Eating Well with Crohn’s and Colitis
Contrary to what you may think, diet does not cause inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Also, diet is not the cause of these conditions’ flare-ups. However, diet can play a role in managing the symptoms and improve quality of life, as much in the active phases of the condition as when in remission. In this article, I share how to eat well during the active phases as well as when everything is under control.
Eating well during the active phase of Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis
During the active phase of Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, the most important is to maintain adequate levels of energy, while avoiding foods that may cause severe discomforts. Emphasis should be on foods that don’t cause you any problems. Some people might tell you to avoid certain specific foods… it’s important to remember that each person is unique and is affected differently by their condition and foods. What works for one person may not work for you. Speaking of which, we will very soon publish an article evaluating the effectiveness of various diets available to you (paleo, vegetarian, low FODMAP, …)
The best advice I can give you is this: have a balanced diet that takes into account the recommendations in Canada’s Food Guide, and adapt it to your preferences. Try if possible to include at least 3 of the 4 food groups in each meal. If 3 complete meals a day seem too much, split your 3 meals into 6 smaller meal-snacks. Eating in smaller portions can increase tolerance to certain foods as well as help you digest better.
In some cases, it can be advisable to diminish fiber consumption during part of the crisis period. A dietitian can help you take stock and find solutions adapted to your needs.
Are Supplements Necessary for People with Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis?
Depending on the inflammatory bowel disease you suffer from, one or several parts of your digestive system can be inflamed, which stops, or at least reduces, the absorption of nutrients contained in foods. Depending on the state of the disease and which part of the digestive system is affected, your gastroenterologist, medical doctor or dietitian may suggest you take one or several vitamin or mineral supplements. Once again, I can’t give you specific recommendations, because inflammatory bowel disease affects each person differently. I therefore advise you to adhere to the recommendations made by these professionals.
Eating Well during Remission of an Inflammatory Bowel Disease
During remission in Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, diet should be varied and balanced. For the moment, there is no scientific evidence indicating one food or dietary additive causes a relapse for inflammatory bowel disease. Rather, a combination of genetic and environmental factors is to blame.
That said, once the condition is stable, it is the ideal moment to reintroduce foods you may have eliminated during the active phase. It’s important to only reintroduce one food at the time that way you can better understand if that food causes you problems or not. Let a few days pass before reintroducing a new one.
SOSCuisine’s meal plans for inflammatory bowel disease are ideal for the remission phase. They offer varied and balanced nutrition based on the Mediterranean diet. They also enable you to gradually increase the amount of fiber in your diet, so that you can avoid digestive discomforts (diarrhea, pain, cramps, gas, etc.) as much as possible. In addition, like with all other meal plans, you can personalise them depending on your exclusions and dietary preferences. A new meal plan, tailored precisely to your needs, will be offered to you each week.
Coming soon, two new articles on inflammatory bowel disease and nutrition; the first will review specific diets for inflammatory bowel disease. The second will examine the various supplements that are recommended and their effectiveness based on the latest scientific data.
Crohn’s and Colitis UK. (March 2016). Foods and IBS – Your Guide. Retrieved from: http://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/files.crohnsandcolitis.org.uk/Publications/food-and-IBD.pdf