©2018 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved. eMedicineHealth does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. See Additional Information.

What Not to Eat When You Have Crohn’s Disease

Ask a Doctor

I just received a diagnosis of Crohn disease, and I’m going to have to drastically change my diet to avoid the unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms. Any tips on what sort of diet to follow if you have Crohn’s?

Doctor’s Response

There is no specific diet that is recommended for everyone with Crohn's disease. However, many people with Crohn's disease can reduce their symptoms by changing their eating habits or avoiding certain foods.

Foods that often cause problems are milk and other dairy products, spicy foods, fatty or fried foods, and high-fiber foods. Foods such as raw or dried fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, and popcorn may also worsen your symptoms. People often learn which foods they can or cannot tolerate through trial and error. If you have strictures of the small intestine, you may need to be on a low residue diet.

There are many tasty foods that provide good nutrition and may not irritate your digestive tract. If you can tolerate dairy products, ice cream or milk shakes made with ice cream or yogurt are a good choice. Pizza or a cheeseburger may be a good choice. These foods are high in calories, satisfying, and taste good. However, a steady diet of high-fat, salty foods such as cheeseburgers can cause other problems such as heart disease or high blood pressure. You certainly don't need those problems on top of Crohn's disease. High-fat "junk" foods should not be daily fare. Consider them a treat once in a while if they do not exacerbate symptoms.

There is no evidence that diet has anything to do with causing inflammation or Crohn's disease. No matter what you ate in the past, it probably played no part in your having Crohn's disease today. Unfortunately, though, now that you have Crohn's disease, you may find that you can no longer comfortably eat certain foods you once enjoyed.

There is no evidence linking food allergies with Crohn's disease. Experts now believe that many people thought to have food allergies may actually be experiencing early symptoms of Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, or similar digestive diseases.

These tips may help you feel better during and after eating:

  • Keep a food diary. Record everything you eat and whether it causes you any problems. Design your own diet around what works for you.
  • Stock your home with foods that you enjoy and do not cause you problems.
  • Eat several small meals a day rather than a few large meals. This helps many people reduce or avoid symptoms.
  • Eat when you are hungry.
  • Take small bites of food and chew each bite completely.

For more information, see our full medical article on Crohn disease.

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Ghazi, L. J. "Crohn Disease Treatment and Management." Medscape. Updated: Jan 26, 2017.