Archive Monthly Archives: May 2022

Treating IBD: Moving Beyond Medicine {Part I}

Have you ever wondered, why me?

Why was I diagnosed with Crohn’s? Why am I saddled with colitis?

Of course you have. We all say, “why me” from time to time. It’s completely natural. Most of the time, we mean it in a WHY ME kind of way. Putting it out to the universe because there’s no real answer to this question.

But what if you really asked why? What if you actually knew the why behind your IBD? Imagine what knowing why you get this illness would do for how you treat you it—at the root cause level.

Today, we are going deep my friend. We are taking it to the root, to the why behind your IBD so you can use this information to create a personalized healing plan tailored for just you.

Are you ready for a big, bold, episode? Fasten your seat belt and get ready for some big revelations.

Three Things You’ll Learn in This Episode

🌿 For all the gifts your doctor has, why they may not be the best teacher of root cause medicine

🌿 What IBD and a 3-legged stool have in common (turns out, alot)

🌿  Why knowing what’s at the root of your Crohn’s or colitis is the key to unlocking your personalized IBD freedom plan

Rate, Review and Subscribe on Apple Podcasts

Mentioned in This Episode:

Episode 31: You’ve Got IBD, Will Your Kids Get it Too?

Connect With Karyn:

Karyn on Facebook

Schedule Your FREE 30-Minute IBD Consult

Episode Transcript:

Treating IBD: Moving Beyond Medicine {Part I}

Have you ever wondered, why me? Why was I diagnosed with Crohn’s? Why am I saddled with colitis? Of course you have. We all say, “why me” from time to time. It’s completely natural. Most of the time, we mean it in a WHY ME kind of way. Putting it out to the universe because there’s no real answer to this question. But what if you really asked why? What if you actually knew the why behind your IBD? Imagine what knowing why you get this illness would do for how you treat you it—at the root cause level.

Today, we are going deep my friend. We are taking it to the root, to the why behind your IBD so you can use this information to create a personalized healing plan tailored for just you.

Are you ready for a big, bold, episode? Fasten your seat belt and get ready for some big revelations.

[MUSIC]

Hey there, Karyn here with you on The Cheeky Podcast and it’s time we have a good, juicy chat. Get your cup of tea, coffee if you must (I’ve got some lemon lavender mint and a candle by my side). Let’s take a deep collective breath, and let it out, get centered, grounded, and feel open to learn everything you can about why IBD came knocking on your door.

Our conversation today has to start with a disclaimer to your doctor. Thank God for gastroenterologists. After all their academic smarts (cause let’s face it, you have to be smart to get into medical school) and then getting through medical school, and then specializing in gastroenterology, hopefully getting board certified even, they have the medical and scientific knowledge to help us treat our Crohn’s and colitis with state of the art medications when everything else has failed and we just can’t get out that nasty a flare up.

Thank God for colorectal surgeons who are just as smart as gastroenterologists, and again went through all the medical school rigor, board certifications, and have to remain steady and clear headed as they perform intricate and complicated bowel surgeries so we can function in life again.

We need medical professionals like this in our life when we have IBD. I always tell my clients, make sure you keep ties with a qualified gastro (a surgeon if you have stricturing disease or massive colon involvement) because you never know when you’re going to need them.

THE PROBLEM WITH THE MEDS ONLY APPROACH

But the problem with always focusing on what the gastro gives you as treatment options and on that type of treatment regime, the medication only approach is that:

#1 It discounts so many other ways available to us to heal our digestive tract—ways that don’t include risks like a suppressed immune system or lymphoma.

#2 It doesn’t take into account that Crohn’s and colitis are highly impacted by the food we put into our body.

#3 Our IBD, it doesn’t ever really heal. Instead, it covers it up. It’s like when you know have friends over and you shove all the crap laying around your house into a nearby closet and hope know one looks in there. Your Crohn’s and colitis, it’s still there. It’s just not initially seen at a first glance.

And again, I am so grateful for medication for IBD, but in this time, in this day and age, with so much additional information at our fingertips, if you are not pairing your medication with more natural, more root cause approaches, if you’re not looking for ways to spend significant amounts of time away from your medication only approach, you are really missing the boat on what it is to truly find freedom from this devastating illness. Freedom that can give you your life back. And you, dear one, deserve to get your life back. You deserve it. And your family deserves to have all of you well.

Freedom from IBD is a beautiful thing!

So, when we are talking about Crohn’s and colitis, and other ways to find impactful healing, you’ve most likely heard about approaches other than medicine. If you’re a Cheeky Podcast regular, you definitely have heard about other ways to heal that use food, or supplements, or lifestyle tools like finding ways to managing the stress in your life.

WHY DO NATURAL APPROACHES WORK?

But why do approaches like these work and why should you try them? Today, I want to take you back just a little bit, and go a bit deeper with you to help you truly understand the “how” and the “why” behind  natural, root cause medicine because it’s one thing to practice it—to go on that gut healing diet (gluten free, dairy free, SCD, autoimmune paleo…), it’s one thing to take the supplements you see touted on the internet as something that helps IBD (maybe vitamin D, turmeric, or gut repair powders…), but it’s a whole other thing to really, at a deep level, get the how and the why behind natural approaches like this.

Knowing why these approaches work can help you tailor them to best suite your needs and help the approaches you pick work best for you. It’s so important that you don’t just go out and try that diet or supplement everyone is talking about because when you don’t understand your own make up and what you try doesn’t work, you think—“Oh, everyone is wrong. Natural remedies don’t work.” Or you think, “What’s wrong with me? Why do things like this work for everyone else but not me?”

BECOMING IBD UNSTOPPPABLE.

You see, IBD mamas who really get the why’s and the how’s behind a more natural way of healing, now those are the mamas who know so much about their body, what works for it and what doesn’t, that they become unstoppable.

To get this conversation started, we need to remember that Crohn’s and colitis are autoimmune diseases—diseases where for some reason, the immune system begins to attack itself. Lots of people in the world suffer with some sort of autoimmunity. Almost 4% of the world’s population has one of 80 known autoimmune conditions. And according to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, as many as 50 million Americans are living with an autoimmune disease. 50 million! And the cost of treating it in America alone is $86 billion dollars a year. A year!

Many don’t even know they have autoimmunity. They know that they don’t feel well, but they don’t know why. They rush from doctor to doctor, never getting a proper diagnosis. Often times being told that if they just calmed down, if they just got over their anxiety or their stress, and often if feels like we are getting a verbal a pat on the head by the doctor about being “good girl” and maybe the problem will go away. You may have been in that place yourself, maybe even for a long time before getting the diagnosis of Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

Well, at least after all the crazy, wanting to pull your hair out moments, at least we know what autoimmune disease we have. We know we have Crohn’s or colitis or maybe both. And I should say, at least we know one of our autoimmune conditions because if you know anything about how autoimmunity works, you know that autoimmunity likes to travel in multiples. It’s not uncommon for IBDer’s to also have other autoimmune conditions like thyroid disease, lupus, fibromyalgia, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, and so on.

To really become a bad ass IBD mama, to really take control of your own healing destiny, it’s time that you got a behind the scenes look at your autoimmunity and what’s causing your IBD. That’s actually the place where root cause healing begins to take shape. When we want to move beyond medicine to help treat our symptoms at the root level, we start there, in the why and the how, with what’s created all this gut chaos in the first place.

The really cool thing about autoimmunity is that in the last 10-15 years is that the research has exploded. So much more is known about why we get Crohn’s and colitis than ever before. I remember 35 years ago when I was first diagnosed, no one knew anything. Literally I remember my doctor telling me, this is what you have, and we have no idea why it happens. But in your lifetime he said, I bet we figure it out and I bet we find a cure. Now, finally, the research is coming in droves.

Unfortunately, the phenomenal research that’s coming out hasn’t changed the way doctors treat IBD yet. Did you know that when new research comes out, the kind that can be replicated and really put to unbiased rigor to test it out, it often takes about 20 years from that point to put those new ideas into practice by doctors. Talk about a trickle-down effect. It’s like a clogged faucet, coming out in 1 drip every 7 days. Can you imagine if your shower worked that way? Frustrating, I know. But trust me when I tell you, it is coming. Medical practices and doctors are beginning to catch up with the science. We are getting there.

So what is the research telling us about IBD and about the why’s and the how’s of autoimmunity? What do we know about why this autoimmune disorder is plaguing us? It all has to do with a 3-legged stool. Yep, a 3-legged stool.

THE 3 LEGGED-STOOL RESEAON YOU HAVE IBD

Picture a bar stool. It’s round on the top with 3 legs underneath to hold you up as you sit your behind on it. Perfectly balanced, those 3 legs have got you supported. But what would happen if one of those legs broke? Can a 3-legged stool hold you up with 2 supports? With 1 support? Absolutely not. With even just one leg of the stool missing, the stool collapses.

And this is how autoimmunity works. Autoimmunity is like a 3-legged stool. Each leg of the stool represents a factor that greatly contributed to your IBD diagnosis. If we can begin to strengthen even one leg of the stool, we can have profound positive impacts on weakening the strength of this IBD monster. Rebuild two of the legs, even bigger power, and all three, now you’ve made strides that will have a profoundly positive impact on the rest of your life.

Now, you might be thinking, wow Karyn has really put together an amazing analogy here. The 3-legged stool. How insightful of her. But nope, I’m just the messenger. Researchers, scientists, and some doctors have been talking about the 3-legged stool approach to autoimmunity since the early 2000’s. I’m just relaying this information as I understand it best. So many have batted around this idea, but I think it first came from Dr. Alessio Fasano, a researcher, a clinician, and an MD working in the field of digestive disease and autoimmune disorders.

And I want you to really get the why’s and the how’s of the rungs of the autoimmune 3-legged stool so you can start to put the puzzle pieces of your own illness together. What are your main culprits, your main factors? They are different for all of us, but knowing yours will help you begin to formulate the best root cause (get IBD at its roots and rip them out) treatment plan for you.

SO WHAT’S IN EACH LEG OF THE STOOL?

So what are the legs of this autoimmunity stool? The three legs are:

  1. Genetics
  2. The Microbiome/Intestinal Permeability
  3. The Stressor

One more time, it’s genetics: your DNA, your gene expression that you were given at birth. It’s the health and the strength of your microbiome: the trillions of bugs that inhabit our digestive tract and determine if you are healthy or in gut dysbiosis. And #3, it’s the stressor, the trigger that causes everything to collapse.

OK, so now you know what each leg of the autoimmunity stool represents. Let’s dive in just a bit deeper here so you can begin to put your own why’s and how’s, and ultimately your own root cause treatment plan together.

We’ll start with genetics. Your DNA. This is what is given to you at birth, and you can’t change it right? It’s just who you are destined to be. If Crohn’s or colitis is in your make up, you’re screwed. Well, if you’ve heard anything at all about an emerging field of research called epigenetics, you know that what we learned as kids is about our genes being unflinching is dead wrong. In fact, our genes aren’t as stable as we once thought. They may actually be more malleable, and this is great news for those of us with IBD—those of us who’s genes predestined us to this disease.

Epigenetics says that just because your parent(s) gives you a gene for autoimmunity or cancer or Alzheimer’s (fill in your disease of choice) doesn’t mean we will get it. How mind blowing is that? We have the power to change our genes for the better—or the worse, depending on the choices we make in life, and depending on our life factors—ones we have control over and ones we don’t.

The Human Genome Project has been looking into our DNA and has concluded that we have the power to turn on gene expression and turn off gene expression. This is the work of the field of epigenetics. Fascinating right? Is it just my nerd brain exploding here? It’s pretty cool, right?

COOL, BUT NOW WHAT?

So, what does this information mean for you?

It means that just as your genes played a role in contracting IBD in the first place, they can also play a role in your root cause healing. It means that you may not be doomed to a life of nothing but sickness for the rest of your life.

That’s very encouraging, isn’t it?

At the cellular level, we can make positive change happen. When we remove the source of the damage, we give the tissue time to heal, we restore energy to your cells so that immune function can get back on track and as a result inflammation can heal, we are literally changing our genetic make-up.

We’ll get into more specific ideas on what some options might be for you to consider and how this can be accomplished in Part II of our Treating IBD: Moving Beyond Medicine series, but for today, just revel in the fact that epigenetics is a thing and the genetics part of your autoimmunity stool has the power to become strong again.

One last note I have about this whole topic—genes and epigenetics—I don’t know about you, but for me, when I talk about having IBD and I know there’s a gene link, it always makes me think about my kids. Does it do that for you?

While raising my kids, knowing IBD has been such a huge factor in my life, knowing that my kids don’t have to be destined to a life of IBD, I always think about what I can do to make sure this insidious illness doesn’t take over their body. If this topic makes your mind go there as well, go check out Episode 31 of the podcast: You’ve Got IBD. Will Your Kids Get it Too? It’s got some great ideas for you to give your kids the best start and maybe even have an impact on their genes too. I’ll leave a link in the show notes.

OK, we talked about the first leg in our 3-legged stool of autoimmunity. Are the wheels turning for you about how your genetic makeup may have played a role in developing this illness, but also how you have the power to say, “No. This is where I am, but this does not mean this is where I’ll always be.”

Powerful stuff.

LEG #2: THE MICROBIOME

Now let’s talk about the second leg of your stool, the microbiome and possibility intestinal permeability. So we know all about the microbiome. It’s a hot research commodity, I’ll tell you that. Lots of studies are being conducted about the health of the microbiome and how it plays in the diagnosis of Crohn’s and colitis. I’m so thankful for this because I think it’s the start of scientists finding a cure.

What we know about the microbiome is that it plays a vital role in all of the organs, systems, and pathways in our body. It plays an especially big role in how our digestive system operates. A healthy microbiome with a diverse range of bacteria leads to a healthy gut and that filters into other areas of our body too. But an unhealthy, unbalanced gut bug ratio, now that leads to an imbalance of bacteria and this state of imbalance leads to chinks in our immune function. And in the case of IBD, the immune system begins to attack itself.

We often think of our gut bugs as just a part of our gut, but the bacteria of your gut will have a huge impact on many functions of your body.

Once the immune system begins attacking itself, inflammatory pathways begin to light up because the immune system regulates inflammation.  See how the microbiome, our immune system, and our inflammation are all intricately related? As our immune system begins to wage war against itself, our inflammatory pathways turn on and begin to wreak havoc on our digest system. The perfect IBD storm and it can all be traced by to the balance of your microbiome.

Now the same doctor who first started talking about this 3-legged stool analogy for autoimmune disease, Dr. Alessio Fasano, is the same man who also was the first to bring up the idea of intestinal permeability or leaky gut. And we just cannot talk about the microbiome, about IBD, and not mention leaky gut.

If you’re really familiar with this topic, bear with me for just a sec because it’s important we are all on the same page when we’re talking about leaky gut. And of course, a refresher is always good too. Leaky gut starts with the mucosal lining of the digestive tract. The barrier between what goes into our bloodstream and what stays in the digestive tract. The mucosal lining of the gut is what we call, semi-permeable. Some things pass through and some stay out. We want the nutrients in our food and water to pass through, but we don’t want large food particles or other foreign substances getting in.

When autoimmunity strikes, our bacterial system can be out of balance, so our intestine becomes inflamed, and it’s not unusual for the tight junctions of the mucosal lining to open wider so that food particles and toxins breech the barrier and enter the bloodstream. This is what is coined as intestinal permeability or leaky gut.

Now, just because you have IBD doesn’t mean you have leaky gut, but many do and it can lead to other autoimmune diseases, food sensitivities, hormone challenges, metabolic disorders… you name it. And all of it started with the second leg of your autoimmune stool—your microbiome.

Now again we’ll be getting into some ways you can help your microbiome to restore its balance in the Part II of this series, but I do want to share with you what new emerging research is looking into with gut dysbiosis and balancing the bacteria in your digestive system.

There’s been a great deal of research into probiotics helping in this area. There’s even a specific multi-strain probiotic that’s been shown to have a positive impact for those with IBD. And that’s VSL#3 or Visbiome. These high quality, high dose probiotics have shown in research studies to be very effective in aiding our microbiome to balance out.

But what’s even cooler, is the latest research targeting very specific probiotic strains to help those with IBD to bring their gut dysbiosis back into balance. For example, there’s research showing the positive effects of LA1- lactobacillus acidophilus. It’s been shown specifically to improve intestinal barrier function. So if you have leaky gut, this particular strain can prove beneficial. Another probiotic strain, Bifidobacterium lactis, has been researched and is now associated with lowering colonic inflammation and it’s also been beneficial in regulating T cells in the body. That’s huge because excessive activation of T cells has a large role in the expression of IBD within our body.

That’s just a couple of the specific probiotic strain studies going on. I, for one, hope this research really continues. Using targeted probiotic strains to help each of us individually with the IBD symptoms that plague us most. It would be a huge advancement in IBD root cause treatments.

So, genetics, now the microbiome… are you beginning to put together a picture of how this IBD came about for you? Why do you think your microbiome was malfunctioning? The reason for all of us can be different. For some, it’s diet. For others it can be stress, or hormones, or a virus or parasites… We are born with a microbiome so did the imbalance develop in utero? That could be a factor too. As research continues into this field, keep the health of your microbiome at the top of your mind. We’ll talk about ways you can strengthen it in Part II of this series.

LEG #3 THE STRESSOR

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, the straw that broke the camel’s back. Gene expression and your microbiome are one thing, but without the straw that breaks the camel’s back, without the stressor, or as I like to call it, the trigger, we don’t have Crohn’s or colitis.

This could be the reason why you get Crohn’s and your sibling doesn’t. Possibly the genetic makeup is there for both of you, but you got the trigger—lucky you. And often times, in fact most of the time, it’s not just one trigger. But a cascade of triggers, like a rolling snowball, it gets bigger and bigger until it becomes out of control.

Your trigger may be chronic life stress over a period of time. It may be a bacterial or viral illness that favors the gut, like the flu or like food poisoning. It may be a hormonal shift, like starting birth control or giving birth, or less likely but even going through the hormonal shift of menopause—that’s more likely to exacerbate your IBD that create it, but hormone shifts do play a role. Exposure to toxins, and pesticides, other autoimmune conditions… all of these things can be your trigger. The final straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Most of my newly diagnosed IBD clients will tell me, “I felt this brewing for quite a while.” Or “I should have seen this coming.” They saw it coming through the events that were unfolding in their life, in hindsight of course.

When you use this information to start thinking about a more long term, root cause healing approach, think about the role these triggers played in your life to contribute to your diagnosis. And if you are struggling to figure out your trigger or triggers, get in touch. I’m happy to help process this with you. We’ll get to the heart of it together. You can email me at hello@karynhaley.com anytime. That’s what I’m here for.

Part of your IBD treatment plan (besides the medication, besides your diet, besides any supplements you take) should include ways to mitigate this trigger you are experiencing. It may be causing a physical stressor, or an emotional stressor, or a chemical stressor for your body through the toxins you are exposed to (maybe all three)—because if these are not dealt with, I’m telling you straight mama, you will never get the full healing you so desperately desire. The full healing you absolutely deserve.

TAKE A DEEP BREATH AND TAKE THIS ALL IN.

How is this landing with you? It’s a lot to take in. I told you we were going deep today. And there’s no pressure to have it all figured out right now. Today, is just about getting a sense of what’s been contributing to your illness. How did you get here? It’s not the stuff your doctor typically talks to you about, but you not only have a right to know, like I said at the top of the episode, you need to fully appreciate how you got here, the why behind it all to help you develop your personal root cause treatment plan.

Next week, in Part II, we get into some ideas for what your plan might look like. Keeping in mind your personal 3-legged stool, you can begin to get to the heart of root cause healing. That’s where you’ll start.

HOMEWORK

So, I know I never do this to you, but this week, you get to be one of my clients. I give them homework and now I’m giving you homework too. Before we chat again next week, do some deep thinking about each leg of your autoimmunity stool: your genetics and even more importantly your epigenetics, your microbiome: What is the state of your gut bugs? Do you have leaky gut? What are your main symptoms right now? And lastly, what were those stressors, those triggers back when you were diagnosed? Are they still a factor in your life? Are there new stressors that have creeped up that are holding your healing back?

Have this information at the ready next week because next week, we are going even deeper to make positive change for your IBD in Part II of Treating IBD: Moving Beyond Medicine. Can’t wait.

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.

Crohn’s & Colitis Meal Planning in 5 Easy Steps

A lot of the time, as a mom with IBD, we have a general idea of what’s good for our gut and what’s not, but actually making it happen, sticking to the diet we have laid out for ourselves, now that’s a different story.

We have this idea in our head of what healthy looks like, but buying the right food at the grocery store, making it efficient so we don’t end up back at the store every other day, doing it on a budget, finding the time to make this wholesome gut healthy food we bought, figuring out how to get the kids help in the kitchen and fit it in with their hectic schedules and your hectic schedule…

All of it is daunting, so overwhelming, so not-gonna-happen.

If the practicalities of eating gut healthy and meal planning for your Crohn’s and colitis is what is standing in the way of your intestinal healing, this is the episode for you my friend.

Three Things You’ll Learn in This Episode

🌿 How many recipes you’ll want to have handy for the most effective meal planning strategy

🌿 The meal planning step you’re missing that’s leading to way too much food waste

🌿  Loads of ideas on how to involve your kids in gut healthy meal planning and prep to take tasks off of your plate (no matter the age of your kids)

Rate, Review and Subscribe on Apple Podcasts

Mentioned in This Episode:

5 Steps to Meal Planning Cheat Sheet

Your “Find the Best Gut Healing Diet for Me” Episodes

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

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

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

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

Connect With Karyn:

Karyn on Facebook

Schedule Your FREE 30-Minute IBD Consult

Episode Transcript:

Crohn’s & Colitis Meal Planning in 5 Easy Steps

A lot of the time, as a mom with IBD, we have a general idea of what’s good for our gut and what’s not, but actually making it happen, sticking to the diet we have laid out for ourselves, now that’s a different story. We have this idea in our head of what healthy looks like, but buying the right food at the grocery store, making it efficient so we don’t end up there every other day and doing it on a budget, finding the time to make this wholesome gut healthy food we bought, figuring out how to get the kids help in the kitchen and fit it in with their hectic schedules and your hectic schedule… all of it is daunting, so overwhelming, so not-gonna-happen.

If the practicalities of eating gut healthy and meal planning for your Crohn’s and colitis is what is standing in the way of your intestinal healing, this is the episode for you my friend.

Let’ get this gut loving party started.

[MUSIC]

Well, hello dear one. Karyn here with you on another episode of The Cheeky Podcast and it’s an honor to be with you again. It’s soccer tryouts time of year again. If you have kids in fall travel sports, you know what I’m talking about. I really dislike all the drama surrounding it. It seems so unnecessary and I’m looking forward for to it being done. Behind us. But on the upside, Mother’s Day just past and my kids gave me exactly what I needed—the option of rest and relaxation. It was perfect. How about you? I hope your day was filled with love from your kiddos and most of all, and good health.

Now, I’ve got some goodness coming your way today. Some super practical, tactical, actionable steps you can take to jump start the meal planning part of your gut healing foodie life. Like I said in the opening, I see so many mamas who have a general idea of the way they should eat, the foods that work for them and the foods that don’t, but so often getting started with these new foods or finding time to make them—that’s what stands in they’re way.

Now of course, that’s not every mom with Crohn’s and colitis. Some are still trying to figure out. They’re questioning, “What the heck is the best gut healing diet for me?” And if that’s you, don’t worry I’ve got you covered as well. Back in January, I did a series of episodes all about finding the best gut healing diet for your IBD. If you want some help figuring out what gut healing diets are the best options for you, check out Episodes 69, 70, 71, and 72. It’s a really detailed series. One that looks at the best, most researched gut healing diet options and literally walks you step by step as you figure out what works best for you.

So, know that those episodes are waiting for you if you’re in the “what’s the best diet for me” search and you can hear those episodes wherever you get your podcasts or you can also find them in the show notes. I’ll link to them there as well at karynhaley.com/88. No matter where you’re at with finding the best gut healing diet for you, one day you are going to need to take the knowledge you’ve gained about what foods work for you and which ones don’t and put those ideas into practice. I wish I could tell you that finding the diet that works best for you is the most challenging part, but it rarely is. The most challenging part is actually making the diet you choose a part of your daily life and a fitting it in with your family life as well.

The practicalities of gut healing, they trip us up every time.

But today, I’m hoping to solve the practicality dilemma for you and show you how to make gut healing eating a habits that are easy, repeatable, and work for your whole family. It’s all about meal planning and I’m going to show you how to do it in 5 easy steps. One last note to share is that I’ve got a cheat sheet for this episode, so if you find yourself writing furiously or you want a reminder, go ahead and download my Crohn’s & Colitis Meal Planning in 5 East Steps Cheat Sheet. Keep it as a resource as you are starting out on this path. And you can get your 5 Steps to Meal Planning Cheat Sheet at karynhaley.com/mealplan.

Shall we dive in? Let’s go for it.

OK, Step 1 in meal planning with your gut health in mind is all about having the right gut healing recipes on hand.

Step 1: The Recipe Hunt

Many people think that meal planning starts with sitting down and planning the meals for the week, but planning your meals for the week is going to take extra long if you don’t have recipes and meal ideas at your fingertips. So, instead of starting with planning the menus for the week, we take one small backstep that will lead you into a giant leap of a time savings with Step 1: The Recipe Hunt. And the recipe hunt is exactly what it sounds like—a hunt for your recipes.

What are your go-to meals?

What are your favorite foods?

How about your kid’s favorite foods?

What foods seem to work best with your sensitive gut?

Write these down first—just make some preliminary notes.

Now, with this information in mind, it’s time to cast a wider net and turn these thoughts and ideas into recipes.

Go to your favorite cookbooks, family recipes that can be made gut friendly (and let me know if you need help with this because it’s my favorite thing to do), go to one of the many gut healing recipe websites and blogs (A Life of Happenstance, Nom Nom Paleo, The Mediterranean Dish, Wholesome Yum—just to give you a few ideas), go to Pinterest (fantastic for recipes) and pull out, print, write down, put the recipes in an app. Put them in a safe place… all the recipes that appeal to you.

And you’ll want to pay close attention to the 5 ingredient meals, 30-minute meals, sheet pan meals, instant pot and crock pot meals… these are the easiest to make on a busy weeknight. The gourmet meals and the longer prep time meals are great, for when you have extra time or want an extra special dinner for a birthday or a holiday, but for everyday meal planning, focus on easy.

I have all my favorites in a recipe binder the I created. In fact, I think I have 2 or 3 at this point. I like things I can touch and feel, and spill sauces on ;  ) So this works for me, but pick whatever method works for you. If this is your first time collecting recipes, finding ten would be an amazing B+ mom start. If you already have a few, then maybe shoot for about 20 total.

I’ve been recipe collecting to help me with meal planning for years now so I think I’ve accumulated about 100 go-to recipes, but that’s actually too many. 20-30 tops is all you ever need to put on rotation so you’re not feeling like you’re eating the same thing for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day.

Want a “Do it Like a Mom” BONUS TIP: At some point, when your collection starts to free up your meal planning time, start to categorize your recipes. You don’t need to do this at first. The important thing at first is to just do enough to take action. Later, meal planning can become much more streamlined this way. Soups, desserts, main meals, breakfast, etc… You’ll be so happy that you have this type of system in place.

Step 2: What’s Already in the House?

How many times have you gone to the grocery store and came home to put items away and found…one cucumber, two cucumber… “Huh? I forgot that was there!” We all do this. We forget what we already have in our house and stock up on too much, especially the perishables. Not it’s not the biggest deal to stock up on too many frozen carrots or another jar of ketchup, but fruit and veg that goes bad quickly—especially if you buy organic—not a good thing.

So do a quick once over before you even think about what you’ll be making for the week. See what you’ve got. See what you need.

Pantry, refrigerator, counter… When you first start doing this, it can seem a little daunting, but I promise you. You’ll get better at looking around to see what you’ve already got when you do this a couple times. It will become a very quick process.

Taking a peek to see what you already have means less food waste, but it also serves a second purpose. When you take a look at what you already have in your house before you make a grocery list, before you even decide on what to make for the week, you can plan your recipes accordingly. Do you have a lot of zucchinis in the refrigerator? Time for some zucchini boats or zoodles. Lettuce that’s getting on the older side? Plan for a cobb salad or a grilled chicken Caesar salad night. These are just ideas of course, but we all have food in our pantry or refrigerator that’s just waiting for a meal to be planned around it. Looking around before you decide what you’ll be eating for the week is always the best way to make gut healthy meal planning easy.

Want another “Do it Like a Mom” BONUS TIP: What foods can you combine to make 2 meals? Now we’re talking! You can make a roast one night and soup with the leftover meat and bones or you could do fish one night and fish sticks another night later in the week… now you are cooking with gas as mom always like to say.

Step 3: What’s on the Calendar?

Now that you’ve done a little bit of prep work, you have some recipes on hand, and you know what’s in the house so you don’t buy double to reduce food waste, it’s time to plan what you’ll be eating each night of the week. The best way to do this is to know what’s on the calendar for this week before you make your grocery list.

I like to plan for a week at a time. It’s manageable, it’s not too overwhelming like planning for two weeks or a month. It’s not too “fly by the seat of your pants” where you then end up at the grocery store daily… one week is enough to keep you on track.

So, your about to make a grocery list. What’s on tap for you and the kids for the week? My job has some night hours, so does my hubby’s, so I always keep that in mind when I’m deciding what to eat and when. Maybe you need to take this into account as well. How about the kids’ activities? Johnny has soccer on Tuesday nights, Katie has dance on Fridays… Think about all your evenings for the week. How will that affect how much time you have to make dinner?

If you know me at all, you know I’m a huge fan of kids learning to cook at a young age. Every kid, boy, girl, it doesn’t matter—every kid needs to learn how to cook. It’s probably one of the best skills your kid can leave the house knowing. And when your kids know how to cook, that can be considered into your weekly schedule as well, because they can help make dinner at least one night of the week.

In my house, we’ve had different incantations of this over the years. We used to do “Make it Mondays,” where each of my kids took turns making the meal for that day of the week. They got to go through my recipe list or the internet or cookbooks and pick out whatever they wanted (appetizer to dessert) then they were in charge of making it. That was fun.

Right now, we get the kids involved in meal planning, mostly with my youngest. He takes an online cooking class through Outschool. Are you familiar with that platform? It’s full of awesome online learning experiences for kids with every class you can imagine. Anyway, he takes a cooking class on Outschool every Tuesday. In class, he makes dinner for the whole family and it gives me and my hubby a break from cooking once a week. Shish kebabs, flank steak, salmon, pasta dishes… he’s made it all. We’re not talking kiddie food here. He even substitutes out some ingredients to make it more gut healthy like using honey instead of sugar or coconut aminos instead of soy sauce to stay away from gluten. His teacher is really helpful with food sensitivity substitutions.

He started this particular cooking class when he was ten, but there’s cooking classes on Outschool for kids that are even younger than that. Our kids are so much more capable in the kitchen than we give them credit for. And it’s best if we start them at a young age—right beside us as we chop, and measure, mix and whisk. Even the littlest tyke can help with making breakfast or lunch and grow into making dinner for the whole family.

A little digression from “What’s on the calendar for the week,” but if you find a way to make this tip work for your own family, you’ll take your kids planning a meal into account when you are planning your meals for the week. I always know that on Tuesday, dinner will be planned. All I have to do is print out the recipe and add it to the grocery list. Dinner served.

Plan your meals for the week keeping in mind where everyone will be at dinner time and who’s making the meal. It helps your meals go smoother during the week and it also helps everyone to eat healthier too because we all know that when we plan what we’ll be eating in advance, we always make it healthier.  

We rarely say to ourselves on Sunday, “I can’t wait to get a Big Mac on Thursday.” It just happens when we fail to plan.

And are you ready for another “Do it Like a Mom” BONUS TIP? Having a busy night doesn’t mean it’s a takeout night. Don’t shy away from home-cooked meals, even on busy nights. That’s the perfect night for the Instant Pot, the crockpot, sheet pan dinners where everything gets baked in one pan, or a leftovers night. Busy nights are what trips up many of the best intentioned gut loving mamas. Don’t let it derail you. Plan the nights you are eating out in advance when you plan your week and try your best so stick to it. Meal planning with this five-step method will really you stay focused and on track here.

OK, it’s time for Step 4 as you meal plan in five easy steps.

Step 4: Grocery List & Shop

In steps 1-3, you’ve done a lot of background work. You’ve set the stage for an easy peasy Step 4: Making your grocery list and going shopping. With all the time saving information you’ve gathered, it’s time to take some action.

Now I know the actual making of the grocery list can take so much time for some. Writing down each item you want individually. But also, so many moms have gotten away from that tedious task and I hope you have too.

If you really like a paper shopping list, one you can hold in your hand, and I have lots of clients that do, that’s OK. Just be sure it’s a pre-printed list of the things you normally buy. And that the list is separated by categories in order of the way you shop at the grocery store. That way you can follow it along in order as you go through the store. On grocery shopping day, all you have to do is circle your items or put a check mark next to what you need. Super time saving.

If you’ve never done a list like this before, it may take a little time to set it up on your computer, but it’s so worth it. You will love the easy breezy way you can make your list and shop at the grocery store when it’s all organized. Plus, you’ll be less apt to buy impulse items as well with a list that’s so structured.

Another way to rock step 4 (the grocery shopping step) is to buy in bulk. It saves time and it saves you money. Most grocery stores have bulk sections these days and it’s a great place to stock up on everything from nuts, to grains, to dried fruit, canned goods, salad dressings, paper towels… even fruit and veggies for those who are buying for big families. Buying in bulk whether it’s at your local grocery store or a discount bulk superstore like Costco or Sam’s can be an integral part of your meal planning process.

When you’re at the grocery store, you want most of the items in your shopping cart to come from the perimeter of the grocery store. We all know, this is where the healthy food lives. No cans, boxes, or packaged food on the perimeter. If you find yourself always in the middle of the aisles, it’s time to take stock of how gut healthy the food your bringing into your home is. Gut healthy food is about whole, fresh food. And of course, we are striving for B+ mom effort here so do the best you can.

One last way to simplify and streamline your grocery list and grocery shopping time is to ask yourself, “How can my kids help with this?” The answer to that we really depend on their ages.

Older kids can definitely help you keep track of food that runs out in your home. Keep a list on the frig or somewhere handy and encourage the kids to write down food that’s out or low. Find a day of the week when the kids are in charge of a meal or two. If you’re kids are old enough to drive, they’re old enough to help with the grocery shopping. In my house, I prefer to do the big once a week trip, but you better believe I’ve got those older ones heading to the grocery store for those mid week pick-ups if I have any. They can do it.

Get younger kids involved by helping you pick out items at the grocery store. I know it’s annoying shopping with the kids when they’re little. I certainly had my days where the kids would fight or throw a tantrum. We’ve all been there, but I’m so glad I kept taking them because over time, they learned to actually be helpful.

And when they got old enough, I would send them an isle or two over to find a product. That definitely made the grocery trip go quicker. Do yourself a favor if you have littles, every once in a while you do deserve to go to the grocery store alone, but also find some days when you feel up for it and take them with you. Show them the ropes, and before you know it, they’ll actually be helping you at the grocery store.

Step 4, your grocery list and grocery shopping step also has a “Do it Like a Mom” BONUS TIP: And that tip is to download a “grocery list” app on your phone. The one that I use is called Shopping List is perfect for me. It lets me keep track of multiple stores, it automatically puts my items in my pre-selected categories, and then deletes them as I go through the store. I’ve had it for years, but I was recently looked up grocery list apps for a client and I found that tons more have cropped up. If you don’t have a grocery list app, do a search on your phone and find one that suits your needs. And if you already have one, virtual high fives for you mama. Keep making that app work for you and for your meal planning needs.

OK my friend, you’ve done the recipe hunt, you know what’s in your pantry, you’ve incorporated the family calendar into your planning, you created a user-friendly grocery list (one that’s easily repeatable) and you’ve shopped for your items for the week getting some much deserved help from your kiddos. You are a rock star mama! What’s the last step in easy gut healthy meal planning?  You last step is meal prep.

Step #5: The Meal Prep

And again, you might be sensing a pattern here, but we’re getting the kids involved with meal prep as well. Start your gut healthy for the whole family meal prep from the place of, “How can my kids get involved?” I mentioned Make it Monday. I mentioned my son who takes a cooking class and is in charge of dinner one night of the week. I mentioned getting littles involved in the kitchen, even if it’s just purchasing a kid safe step stool from a company like One Step Ahead to get them used to being with you as you make your meals.

What’s your version of Make it Monday? What have I mentioned today that just sparks some ideas on your part? How can your kids pitch in with the meal prep? Definitely find a way to bring them into the mix. Remember, if you want your kids to eat it, get them in the kitchen making it.

For your part of the meal prep, you’ve got all your ingredients, now we just start putting them together so that the actual making of each meal during the week goes that much quicker. I like to do my grocery list, grocery shopping, and meal prep on Sunday. It doesn’t all have to take place on one day, but certainly having it planned out in advance will save you time and money. And we all want more of that!

Take a look at all your meals for the week. What can you wash, chop, put in containers together for easy weekday cooking? Go for it. I know at first it can seem daunting, but just get started. Even if you have a goal of meal prepping one or two meals a week, that’s a great place to start.

You can meal prep for breakfast, lunch, and dinner if you choose to. I would definitely start with dinner at a minimum (even just 1 to 2 meals) to help your busy weeknights go smoother, but if you really get into meal prep, you can do it with all your meals. It’s completely up to you.

The one food of the day I see people forgetting to meal prep and the one that can create a downfall when it comes to gut health is your snacks. Don’t forget to prep for your snacks as well. If you’re doing raw fruit and veg, get some cut up and at the ready. If you’re doing all cooked, cook up some veggies and have them in separate containers in the frig ready for when the hangries hit.

During the week, I love meals that include roasted veggies. So on Sunday, my meal prep dedicated day, I’ll roast a couple sheet pans of veggies to have them ready to go during the week. It makes weeknight meals come together so much faster.

Meal prep is also a good time to freeze your bulk food and perishables you won’t use all of during the week. What can you freeze to help it last longer? Veggies, fruit, beans, breads whether they are gluten or grain free. Freezers were a great invention we’re they? The freezer helps your food last longer. Just take it out as you need it.

And Step 5 wouldn’t be an amazing step if it didn’t have a bonus “Do it Like a Mom” tip would it? Step 5 BONUS TIP: Mason jars were made for meal prep. I’m such a fan. I’ve got mason jars in all shapes and sizes. They go in the pantry, the refrigerator, the freezer. And they are clear and easy to label so you’ll always know what’s in them. Stock up on mason jars to make meal prep work for you.

So, there you have it. Crohn’s and colitis meal planning in 5 easy steps. What do you think? It’s doable, you can make it work for you at your own pace (starting with one step and adding on), and it’s definitely going to help you make that gut healing diet work for you. It will help you make gut healing eating a habit and challenge you to stick to what you’ve planned for you and for your family.

You can do this and of course you know I’m here to help. Reach out if I can help you in the meal planning department at hello@karynhaley.com. Before we part for today, let me recap those five meal planning steps one last time.

THE RECAP

Step 1: The Recipe Hunt (get your recipes together in one place so you don’t have to go searching for them or think of them every week)

Step 2: What’s in Your Pantry? (and your frig and on your counter). No more food waste and use what you’ve got to create what you’ll eat for the week.

Step 3: What’s on the Calendar? (for your kids and for you)

Step 4: Grocery List and Shop (this is the perfect place to get the kids involved)

Step 5: Meal Prep (you can meal prep any and all meals you’ll be eating to make the week go that much smoother)

Remember, if you want all of these steps in one place, if you want a handy dandy cheat sheet, grab my meal planning resource: 5 Steps for IBD Meal Planning. It’s a cheat sheet so it lays everything out in a concise, easy to follow format. You can get all this gut love by going to karynhaley.com/mealplan.

Happy meal planning and meal prepping my friend. Trust me, it has the power to be life changing. And if it helps you stay true to your gut healing diet, it’s worth the initial effort to get these steps and organization in place. Because when you have a system, everything falls into place.

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.

49 Date Night Ideas That Have Nothing to Do with Food

Think of all the date nights you and your partner have tried to have over the years.

Ones that got interrupted or ruined because after eating, you couldn’t get off the toilet, or you had stomach cramps, or loud belly gurgles, or bloating or you had so much smelly gassy after eating out.

Damn that Crohn’s and colitis!

Date night and spending time together alone is crucial to keep your partnership alive and date night doesn’t have to mean dinner.

Today, I’m going to prove it to you with 49 No-Food Date Night Ideas you are going to swoon over.

Three Things You’ll Learn in This Episode

  • How to plan fun and fabulous date nights where food isn’t the star
  • The daredevil no-food needed date night where my hubby and I met
  • 7 At home no-food date nights you don’t even have to leave the house for

Rate, Review and Subscribe on Apple Podcasts

Mentioned in This Episode:

49 No-Food Date Night Ideas Checklist

Connect With Karyn:

Karyn on Facebook

Schedule Your FREE 30-Minute IBD Consult

Episode Transcript:

49 Date Night Ideas That Have Nothing to Do with Food

OK, so I know I say this all the time. I love this episode. This is my favorite episode. Well, here’s another one I’m just over the moon, crazy about. You are going to love this one. Think of all the date nights you and your partner have tried to have over the years. Ones that got interrupted or ruined because after eating, you couldn’t get off the toilet, or you had stomach cramps, or loud belly gurgles, or bloating or you had so much smelly gassy after eating out.

Damn that Crohn’s and colitis!

Date night and spending time together alone is crucial to keep your partnership alive and date night doesn’t have to mean dinner. Today, I’m going to prove it to you with 49 No-Food Date Night Ideas you are going to swoon over. Yep, 49 fabulous no-food necessary date nights.

Did I mention I love this episode? Here we go!

[MUSIC]

Well, hello my friend. How are you today? I hope you are feeling well. I’m doing OK. I’m a little bit annoyed because I ate at a restaurant that didn’t agree with me the other day. Such a rookie move and I’m not a rookie, which shows it happens to all of us from time to time. I’ll try to make it through the episode, but that’s the beauty of this medium, it’s not live so I can stop if I need to and then start again. This episode is happening at the perfect time for me, having been burned eating out. I hope it’s happening at the right time for you as well. If you’re listening in REAL time, you know that Mother’s Day is around the corner in the U.S. Happy Mother’s Day my rock star mom friend!

What better gift for you this Mother’s Day than a “no kids” date night with your sweetheart. And on that date night, you don’t need to eat out to have fun. In fact, I would even go out on a limb and say the best dates are ones where no restaurant is involved at all because these dates are more creative, more imaginative, and just more fun.

I gotta give a shout out to my gut loving friend and fellow Gut Love Community member Karyn (and she spells her name with a y too) for giving me the idea for this episode. It’s a juicy one. If you’ve got an idea for an episode, send it my way at hello@karynhaley.com. I can’t wait to hear what’s on your mind. And dear listener, would you also do me a favor and if you know another mama out there who needs some date night ideas, share this episode with her as well. Just give her the link: karynhaley.com/87. OK let’s just dive in, shall we.

In this episode, I’ve divided your 49 No-Food Date Night ideas into seven categories, and we’ll go category by category. The categories are: The Outdoorsy Date, The Adventurous Date, The Intellectual Date, The Traditional Date, The Artsy Date, The Double Date, and The At Home Date. Each one is completely different, and completely doable with no food required. Some dates could have a “bring your own food—the food you know works with your body” option, but that’s completely up to you. You can, if you choose to, do all of these with no food in them whatsoever.

One word of caution about this episode. While it doesn’t need an explicit rating, occasionally, since we’re talking about date night with your special someone, and since it’s date night, I might allude to s-e-x. Nothing is overt or graphic and it’s only a few times. This information will pass right over your little one’s ears, but if you have pre-teens or teens who might be impressionable with this type of information or if they think it’s gross to hear about parents being affectionate and prefer to believe the stork brought them to your door, you may want to listen to this one away from them.

OK, my friend, here’s your No-Food Date Night Ideas category #1: The Outdoorsy Date.

THE OUTDOORSY DATE

Outdoorsy dates are exactly what they sound like. They take place 100% outdoors so they’re best done when the weather cooperates. But getting outside is very freeing and also grounding so it’s good for our soul, good for our digestive system, and good for your partnership with your loved one.

#1: An open air market or outdoor flea market. Lots of cities have these. It’s one of the great community activities I think. Strolling arm in arm with your beloved, going booth to booth—so much conversation to be brought up. And depending on where you live, outdoor markets love to spring up in the spring and into the summer, so go check one out. Yes, there are food vendors there, but there’s also home décor, jewelry, art, scarves, crafts… all kinds of goodness. I like to buy honey when I see it at a local market. Yes, I know that’s food, but I’m not eating it there. I love chatting with the apiary folks. They are always so knowledgeable about how their honey is made and what to use it for in your cooking and baking depending on the flavor profile. Love that!

#2: How about a drink-nic—like a picnic, but with drinks only. Find a park on a sunny day, bring your blanket, maybe a book and cuddle up with your partner while you are sipping a green juice, a smoothie, a glass of wine, tea, fruit infused sparkling water… whatever is your drink of choice. Yes, you may have to go #1 after all that liquid but hopefully there won’t be a #2 in there as well since there’s no eats involved.

#3: Take a walking tour of your city. Yes, they have them! In America, you can check out your Chamber of Commerce to see who’s scheduling tours. Overseas, I’ve been to tourist information sites. They schedule tours. You just need to do a bit of digging (even online) to find a tour. I bet there’s loads you don’t know about your town or maybe a nearby city to where you live.

#4: Take it to the field with pro or semi-pro baseball, football, soccer, tennis, whatever sport you’re into game or match. If you have a local sports team, it’s so fun to go out and cheer for them. Being at a game vs watching on TV is such an exhilarating experience. Where I grew up in Buffalo NY, we were lucky to have several sports teams—The Bills, The Sabers, and even a minor league baseball team. I recently took my hubby back for a Bills game and we had so much fun! What a great date that was.

#5: How about the beach or the lake? I’m a lake girl myself, and everyone seems to have a favorite (beach/lake), but if you live near any body of water, you’ve got to take advantage of it for a date day out with your special someone.  Take a boat out, go kayaking, paddle boarding, canoeing, fishing, swimming. The beach or the lake is just so relaxing—something you need and deserve mama.

#6: If you’re looking for something chill and outdoors, there’s nothing better than a nature walk. The fall leaves, the spring flowers, the sunshine, the snow in the winter… We can all find a season to get out in nature. Again, this date night idea is fantastic because #1: no food, but also #2: there something about communing with nature that lets you let go of all your troubles for the moment. And if you don’t feel great, this is the perfect activity because it’s leisurely and slow and you set the pace.

#7: If you’re up for potentially a more strenuous date that’s outdoors, how about going for a hike? And strenuous is all relative here. Some hikes are on flat ground, while others involve lots of steep inclines. Some hikes are 10 miles long, while others top out at a half a mile. There’s a hike with you and your partners name on it. Go for it!

#8: My last outdoorsy no-food date option is to go stargazing. Wherever you live, for most of us, there’s bound to be a time of year when the stars seem to shine just a bit brighter, you can see more of them in the sky. Where I live, summer is the best time to see the stars. Wow, there are so many of them out in the country. We live on a pretty quiet street so my hubby and I will wait until everyone is settled in at night (remember my youngest almost 12 so that helps) but you can get a babysitter for this if you have to and just go stargazing with your mate. We downloaded this app during the pandemic that lets us point our phone at the sky. It points out constellations, planets, even the international space station as it orbits… it is so cool. It’s called SkyView Lite (absolutely free) and it makes night strolls extra special. A little romance and education at the same time. If you don’t have unobstructed views of the stars where you live, there’s no reason why you can’t go to an open air park or even go parking in your car. Ooohh, parking, and you’re not even a teenager anymore!

Real quick, before we go on to The Adventure Date, I have to ask you. Were you writing all that down or trying to type in your notes app—which I know can be tough to do because when I get excited about a topic I tend to talk fast—no need to write furiously with all these ideas because today, I’m giving you everything we’re talking about in a handy dandy checklist. It goes category by category, in a simplified form, everything we’re talking about today. If you feel like the checklist actually would help you while you are listening (maybe you want to make notes on it), go ahead and hit pause, download the your checklist and come right back or you can get it after the show. I promise to remind you at the end as well. Your 49 No-Food Date Night Ideas Checklist is waiting for you at karynhaley.com/datenight.

THE ADVENTURE DATE

Are you ready for an adventure? Sometimes we need to shake up our dating life. Add some pizazz, something different. Adventure dates bring out the wild side in you. Let’s see if any of these adventure dates call your name.

Our first adventure date is a car adventure with a goal in mind. So not mindless driving, but driving with a purpose and you and your spouse get to pick the purpose. Like a driving date to see a covered bridge, or an abandon railroad track, or a hidden waterfall. You can even make a list of all the adventure spots in your community and make it a multi-day date plan. One of my friends who lives in Pennsylvania made a list of all the covered bridges in the state and she and her husband take date trips to each of them. I think they’re almost done with their list. How cool is that?

Another adventure date involves dusting off that bicycle you probably keep meaning to break out. Take a leisurely bike ride for your date, or if you are really adventurous, go mountain biking with your mate. I have another friend where she and her hubby have a tandem bike—you know the kind of bike that has two seats for two riders. I love hearing about all the adventures they’ve taken together on their tandem bike. Sounds romantic… and adventurous!

An adventure date that’s a classic is the day trip. Find a fun location about an hour away, maybe up to 3 hours, and make a day of it in a new town. Look at shops, stop for some tea or coffee, strolling around… You can even pack a lunch with foods you know agree with you.

An adventure date that’s sure to be thrilling is a trip to your local ice staking rink (inside or outdoors in the winter). Lots of towns have them. And if you’re a newbie ice skater, there’ll be lots of snuggle time as you hold each other up and try to stay upright. And then, tend to each other’s bruises when you get home. Not that I’m speaking from experience.

Alright, this one’s for you adventure mama. A rock climbing date. You can choose a real rock if you are really daring or have your adventure date at a local indoor gym. Lots of towns have indoor options with climbing walls for all skill levels.

Now for the mega adventurer in you, how about a skydiving date, with a reputable company of course. You might be surprised to hear this, but my hubby and I met while skydiving. No, neither of us had been before. But my husband was friends with my brother and he’s the one who invited us both to go skydiving. What a thrilling and bonding experience. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Let’s move on to an adventure that’s a bit tamer like a date to go to an exercise or a hot yoga class together. Super bonding, no-food, and with all the sweat you’re building up, you might just need a date night shower together after.

One of my favorite adventure dates that my hubby and on go on regularly is the spa date. He might get embarrassed that I’m telling you this, but he doesn’t listen to the podcast much anyway, so I’ll share with you that we love to go get pedicures together. We sit next to each other while we foot soak our troubles away. I get polish, he gets a leg massage. It’s always fun. We also will do get-away spa days together where we go to a retreat spa for a couples massage, maybe a wrap or other treatment. Very romantic, very stress relieving, and of course, no food required.

OK, maybe this next adventure date isn’t the most romantic, but it’s definitely bonding. How about volunteering together? Your local homeless shelter, serving food at a soup kitchen, doing a town clean up, volunteering with underprivileged youth. It might not feel “date worthy” but it will create a feeling that you are both giving back, together. And that creates a closeness like nothing else in the world.

It’s time for an adventure date your kids will want to get in on, but you’re going to say, go preceded by a no for a no-go. Have your date at an amusement park. Just go without the kids. Let the kid in your out as you ride the rides, see the shows, with no kids to look after. Just a carefree fun, adventurous day. I’m a huge fan of amusement parks and my hubby and I have been to many. And since this might be an all day adventure date, I’ll check out the park’s website or give them a call. Most have rules about whether you can bring your own food in, but they never say no to someone with true food challenges. Not once have I had a problem when I took care of this ahead of time. Yes, this one technically breaks the no-food rule, but if you bring your own food, the food you know you can eat and stay feeling well, I think we need to include it.

Our last adventure date is for the sporty adventurer in you. How about you and your mate join a rec league for your favorite sport. Nothing highly competitive, unless that’s your jam. Just something fun that’s co-ed and you can do together on a regular basis. Planned in advance, no-food dates like this rock because it’s not something that takes lots of effort. It’s on the calendar already so you will make it happen.

Ok, let’s move on to our next category—category #3. The Intellectual Date.

THE INTELLECTUAL DATE

Some dates are just more cerebral than others. A good combo of outdoors, adventure, artsy, double dates, some intellectual dates is the is the way to keep your dating life fresh and fun and spicy. Planning a no-food intellectual date can be romantic and educational. It’s not for everyone, but I love a date that sparks my intellect and I bet you do too.

First up in the intellectual date night idea is bookstore browsing. I am a total book nerd and I love bookstore browsing. My hubby and I will go our separate ways, peruse, find some book  options and then meet together at a corner table or the bookstore café (with just tea or coffee—no food) and tell each other about what we found. Sometimes we find common ground and other times I’ll say, oh you’ll love that because I know my hubby’s taste in books. It’s fun, it’s different, it’s stimulating for the mind and the relationship.

Moving on to another intellectual idea for no-food date night, it’s the ongoing a club that meets regularly like a book club or a chess club or any other type of club. Just like the sports club from our adventurous dating ideas, this idea has a regular schedule so you’re more likely to commit. And it’s fun to have a hobby that you share together.

Another intellectual no-food date idea is to go to a museum. Museum of science, a war museum like WWII or a holocaust museum, a Native American museum, a museum of natural history, an art museum. Basically, any museum that’s not dedicated to children because we get enough of that in our mom life.

Another idea. How about going to a lecture. Some topic or speaker with ideas that engage you. Did you know that Ted-X talks are available in multiple locations in every state in America? Check out their website and see what’s coming your way. How about an author or public figure who’s touring and talking about their philosophies? Even college campuses have lecture series. These types of talks are so fascinating and always good date night conversation starters.

For the poetry lover, a good no-food intellectual date night might be going to a poetry reading. You’ll hear about these coming up at local coffee shops, newspapers, health food stores, on college campuses. Sure, some of the poems can be a little obscure and sometimes quirky, but that’s the fun of it. And if you write your own poetry, why not get up and recite some one of your creations.

One last no-food intellectual date night idea you may want to consider is an author signing at a book shop. If a book where you or your partner love the author is coming out, see if you can find out where a book signing is taking place. They usually happen in bigger cities so it will be easy to find if you live in one, but even if you don’t, sometimes the authors make their way to the smaller locations as well. You never know. Fun no-food date and a keepsake that will always remind you of your time together.

No-Food Date Night Category #4 is the traditional date.

THE TRADITIONAL DATE

Some of the dates we’ve talked about up until now can require a little outside the box thinking. Sometimes, all you want is a date that’s easy, traditional, no-fuss and involves little planning. That’s where the no-food traditional date night comes in handy.

Your first date night idea in this category can’t get any more traditional.  It’s going to a movie, only you skip the way overpriced, way unhealthy snacks available for purchase (trust me, you aren’t missing anything) and instead eat before you go or bring your “I know I can eat these because they have worked before” own snacks. I won’t tell if you won’t.

Your next traditional no-food date idea is to hang out at a tea or coffee shop, and you get extra points if it’s got character and charm. A local hangout, not one of those chain coffee shops… Starbucks. Easy peasy. Nothing to plan. Just some good old fashioned, hang out time with your spouse.

How about the Planetarium? I couldn’t believe it when I found out about a year ago that my little town has its own planetarium. Who knew? Yours might too and nothing is more romantic than looking at the stars with the one you love.

Another traditional idea– go clothes shopping and pick out outfits for each other. If your partner is like mine, they hate going clothes shopping for themselves, but if you go together and help them pick out something you love, now they might be into it. It’s a simple date, but my hubby and I do this at least once a year and we always have fun when we do it.

Our last traditional no-food date night for your consideration is another shopping date. Only this time, it’s about home décor shopping to upgrade a room in your house. For most, this won’t be a regular date. It’s more of a “take advantage of it when it’s time to upgrade” type of thing. My hubby and I have been in our home for almost 13 years now so we’ve been redoing things here and there. We always have so much more fun shopping at Lowe’s or Home Depot, or local home décor shops sans kids. We can take our time, bounce ideas off each other, and connect over a fun home improvement project.

OK, it’s time for another No-Food Date Night category– #5: The Artsy Date.

THE ARTSY DATE

Do you appreciate the arts? Music, dancing, singing, painting… anything creative? If you do, you’ll love this next no-food date night category— the artsy date.

Go to a play or a musical. Now I am super biased here. I grew up doing musical theater. I love it, but I get that not everyone does. This may not be the date night idea for you. But the other thing I know is that even if you are not a “break out into song” music lover like me, there are plays that are really moving, or funny, or entertaining. Think of it like a live action movie. Be open here and you will find a play genre you both are into.

Another artsy idea for a no-food date night– go to a pottery studio and make something together. Pottery studios where you go and build your own creation have popped up in almost every city in America. You don’t have to be an artist to have a good time. I truly am appalling when it comes to pottery, but I still have fun and love the bonding time it creates for me and my mate. Plus, when we’re done, we get to take home our creation and display it so we always look at it and smile thinking back on our date.

Is there a budding singing sensation dying to come out in you? Karaoke date night is waiting for you. Get up and sing badly with your partner, sing an adorable duet. I’ve heard Endless Love and Ed Sheeran and Beyonce’s Perfect are popular karaoke duets. Or if you’ve got the pipes, do it solo. Can you imagine the love that will be pouring out of your partners eyes as they listen to you sing. Oh, so fun. Awkward and intimidating, sure. But fun, yes!

If you like music, but you’re not a singer, there’s nothing better for a no-food artsy date night than going to a concert, seeing a live band or even heading out to a music festival. Live music is good for the soul so it’s absolutely good for your relationship.

Ready for an evening full of laughs? Oh, laughter is so good for your gut health and your whole body. Go see a comedian. You know what they say. The couple that laughs together, stays together. Do they say that? Well, they should.

Next up, sing us the song you’re the piano man… check out a piano bar. Live piano music, dualling pianos, sing alongs with the audience? I’m there. Fun, no pressure to perform, and you don’t have to eat to have a good time.

For the serious arteest in you, the ballet is the date night option of choice. Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker… I’m a huge fan. My hubby not so much, but every so often I’ll drag him to a ballet and he almost enjoys it. That is if he doesn’t fall asleep. Kidding, mostly. But date night is about compromise and one ballet for me might equal and outdoorsy, adventure date for him. It all evens out.

Last up on our list of artsy date nights is taking a painting class together. Some galleries even offer date night painting sessions. Look in your local area for options. And again, you don’t have to be a painter to enjoy the class. Stick figures are my jam. You can keep your creation and get a good laugh out of it remember how much fun the two of you had on your no-food date night.

Next up is category #6 in our No-Food Date Night tour—The Double Date.

THE DOUBLE DATE

Some dates are just more fun with other couples. Here’s a list of no-food couples date night options for your consideration.

The 80’s called, and they don’t want their roller skates back. Instead, dust them off (or buy new ones—I just got some this past Christmas) and go roller skating with friends. No kids allowed. Just couples who are ready to have fun, laugh at themselves, and maybe fall on their bum a few times.

Date night bowling is always more fun as a double date. Get another couple or two and go play a few rounds of bowling. You can even put up the bumpers if it helps. No kids allowed on this one either.

Now escape rooms are fun—you know what I’m talking about right? You can “locked” in a room and you have to find your way out with the clues you are given—but they are so much more fun with other people. Date night escape room with other couples or friends is bound to bring out some thrills, some laughs, and some memories you’ll talk about for a long time to come.

Did you know that many towns in America (and overseas) have nighttime ghost tours? Heck they’re probably a whole lot better in other parts of the world because their ghosts have been their longer! But ghost tours (whether you believe in ghosts or not) are a fun no-food date night option and they are always more fun with friends.

Got a whole group of couples or friends looking for adventure. How about signing up for an adults only paintball experience. It isn’t just for kids, grown ups love getting out their aggression by shooting paint at each other too. For a little tamer experience, try laser tag instead. Same principle, less pain.

Lastly, our list of no-food double date options wouldn’t be complete without mentioning a couples book club. Maybe you already have a book club, but usually it’s not a partner event. How about asking your club if for one book, you bring in your mates? It will be fun reading the book together with your partner and then discussing it within the club. Of course, the only challenge will be to not talk about the book at home while you’re reading it. Or maybe that could be the fun part.

We’ve made it to our last category of No-Food Date Night Ideas. Category #7 is the At Home Date.

AT HOME DATE

Sometimes it’s impossible to get a sitter and that’s no excuse to not make time for your partner. Your kids need your time and I bet you are trying your best and already doing it like a B+ mom rock star. You need YOU time. That’s important for your soul. But you also have to make time for your partnership, your marriage, your soul mate because if you don’t, where will you be when the kids leave home and you have nothing in common anymore. So, even if you don’t have a babysitter, do the at home date night thing and fit it in wherever, whenever you can.

At home no-food date night idea #1 is a little Netflix and chill. You know what I’m saying. And if you don’t, google it. You don’t even need a Netflix subscription.

At home idea #2, make a bonfire in the backyard. This is perfect for fall or spring nights when the weather is a little cooler. Just kick back, relax with the fire and enjoy chatting with your partner. Or just sitting in comfortable silence listening to the cracklin’ and the pops and smelling the smoky mist. If you don’t have a bonfire option at home, how about a fire in your fireplace? Whether it’s wood burning or electric, it’s just cozy to put the kids to bed and hang out in front of the fire.

Right about this time of year and into the summer, my hubby and I love to sit outside on the back deck and just listen to the crickets chirp or the frogs croak at night. Yeah, that is at home date worthy. There’s really nothing like that sound. You may not hear crickets or frogs, but what do you hear at your house? Sirens, planes, birds in the morning, the wind, nothing… get in tune with whatever you hear in your space and enjoy the peace and comfort these sounds bring.

To me, there’s nothing sexier than picking a book for my partner and I to read together. Actually read it together, not just at the same time. He reads a few pages, I read a few pages… snuggled up in bed, warm and cozy on a Saturday night or Sunday morning. No leaving the house and no food necessary. Or maybe we even listen to an audio book together. Oh, the conversations it starts. If you’ve done this before, you know just the act, in its simplistic nature, is date worthy. Try it with your mate. I think you’ll enjoy it.

Another at home date night idea is to buy or dig out a sexy board or card game. They exist and they can really add some spice to your at home together time.

And our 49th no-food date night idea is here!!! Our last idea in the at home category is to play a game with your partner. I just mentioned a sexy game, but this idea is about any game. A board game, cards, even a scavenger hunt. Games like this may bring out the competitive side in you, but remember it’s all in good fun and it’s all in the name of connecting with your partner. Just the two of you, to share fun, laughs, conversation, memories, and love.

Contrary to popular belief, we don’t need food to make date night fun. Just look at all these ideas I’ve shared with you today! 49 of them. If any of these ideas sparked something in you, you should definitely download my quick hit No-Food Date Night ideas Checklist. It’s got everything we talked about today in an easy peasy checklist format. Go to karynhaley.com/datenight and it’s yours.

I highly encourage you to print out two copies. One for you and one for your spouse. Go through the list separately and check off at least 6 ideas that appeal to you. Exchange lists and see what you have the same and what’s different. Be open to what you’re partner is interested in. Also, let them veto one option on your list. They get to toss it out. No questions asked. If you each picked different ideas, you’ll have 10 no-food dates nights, pre-planned. How great is that?

Happy Mother’s Day to my friends in the U.S. May your kids shower you with all the love and the attention you deserve on your special day. Now, remember, after Mother’s Day, or maybe even a gift for you from your partner on Mother’s Day—give them the list as a hint– it’s time for a no-food date night. Let your partner plan it and you just enjoy the hell out of it.

Here’s to no-food date nights, your motherhood, and here’s to your gut health!

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.