be physically and mentally during this crazy time we’re living in? Well, you can:

  • Take supplements. Supplements that have been studied and research backed to help protect against Covid or help with inflammatory markers are things like Vitamin D3K2, Zinc, Curcumin, Elderberry, Cod Liver Oil or Fish Oil, Vitamin C, as well as probiotics. Which ones can you take to help keep your body physically healthy?
  • Get your Antibodies checked. If you’ve had Covid or if you’ve been vaccinated, get your antibodies checked. It will help you decide what level of risk you are currently at. We know that those on immunosuppressive medications and possibly those with autoimmune disorders may not build up antibodies like the rest of the population. Knowing your level will give you peace of mind or help you decide what steps you want to take next.
  • Eat IBD healthy—whatever that means for you. Find the Eating for IBD diet that works best for your symptoms and your lifestyle. It will always help to keep your IBD in a better place and give you peace of mind that you are doing everything you can do to be healthy, strong, and able to fight if a Covid infection comes along.

If you’re still trying to find that IBD healing diet for you, I have a great eating for your IBD series that I did a little while back. Those are some great episodes to check out. I will leave links to them in the show notes. If you’re looking on your podcast app right now, they were episodes 69, 70, 71, and 72. It’s a whole 4-episode series dedicated to helping you find the best gut healing diet for you, the one with your name on it, because that diet is different for all of us. I got a lot of great feedback from it so if you’re still looking for that IBD healing diet for you, that is the place to get information to help you get started.

Being as healthy as you can be also means keeping the germs away. Continue to wash your hands frequently, keep surfaces clean and free of viruses with whatever virus killer you have at home. I’m a huge fan of a company called Forces of Nature. I found them way back when Covid began and I’m still using their products to clean our home daily. So just keep your distance from others when possible and keep the germ bugs at bay.

  • Prioritize your sleep. This is definitely me not necessarily practicing what I preach, but I am a work in progress when it comes to sleep. It’s so difficult for moms to get the necessary amount of sleep. It’s like as soon as we give birth, even if we don’t have a little babies anymore, we’ve surrendered to not getting quality sleep for years and years to come. I wonder if when all of the kids are out of the house if good quality sleep comes back. But the good news about sleep is that it doesn’t have to be the perfect night sleep to count. It just has to be as quality as you can make it. No striving for perfection here, with sleep, it’s B+ all the way. Prioritize sleep.
  • Get your body moving. In whatever way that looks like for you. Maybe you’re a weightlifter and you I have no problem with strength training and heavy duty workouts. That’s getting your body moving for you. Maybe restorative yoga is more your jam. You’re just getting started moving your body and that’s great too. So move your body in whatever way that means for you and if you can get outside while you’re doing it, you get bonus points.
  • Lastly, when it comes to being as healthy as you can be, that means trying not to take unnecessary risks. And this gets us back to this idea of mental toughness. Sometimes we take risks that we just don’t need to take. Be strong. Stand in your power. And know that with that strength, you’re doing what is good of you, and also for the good of your whole family.


So there you have it, that’s five things that you can do to jump on the Covid freedom train, while staying true to your physical and mental health.

#1 Take a social media hiatus—part time or full time, for just a bit

#2 Don’t ditch that mask too soon, even when others do

#3 Teachers aren’t just found in the classroom, educate when you get the opportunity

#4 Let go—in whatever way letting go looks for you

#5 Be healthy, mind, body, and soul

What do you think mama?

This episode is one of those that’s going to make you think. Because opinions about Covid are so strongly held, you might think this IBD gal has gone off her rocker or you might think, yeah, I have been kind of feeling left behind too. I’m glad she brought it up. Either way, it’s all good. As I always say, take what you need and leave the rest behind.

I’d love to hear from you because agree or disagree, this is a conversation worth having. Email me at and let’s continue the conversation. I usually say message me on Facebook @theibdhealthcoach but you’re taking a break from that, remember. So email me and let’s talk it out.

Until we meet again, I’m wishing you cheeky and healthy gut healing journey. Chat soon!

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
This podcast, video, and blog post is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

How to Talk to Your Kids About the War in Ukraine

The world is watching, in horror and fear, as Vladimir Putin invades Ukraine. Our hearts are full of sorrow, but there’s also glimmers of hope. I think we all feel it– for the Ukrainian military, the countless civilians taking up arms to defend their country and of course, we are thinking about the defenseless children in Ukraine.

As moms, our thoughts can’t help but go to the children.

The children of Ukraine and our own children as well. How are our own kids coping with all of this? What do they understand about what’s going on, and how can we help them make sense of this senseless crisis?

As Cheeky Podcast moms know, even though we have IBD, we’re moms first and foremost, so this week we’re taking a break from our Crohn’s and colitis conversation to uncover the best ways to talk to our kids about what’s going on in Ukraine, at their level, for their age… to ensure that they feel heard and safe in a world that’s been out of control and chaotic for them for far too long.

It’s all about our kids today on The Cheeky Podcast.

Three Things You’ll Learn in This Episode

  • Age by age tips for parents on what’s OK to say to your kids and what’s not during this crisis
  • The reason why one psychologist thinks this war in Ukraine is hitting our kids particularly hard unlike any other time in history
  • The #1 meaningful question to ask your kids about the war that will lead to a fire storm of engagement from them (no matter what age they are)

Rate, Review and Subscribe on Apple Podcasts

Mentioned in This Episode:

Your Kids Are Hearing About Ukraine. Here’s How to Help Them Understand

A Delicate Balance: Experts Tips on Dealing with Ukraine Anxiety in Children

Common Sense Media: Explaining News To Our Kids

Convene the Council

How to Talk to Your Children About What’s Happening in Ukraine

Links for Further Investigation:


How to Talk to Kids About Ukraine

Ukraine Conflict: How to Help Yourself, Your Kids and Others

How to Talk to Your Children About the Invasion in Ukraine and Why Those Conversations are Important


The Ukrainian Red Cross

CARE International

UNICEF Ukraine

Help for the Ukrainian Army

Catholic Relief Services

Project HOPE

Sunflower of Peace



CNN 10

Dogo News

News for Kids


Connect With Karyn:

Karyn on Facebook

Schedule Your FREE 30-Minute IBD Consult

Episode Transcript:

The world is watching, in horror and fear, as Vladimir Putin invades Ukraine. Our hearts are full of sorrow, but there’s also glimmers of hope—I think we all feel it– for the Ukrainian military, the countless civilians taking up arms to defend their country and of course, we are thinking about the defenseless children in Ukraine.

As moms, our thoughts can’t help but go to the children. The children of Ukraine and our own children as well. How are our own kids coping with all of this, what do they understand about what’s going on, and how can we help them make sense of this senseless crisis. As cheeky podcast moms know, even though we have IBD, we’re moms first and foremost, so this week we’re taking a break from our Crohn’s and colitis conversation to uncover the best ways to talk to our kids about what’s going on in Ukraine, at their level, for their age… to ensure that they feel heard and safe in a world that’s been out of control and chaotic for them for far too long. It’s all about our kids today on the cheeky podcast.


Hey dear one, Karyn Haley with you on another episode of The Cheeky Podcast and I curious, have you been glued to the TV, to social media, to podcasts, and the internet this week as countless news outlets detail the horrific events in Ukraine? As a parent and as a human on this planet, I feel like it’s important for me to be informed about world events, but even I have felt like I’ve had to take a break from the constant coverage now and then. In America and in other parts around the world, most of us have the luxury of doing that. And it’s in those moments that I’m taking a break from the bombardment of the 24/7 news cycle that it just hits me, how are my kids doing with all this?

What are they making of what’s happening in our world?

Unlike what I can only imagine it was like to be a kid during WWII or 9-11 when the news was slower and social media didn’t invade a child’s every waking moment, today’s kids are different. And you might think I’m talking about teenagers. But not necessarily, even younger kids are not immune to hearing tidbits that they struggle to make sense of. I feel like during times of strife, it’s important for us to check in with our kids, meet them where they’re at, and help them try to make sense of their inner thoughts and feelings.

Having a background in mental health counseling, I can’t help but always think of situations from a psychological perspective. Seriously, you should be in my crazy brain that’s always humming with questions like: Why did she do that in that thing that way? What’s he thinking right now? What was the motivation behind that statement? It’s just how I’m wired. I’m sure I overthink things. But this overactive psychology brain of mine has been working overtime in last several days. Processing the how and why of Russia and Ukraine for myself, and then thinking about what my kids are possibly thinking about all this and how can I best approach this topic with them. For my younger kid, as well as my older kids—of course the way I broach this subject will be different because they are in different places developmentally—and even, thinking about how to tailor the conversation to the individual child no matter their age, that’s been top of mind.

We all know it. Parenting is hard.

It’s been harder over the last couple years. Even though, physically we may not have been moving about in the world as much in the last 2 years, our brains have still been moving about and have been working overtime, haven’t they? Our brains haven’t stopped. And in my heart, I know that the time that we are currently in, where an oppressive dictator decides to barbarically invade another country and the ramifications that will have for Ukrainians, for Russians who are speaking out against Putin, and all of us around the world, is a time when our brains need to continue to work overtime, to process what is happening so we can help our kids yet again, get through another challenging and confusing time.

So before I dove in, to have what turned out to be some really enlightening and thought provoking conversations with my kids, I thought it best to find out what the experts are saying about talking to your kids about the invasion of Ukraine. And I found some really insightful ideas on how to best approach this difficult conversation– talking to my kids about war. God, the difficult conversations are just never ending these days. I hope that this thought provoking information gives you comfort and confidence (I know I need to feel those things right now) because it’s necessary to have these tough conversations.  And it’s never one and done, but this will at least help you get started.

When I think about the vortex of reading I got sucked into here, I can’t even recall how many resources I perused—let’s just say lots—but I found that there were common themes that seemed to play over and over from the expert perspective when it’s time for tough conversations with our kids. First and foremost, experts alike agree that it’s important to talk to our kids about global events in a way that fits their age, maturity level, and in a way that fits with the questions they are curious about, but at the same time, we should try not to bombard our kids with too much information if they are not asking for it.  Experts also agree that cell phones, streaming services, the 24-hour news cycle, and social media make global events like war very overwhelming for our kids. They talk about how kids deserve to feel safe and how we need to find ways to help them feel safe as much as we can.


Common Sense Media—do you know this website? It’s fantastic. It’s a hub of information about movies, tv shows, books, gaming… and it gives you age recommendations, reviews, ratings, and commentary so you can make the most informed decisions for your kid for whatever activity they’re into. I love common sense media. When my kids were growing up, we’d use Common Sense Media as our age bible for everything. The kids would say, can we watch Harry Potter? What’s it say on Common Sense Media, we’d say? Can I read Hunger Games? Did you check out Common Sense Media? We were like autoboots repeating different versions of the same phrase over and over.

Sure, it’s a little bit of a cop out as a parent, but my husband and I got so sick and tired of always having to be the bad guy saying no—you’re 5 you can’t watch The Dark Night, but how about Bolt or Cars again?  Or always having to read, watch, and experience every last want of our kids before they could engage. We’ve got 3 kids my friend! Common Sense Media would give us an unbiased barometer to judge how good we were as parents—for better or worse, Common Sense Media parented us as parents.

So over the years, Common Sense Media has really grown to include some pretty informative articles to help us with most aspects of parenting. In one of the articles I perused to help me figure out the best way to talk with my kids about Ukraine, they mentioned several ways you can help your kids deal with the news in general and in common sense media fashion, they broke it down by age. Kids 7 and under. Kids 8-12. And Teens.


Common Sense Media says keep the news away. Do your news viewing away from your kids, especially when frightening pictures and images are involved. If kids this age happen to hear or see something, stress to them that your family is safe. If you have older kids and your younger kids overhear your conversation, or if your kids happen to see or hear something on the news, use the distance of this war to help reassure them and help them feel safe. Get out a map to show them the war is happening here and we live here. And above all, according to Common Sense Media, kids feel safe when they know they are not separated from you. Find time to spend together, listen when your kids talk, especially about their fears, use distraction techniques, provide physical comfort by snuggling with them, watching a happy program together, reading a book, or doing a fun activity.

I think this is a really great time to point out, for my sake more than yours because I’m sure you already know that every kid is unique. Maturity levels and age really need to come into play when deciding how much to talk about in situations like these. While I completely respect Common Sense Media’s thoughts and ideas here, I do think that even with kids under seven we can find ways to talk to them about global events in very simple terms that still help them feel safe.

Now of course, if I had a two-year-old, I am not going to be bringing up the war in Ukraine. But with a six-year-old or seven-year-old, depending on their maturity level, and of course their curiosity level, I may mention this event in passing. One country is being mean to another country and we are going to pray as a family for everyone’s safety or we are going to give to charity XYZ to help the families who live there. I might even get out a map and show them where the countries are.  Most kids who are five, six, or seven years old know what it’s like to have a friend who they perceive as being mean to them. When you put the conversation at this level, it just gently starts the process of making your kids aware that we live in a global, interconnected world. Pointing out the countries on the map shows them a bit of geography as well so it’s short, it’s not too scary, and it’s part of a conversation that’s a multi functioning learning process.

I do agree wholeheartedly with Common Sense Media though that the most important thing for children seven and under is that they feel safe and connected to us. I think that that is the key no matter how you approach what’s going on in Ukraine with children this age. I’m curious to know what do you think? Have you shared anything about the war with your seven and under kiddos? Remember there’s no right answer here because it depends on your family, your beliefs, and your individual children. And this is just food for thought to get the conversation started.


When global events are at stake, the news and war, Common Sense Media talks about considering your child’s temperament and maturity level for kids in this age group. Your child may be extra sensitive or an empath by nature. If this is the case you may want to keep them away from the news, TV, and dangerous images. I can give you an example for this because I have a child in this age group and he is very much an empath. He takes on others emotions so easily that sometimes it overwhelms him. So for my son, we are talking about Ukraine in terms that he can process and understand, but I’m not watching or listening to the news with him. Instead I listen and then filter my experience with all of this to him in a way that he can understand. I know that some of the graphic images may be too frightening for his sensitive temperament.

Again, every child is different so your child might not feel that way at all and want to watch the news as you watch. Common Sense Media also talks about being available for questions and conversations. This is where we mamas shine. Kids this age see things in black-and-white. This gives you insight into where they’re coming from but also a starting point for conversations about prejudice, bias, and how we need to be careful with generalizations.

Common Sense Media says that if your kids are online, try to be there with them, or monitor what they are exposed to, use programs to help control what URL’s you want your kids to stay away from. Let me tell you from experience that this is that age where if your kids are on social media or the Internet, things are going to pop up without them even searching for them. There’s so many things they cannot unsee, so this is a great time to have parental controls on their devices.


My favorite advice for this age group from common sense media is to have a conversation with your child that starts with the phrase, “What have you heard about Ukraine?” Because they probably already heard at least something about the war at school, from friends, possibly on the Internet or social media. Asking the question, “What have you heard about what’s going on in Ukraine?” helps you start the conversation with where they’re at.

What do you think about this advice? Does this fit for your child? How will you personalize it for their situation and their needs? I really like the advice that common sense media is giving for this age group. If fits really well for my child, but it’s up to you how are you take this information and what parts of it you take to help your child. Remember in the end, the goal is for them to feel heard and feel safe.


Oh teenagers. Mind of their own teenagers. When we’re talking about global events like a war with teenagers, we cannot underestimate the fact that they have opinions, they have access to information, and in most cases they are not shy about sharing what they know or think they know.

Common Sense Media says the most important thing to do with teenagers is to check in. Since teens are getting their information independently, it’s important for you to find out what they already know. This gives you as the parent of the opportunity to throw in the news you’ve been getting and give more context to what they already know.

Remember, teens tend to have strong opinions so don’t dismiss their insights. Validate them and use it as an opportunity to have an open conversation with them. That’s some seriously great advice from Common Sense Media because we know as soon as we shove our opinion down our teen’s throat, that’s when they shut down. Instead, we can say something like, “That’s a really interesting thought Jim. I haven’t really thought about it in that way. I saw XYZ on the news today and I thought this perspective was really interesting. What do you think?”

Common Sense Media says with teens, the most important thing is for them to feel like they can express themselves. Teens may personalize events like this, they may even know somebody directly impacted or involved in someway with the war in Ukraine. Especially with the global reach of social media. They might also be wondering, how much will this impact me? It’s important not to minimize or dismiss their concerns. If you do disagree with their take on what they’re hearing from their sources, it’s great to have a conversation with them about it. Open them up to the media outlets where you think there is valid unbiased information. Even though teens don’t tell us they value our insights and opinions, we know that deep down, we deep down, they do. Hopefully they will check out your resources out as well.

What do you think about this teen advice? I think Common Sense Media knows teens. They know how independent and stubborn they can be and they appreciate the value of conversation and connection with teens rather than preaching at them and telling them what they should think. Having been through teenager-hood with two kids I have really learned the value that connection conversation can bring. A question to ask yourself here is what fits for my teen and what doesn’t? It’s a good idea to have a sense of these things before broaching the conversation about Ukraine with your teen.

And of course, it’s multiple conversations, it’s about opening the door so that you can continue to have open dialogue. We have no idea what direction this conflict is going to take. We’re all figuring it out day by day, but when we have the door open to connection and conversation with our kids no matter what their age, the conversation becomes infinitely less difficult to initiate.


There’s another article that I read about talking to your kids about the war in Ukraine. I found it to be so chock-full of valuable information. Have you read the article from the Washington Post yet? It’s titled “Your Kids Are Hearing About Ukraine. Here’s how to Help Them Understand.” It’s been so popular that it’s making the rounds on social media. If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend you go to the show notes and check this article out. I will have it linked there at In fact, I’ve got lots of articles that we don’t have time to get into that are still filled with super valuable information on talking to your kids about what’s going on right now. You may want to check them out if this topic is something that’s been on your mind as well.

You can see all of the articles at

So this Washington Post article starts out by saying the best thing to do is ask that same question that common sense media mentions, “What have you heard about Ukraine and what’s happening?” Such a great jumping off point. So simple yet so poignant. I think it’s because it’s open ended and let’s the conversation take direction from the child.

But then, they have a follow-up question that I think is also so spot on and that question is, “How did you get your information?” Remember, especially for teens, this is not in an accusatory way, you’re just wondering where did they get their information from. With so much misinformation and half information out there for our kids to devour on Instagram and tik toc, you want to be able to give context to where they got their information and provide them with additional resources that may also help round out a more complete picture what’s happening.


I really like that the Washington Post article goes into one of the main emotions I think we’re all feeling right now—anxiety—whether we are in tune with it or not.  By now, with the last couple years we’ve had, we may be so numb that we’ve tuned some of our key emotions, like fear and anxiety because it’s so ever present in our lives. Think about how this constant state of anxiety might impact our kids.

According to Caroline Netchvolodoff, Vice President of Education at the Council of Foreign Relations, she says if tweens pick up on a smidgeon of the Ukraine story here and there, or they pick up on our anxieties, it might make them feel like we are headed to WWIII. And who would blame them for thinking that. I’ve heard that very sentiment on the news myself. How about you?

One of the anxiety busting ideas given in the article for tweens and teens is this cool website called Convene the Council. It shows how our government makes decisions. It’s interactive so your child gets to be a factor in the decision making process. I checked it out with my tween last night and he really liked creating a real-life government scenario around how policy is made to impact climate change. It took him through how likely the decisions he made were to happen and he saw the different channels policies like this go through to actually get passed into law.

Now, there wasn’t anything about Ukraine specifically on the site, but just seeing all the checks and balances for our government, seeing how each of the government arms work, helped my son see how in the United States, we have plans and plans for those plans, and that there is a well-oiled and capable machine within the government to help us stay safe. This interactive website is meant for older teens as well, but my 18-year-old checked it out and said, feh. Not a compliment at all for his generation. It’s recommended for 12 and up, but I think if you sat there with your child, a 10-year-old would get something out of it and enjoy the interactivity of it too. Probably somewhere around 15 or 16 your kid will say, nope boring. I’ll leave a link to Convene the Council if you’re interested.

The part of this recent Washington Post article I found most helpful was the part about how, thanks to the pandemic, finally some good news out of this awful situation, we are all in a state of “call to action.” You know, things like what you can do to help like “flatten the curve,” supporting our medical community and those at high risk for covid infection. For the most part, as a society did what we could in spirit and in action to help those in need. The same thing happened after 9-11 too. People responded to the crisis with their own “calls to action.” During this time of unease we are all experiencing, feeling anxious or scared, the article points out that now is the time to act because that action has the power to ease our anxiety. It makes us feel like we actually are having an impact and that we have some sense of control.

I’ve been thinking this very thing through the war on Ukraine. How can I help here in America?

What can little old me in the U.S. do to help. Thankfully, I was able to search out and vet some really good charities that help on so many levels. A friend of mine from Ukraine is asking for donations to help the Ukrainian military. We know they need support right now. The Ukrainian Red Cross is looking for blood donations, monetary donations, even humanitarian aid for the country, CARE International helps by way of care packages with food and hygiene kits as well as providing psychological services for military and families… that’s just a few options to consider and it doesn’t matter the age of your child here. We all can teach our children to be charitable in words, good deeds, and donations… in whatever way we can. Calls to action like these are good for everyone’s anxiety and our soul. Links to vetted sites I just mentioned and many more like these are in the show notes at if you want to see how you and your family can help make a difference for the people of Ukraine.


Before we wrap up the episode on how we can talk to our children to help them process what’s happening in Ukraine right now, I want to touch on what the psychologists are saying. As you can imagine, those in the mental health field are very busy fielding questions right now and I’ve got your cliff notes version of their best advice for parents. Dr. Tracey Alloway (sorry for the mispronunciation in the podcast), a clinical psychologist in Florida, sums up the best approaches for younger children. She says that during times like these, we can encourage a child’s curious nature and encourage questions from them. She talks about how younger children who may be fearful of the unknown have a very concrete way of seeing the world. So when we engage in conversations with our kiddos about the challenges in Ukraine, it’s important to remember to put our insights into situations and experiences that are known to them.

When we think about the kinds of experiences that are known to our children, that might be a situation like having a conflict over a toy at a playdate or feeling judged by a friend, or even just the feeling of sadness. Really young ones understand that feeling. Putting global information in terms they understand helps them to feel more in control and less fearful of the unknown. I thought that was really good information, especially for parents of younger ones. I hope that’s helpful for you.

When asked about how kids are handling this unstable world situation, forensic psychologist, Dr. Judith Wenban-Smith had an insight so good that I have to give it to you verbatim—in her exact words. Dr. Wenban-Smith is quoted in a recent article published by the Guardian saying,

“Every bomb will generate yet more headlines, and politicians will respond with ever more aggressive talk,” “The problem is that in the past two years, children have learned that the world is a dangerous place and that bad things can and do happen close to home because of Covid.”

So true. Our kids have been through a lot these last two years. I know with my younger son, I keep mentioning things we did prior to Covid and quarantining. Sometimes he remembers, but a lot of the things I mention to him, he’ll say I don’t remember that. It’s weird, it’s like there’s no memories for him prior to covid. And he’s not 6 or 7 so this is an interesting phenomenon. Does this have something to do with his age, is it dangerous world overload? Because of my health and other family member’s health challenges, our world became very small during Covid. Did he get so immersed in all that was going on that he just can’t remember our much bigger much bolder pre-covid world? I guess time will tell, but one thing’s is for sure, our kids have gotten way to use to bad things happening and we need to remember that as we help them navigate through this time in our lives.

When I try to process all I’ve learned in my deep dive into finding the best ways to communicate with our children about the war in Ukraine, there’s a few themes that I’m hearing over and over.


  • Help your child feel safe.
  • Ask them what they already know or think they know before diving into a conversation.
  • Ask open ended questions to really get valuable information from your kiddos.
  • Know where they are getting their information. Share where you get yours.
  • Validate your kids’ thoughts and their feelings at every age.
  • Process together.
  • Bust fear and anxiety with calls to action. And action doesn’t always mean money. There’s loads of ways to show we care.
  • Be mindful that our kids are already burnt out on bad things happening. That may impact how they react to this latest crisis.
  • Even when kids get older and they act like you don’t have anything valuable to share, Share your insights anyway. They may be listening more than you know.
  • Don’t keep your kids in the dark. Find kid safe news outlets where kids can learn about global events at their level. I’ve got a bunch of good ones I found to share. Check out the show notes at There’s also more links to taking with your kids about Ukraine articles and vetted humanitarian and charity sites there as well.
  • Above all, keep the conversation going. This crisis will not be a one and done talk with your kids.

That’s it my friend. That’s what I found. Let’s keep the conversation going. Let’s send out positivity and light to every Ukrainian citizen no matter where they are right now and let’s hold our own families close in gratitude and in solidarity that peace triumphs in the end.

Until we meet again, I’m wishing you a cheeky and healthy gut healing journey. Chat soon!

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
This podcast, video, and blog post is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.