The Best Foods To Eat and Avoid for Inflammatory Bowel Disease

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IBD

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a treatable, yet chronic and lifelong condition. IBD is a broad term that refers to the inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract and includes specific conditions such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

No plan has been proven to prevent or control IBD. But managing your diet can help manage your disease during flares and periods of remission. Be sure to talk to your physician or a registered dietitian about your nutrition needs and managing IBD.

Here are diet recommendations for managing IBD flares and remissions from UH Outpatient Nutrition Services.

What To Eat During Flare-Ups

Decrease your fiber intake – Low-fiber foods are easiest to digest and are less irritating to the gut, especially with symptoms like abdominal pain or diarrhea. Choose:

  • Grains/starches: White foods, instead of wheat or whole-grain, and those with less than 2 grams of fiber per serving
  • Cooked vegetables: Well-cooked vegetables such as green beans, carrots, mashed potatoes without skin, steamed asparagus tips and pureed squash.Use fresh or frozen.
  • Canned or soft fruits: Peeled apples, ripe bananas, cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon, and canned fruit in fruit juice or light syrup

Be sure to eat enough protein -- Inflammation causes increased protein needs. Choose:

  • Tender, well-cooked meats: Poultry, salmon or other fish, lean beef and pork prepared without added fat
  • Deli meats: Low-sodium and low-fat varieties
  • Eggs: Well-cooked
  • Tofu
  • Smooth nut and seed butters: Peanut, almond or sunflower seed

Drink plenty of fluids -- Aim for eight cups a day, and consider using oral rehydration beverages as needed. Try to limit caffeinated, sugar drinks and beverages made with sugar substitutes.

Limit added fats and oils -- Focus on oils instead of solid fats, and limit intake to less than eight teaspoons per day.

Consume adequate calcium, vitamin D, probiotics, and prebiotics -- Sources include:

  • Evaporated, fat-free, 1 percent and 2 percent milk
  • Lactose-free milk
  • Fortified non-dairy milks such as almond, cashew, coconut or rice milks -- these options do not contain much protein
  • Fortified pea milk and soy milk -- these may cause gas and bloating
  • Yogurt/ lactose-free yogurt

What To Eat During Remission

Increase fiber and reintroduce whole grains -- Slowly incorporate foods higher in fiber when gastrointestinal symptoms lessen.

Consume omega-3 fatty acids -- Consider eating more fresh or canned fatty fish or taking a fish or flaxseed oil supplement.

Focus on wholesome foods in their natural state -- This includes foods with minimal processing and minimum ingredients.

Dairy and lactose products will be better tolerated -- If you have a lactose intolerance, avoid dairy or eat low-lactose or lactose-free products.

Added fats will be better tolerated -- Continue to focus on using oils, such as olive oil or canola oil, instead of solid fats.

Continue to focus on protein foods -- Consume beef, eggs, poultry and other lean meats or plant-based proteins, such as soy products.

Be sure to drink plenty of water -- Drink water instead of fruit juices, soft drinks, alcohol and caffeinated beverages such as coffee or tea.

Related Links

UH Outpatient Nutrition Services are available at UH Cleveland Medical Center, UH Ahuja Medical CenterUH Minoff at Chagrin Highlands, Landerbrook, Medina, Solon and Westlake health centers and the W.O. Walker Center. Call 216-844-1499 to make an appointment.

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