Eating well when you have Crohn's disease
When you're in a flare, certain foods may worsen the bowel symptoms of your Crohn's disease, such as pain, diarrhea, excess gas and bloating. But no food has been proven to increase inflammation of the intestines, and there's no specific list of foods that must be avoided by everyone with Crohn's disease. Foods that bother some people may not be a problem for you.
Healthy eating tips
Overall, it's best to eat a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of foods from all food groups. When your Crohn's is flaring, it may help to:
- Eat low-fat foods. Undigested fat may pass through your intestines, making your diarrhea worse. If fatty foods bother you, try eating mostly low-fat foods. When reading food labels, a good rule of thumb is to stick to foods that have no more than 3 grams of fat for every 100 calories.
- Cook your vegetables. Although they're great low-fat options, vegetables also have a lot of fiber, which could worsen your symptoms. Try steaming, baking or stewing non-cruciferous vegetables — such as zucchini, cucumbers, potatoes and squash — to reduce the amount of fiber.
- Use lactose-free dairy products. Some people with Crohn's disease can't digest lactose, a sugar found in dairy products. If you have digestive problems when you eat dairy, switch to lactose-free dairy products.
Keep a food diary
A great way to find out how certain foods affect you is by keeping a food diary. Use your diary to track everything you eat and drink and how each of them makes you feel. This will help you identify foods that cause symptoms during a flare so that you can limit or eliminate them from your diet.
Talk with your doctor if you have specific issues such as difficulty digesting lactose and dairy products, which could require more strict dietary guidelines. A registered dietitian may also be helpful. He or she can help you create a diet plan that focuses on foods you digest well and limits foods that may cause symptoms for you.
Watch for foods that may trigger symptoms
During a flare, foods that may trigger symptoms for some people with Crohn's disease include spicy foods, fried foods, fatty foods, high-fiber foods, nuts, soda, popcorn, dairy, alcohol, seeds, coffee and other caffeinated drinks, and certain fruits and vegetables.
Some common trigger foods are also healthy options, so it's best to keep track of your diet so you're not avoiding healthy foods that aren't a problem for you.
Oct. 01, 2019
See more In-depth
- Living with Crohn's and colitis. Crohn's & Colitis Foundation. https://www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/sites/default/files/legacy/assets/pdfs/living-with-crohns-disease.pdf. Accessed Aug. 14, 2019.
- Eating, diet and nutrition for Crohn's disease. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/crohns-disease/eating-diet-nutrition. Accessed Aug. 14, 2019.
- DeLegge MH. Nutrition and dietary management for adults with inflammatory bowel disease. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Aug. 14, 2019.
- Low-fat foods. American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/healthy/eathealthygetactive/takecontrolofyourweight/low-fat-foods/. Accessed Aug 14, 2019.
- What should I eat? Crohn's & Colitis Foundation. https://www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/diet-and-nutrition/what-should-i-eat. Accessed Aug 14, 2019.
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