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Top Eating Tips for IBD

What are the best food choices for Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn's Disease?

What can I eat to make me feel better? Please help!!

I’m sure many of you have asked that question at some point since being diagnosed with Crohn's or Ulcerative Colitis. You may feel helpless and frustrated with managing your IBD. Changes in your diet and lifestyle may help control your symptoms and lengthen the time between flare-ups.

Food Choices and Diet

Unfortunately, there's no conclusive evidence that what you eat actually causes inflammatory bowel disease. However, many have found some food and beverages can aggravate their signs and symptoms, especially during a flare-up.

Keeping a food diary to keep track of what you're eating, as well as how you feel, may help you identify specific irritants. If you discover some foods are causing your symptoms to flare, you can try omitting them. Try these general suggestions from the Mayo Clinic:

  • Limit dairy products. Many people with inflammatory bowel disease find that problems such as diarrhoea, abdominal pain and gas improve by limiting or eliminating dairy products. You may be lactose intolerant — that is, your body can't digest the milk sugar (lactose) in dairy foods. Using an enzyme product may help.

  • Try low-fat foods. If you have Crohn's disease of the small intestine, you may not be able to digest or absorb fat normally. Instead, fat passes through your intestine, making your diarrhoea worse. Try avoiding butter, margarine, cream sauces and especially fried foods. Monitor how you feel after eating red meat/pork as well, as these may be irritants to some.

  • Limit fiber, if it's a problem food. If you have inflammatory bowel disease, high-fiber foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains, may make your symptoms worse. If raw fruits and vegetables bother you, try steaming, baking or stewing them.

Foods in the cabbage family (i.e. broccoli and cauliflower,) nuts, seeds, corn and popcorn may cause you to cringe. You may chose to limit these foods if they cause you discomfort. A health care practitioner may have told you to limit fibre (called a "low residue diet") if you have a narrowing of your bowel (stricture).

  • Avoid other problem foods. Spicy foods, alcohol, and caffeine may make your signs and symptoms worse.

Other dietary measures

  • Eat small meals. 5-6 small meals perhaps may be easier to tolerate as opposed to 3 larger meals.

  • Drink plenty of liquids. Try to drink plenty of fluids daily, ideally water (you can infuse with lemon or other in season fruits for taste). Alcohol, caffeine, and carbonated drinks are often discouraged.

  • Consider multivitamins. Usually a reasonable insurance policy! Because Crohn's disease can interfere with your ability to absorb nutrients and because your diet may be limited, multivitamin and mineral supplements are often helpful. Review with your consultant prior to starting any supplement.

  • Talk to a dietitian. Talk to a registered dietitian to make sure you're making the best choices for you. IBD is very individualized and so too are the eating plans for those with Crohn's or UC.

Research into dietary management or IBD is ongoing and improving. Stay tuned for more evidenced-based tips and resources here!

Melissa Kaplan, MS, RD, is the owner and founder of She is passionate about teaching people about making the best food choices for optimum health. Find her here at: or call her to find out more: 07872673223

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