As regards can you ward off a flare, I'd say it is a sliding scale. The worse the flare, the harder it is. I certainly have repeatedly cut short the usual pattern of increasingly severe stomach upset, fever and fatigue by changing what I eat and cutting back on the type or amount of activity I am undertaking.
(I should point out here that my Crohns is pretty atypical; often mainly extra-intestinal symptoms, managed without drugs, by diet and graduated exercise. But I've had cobblestone mouth, so it is definitely CD.)
My diet is always gluten free, virtually always dairy free apart from cheese with annatto colouring (annatto is an anti-inflammatory, which I presume is why I can get away with those cheeses), and usually extremely low in sugar and salt.
But every so often things I know I shouldn't eat creep into my diet (sound familiar, anyone ?
) usually sugar and chocolate - I fall off the chocolate wagon at least once a year - or I stop eating enough fresh veg, and when that happens, after a certain indefinable threshold is reached, my gut starts to complain. And all the rest. (The canary in the coal mine here for me is mouth ulcers - when I get them I know the next step is repeated bouts of diarrhoea, instant fatigue, etc.)
And then I go back to porridge with no sugar, stop eating those lovely oat biscuits that I love so much but know are full of sugar, I don't even go into shops that sell chocolate bars (I'm usually well motivated !
) stuff myself full of fresh greenery, and things calm down again within a week or so.
Once things go back to normal, the background level of inflammation slowly increases over a period of months; my stomach grumbles occasionally, and then I eat the wrong thing, or try to be too active for too long, or some other kind of trigger happens, sometimes as simple as catching a cold, and there I am back on the merrygoround.
The kicker here for you cindy is that I am on benefits, and the work I do is voluntary. There is sometimes quite a lot of physical stress, but the fact that I am in charge of it helps immensely in keeping my cortisol levels down; I always know that at worst, I can just say, "Sorry, no more for the moment" and cry off any commitments. The charities I work with know the score and we are organised to work round this if needs be, the mood is very sympathetic.
When the benefits system starts to play silly beggars with me, or if for some reason I am forced to be more physically active than I am fit for, then the stress-related cortisol begins to really affect me, and that is difficult to deal with; it's learned helplessness - darned if you do, darned if you don't. At that point, I am trying to eat as much steamed sweet potato, carrots and butternut squash as possible - anything with anthocyanins or beta carotene seems to help counter inflammation, basically.
Probiotics are such a commonplace in my life that I find I failed to mention them. Well, like garlic and ginger they are one of the most effective "firefighters" I have, and one of the things that when I cut back on them the inflammation will suddenly increase. I would urge you to keep trying different brands - recent research conducted worldwide shows that rather like blood types, there are three different types of intestinal ecosystems in humans, each of which is related to different types of medical vulnerability - so it may simply be a case of your not having tried a variety that suits your particular intestinal makeup. Alternatively, you may have had a Herxheimer-Jarisch reaction. ("Herx'ing".)
the long post, hope it helps !