Yesterday I talked about the definition of Crohn’s disease, today I want to talk about the foods that help and hurt the disease. I have stated before that I believe our diet plays a big role in how we feel and reducing our flares when we have autoimmune disorders. If you have Crohn’s disease, you probably have found that certain foods trigger your intestinal symptoms, especially when the disease flares. Learning to avoid these food triggers may allow you to self-manage your Crohn’s disease, reduce gastrointestinal symptoms, and promote intestinal healing.
Here is a link to a great resource: Diet, Nutrition and Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
It’s possible that at least some of these listed foods will trigger your symptoms:
- alcohol (mixed drinks, beer, wine)
- butter, mayonnaise, margarine, oils
- carbonated beverages
- coffee, tea, chocolate
- corn husks
- dairy products (if lactose intolerant)
- fatty foods (fried foods)
- foods high in fiber
- gas-producing foods (lentils, beans, legumes, cabbage, broccoli, onions)
- nuts and seeds (peanut butter, other nut butters)
- raw fruits
- raw vegetables
- red meat and pork
- spicy foods
- whole grains and bran
Is a low-residue diet a Crohn’s treatment diet?
A low-residue diet is one that’s low in specific foods that add residue to the stool. Many individuals with small-bowel Crohn’s disease have a narrowing or stricture of the lower small intestine (the ileum). For them, a low-fiber with low-residue diet can help lessen abdominal pain, cramping, and diarrhea. And while scientific proof is lacking, this diet may also help decrease frequency of bowel movements for some people. Foods to avoid on a low-residue diet may include:
- corn hulls
- raw fruits
Be careful with high-fiber foods, including raw fruits and vegetables
For some people suffering from Crohn’s, consuming high amounts of fiber, especially from raw fruits and vegetables, can be too difficult for their compromised systems to handle. Don’t skip your fruits and veggies altogether however, just eat them cooked whenever possible. Some Crohn’s sufferers have trouble with foods in the cabbage family (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc.), nuts, seeds, corn and popcorn. Keeping a food diary can help you see what works and what doesn’t for your particular case of Crohn’s. This way you don’t eliminate a healthy food (for example broccoli) unnecessarily in your Crohn’s disease diet if you don’t actually need to.
Eat smaller meals
If you want to avoid a Crohn’s disease flare-up, it’s best to stop overloading your body with over-sized meals. By eating smaller meals you put less stress on the gastrointestinal tract, which can help reduce some Crohn’s symptoms like bloating, gas and cramping. You can try eating smaller meals more often throughout the day, rather than 2-3 big meals, to help with absorption of nutrients, improving energy and controlling symptoms.