Crohn’s Diet Plan

Quincy AdamDiet, UC Diet, UC Lifestyle

Fish and Rice
If you or a loved one suffers from Crohn’s disease, you’re probably already aware that what you eat can affect those symptoms.

So what to do about diet? While dietary changes can help reduce symptoms, there is no evidence that any single diet plan provides results for all patients. Creating the optimal Crohn’s diet plan is a very individualized process. However, there are some general dietary guidelines may help Crohn’s patients.

Using Diet to Help Manage Crohn’s Disease Symptoms

General dietary guidelines for Crohn’s disease patients involve limiting foods that may trigger gastrointestinal symptoms while maintaining healthy nutrition. This aids in controlling intestinal inflammation and protecting overall health.

Step One: Identifying Your Triggers

Finding your optimal Crohn’s diet starts with tracking food/symptom interactions. Record what you’re eating every day in a food diary, and write down how you feel after eating each food. This can help you and your doctor identify which foods aggravate your symptoms.

Your food diary should include how much you eat, which means measuring your portions. Be careful to include all the details, such as dressings, condiments, and spices, as well as snacks and drinks.

Trigger foods vary greatly from one patient to another, but there a number of foods that have been shown to aggravate Crohn’s symptoms in many people.1 These include:

  • Alcohol
  • Dairy products – especially if lactose intolerance is an issue
  • Fried foods
  • Butter, margarine, and oils
  • Raw fruits and vegetables
  • High fiber foods, such as whole grain cereals, breads and pastas
  • Caffeine

Step Two: Formulating an Effective Crohn’s Diet Plan

Once you have a sense of what foods trigger symptoms, you can avoid or eliminate them from your diet. This may help reduce your symptoms and also give inflamed intestines a chance to heal. However, it is important to remember that balanced nutrition is an important part of managing Crohn’s disease. This is especially critical for Crohn’s patient who have experienced malnutrition, either due to poor appetite or impaired nutrient absorption.

To maintain healthy nutrition, it is essential to replace the calories, proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients once provided by those foods you’ve cut out of your diet. For instance:

  • Grains: If you need to eliminate whole grain products, substituting white rice for brown, white bread for whole wheat, and refined pasta for whole grain noodles can give you the calories and nutrients you need with less risk of symptoms.
  • Veggies: Increasing your intake of steamed or boiled vegetables can help replace the vitamins and minerals you’ll lose by limiting raw vegetables in your diet.
  • Oils: and eating oily fish, like tuna, salmon and mackerel and adding olive oil to your diet can help replace fats lost by cutting out margarine and butter.

Working with your doctor or a nutritionist as you eliminate trigger foods can help you find suitable, nutrient-dense alternatives to those foods. Your food diary can help there too, giving you and your doctor an overall picture of which essential nutrients you’re getting and which may be lacking in your daily diet.

Last, but certainly not least, is an important caution. Crohn’s disease is a complex medical condition that can affect virtually all aspects of health and well-being. Maintaining healthy nutrition is important to good health management. For that reason, making changes to your diet for the purpose of controlling Crohn’s disease symptoms is a task that requires medical supervision. You’ll need to work with your doctor to ensure that your nutritional status is monitored carefully as you transition to your Crohn’s diet. Working with a trained professional will ensure that any nutritional gaps are detected and addressed before those deficits impact your health.

1 Creating a Crohn’s Disease Diet Plan. WebMd web site. Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on August 29, 2013. [Accessed March 26, 2015].