What Are the Best Foods to Eat with Crohn's Disease?

Reviewed on 6/4/2021

Crohn's disease does not require a specific diet, but it does help to eat certain healthy foods that are easier on your digestive tract and prevent flares (worsening symptoms). These foods include low-fiber fruits, lean protein, refined grains, and fully-cooked vegetables.
Crohn's disease does not require a specific diet, but it does help to eat certain healthy foods that are easier on your digestive tract and prevent flares (worsening symptoms). These foods include low-fiber fruits, lean protein, refined grains, and fully-cooked vegetables.

Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract that is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). 

Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract from the mouth to the anus. Ulcerative colitis is another type of IBD that only affects the colon (large intestine). 

There is no specific diet for patients who have Crohn’s disease, but there are certain foods that may be easier on the digestive tract when symptoms worsen (a flare), in patients who have narrowing of the intestines (strictures), or who have had recent surgery, such as the following foods in the table below.

Best Foods for Crohn's Disease Diet
Type of Food Examples
Low-fiber fruits
  • Bananas
  • Cantaloupe
  • Honeydew melon
  • Cooked fruits
Lean protein
  • Poultry (white meat)
  • Soy
  • Firm tofu
  • Fish
  • Lean cuts of pork
  • Eggs

Refined grains

  • Potato bread or gluten-free bread
  • White pasta
  • White rice
  • Sourdough
  • Oatmeal
Vegetables that are fully cooked, seedless, skinless, and non-cruciferous
  • Potatoes
  • Squash
  • Asparagus tips
  • Cucumbers
Oral nutritional supplements
  • Vitamins
  • Homemade protein shakes
Drinks to stay hydrated
  • Water
  • Broth
  • Tomato juice
  • Rehydration solutions

When patients are in remission the best foods to eat include the following foods in the table below.

Best Foods for Crohn's Disease in Remission
Type of Food Examples
Fiber-rich foods
  • Oat bran
  • Beans
  • Barley
  • Nuts
  • Whole grains
    • Fiber-rich foods may not be recommended for patients
      who have an ostomy, intestinal narrowing, or if a doctor
      advises a low-fiber diet due to strictures or recent surgery
Protein
  • Lean meats
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Tofu
Fruits and vegetables
  • Eat a wide variety of different-colored fruits and veggies
  • Remove the peel and seeds if they trigger or aggravate symptoms
Calcium-rich foods
  • Collard greens
  • Yogurt
  • Kefir
  • Milk (patients who are lactose intolerant can opt for lactose-free
    dairy products or use a lactase digestive enzyme)
  • Plant-based milks fortified with calcium

Foods with probiotics

  • Yogurt
  • Sauerkraut
  • Tempeh
  • Kimchi
  • Miso

What Are Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease?

Symptoms of Crohn’s disease can differ depending on the type of Crohn’s and what part of the digestive tract is affected and may include:  

What Causes Crohn’s Disease?

The exact cause of Crohn’s disease is unknown. Risk factors that may contribute to the development of Crohn’s disease include:

  • Genetic factors
    • Tends to run in families
    • Between 5% and 20% of people with IBD have a first-degree relative (parent, child, or sibling) who has IBD
    • The risk is significantly higher if both parents have IBD
    • Most common among people of eastern European descent
  • Environmental factors
    • Crohn’s disease is more common in:
      • Developed countries
      • Northern climates
      • Urban cities and towns

SLIDESHOW

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Causes, Symptoms, Treatment See Slideshow

How Is Crohn’s Disease Diagnosed?

Crohn’s disease is diagnosed with a patient history and physical examination and certain tests to look for signs of Crohn’s disease and rule out other medical conditions such as: 

What Is the Treatment for Crohn’s Disease?

Crohn’s disease is treated with a combination of medication, diet changes, and sometimes surgery.

Medications used to treat Crohn’s disease include:

Diet changes used to treat Crohn’s disease include:

  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet
  • Consuming soft, bland foods during flares
  • Avoiding spicy or high-fiber foods during flares
  • Restricting dairy intake in patients who are lactose-intolerant

Surgery used to treat Crohn’s disease includes:

  • Strictureplasty: repairs a narrowing (stricture) by widening the narrowed area without removing any portion of the intestine
  • Proctocolectomy: removal of the colon and rectum
  • Fistula removal
  • Colectomy: removal of the colon
  • Bowel resection: removes a portion of the small or large intestine damaged by Crohn’s disease
  • Abscess drainage

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Reviewed on 6/4/2021
References
https://www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/