I Cheated on My Gut Healing Diet. Now What?

Gluten free, SCD, Paleo, Dairy free, GAPs… many of us follow some sort of restricted diet to help quiet our Crohn’s and colitis symptoms.

In many cases, diets like these are game changing. They help us digest and absorb the nutrients in our food better, so we then have more energy, less gas, pain, and bloating, less blood on the toilet paper or in the toilet bowl. And diets like these can keep us from using the bathroom 3, 4, 10, 20 times a day.

Results like this are massive when we have IBD. We’d do anything to stay in that place. That’s why when these diets work, we tend to stay on them.

Unless we cheat.

And it’s that cheating part (intentional or unintentional) that we’re going to cover today.

We’re talking about:

  • A cautionary tale of what can happen on your IBD eating plan after the pandemic
  • When well-meaning friends send you down a dark, cheating path
  • The biggest factor in deciding what to do after you cheat on your gut healing diet
  • The one tool you’ll definitely need if you decide you want to intentionally cheat on your IBD diet

And so much more!

After this episode, you’ll know the best methods to try for every type of Eating for IBD cheating you may encounter.

Episode at a Glance:

  • [02:05] All the deets on my Crohn’s and Colitis Meal Planning Made Easy Workshop
  • [05:45] A cautionary tale of what can happen on your IBD eating plan after the pandemic
  • [09:55] When well-meaning friends send you down a dark, cheating path
  • [11:45] The intentional cheater finds out what foods work and what doesn’t work for her
  • [12:45] The biggest factor in deciding what to do after you cheat on your gut healing diet
  • [14:17] What to do when picking up where you left off is not an option
  • [18:18] SCD embarrassment, shame and guilt
  • [20:45] A dairy cheat vs a gluten cheat (which is worse?
  • [22:42] The one tool you’ll definitely need if you decide you want to intentionally cheat on your IBD diet
  • [25:18] What to do when you feel stressed, anxious, or depressed about cheating
  • [27:47] The best way to take your IBD healing journey to the next level

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Mentioned in This Episode


Workshop going on LIVE July 22, 2021


Episode Transcript:

Gluten free, SCD, Paleo, Dairy free, GAPs… many of us follow some sort of restricted diet to help quiet our Crohn’s and colitis symptoms. In many cases, diets like these are game changing. They help us digest and absorb the nutrients in our food better, so we then have more energy, less gas, pain, and bloating, less blood on the toilet paper or in the toilet bowl. And diets like these can keep us from using the bathroom 3, 4, 10, 20 times a day. Results like this are massive when we have IBD. We’d do anything to stay in that place. That’s why when these diets work, we tend to stay on them.

Unless we cheat.

And it’s that cheating part (intentional or unintentional) that we’re going to cover today. What do you do after the cheat?

Here we go!

[01:55] Hey there mama! I’m so happy we’re here together today. We’re diving into a juicy topic and I know you’re going to love it and benefit from it.

Before we get started, I have some hot off the press news to share. I want to tell you that I’ve got a brand new free training that I created just for you. It’s called the Crohn’s & Colitis Meal Planning Made Easy Workshop and it’s going to change the way you eat for your IBD. This workshop is all about how you can save time, money, and stay on track while you successfully use food to heal your gut.

Can I get an amen?

As moms with IBD, we all need that. We need sanity surrounding mealtime. This is a LIVE workshop. I love doing it live so I can be going through it right there with you and you can get your questions answered in real time. And this workshop is extra special for me because it’s all going down on my birthday, Thursday, July 22nd (2021) @ 5pm EST. If you’re interested in joining me to lessen your eating for IBD load, and you want tips that can reduce your stress and the time spent in the kitchen, you’re going to want to join me. The link to register is in the show notes or you can go to karynhaley.com/mealplanning to sign up.  Because Crohn’s & Colitis Meal planning Made Easy is taking place on my birthday, I’ve giving away some special surprises and bonuses to everyone who shows up live. I can’t wait. It’s all happening @5pm EST on July 22nd. Register in the show notes or go to karynhaley.com/mealplanning.

OK, let’s talk about cheating… (dun, dun, dun, dun)


Let’s face it, cheating happens. It might happen when we go to a family member’s house for dinner or when we travel or eat out at a restaurant. It might even happen in your own home. Sometimes we get glutened or grained when we’re out. In many cases, we don’t plan it, we don’t bring it on ourselves. It’s an accident, but it happens. I’d like to always give you the benefit of the doubt and say it always happens by accident, but as we know, sometimes cheating on our gut healing diet is intentional. We know what we’re doing. We know there might be consequences, but in that moment, the temptation is just too great.

We do it, consequences be damned!

I can tell you right now that you can stop beating yourself up because it doesn’t matter whether it’s intentional or unintentional, cheating happens. Which might make you wonder, what do I do when I cheat? Do I need to take a step back to an earlier step on my diet? And if so, how far back? In cases of the SCD and GAPS, do I need to go back to the introductory diet? What if I feel awful after I cheat or if it sets off a flare up? Or, a scenario we don’t talk about that often– what if I cheat and I feel fine? Do I still need to take a step back?

So many good questions and we’re going to answer all of them today.


[05:45] I have a client with Crohn’s named April. She started the SCD (the specific carbohydrate diet), during the pandemic quarantine. She wasn’t going out anywhere, she had the time to cook all her food at home… and April saw results. She was moving along swimmingly for about four months, until her part of the world started to open up. Now, April is back to work, she accepted invitations to go to friend’s houses, she enjoyed gatherings with her family at their homes and it was getting really challenging for April to stay on the diet. Before, she was in her own gut healing bubble, but now she had to figure out how to bring SCD out into the world. And for April, this didn’t go so well.

At a family gathering, April’s siblings, mom, grandmother, and other relatives struggled to understand her new diet and she didn’t really know how to explain what she was going through to them. She was the only one in the family with Crohn’s. No one had ever eaten any special diet.

April felt singled out and alone at a gathering of healthy people. She decided to try just a little bit of her grandmother’s matzo ball soup that contained gluten and grains because she thought a few bites wouldn’t hurt. And that turned into potato latkes and the delicious bread her aunt always makes for family gatherings. For a little while, April was thinking she was going to get away with it. Afterall, it was just a small cheat. But 30 minutes later the cramping, bloating and diarrhea hit April like a ton of bricks. April spent the rest of the gathering upstairs in the bathroom feeling guilty, ashamed, and alone.

If you’re on a special diet to help your Crohn’s or colitis, you’ve experienced a situation similar to April’s. We all have. Especially in those early days of a diet when we’re still trying to figure it out for ourselves. It’s a really tricky time and one single misstep can take you down fast.


When I was new to SCD, I remember I had a good friend who wanted to make a meal for me. She said, “Send me the recipes and I’ll make a whole meal for us to share together. I know you’re going through a lot and I want to be there for you.” I thought about this for a long time. It was such a kind invitation from my friend. But I knew that it could be risky. Even with SCD recipes, it could be a disaster. But I wanted to show my friend how grateful I was for her support, so I said yes. I didn’t want to offend her or make her feel like I didn’t trust her. I gave my friend the recipes and hoped for the best.

My friend tried so hard. She made those recipes just as I had instructed. I ate every last bite with delight and so much gratitude for this amazingly kind gesture. And I got through the first few hours no problem. I felt really great after eating her food. I didn’t have any inkling of trouble until I got home when my belly started rumbling and gurgling. I could feel everything that I had just eaten rounding its way through my colon. It all had to come out, and it definitely did. For three days, it came out.

[09:55] It turned out that two of the recipes included bone broth. My friend had bought the bone broth at the store thinking bone broth was bone broth. But unfortunately, the one she used had some additives and artificial ingredients. And I was really sensitive to those ingredients.

After a few days of nonstop trips to the bathroom, my belly flip-flops subsided and I started to feel better. It was a rough few days, but before this all happened, my belly was in good shape. I was in remission. So, I was able to get back on track rather quickly.


What did I do to get back on track? I’ll tell you in just a minute, but first I want to share one last story with you. This is the story of my client Casey. I didn’t meet her until she was on the Paleo diet for two years. Casey was doing really well. She had maintained remission for over a year and she felt really great. Casey wanted to enlist my help so she could intentionally cheat. She wanted to see if she could start eating foods that weren’t on her eating plan. Casey and I worked for a few months to figure out what her body was ready for and what it just wasn’t. Quinoa, dairy based kefir, and basmati rice… definitely a go. Sourdough bread and oatmeal… definitely not a good option for Casey.

Yep, she was intentionally cheating to see what would happen. She was in a healthy place with her ulcerative colitis, and she wanted to see what would happen. She wanted to expand her diet, she wanted more variety and fun in the food she was eating. There were a lot of things Casey was able to add in because enough intestinal healing had taken place over a period of time. She was rocking her Paleo life and it was time to cheat and see what happened.

Two of the stories I shared with you have to do with unintentional cheating and one of them is an intentional cheating story. But it really doesn’t matter whether the cheating is intentional or unintentional. And for the most part, it doesn’t even matter how long you’ve been on your eating plan. When it comes to cheating on a gut healing diet, what matters is the state of your illness, how you feel, and how long you’ve felt that way. That’s what will determine ultimately how the cheating will affect your body.


Let’s go back to April, remember she’s my client with Crohn’s who got caught up in the moment at a family gathering. I told you that April had a really challenging time after she ate food that wasn’t on her eating plan. But what I didn’t share with you yet is that the incident I told you about set off a cascade of behavior for April. She really wanted to commit to her eating plan, but she just kept being put in situations where she got uncomfortable not eating the food that was offered. She went out to a restaurant, she went over to her friend’s house for dinner, she traveled and didn’t bring her SCD legal food with her.

That one event set in motion a series of negative events for April. Even though she was feeling terrible at the time, definitely in flare mode, diarrhea, bloating, gas, lots of abdominal pain, arthritis, blood in the toilet, lots of brain fog and trouble concentrating… she just couldn’t figure out how to get back on track. April lost her way.

This is about as big as a cheat gets. April’s cheat that went on for a few months. April knew that she was not eating in accordance with her gut healing diet and it was the reason she was feeling so awful, but she just couldn’t get back on track.

For April, just starting the SCD again, picking up exactly where she left off, was not an option. April’s intestinal system was in a precarious place. She needed drastic food action and possibly medication to get her flare under control and get back to where she was in her first few months on the diet.

Because so much digestive repair work needed to take place, I recommended that April go back to the beginning, intro and all. On the specific carbohydrate diet, the introduction diet is a very special place. It’s a place of immense digestive lining repair. It’s a place of true healing that will last for a long time if it’s done right. It’s a sucky few days, no doubt about it, but it is just so powerful and it’s a place to go when you have seriously gotten off track.

After completing a few days on the intro diet, April had a choice to make. She could go back to where she was at before she went astray on the SCD and see if that powerful phase was enough to bring her gut into balance, or she could start again in the beginning stages and start to work her way through again.


If you’re thinking that April sounds like you, because you’ve been on an eating plan, and it doesn’t have to be the SCD. It could be a gluten-free diet or a dairy free diet, the diet itself doesn’t matter. If April story resonates with you because you’ve taken some time off your gut healing diet and you’re thinking about how to move forward in the best way possible, you’ll have to decide what works best for your symptoms and your lifestyle.

Decisions like this always go back to your symptoms and your lifestyle. How bad are your symptoms? Do you feel like you could tolerate going way back in time again? Do you have the time in your life right now to put in the energy that it might take to get completely back on track?

For April, the decision was really easy. She knew that on her first four months on the SCD, she felt fantastic. She knew it was working for her. She knew if she started again and went through the stages again, she would be in a good place. So, April went back to the intro, and then she started again. It was about a month ago and so far, April is doing really well.

And especially for April, and this might resonate with you as well. Looking at what caused this in the first place. Why did she intentionally and consistently cheat for so long? I told you that when April started her diet, she was in a quarantine bubble. She wasn’t engaging with other people and the diet was easy to follow. Once April moved out into the world, she found it difficult to commit to the SCD and explain what she was doing to her friends and family. didn’t she.

So along with starting over, April and I are looking at why this happened in the first place. And if April’s story resonates with you, I really want you to look inward at this as well. We’re not born with the ability to talk with people about hard subjects. We’re not born with the ability to be non-conformist. Behaviors like this take time to think about and time to cultivate the new habits that will keep us on track.


When I was in my early days of the SCD, I really struggled with this too. I never cheated intentionally, but I felt so uncomfortable being around others and eating food that was different. I used to have such embarrassment about my almond flour bread and homemade condiments, and bringing my lunch bag wherever I went that I would get really red in the face any time I had to order different food at a restaurant, or any time I brought my own food out at someone’s house. I had to go deep within and figure out why this was such a struggle for me, why did I get so embarrassed about being different from others. Once I did that, I actually planned and prepared things that I would say to people about why I ate differently. This might be something for you to do as well in the beginning stages of new diets like SCD and GAPS.

So, to bring April’s story to closure, if her story sounds similar to your story and you’re thinking about where to go back to after a long cheat and after a long period of not feeling well, go back to the beginning. Go back to where it all began. Once enough healing has taken place in the early stages of your eating plan, you can decide if you want to move forward slowly or jump back to where you were when you fell off the wagon.

Remember when I told you about that well intentioned friend who made the meal for me. I felt fine at first, but after I got home the tummy rumbles and the diarrhea set in. I had to get all of it out of my system. The additives and artificial ingredients in the bone broth set off a chain reaction in my body and I had no choice but to just get rid of all the toxins.


But remember, when this incident happened to me, I was in a really good place with my gut health. I have been on the specific carbohydrate diet long enough that I was in remission. I wasn’t having daily diarrhea and most days I felt really well. After three days of diarrhea, my stool firmed up again and I was able to jump back on the SCD horse and pick up exactly where I left off. One cheat, a few days of not feeling well, and then back on track.

Are you going strong on your eating plan? Did you cheat once intentionally or unintentionally with negative consequences? Maybe you can pick back up where you left off. It all depends on how the cheat affects you that really depends on what you’re going through at the time. Do you have non-celiac gluten sensitivity for celiac disease along with your IBD and did your cheat include gluten? If so, that’s going to potentially wreak havoc on your gastrointestinal system.

[20:45] A dairy cheat, for those who are sensitive to lactose or casein, may only last a couple days, but for those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, it’s going to cause a serious problem. Researchers tell us that gluten can last in the body for up to six months. That’s not to say that you will feel like crap for six months, but it will take a while for you to feel like yourself again. That’s the time to be eating very carefully with your digestion and absorption in mind with every single food to eat.

So, when it’s just one cheat, whether it’s intentional or unintentional, what matters most is how you react personally to that food. Is it something that you’re only mildly sensitive to and you can rebound from fairly quickly, or is it something that’s going to set you back potentially for six months. These are the questions that will help you decide where to go next.


On the other hand, if you’re like my client Casey, who’s purposely cheating to see how her body reacts, your decisions may look very different. Casey had been on the Paleo diet for quite a long time and was feeling great. Casey was intentionally wondering what else can I eat? Has enough healing taken place that I can start to add more variety and pizazz to my diet?

Casey decided it was time to cheat. She had been in remission for a year. She took the time to carefully weigh the possibilities and what she might try first. We worked very hard to figure this out together. And when Casey decided to cheat or as I like to think about it– move forward, she went very slowly. She added in one new food at a time and she used my Food-Mood-Poop Journaling System to figure out how the food she was eating made her feel. Remember, some foods worked for Casey and some didn’t. This is bound to be the case for you as well.

If it’s time to start moving forward and cheat with intention and purpose, be the tortoise. There’s no need to rush here. Keep close track of all the new foods you’re adding in and how they affect you. When you think you’re going slow, go slower. Be the tortoise because the tortoise always wins in the end.

How is all of this landing for your mama? Is it giving you a little bit of clarity on what to do when and if you cheat on your gut healing eating plan? I truly hope so.

Whether you’re in the cheat zone, you end up cheating once, or you are intentionally cheating, I highly recommend you use a Food-Mood-Poop system as well to track how the food you’re eating is affecting you. There’s lots of ways to journal, if you want to see how I do it, DM me on Facebook. I’ll be happy to share my journaling system with you. On Facebook, I’m @TheIBDHealthCoach. Just shoot me a message and let me know you’d like my F-M-P Journaling System.


Before we wrap up today, there’s one last puzzle piece we have to fit together. And that’s how all of this cheating might be impacting your mental health. Your emotions.

There’s no doubt about it, it doesn’t matter why we cheat. There’s negative emotions that go along with the concept of cheating. You might feel like you messed up, you might feel like you’re a failure, you might be inclined to beat yourself up and think about the cheat over and over again. Feelings about cheating might overwhelm you and make you begin to feel stressed, anxious, or even depressed.

And this is directly for you mama, if you’ve ever cheated on your gut healing diet before. You might be in the midst of a cheat right now. Holding on to the cheat, beating yourself up about the cheat, deciding that the diet isn’t worth it because you cheated, feeling stressed or depressed or anxious—It’s not an option.

It’s just not.

What’s the point?


Most everyone cheats at one point or another whether they’ve been on a gut healing diet for one day or 1,000 days. It doesn’t make us less than. It doesn’t make us unworthy. It doesn’t mean we should feel embarrassed, or ashamed like we can’t tell anyone about it.

Staying on a gut healing diet is freakin’ hard. It’s not for the weak, it’s not for the meek or timid, it’s for the bad ass woman that I know you are. You are a bad ass woman who’s using everything at her disposal to heal, and I know you are because you’re listening to this podcast right now, there’s no need for shame or guilt or embarrassment.

You are human. I am human. We’re all just doing the best we can on any given day. No matter how long the cheat, let it go. Today is a new day. Tomorrow is a new day. We’re starting fresh.

If the cheat really rocked your world and you’re feeling awful, you’re in flare up mode, you’re on the couch, you’re struggling to take care of the kids, it’s time to take a step back. Start back at the place where you felt your best, and for some that may be way back at the beginning. But start again because it is so worth it. And if you’re struggling to get started again, reach out because you know I’m here to help.

And if the cheat didn’t really affect you, you’re going about your day, you’re not in constant pain, you’re not symptomatic, move onward and upward because the cheat is in the past (where it belongs).

Simple as that.

You got this. I know you got this. We’ve got this IBD craziness together.

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

Chat soon!

Thank you so much for joining me today and for listening to today’s episode. When it comes to IBD, I know there’s a lot of resources out there, and I’m truly honored that you chose the Cheeky Podcast to get your IBD information today. If you found this information helpful, please give us a rating and review. It helps other moms find the podcast and see what we’re doing over here to help IBD moms everywhere. And if you feel called feel a call to do it, share this podcast with an IBD mom who you know could really use an uplifting message today, ’cause that’s what we’re all about over here at the Cheeky Podcast.

[28:16] One last thing, if you’re still with me, and if you are, you’re definitely my kind of gal. We have to get to know each other better. If you’re tired of living on the hamster wheel of IBD with all the ups and downs between flares and remission, if you’re struggling to get control of your abdominal pain, gas, bloating, diarrhea and other troubling IBD symptoms, go to my website. It’s karynhaley.com, and my mom had to be just a little bit different, she spelled my name with the Y. So it’s K-A-R-Y-N H-A-L-E-Y.com and schedule your very own free 30-minute IBD root cause trouble-shooting session with me where we discuss the challenges you’ve been having, we set goals to help you move forward, and we talk about how we can work together to help you get your life back. It’s a power packed 30 minutes. You don’t have to live in IBD status quo. There’s so much that can be done to transform your life so you can thrive in motherhood and thrive with IBD. I’ve seen my clients walk this path and it gives me so much joy to take that journey with them.

My entire coaching practice is run online, so you never have to leave your house and you never have to get out of your jammy or yoga pants for us to work together. You know I’m wearing them to. If you’re ready to take your first amazing step towards healing, I’m ready to chat with you. Schedule your free 30-minute IBD root cause trouble shooting sesh today at karynhaley.com. Click on the work with me tab and I’ll see you soon. It’s important to note that the information in this podcast and in this episode is for general information purposes only and not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The statements made in the Cheeky Podcast for moms with IBD, either by me or my guests, is not intended to diagnose, treat, to cure, or prevent any disease. Before implementing any new treatment protocols, do yourself a favor and consult your physician first.

Thank you so much for listening, for being here, for saving this space for us to spend some time together. Until we chat again, I’m wishing you a cheeky and healthy IBD journey.

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.

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