Eating is one of the pleasures of life but imagine having a disease that prevents you from enjoying the food you love because its literally a pain in the gut.  Well that's exactly what 25 year old Sportsmodel Athlete Emma Chapple has to deal with as she has Crohn's Disease.

In some ways the disease has been an advantage to Emma as she's already used to not having too much variety in her eating regime but in others its a hindrance, especially to gaining muscle size.

Find out how she manages her condition below!
Thanks Defined Photography for the pics


Occupation: Field Sales Executive for Cadbury (yes ironic!)

Body building comps:

2015 WFF West Auckland Champs (1st place sports model)

2015 WFF Hawkes bay (1st sports model)

2015 WFF Nationals (3rd sports model)

However before bodybuilding I played badminton from the age of 7 to 23 at an international level and held multiple NZ titles for all age groups.

What is Crohn's Disease?
Crohn's disease is a inflammatory bowel disease that can affect the gastrointestinal tract.

When did you first notice you had digestive issues and what were the symptoms?

I didn't notice that I had a digestive problem until I was 15, however we weren't sure what it was at the time. It took me ending up with a rare skin disease (erythema nodosum) which was my bodies way of telling me something was wrong. Following this I went through a lot of test from MRI, CAT scans, X-Rays to Endoscopies and Colonoscopies and finally after a year or so I was diagnosed with Crohns.

I went on to a large cocktail of drugs and steroids to treat it, however after a couple of years my body adapted and stopped reacting to all the drugs. I started not being able to stomach food as my colon had become so inflamed that it seized shut. At 19 I weighed a crazy 38kgs and finally went in for surgery to have half of my colon removed, which left me with a lovely scar down the centre of my belly. I am now on a trial infusion drug which I get every 6-8 weeks and seems to be working for now.

How does crohn's affect your daily – social – life?

Because of my current treatment Crohns affects me a lot less than it did in the past. It can still make social occasions very complicated. It can make you feel very down or depressed as you just want to be "normal" because Crohns affects everything. If you have a flare up you get constantly tired, you lose hair, nails and teeth weaken, joints become weak and sore and it is a struggle to eat.


What foods are absolutely no no’s but you wish you could have?

I can't really eat anything creamy or milky or high in fat so they are big no nos. Takeaways like McDonald's, Burger King or Indian are completely out of the picture however I am a sucker for ice cream and occasionally I break the rules and deal with the stomach pains later.


What does your normal diet look like?

For me it's nearly easier to stick in contest mode and just add extra carbs and treats so I will still have:

Breakfast: 1x protein shake. 2x corn thins with pb

Midmorning: Either a protein bar or if I'm busy will usually skip this meal

Lunch: Chicken

Either a mountain wrap or cornthins

Cucumber, tomato and spinach


Eggs on toast


Hard boiled egg and toast soldiers lol.

(I have to be careful as egg doesn't sit well for me so I don't have it often)

Mid afternoon: Usually a couple of corn thins or a protein shake

Dinner: I usually stick to eating chicken breast all the time but I might make it into a burger or a wrap based pizza with Chicken bacon and salad

Dessert: Whatever I feel like :). I prefer sweet over savoury if I have a treat so this is where I let go in the off season

I love cookies especially afghans dark chocolate Tim tams and ice cream

Emma and Cory

When did you start bodybuilding training/eating regime?

I went to Leanne Simays for a diet plan just to help my Crohns. Then I decided to start training at her gym (Transform health & fitness) where I caught the body building bug. After watching my partner Cory compete for the first time in September 2014 I decided to give it a go and started prepping for my first comp in April 2015.


Has having crohn's helped or hinder your bodybuilding goals considering bodybuilding, especially during precontest, can be very strict?

Having Crohns helps and hinders my bodybuilding. It helps by keeping my really determined because I know I need to work twice as hard. It also hinders me by not being able to eat a lot of food and protein shakes make me feel very bloated.

What is downside of having chrohns in terms of your bodybuilding/muscle building goals?
I struggle with gaining any maintaining weight and I find it very hard to gain muscle. I think this is partially to do with the fact that I can't eat the same food as others and no where near as much either. I stick to a very basic diet as I know it won't upset my stomach but it is very boring.

Advice to others who think they may have digestive issues and signs to look for?
If you are concerned you might have a digestive problem, don't be like me and wait years to get it checked out. Stick to foods your stomach won't react to as it's not worth feeling sick all day just for a burger or ice cream.

Common signs are severe stomach pains, weight loss, low iron levels, loss of hair, always cold, loss of strength and no appetite.

Emma Chapple
February 2016

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