i’ve been under the weather.  to put it bluntly, which i think is appropriate at this time, crohn’s is a real asshole of a disease (you can read about my background with it here).  it likes to kick you when you’re down, sneaking up and overtaking your life at the most inopportune times.  not that there’s ever a good time to get sick, but you know what i mean.  {more after the jump}

at the end of last week, i was down, so to speak.  i’d been running around between ojai, palm springs and san diego, shooting a wedding, spending time with friends, working my face off in between.  i’d worn myself out planning lou’s birthday and then even further by celebrating it like it was my own.  there was a lot on my plate, work-wise and i was tired.  i let my healthy eating habit slip a little.  and then, like a dreaded ex boyfriend, crohn’s came a knocking.  it’d been 8 months since i’d had a single symptom but i’d pushed it too far.  i’d pushed myself too far.  my body’s defenses went down and invited crohn’s in to remind me that i wasn’t taking good enough care of myself.

for me it always starts with a dull headache that won’t go away.  i remember it from the week after i was released from the hospital.  it seems like so long ago, but the headache, i remember it like it was yesterday.  it just won’t quit.  around the same time the headache starts i begin to feel a tightening in my abdomen, sores forming in my esophagus, my skin becomes sore to the touch (much like the flu), my body starts to ache and if it goes much farther i start to have pains in my stomach that will double me over.  when it’s really bad i can’t stand straight, the dull pain in my abdomen makes it impossible and i hobble around hunched over like i’m 100.

i hate that lou sees me this way, i know it reminds him of when i was really sick, it brings back bad memories and worries him to no end.  this upsets me more than anything else.  i sometimes feel so guilty, wishing that lou could have a healthy wife.  i have to remind myself that i am healthy, most of the time.  i do everything i can to not let me head go to dark places.  this is the hardest part for me.

and this my friends is having it easy.  i know that, i think about it all the time.  there are so many who suffer far greater with crohn’s and other autoimmune diseases.  what i described above, from my understanding, typically develops into a full blown “flare up” that often results in hospital stays and surgeries.  i’m fortunate that i have found a way to re-route my disease, to turn things around before it gets really bad (and i’m hopeful that as i get better at finding balance in my life i can eliminate these little bouts entirely, preventing instead of re-routing).

for the next week while i’m getting better i’m going to share a few of the things that help me turn it around, starting with the yummy bowl of food above. and i’ll be double posting them on the crohn’s archive page so that they don’t disappear into the archives.  and, by the way, that macro bowl can and should be enjoyed by the supremely healthy right alongside the under the weather!  it’s so yummy, full of nutrition, easy to prepare and pretty to look at!

i’ve gotten so many emails and comments from readers who are struggling with their own health and i just want to you to know i think about you all the time.  i am so grateful for my own health, as temperamental as it may be, and i hope that i can inspire you to keep trying to find your answers and your own path to a better quality of life.



one of the things i took with me from the limited studying of the macrobiotic diet is the importance of chewing.  chewing food thoroughly until it is liquid in your mouth is a real challenge, but one that is well worth undertaking.  macrobiotics recommends 50-100 chews per bite!

chewing food thoroughly accomplishes many things.  it starts with signaling to the digestive system that food is coming, and the digestive system in turn starts producing digestive acids that help the body absorb nutrition.  additionally, the enzymes in saliva play an important role in breaking down food and preparing it to travel through your digestive track.  you will get the optimal amount of nutrition and place the least amount of strain on your digestive system if you chew your food until it’s completely liquid.  the longer the better.  on the flip side, not adequately chewing food puts a strain on the esophagus / the entire digestive system and can cause gas, bloating, sluggishness, loss of energy, stomach aches, cramps, diarrhea. yikes, right?!  so CHEW CHEW CHEW.  chew until you think you can’t chew anymore, and then chew some more.  try this for a day, see how you feel.  i promise, you’ll love it.  

*added bonus: eating slowly and thoroughly chewing food makes you appreciate it more, gives your stomach time to signal your brain that it’s full and prevents over eating!



this is a classic macrobiotic dish, perfectly in balance (yin, yang, yada yada), and something i eat on a regular basis but especially rely on when i’m trying to maintain my health.  it’s so easy to whip up, and such a great meal to practice heavy chewing on!   i don’t have a recipe since i throw it together with whatever i have on hand, but i’ll break down what’s in this bowl below:

– whole grains should comprise roughly 50% of the bowl (here i used quinoa because i had leftovers, but substitute brown rice, barley, millet etc for a true macro bowl).  are you a low carb eater who just about died reading that?  i promise you grains aren’t your enemy.  people aren’t getting fat from eating brown rice, that’s just not the reality of the obesity problem in this country.  so, unless you have another reason for avoiding grains, have at them!

– vegetables comprise about 35% of my bowl- and you can choose your favorites!  i love dino leaf kale, sliced into ribbons, with carrot ribbons made from a vegetable peeler.  i throw them into a saute pan with a couple cloves of crushed garlic, a squeeze of lemon juice, a splash of low sodium soy sauce and cook them until they’re just a little tender. add in sliced onion and some shitake mushrooms and you’re totally winning.

– next up, beans.  beans should be about 10% of the bowl.  i used the beluga lentils i had leftover from this dish so i warmed them in a frying pan before serving and that was it.  easy as pie apple.

– 5% of the bowl should be fermented vegetables.  here is a great read on the benefits of fermented veggies.  i love sauerkraut.

– this bowl is missing sea vegetables (seaweed).  i eat a half a sheet of nori at the end instead of incorporating it into the meal, but  a true macro bowl has a bit of seaweed. (read more about the benefits of sea veggies and other options besides nori here)

– last up is a dressing. i love a good lemony, garlicky tahini dressing.  again, i used leftover from this meal, so there’s a recipe there if you need it! a miso dressing is another favorite.  i’ll share that another day.

one last note:  eating large quantities of food puts a strain on the digestive system, so avoid over eating. the chewing will really help with this!

*EDIT* i should have mentioned that i’m feeling much better!  usually a few days of relaxation and healthy eating turns things around, and then it’s just a matter of days before i’m fully better so long as i keep things in balance.

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Reader Comments

  1. Nicole|

    Wow! The dish looks amazing!
    I'm so sorry you haven't been feeling well. My brother was recently diagnosed with crohn's disease. He had to have a major surgery, and basically said like you, that it creeps up at the most inopportune times. I hope you feel better fast.

  2. jacquelyn | lark+linen|

    Ugh I hate that you have to go through this. On the upside, this meal looks absolutely delicious. I love a healthy recipe that doesn't taste like cardboard! I'm glad you're feeling better

  3. shelley|


    I have been in a gut-rut too lately. I do not have Chron's but a very serious case of Celiac's and lactose intolerance. I was served gluten at a restaurant the other day and my stomach is still recovering. Thank you for posting this (amazing) macro bowl recipe. It sounds like just what I need! Hope you feel better and you are such an inspiration!

  4. YP|

    I hope you do feel better, and this post is definitely a wake up call for healthy eating.
    Your bowl recipe sounds amazing and I look forward to trying some options out.
    I have some weird aversion to quinoa (& tiny grains in general….) so i have been using pearl cous cous as a pasta-like sub.

    stay healthy!

  5. Lindsey|


    So happy to hear you are feeling better. I'm thinking of you and wishing that you continue to feel better and that you find the balance that works for you. Don't be so hard on yourself AND that bowl looks amazing, I am going to make it ASAP. Summer is full of so many celebrations and busyness for me, I appreciate this reminder to put my health first.

    xx Lindsey

  6. Kate|

    Hi Sarah-
    I am really interested in the whole fermented thing… I just bought kimchi and think it would work in this bowl- do you have any experience with it? It 50%intrigues, 50% scares me…
    I love your blog and happy to hear you are feeling better.
    Thanks so much,

  7. Sarah|

    I'm a type 1 diabetic, so I completely understand your frustration dealing with an ongoing illness. I try not to let it get me down, but the costs of medicine and the sickness I sometimes endure can be very debilitating. It's not something I've talked about on my own blog, but maybe I should. Chin up! Remind yourself that you are healthy most of the time, and that you have a supportive community of fans who appreciate your honesty!

  8. Liz {What Dress Code?}|

    I think my favorite part about your recipes is that I never think, "there's such and such protein missing" or anything like that, because you are so thorough in sticking to a varied diet. I know for you it's truly a necessity, but as a lifelong vegetarian (though I do slip seafood in there sometimes), my constant goal is to make my diet look effortless, to not feel like there's something missing or the meal is cheating at being a well-rounded plate.

  9. Jen@Sunsets&SwimmingPools|

    It's an autoimmune party! (hand up in the air) Hashimotos up in here!! Lately I've been focused on good, steady core based and yoga type exercise and still not feeling that great and have decided to really look my diet and what I "should" be eating. I know it matters. Really glad to hear you're feeling better.

  10. jen|

    I just read a great book by Meghan Telpner called Undiet. She became a nutritionista (her words) because of her diagnosis of Crohn's. Just thought you might be interested.

  11. Laura|

    Glad to hear that you're feeling a lot better, Sarah. A dear friend of mine suffers from Colitis, so I know it's just no fun, no matter how prepared you are. In my own life + health, I always shift to macrobiotic tendencies when things are out of balance as well. Big ups to you for taking charge, hitting pause and getting back to the high life. Enjoy those healing macro bowl vibes + happy weekend to you 🙂

  12. carol greene|

    It was nice of you to post while under the weather. Know that your tip on thoroughly chewing your food gave pause to many of us that are in a hurry and rush through our meals (even if it's just to get to dessert!). Sending you speedy healing hugs, Sarah!!!

  13. sarah yates|

    thank you so much for all the kind words everyone! you are all so sweet to me, it means the world to me and when i am feeling not so great it means even more. i'll stop before i start crying!!

    @kate- i'v honestly only had kimchi once, at a restaurant. crazy right?! i wasn't the biggest fan. which means i should probably give it another shot because i'm obsessed with the IDEA of it! so unfortunately i can't tell you, but give it a try and let us know!

    @sarah – i totally understand, it took me a while to be able to share. but it's been so rewarding for me and some of my readers! i'm so sorry to hear about your own health struggles. please take good care of yourself! sending you healing vibes! xx

    @jen- i just googled hashimotos, i have heard of it but didn't know too much about it. holy hell it sounds like a wicked disease! i'm so sorry you're not feeling well. i would give macrobiotics a go, it has worked wonders for me and so many others! thinking iof you! feel better soon! xx

    @jen- thanks for the rec, will hunt that book down! i love learning more about what works for different people and reading inspiring stories!

  14. emma|

    Thanks for sharing all of this with us! Your strength and honesty is inspiring (and comforting to those of us with chronic illnesses). And your recipes are delish! I have no doubt that you'll conquer preventing (vs. re-routing) and we're all cheering you on! Glad you're feeling better.

  15. emily n|

    Oh Sarah I am so sorry! Lou must feel so worried but glad you are getting on the fast track to a fix (in a beautiful and delicious way as is your style). I hope to hear an update that all is back to equilibrium soon.
    Emily N

  16. Geri|

    I know what you mean when you say you feel like you are letting Lou down when you aren't feeling well. I have the same guilt with my colitis. I feel my husband didn't sign up for this party! As you know I too have dealing with a major flare up. I'm trying to fight off the anxiety demons. It's a vicious circle. My symptoms create stress and anxiety, which in turns keeps those awful symptoms returning. I have recently started a high alkaline low acidic diet that I'm hoping will put me on the mend! It's similar to the macro diet but it doesn't allow any fermented foods. It's all very confusing to me. I'm so happy you are feeling better sarah. Stay calm !
    XX 😉

  17. molly o'leary|

    hello Sarah,
    i have never met you but feel as if i know you after following your charming, lovely, pretty and informative blog postings. your sense of style is so wonderful and those pups of yours…omg… i just wanna hug them from across cyberspace, you know? sending you good and healing thoughts as you rest, recover, and regain your 'balance'. love, another fan, molly o

  18. Suzanne|

    Hi Sarah –

    My friend put me on to your blog which I love especially your Crohn's story. I was diagnosed with Crohn's myself about 18 months ago in my early 30's. I just had a flare up last week (very like yours) and I put it down to running around and not looking after myself enough. I'm now on a course of steroids which I hate to be taking so I'm really interested in how you manage your Crohn's. Since seeing it on your blog, I've ordered that book Healing Crohn's the Healthy Way so I'm really looking forward to reading that. Thanks so much for putting all your experiences with this disease on your blog. It's great to see that there are alternatives to pills.

    Feel better soon

    Suzanne x

  19. sarah yates|

    hi suzanne, i'm so sorry to hear that! that book was everything to me, such an inspiration to heal myself! i hope you find it as inspiring and are able to find a way of life that doesn't involve those awful medications! best of luck to you! please let me know if there's anything at all i can help with! xx

  20. Abbey|

    Hi Sarah! Your post is very timely for me. I have a gluten allergy and have been gluten free for the past year and a half. I participated in a once in a lifetime event Saturday. I went in knowing I'd have some gluten and figured I'd just deal with the the itchy skin I used to get. No itch this time, but a dull headache, complete lethargy and knotted stomach for the past 2 days. I've been juicing and made your macro bowl with millet and feel so much better. I especially benefitted from your advice about chewing. I started to feel full only to look down and see I had half my bowl left. As a notoriously fast eater, this has given me a new perspective on conscious dining. Thanks so much! Glad you're feeling better!


  21. sarah yates|

    @abbey i'm so happy you like the chewing trick! makes a WORLD of difference! glad to have gotten back to it myself. 🙂 feel better and take care! xx

  22. Tara|

    Ugh, feeling sick sucks. I'm glad that you were aware of what was happening and knew how to take care of yourself. And it sounds like you got through it, which is even better.

    Thanks for sharing the recipe. I totally love healthy delicious meals like this and am also on the lookout for new recipes. I recently got into farro and quinoa bowls after I saw some other bloggers/instagrammers share their recipes. Yum!

  23. Patrizia|

    Interesting article, aside from your pain and suffering. I hope you are better by the time you have read this.

    I am interested to get healthier and this recipe is going to be a good start.

    Gorgeous photography.

  24. Johanna|

    I know I already commented on another post, telling you how much I love your blog, but I just wanted to also say, how positive going through it, it makes me feel! Because instead of moaning about not feeling well (which you would definitely be entitled to!) you do something that you know will make you feel better, and that's amazing 🙂

  25. Melissa|

    Wow…just made this recipe for lunch though I added some shitake mushroom and used raw kimchi and black beans rather than the choices you made. So delicious.


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  36. Donna Reagan|

    Love the recipe and glad to see you sharing your experience. My friend Virginia Harper has been symptom free of crohn’s for over 20 years. She is a macro counselor/lecturer and has become the foremost authority on macro healing diet for crohn’s in the U.S. She wrote the book Controlling Crohn’s the Natural Way. Her website is

  37. Angie|

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