Chronic illness can make you feel isolated—especially when you have a stigmatized condition like Crohn's disease, a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
But there are more people out there with Crohn's disease than you might think, and they're sharing their stories publicly with the world—including you, so you don’t have to feel so alone. Here are nine of the most inspiring Instagram accounts run by Crohnies you should follow right now.
Ryan Van Voorhis is one of the co-founders of Nude Dude Food, a catering company in Chicago—and he also happens to be Crohn's patient advocate. His account gives followers a look at what it’s like to live his life with Crohn’s, whether he’s lifting weights, riding his motorcycle, hanging out with his two dogs, or cooking anti-inflammatory meals alongside the other Nude Dudes. Ryan is also an ostomate—in fact, he’s been one for 15 years—so you’ll occasionally catch him posting a candid mirror selfie along with captions about his ostomy or his experiences as a counselor at Camp Oasis, a summer camp for kids with IBD. Ryan's account is a great follow for those of us who want to be inspired to follow our passions with IBD.
Kristen Elizabeth is the positive redhead behind kristenschronicles, where she shares her everyday experiences with her permanent ileostomy and IBD. Kristen is one of many IBD patients whose diagnosis is “indetermine colitis,” or “Crohn’s colitis,” which means her Crohn’s is limited to her colon. She shares advice about living with IBD as she navigates her own highs and lows. As her bio states, "be the light," and she does just that—if you're looking for a big smile to brighten up your feed, give Kristen a follow.
Ziyad is the Crohn’s disease warrior behind The Grumbling Gut. Through his Instagram, he shares tons of information about different topics relating to IBD and Crohn's disease—including stomas, pregnancy and reproductive health, travel, surgery, fatigue, and more. He also interacts with his audience frequently, asking them through polls in his Story what topics they want to learn more about. A diagnostic radiographer by trade, Ziyad always backs up his statements with research and even shares the occasional study.
Gabby is the patient advocate behind healthyhappygab_. She's had Crohn's disease for seven years and got a permanent ileostomy in 2019. Throughout her hospital stays and surgery, she shares the raw realities of living with Crohn’s and how she's coping through the tough times. For her fellow Crohnies, she posts helpful bag change videos, body confidence tips, and even shared how she stayed positive through her first bag leak experience. Check out her Story Highlights to see what books she’s reading, foods she eats with her condition, and more.
We'd be doing a disservice if we didn't highlight our own HealthCentral patient expert and social ambassador, Brian Greenberg. Brian is a triathlete who doesn’t let his Crohn’s disease or ostomy slow him down (“Ironman” is in his username for a reason!). His Instagram feed has no shortage of images that show his passion for racing, his dog, Aspen, his wife, and the ups and downs of living with Crohn’s. Follow Brian if you’re looking to boost your fitness and physical activity while living with Crohn’s—you’re sure to be motivated by his training for races and the insights he shares about his health along the way.
Sam Reid runs a blog called "Sicker Than Your Average” where she talks about surviving and thriving with Crohn’s disease—and she takes that goal to her Instagram, too. This woman is open and honest about her disease—plus, she's an incredible advocate for the Crohn's disease and chronic illness community. She's had Crohn's for nine years and touts the silver linings she's found along the way. Sam always shares the latest book she's reading, along with stories from her infusion days, hanging with her cats, friends, and everything in between. Her empowering, no-BS attitude is infectious.
Joe is a Crohn's warrior and Navy veteran who shares his passion for training and Ironman competitions on his Instagram account. You can also find posts showing his love for food, travel, and yoga—which he pursues even with his IBD. Joe is also a self-proclaimed Christ follower and uses verses throughout his posts, showing how his spirituality can help him get through his Crohn’s experiences. Even when he’s sharing from the hospital, he isn’t afraid to bare all to show the realities of chronic illness.
Natalie Hayden is the woman behind the blog “Lights, Camera, Crohn's” (she’s a former news broadcaster!). She uses the ‘gram to share her experiences as a mother of two with IBD. Nowadays, she’s a full-time mom and Crohn's disease advocate. She's wonderfully honest about what it's like to be a mom with a chronic illness, sharing helpful ins and outs of pregnancy, motherhood, and patient life.
Wieke Kotten is from the Netherlands and is a tour de force in the Crohn's disease community. She's had her diagnosis since 1999 and received her ileostomy in 2012. On her Instagram, Wieke shares facts about chronic illness, bag change videos, and some intense before-and-after photos from the times she was very sick to show the progress she’s made. She's also an ostomy underwear model and promotes body positivity, especially for women, to rock out with their bags out.
These Crohn’s disease influencers are sure to liven up your Instagram feeds, all while educating and motivating you. Maybe it will even inspire you to open up more about your own IBD journey? Either way, we hope following these patient advocates helps you feel a bit less alone and even more connected to the supportive IBD community.