Bowel Disease: Changing Your Diet
What is an Actionset?
Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are types of inflammatory bowel disease. They cause inflammation and sores (ulcers) in the digestive tract. This can lead to symptoms such as diarrhea, belly pain, loss of appetite, fever, bloody stools, and weight loss. Often symptoms are worse after eating.
If you have an inflammatory bowel disease, it may be hard to get important nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and protein. Your intestines may not be able to take all the nutrients from the food you eat. You may lose nutrients through diarrhea. This can lead to problems such as anemia or low levels of vitamins, such as vitamin B12 and folic acid.
To control their symptoms, some people eat only bland foods, like pasta, and they avoid fruits and vegetables. But you need to eat a variety of foods to get the nutrients you need for good health. This topic can help you learn more about how to eat so you can manage your symptoms but still get the nutrition you need.
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Some foods may make your symptoms worse, especially during a flare-up. For many people, common problem foods include:
Test Your Knowledge
Dairy foods are a problem for everyone with inflammatory bowel disease.
What you eat does not increase the inflammation that causes your disease. But some types of foods, such as high-fiber fruits and vegetables, may make your symptoms worse. This is especially true during a flare-up. As a result, you may be tempted not to eat these foods at all. But that can make it hard to get the nutrients you need to stay healthy.
A better idea is to keep a food diary to find out which foods cause problems for you. Then you can avoid those foods and choose others that supply the same nutrients. Foods that cause symptoms during a flare-up may not bother you at other times.
To learn more about nutrients and the types and amounts of food you need to be healthy, see the topic Healthy Eating.
Test Your Knowledge
Eating foods that make my symptoms worse also makes my disease worse.
No one diet is right for everyone with an inflammatory bowel disease. Foods that bother one person may not bother another. Your diet has to be tailored for you. But the following basic ideas can help you feel better and get the nutrition you need.
Find your problem foods
Find out your problem foods by keeping a food diary. As soon as you know what foods make your symptoms worse, your doctor or dietitian can help you plan a diet that avoids problem foods but gives you plenty of nutrients and enough calories to keep you at a healthy weight.
To make a food diary, get a small notebook and keep it with you. Make notes after each meal or snack.
If you notice certain foods make your symptoms worse, talk to your doctor about these foods at your next visit.
Make smart food choices
During a flare-up, avoid or reduce foods that make symptoms worse. But instead of cutting out a whole group of high-nutrient foods, try replacing them with healthy choices.
Get the calories and nutrients you need
Your body may not be able to absorb all the nutrients it needs from the food you eat. To stay as healthy as you can:
Test Your Knowledge
I need to eat a high-calorie, high-protein diet.
Now that you have read this information, you are ready to follow an eating plan for inflammatory bowel disease.
Talk with your doctor
If you have questions about this information, take it with you when you visit your doctor or dietitian. You may want to mark areas or make notes in the margins where you have questions.
If you would like more information on inflammatory bowel diseases, the following resources are available:
For more information on nutrition, see the topic Healthy Eating.
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