Mars Needs Protein!
April 19, 2005 3:35 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to be on an all-liquid diet for an undetermined amount of time in order to give my diseased and angry intestines a break. What are some good sources of protein that can be taken in liquid form?

Here's the catch: due to my medical condition (ten years with Crohn's Disease) I am on a very restricted diet. I cannot digest any of the following: dairy products (including lactose and whey), fruits, vegetables, nuts, highly acidic drinks, caffeine, coffee, chocolate, alcohol, and a bunch of other minor things.

My liquid diet consists of water, cranberry juice, vanilla Equate (Wal-Mart's non-dairy Ensure), caffeine-free flat Coca-Cola, original green Gatorade, and sucking on hard candies until they dissolve. I take a ton of vitamins everyday as well as B12 injections. I need a source of protein in order to keep up with my daily life. Can anyone recommend such a thing that does not include ingredients from the restricted list?
posted by Servo5678 to Health & Fitness (32 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I feel for you Servo. My sister had/ has Crohn's for 10 or so years and was close to death on several occasions. Lots of operations and hospital stays included. She is finally in remission and is like a new woman. Getting off of the steroids was hard but has chganged her dramatically.

I was going to suggest whey, but see that is prohibited. I would suggest googling crohn's and fish oil. The research looks really promising.

I wish you the best.
posted by vronsky at 3:41 PM on April 19, 2005


Sorry to hear about it, Servo (my dad has severe ulcerative colitis, so I know this is a very difficult illness to manage). How do you do on broths? When I had my jaw wired shut a few months ago, I drank a lot of beef and chicken broth those first few weeks. (There are low-sodium/low-fat versions, if that makes a difference.) If you can tolerate broths all right, perhaps you could also use them in instant mashed potatoes for some added variety/texture.

Also, what about cream of wheat? Despite its name, there doesn't appear to be any dairy/whey in it.
posted by scody at 3:43 PM on April 19, 2005


(I know that instant mashed potatoes and cream of wheat aren't technically liquid, but they can certainly be thinned down quite a bit -- enough to get them through a straw, which is how I had to eat them for awhile!)
posted by scody at 3:46 PM on April 19, 2005


nondairy soups like Manhattan Clam Chowder, if you can take the tomato? corn chowder? powdered nondairy creamers should help you I guess. and good luck.
posted by matteo at 3:57 PM on April 19, 2005


Is soy protein powder on your forbidden list?

And it's a long shot, but have you considered raw goat's milk? Often people who cannot tolerate cow dairy do just fine with goat's milk.
posted by Specklet at 4:00 PM on April 19, 2005


Watch out for the vitamins in drinks like Ensure -- you can overdose on some of them, with very dangerous complications.
posted by callmejay at 4:02 PM on April 19, 2005


Broth isn't an option; for some reason it always comes right back up. Canned, homemade, whatever - it doesn't work. Wheat is 50/50 odds for me. "Regular" wheat like the kind in white bread or crackers is fine, but whole wheat or things containing a lot of wheat are a problem.

Soy protein powder is a great idea. The last time I tried some (2003) every variety I bought didn't dissolve very well. I wound up with a glass of clumps. Has the "technology" improved any? I ran that powder through the blender for 15 minutes and still had clumps of powder in the drink. Is there a certain brand I should look for?

As for tomatoes or corn chowder, note above that I cannot digest vegetables in any form. Goat's milk doesn't work with me either.

As for mashed potatoes, I use those when I start back eating after days/weeks on all liquids. That and scrambled eggs. Whatever I end up with now it has to be completly liquid. No solids allowed.

Typically in these situations I take time off from work to rest in bed, but that's not an option this time. I have to keep going in to the office everyday, thus the need for protein to keep me going.

And no worries about overdosing on Ensure. I'm lucky if I can choke down three cans a day of the stuff.

Thanks for the ideas though, everyone. Keep 'em coming!
posted by Servo5678 at 4:06 PM on April 19, 2005


I know you can buy protein powder at health stores and such. They taste like crap, but I know you can blend them in to Ensures - my friend used to do it when he was gaining muscle. I can't recommend any specific brands, but be very careful and check labels. Also, you're really gonna want to BLEND any powdered protein - it has a tendency to clump in drinks.

On preview - yeah, that clumping is a really problem still. My friend's method was the old "blend and chug"...

Oh, do you have a source of Naked Juice somewhere? many types of naked juice are really high in protein.
posted by muddgirl at 4:12 PM on April 19, 2005


Odwalla also has several juice/smoothie blends that have protein in them (from soy sources I believe)... and they recently added a few drinks with omega-3 acids, too, which are hard to find except in fish.

You might also go to your friendly neighborhood hippie juice bar and talk to someone there... a lot of those guys really know their liquids.
posted by salad spork at 4:18 PM on April 19, 2005


Could you blend tofu or other sources of soy protein into a smoothie? Tofu comes in different textures, you'd probably want silken or whatever the least firm version is. It works great for blending.
posted by schroedinger at 4:23 PM on April 19, 2005


I ran that powder through the blender for 15 minutes and still had clumps of powder in the drink. Is there a certain brand I should look for?

I drink a shake made with GNC Soy Protein Powder every morning, and have had no problems with clumps. Then again, I blend the hell out of it with one of these. If you're going to be making a lot of shakes, you may want to invest in one. They're pretty inexpensive, work great, and are a lot easier to clean up than a blender.
posted by purplemonkie at 4:25 PM on April 19, 2005


Not knowing the extent of your dairy intolerance, I will mention SCD yogurt. It is fermented for a full 24 hours, with the result that all lactose is eliminated. The end result is quite soft--not liquid, but perhaps tolerable on your diet. Aside from the protein, the addition of the beneficial bacteria from yogurt could be helpful in balancing your intestinal flora.

If you are unfamiliar with the specific carbohydrate diet, I would urge you to read up on it. There seems to be a percentage of CD/UC sufferers who respond very favorably to it.

Hope you find some relief soon.
posted by Galvatron at 4:31 PM on April 19, 2005


You didn't speak to soy, but if you can manage it, how about soy yogurt? A smoothie/milkshake made from really cold vanilla soy yogurt and one of those Ensure type drinks might not be too bad.
posted by Dreama at 4:32 PM on April 19, 2005


What about eggs? They are still the best source of protein around. You could get pasteurized eggs in the shell and mix with whatever you want. Or one of the egg substitutes like egg beaters. Personally I would stay away from soy. Give this a look.

http://www.nchicha.com/archives/003094.shtml
posted by vronsky at 4:36 PM on April 19, 2005


Silken tofu mixed with soy powder and/or rice/soy milk and tossed in a blender has a respectable amount of protein. You can toss in an egg Rocky-style, it's sort of nasty going down but has good amounts of protein. Another thing to consider is spirulina which is also a bit icky, perhaps technically a vegetable and has protein in addition to some other good stuff. I've had pretty good luck with soy powders by mixing them with a small amount of liquid right off the bat and then tossing that sludge into the blender.
posted by jessamyn at 4:52 PM on April 19, 2005


Can you digest red beans? Coconut milk?

Sweet red beans are popularly used in frozen drinks in Asia. You can easily take one step of digestion out of the equation by making your own bean paste - boil the red beans and put them in a blender/food processor. To drink, just add some crushed ice and voila! Coconut milk will make it (or any dish, really) taste infinitely better.

Alternatively, you could use soy milk, though I can't vouch for the taste. :P
posted by Lush at 4:55 PM on April 19, 2005


For Crohn's, you really want pre-digested protein. It tends to be super-bland, but by relieving the intestines of their protein-cleaving duties, gives the digestive system a chance to rest and heal. Some people make the same claim for long-term (> 2 weeks) water fasting, but that's a bit dicey unless a doctor is supervising the fast.

Here's a reference to some, but it's for a commerical product, so take it with a grain of salt...
posted by curtm at 4:57 PM on April 19, 2005


My mom has been on a liquid diet for nearly 15 years and mostly lives on Ensure (which she occasionally mixes with Scotch, but YMMV) and she also can handle oatmeal that's been cooked very thin; also soft boiled eggs. Dairy isn't a problem for her - so she does lots of milkshakes which she loves. Maybe soy ice cream shakes with soy milk? Also, gelatin - knox gelatin has some protein in it and can be flavored with anything, or nothing.
posted by mygothlaundry at 5:54 PM on April 19, 2005


I'm afraid I can't add much save empathy - I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis after spending a week in the hospital. I was on a liquid diet for a couple of weeks, but was able to manage ensure - I don't know what I'd have done without it.

Actually, now that I think of it, one of the few things I enjoyed while recovering was Mexican horchata - essentially a sweet, rice based drink. It's probably not all that high in nutrition value, but it might offer a nice change of pace. The recipe linked above suggests using lime juice, but I'm sure you could leave that out if its too acidic.

Good luck!
posted by aladfar at 6:10 PM on April 19, 2005


Oh, and leave out the almonds, obviously.
posted by aladfar at 6:13 PM on April 19, 2005


I suggest you join fitday and get the nutritional info of whatever foods it is that you decide to ingest. Can you have salad greens? Two nice green leafies that are insanely hign in protein are romaine, and kale. I love both of them, and they're easily juiced. You can make a nice, cold, refreshing juice of kale and spinach and romaine. Really delicious.
posted by iconomy at 6:27 PM on April 19, 2005


If you can have the greens, and potatoes as well, you can make a hot broth for a change of pace, too.
posted by iconomy at 6:29 PM on April 19, 2005


Wow. Does "no whey" mean "no casein"? If you're limited to egg and soy proteins, I suggest mixing them or alternating between them. They have different absorption rates and BCAAs.
posted by trharlan at 8:28 PM on April 19, 2005


Soymilk comes in a wide variety of brands and flavors. I've found Silk brand to be the tastiest and least strange and chalky. It has the calcium that you may be missing from not eating dairy and the protein of soy.

As said earlier, tofu also comes in a few varieties. Those that aren't already nearly liquid can easily be blended to whatever consistency you need.

If soy is restricted, other protein sources like seitan and tempeh are made with wheat gluten. They tend to come in a solid "meat substitute" form but they can break down to liquid.

Also, spend some time reading labels. You'd be surprised at what fits into your diet. I bought some potato chips that were "steak flavored." I read the label to see if I could share them with my vegan girlfriend and, lo-and-behold, the supposedly "steak" chips were completely vegan friendly!
Your next nutritious meal may just come in a form you didn't see coming.

Good luck.
posted by Jon-o at 8:31 PM on April 19, 2005


If you go to a Whole Foods [or even a supplement store], they have trial sizes of different soy powders. I've tried the Spirutein packages, and they're not too bad. If you mix them with soymilk, cranberry juice, and ice, they will be fine. Check the ingredients on the side of the packet to make sure you can ingest all of them though; there appear to be other trace vegetables, etc.
posted by fionab at 8:42 PM on April 19, 2005


I can't offer anything except best wishes for full recovery soon. I hope the soy suggestions work out well, and that research can bring something positive in the very near future for you. Hang in there!
posted by yoga at 5:00 AM on April 20, 2005


Thanks for the ideas and well-wishes, everyone. I'm going to look into that soy powder and the smoothie is a great idea. I used to make Ensure/soy ice cream shakes up until they discontinued my favorite brand of the ice cream and added whey to Ensure. It actually tasted like the real thing instead of, well, soy. All the nutritional content in the world doesn't mean a thing if I gag on the drink instantly.

Anything involving a vegetable is a no-go no matter how ground up or blended it is. My intestines reject it immediately. Trust me, it ain't pleasant.

And yes, "no whey" includes "no caesin". You'd be surprised how often those two things appear in foods or drinks as mere fillers. I have to study the labels of chewing gum 'fer crying out loud. What business does whey have in chewing gum?

I've been dealing with Crohn's for almost eleven years and I like to think I have a handle on how things go. I've been through hospitalizations and a surgery, after all. I once went without solid food for six months, so a few days should be a cakewalk. The problem comes with products I rely on are discontinued. That's my situation now - items I drank last time I needed all liquids don't exist anymore.

Here's hoping I get back to solid foods soon. I miss chicken already!
posted by Servo5678 at 5:19 AM on April 20, 2005


This Bolthouse Farms "Perfectly Protein" drink looks okay. It has slight amounts of chai tea in it, so I'm not sure how that would be for you. It says it only has .13mg of caffeine per serving (compared to 115mg for coffee) so it might be okay. I found it by googling "vegan protein drinks" and "vegan protein powder" because basically you want no milk products, then you just have to look in the ingredients for the vegetables/wheat. Good luck, hope this helps!
posted by fionab at 7:14 AM on April 20, 2005


A raw-foodist friend of mine gets his protein from seaweed. I don't know if that counts as a vegetable to your intestines, but you could possibly make a broth from boiling a piece of dulce or kombu in water. It also comes in granual form, which could be sprinkled into a blended drink.
posted by xo at 7:41 AM on April 20, 2005


I'm a doctor, and I wouldn't touch this question with a ten-foot pole. Can you get access to an R.D. (registered dietitian) to consult on this problem? This is what they *do* - they're experts.

Hope you're feeling better soon, by the way.
posted by ikkyu2 at 8:07 AM on April 20, 2005


ikkyu2,

Every dietician I've ever spoken to over the years has basically told me the same thing: "Don't eat what causes pain." Pretty obvious advice, I think. I never get a concrete answer, i.e. "Eat/drink this: ______."
posted by Servo5678 at 8:56 AM on April 20, 2005


Servo5678: That sucks.

I have some friends who are competent R.D.'s. I'll see if I can't squeeze some ideas out of them.
posted by ikkyu2 at 6:14 PM on April 22, 2005


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