Woman talking to her doctor about IBD

Two specific diseases are classified as IBD or Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis. The nutritional needs for each of these diseases and for individual patients may vary widely. If you need to, ask your primary care physician to refer you to a nutritionist or a dietician to help you create an eating plan that is right for you and one that helps you manage your IBD symptoms.

What is Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis?

Crohn’s disease causes inflammation along the digestive tract. Sometimes, it extends throughout the entire intestinal wall which often causes symptoms like diarrhea, malabsorption, fistulas, and strictures. In some cases, surgical resections are performed on portions of the digestive tract.

Ulcerative colitis is inflammation in the colon, and it often leads to bloody diarrhea. However, this inflammation doesn’t go through the whole intestine wall, which means there are no fistulas. But in cases of extensive chronic inflammation, surgical removal of the affected areas may be necessary.

Managing IBD Symptoms With Your Diet

It can be quite confusing when you start reading information about treating or managing IBD symptoms with your diet. Some recommend avoiding entire food groups, but the only foods that should definitely be on your “do not eat” list are those that you know make your symptoms worse. As much as possible, you want to restrict as few foods as you can. This helps ensure you get the nutrition you need. Consuming a well-balanced nutrition-filled diet helps maintain the proper function of the digestive tract and improves your overall health.

Finding Dietary Strategies

There is not a single diet that can treat or prevent IBD. However, you can learn some dietary strategies that can help you control and manage symptoms. One way to determine which foods are your trigger foods is to keep a food journal. Take note of any foods that trigger or worsen your IBD symptoms. When you suspect problem foods, avoiding them should help manage or lessen symptoms. It’s about developing a plan that works for you as each person’s symptoms and triggers can differ greatly.

Tips for Things That May Help

There are a few general food items that may be beneficial for helping to manage IBD symptoms. Your GI specialist may be able to recommend dietary supplements that work for you especially if you have difficulty gaining weight or maintaining a healthy weight due to IBD. Here are some foods that may be helpful:

  • Bananas
  • White rice
  • White bread
  • Cheese (If you are not lactose intolerant.)
  • Fruit juices
  • Applesauce
  • Smooth peanut butter
  • Bland  foods (crackers, refined pasta)
  • Plain cereal
  • Potatoes without the skin
  • Broth
  • Cooked vegetables
  • Steamed or broiled fish

Here are some things that are likely to cause you problems if you suffer from IBD.

  • Caffeine
  • Fresh fruits
  • Raw vegetables
  • High-fiber foods (fiber-rich cereals and bread)
  • Nuts
  • Leafy greens
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • High sugar foods

Other strategies include eating more frequent, smaller meals throughout the day instead of larger meals. The goal is to eliminate foods known to cause flare-ups and managing other symptoms. But what do you do if you have a flare-up?

  • Diluted juice
  • Applesauce
  • Canned fruit
  • Oatmeal
  • Plain chicken, fish, or turkey
  • Cooked eggs or egg substitute
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Plain rice or noodles
  • Sourdough or white bread

When to Talk to a GI Specialist

If you have received a diagnosis of inflammatory bowel disease, or you suspect you are suffering from it, reach out to Pinnacle GI Partners. We can connect you to a board-certified, experienced GI specialist with expertise in IBD treatment and management. If you or a loved one are experiencing IBD symptoms, contact us today!