How the kitchen can heal and help you love food again

By Douglass Williams, according to Champ Clark

I was diagnosed with Crohn’s when I was 16. We knew something was wrong. At first they thought it was appendicitis, but doctors at the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia knew it was Crohn’s disease.

Crohn’s disease is a root of the abdomen, and I have a stroke between the lower and upper abdomen, where the ilium is located. The ileum is the main place where food is absorbed by the body, and doctors open 6 inches of the stomach and then combine everything.

I will never forget when I came out of the cutting, there was a large plate of steamed food sent into the room. Hot dogs, fries, applesauce, milk. What the hell? No idea. But it will only show you where to think with Crohn’s at the time. It is not considered to be a disease that can be treated with a particular diet. It was a disease that was treated with medicine. Put on.

Troubled young age

After I got out of the hospital, I lost about 80 pounds. I’m a bunch of my first kind and I can’t be a normal teenager. Imagine you are 16 and you are in the back of your best friend’s car and a girl is with you. And you go for a drive-thru. Everyone ordered burgers, fries, and sodas. Then you have to stick your head out the window and say, “Can I have a burger, no bun, no ketchup, no fries, no soda, no lettuce on the side?”

It was awesome! And it’s a shame to work with cattle all the time without knowing when the future holds and what to do. You can’t play in the gym because your stomach hurts and no one, the other kids, can really understand. You just want to get into a dark room and crawl inside the ball, and that’s what I did.

My father was a chef and my mother was a waitress, so I was kind of born into the hospitality industry. I wanted to be a chef, but how could I do that? I couldn’t eat what I wanted to eat. But I think, I can make a mean-ass omelet. The only thing I could eat at that time was fruit, and I ate it every day. So I cooked omelets, I made soufflés. Eggs became very special to me and kept in the kitchen until the age of 18, when I got my first kitchen job at a restaurant doing – you guessed it – the omelet pit! And that’s how I see my future and I know it can save me from becoming a chef.

Soon after, I went to culinary school. When I arrived there, he was. Oh, I have to taste things now! How do I know this? At first, I rested in the garage so I could spit out the food to start my Crohn’s. But I couldn’t keep working because I had to stay in the classroom. But in every kitchen there is something called “Slim Jims” – four pieces of junk that are right next to the table you are working on. I knew it was strange, but it had become a life saver.

I grew up with a passion for the nature of the food, for the taste, the feel, the feeling of each bite. Like the sweet potato and the sourness of the sour roll on the outside and the warm warmth inside. It’s so relaxing, and if you can’t eat the foods you love – the foods you love – you lose that feeling. He does something for you. You are unlimited. You feel a gap.


But here’s what I found out about myself: Crohn’s is all about stress management. The medicine helped with the inflammation, but what changed my forgiveness was managing the stress. I don’t care about the kitchen. But the kitchen is my refuge. That’s where I went to leave everything that could humiliate you – why this girl doesn’t like me, the problems of the community, and a million little things I’m not worried about now.

So I learned how to relax myself and let life play out the way it should. I make transcendental thinking, for me, a great release. I love reading and traveling. Reading gives me a sense of belonging to my own situation, and the journey gives me a deeper appreciation of humanity. That meeting has helped cook me forgiveness for the past 10 years.

People in the kitchen do something to help them get through the night: they drink, they smoke, some medicine. It was a very difficult task. When I entered the kitchen I started to heal. Crohn’s saved my life because it forced me to a corner. I was like a shark in water with one back. I have to swim twice which is harder to survive. I included everything in my cooking, and at the same time, I was forced to have a long -term relationship with the food I wanted to eat. I have to go back, one bite at a time.

Food as a Healing Energy

The foods that help me the most – mentally and spiritually – are foods that are lovingly cooked by others. I could cook for myself, but because I tasted it a hundred times before I finished a cup, my neck was tired. Cooking for yourself is one of the best acts of kindness. It’s a kind of foster care that I don’t take lightly. It immediately calmed me down and sent a healing energy that completely opened me up. And when I cook for other people, I pour the same energy into that kind of food. It’s about healing through food – physically, mentally, and emotionally.

My advice for foods with Crohn’s is to make a list of what you like and don’t want. Sweet, savory, saucy, crunchy, whatever makes you. Then try to look healthy like that. See the things outside. The things you know that you can eat and you want to guide you to what else you can eat. You may find that you like those things more than the first time. Simply put: Think about what you want to eat until you can eat it. And don’t let stress get into your life.

I’m not going to change Crohn’s for a second. He made me who I am.

Douglass Williams is the owner and top chef at MIDA, an Italian restaurant with two locations in Boston, Massachusetts. In 2020, the 37 -year -old father of two was named one of Food & Wine Magazine’s “Best New Chefs in America.” Williams was a James Beard Award Semi-Finalist in one year and a 2022 James Beard nominee for Outstanding Chef.

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