If you have Crohn’s, you can probably relate. In fact, you may not feel like eating anything at all. However, skipping meals isn’t an option, since good nutrition is a very important aspect of managing Crohn’s.
So what should you eat when your Crohn’s symptoms are active? Much like trigger foods—ones that irritate the digestive tract to trigger symptoms—the answer to that question can vary from one person to another, but there are some foods that many people have found helpful in soothing Crohn’s flare-ups. These include:
- Live Culture Yogurt: Yogurt contains probiotics (live bacteria that are beneficial to the digestive system) that can help the intestine recover from the inflammation and injury that occurs during a flare-up. However, people who also suffer with lactose intolerance may not find yogurt soothing, since their inability to digest dairy proteins can worsen symptoms like gas and diarrhea.
- Oily Fish: These include fish like mackerel, tuna, salmon and herring, and are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which may help soothe symptoms by fighting intestinal inflammation.
- White Pasta: Easily digestible foods are the key to reducing the misery of Crohn’s flare-ups, and regular white pasta fits the bill. Tossing it with a little olive oil can help too, since olive oil, like fish oil, has anti-inflammatory properties.
- Some Cooked Cereals: Cream of wheat and cream of rice cereals are low-fiber options that are easy on an inflamed digestive tract. For those who can tolerate dairy, preparing it with low-fat milk can add calcium and protein for better nutritional value.
- Some Cold Cereals: Cereals with low fiber content can be easy on the digestive tract when symptoms flare, such as corn flakes, crispy rice and puffed rice cereals.
- Some Fruits: Fruits are chock full of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that can help soothe Crohn’s symptoms. However, during a flare-up, sticking with cooked fruits, like unsweetened apple sauce, or easily digestible ones, like ripe bananas and papayas may be best. Most raw or dried fruits—especially those with seeds—can worsen symptoms.
- Some Vegetables: Like fruits, vegetables are loaded with nutrients that can help the intestines recover from flare-ups. Soothing, low-fiber options include soft-cooked carrots, green beans, yellow squash without the seeds and potatoes without the skin.
- Liquid Meal Replacement Products: These products are high in calories, packed with nutrients and easy on the digestive system. However, since most contain milk or milk proteins, they may not be a suitable option for people who are lactose intolerant.
Eating the widest possible variety of foods that you can tolerate—even during a flare-up—is essential to good nutrition. This provides your body with the nutrients it needs to heal and recover from Crohn’s symptoms and maintain overall health and well-being. Additionally, you might find that some of these foods, while well-tolerated in most cases, don’t agree with you. Since all Crohn’s patient are different, finding a diet that works to soothe your flare-ups will likely be an exercise in trial and error.
Before making any dietary changes, talk with your doctor. He or she will take into consideration any medications you’re taking as well as your overall health.