Using restrictions to find freedom

Saul Nadoff
By Rasheed Clarke

Saul Nadoff uses a strict dietary regimen to manage Crohn’s disease, and when he couldn’t find snacks that suited his diet, he made his own. Then he made a company.
 
Stomach pains were the first clue that something was wrong with Saul Nadoff. It was 2004, and then-16-year-old Saul was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. Beyond just stomach pain, the inflammatory bowel disease can cause internal bleeding, nausea, fever, fatigue, and frequent, urgent bowel movements.
 
While there are different options for treating the chronic disease, Saul sought a dietary plan that would quell his symptoms. Finding the foods that agreed with his body while still fulfilling his nutritional needs was a lengthy process, but Saul did eventually map out a diet that worked for him, and he followed it to a tee for a decade.
 
“The way I keep my Crohn’s under control is through a very strict diet. Gluten-free, soy-free, no added sugars, dairy-free, nothing too processed,” says Saul. “Being on this diet required me to prepare all my foods at home. It was very difficult to stay disciplined with my dietary needs while doing normal activities like going to family gatherings or going out to eat.”
 
Finding snacks at the supermarket that suited his highly specific dietary restrictions also proved difficult for Saul, so he got to work in his kitchen. After creating a few snack bars that worked for him, Saul saw an opportunity to help others who may also be diet-conscious, and the Freedom Bar was born.
 
“The most important aspect in formulating Freedom Bars was to keep the bars all-natural. They have as few as four or five ingredients. I feel confident the bars can provide people with healthy options in their diet, without feeling restricted,” says Saul.
 
Up until the summer of 2018, Saul was making Freedom Bars by himself. He rented a warehouse, bought production and packing machinery, and used trial and error to establish a process to make the bars efficiently.
 
Then sales started to pick up, and he turned production over to a larger company to meet the increased demand.  Now with heightened capacity, Saul hopes to bring to market other snacks that he and his wife formulated from their home in Toronto.
 
Saul still manages his Crohn’s disease through adherence to the diet that works for him, but he’s also recognized the important role mental health plays in maintaining the upper hand on the disease.
 
“No matter what diet someone may follow, it’s important to watch what you eat. We need to power our body with the proper fuel,” he says. “And our minds have a tremendous connection with our bodies, so I have worked lots on stress management.”
 
For someone newly diagnosed with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, Saul has one piece of advice:
 
“Don’t forget that that the foods we eat and the thoughts we think have a tremendous impact on how we feel. Do not ever downplay that.”

  • Canada has among the highest incidence rates of Crohn's and colitis in the world.
  • 1 in 150 Canadians lives with Crohn’s or colitis.
  • Families new to Canada are developing these diseases for the first time.
  • Incidence of Crohn’s in Canadian kids under 10 has doubled since 1995.
  • People are most commonly diagnosed before age 30.

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