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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 of 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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    MY GET- HEALTHY MACRO BOWL - a house in the hills - interiors, style, food, and dogs

Reader Comments (31)

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.

06/27/13 | 8:7 AM | Unregistered CommenterNicole

thanks nicole! i'm so sorry to hear about your brother! i hope he's feeling better! i think this way of eating has helped a lot of people with crohn's, send him over here for more info!
xx- sarah

06/27/13 | 8:20 AM | Registered Commentersarah yates

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

06/27/13 | 8:35 AM | Unregistered Commenterjacquelyn | lark+linen


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!

06/27/13 | 8:36 AM | Unregistered Commentershelley

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!

06/27/13 | 8:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterYP


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

06/27/13 | 9:9 AM | Unregistered CommenterLindsey

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,

06/27/13 | 9:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterKate

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!

06/27/13 | 9:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterSarah

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