A well-balanced diet is essential for overall health, but for those suffering from Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis, your eating habits can make or break a potential disease related problem.
By now you may already know the foods and beverages that you should avoid-- A Beginner's Guide to Food Journaling. But even the most diligent of eaters can still be susceptible to the occasional flare. Being mindful of our eating, especially during flares, has a lot to do with being kind to our bodies and making sure we don’t add any extra, unnecessary stress to an already inflamed system.
Here are 7 diet tips that may help with the severity and longevity of your next flare:
Eat Smaller, More Frequent Meals
Eating smaller meals more frequently makes digestion, and expulsion, much easier on the body.
Lactose is a common issue for many Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis patients. It’s important to avoid this major stressor to give your system time to heal without inciting further inflammation.
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Cut the Sugar
Sugar and artificial sweeteners are other common culprits that can worsen inflammation in the body. Sugars and artificial sweeteners are often poorly absorbed, leaving them to create issues with gas and worsen diarrhea. Try swapping white sugar for a natural honey or agave syrup.
Drink your Fluids post Meal
It’s important to stay hydrated and sip fluids throughout the day; however, when it comes to mealtime, skip the fluids until after your meal. Drinking fluids during a meal may cause an increased chance of diarrhea.
Reduce Fats and Raw Vegetables
Fats and raw vegetables are harder to digest and can put your intestinal tract into overdrive, making you that much more uncomfortable during a flare. You may have an easier time digesting cooked, steamed, pureed, or peeled foods.
Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine
Major stimulants like alcohol and caffeine can make diarrhea worse by stimulating your intestines and colon. Trade in your morning coffee fix for a herbal, caffeine-free tea.
Follow a Low FODMAP Diet
An acronym for Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, Polyols; FODMAP are a long list of short chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols that are poorly absorbed by the body, resulting in abdominal pain and bloating. A low FODMAP diet is a short-term solution to decrease inflammation in the body, giving your gut bacteria time to correct any imbalances.
The diet itself lasts anywhere from 3-8 weeks and begins with eliminating all FODMAP foods. After a ‘reset’ period of approximately 3 weeks, you enter a ‘reintroduction plan’ or ‘rechallenge phase’ where you introduce one FODMAP food at a time into your diet. For example, adding fructose back into your diet for a week, if no unpleasant symptoms occur, then you add in lactose the next week and so on. Try a low FODMAP diet here.
There are many ways to manage your Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis, being mindful of your diet and implementing minor changes during a flare can make managing the symptoms easier. To assist your healthy eating for ongoing stability, consider incorporating ongoing supplements, probiotics and Omega-3 fatty acids.
Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis affect each person differently, so diet changes will also affect people differently, what can be helpful for one may not be helpful for another. Learn more about supplementing your current medication with a diet-based.