Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory condition most likely to affect the small or large intestine, is notorious for outbreaks. Symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fatigue and sudden weight loss disrupt social life. Many treatment options include immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory medications, but you should customize a nutritional diet to get you through the rough patches. The first step to controlling Crohn’s disease is to work with a dietitian and adjust your diet. Ironically, although you can’t precisely eat your way out of Crohn’s, the right meal plan can help you feel better.
Scroll down to find out how to eat during remission or a flare-up. You never know. Sometimes, you can rely on these strategies to support a friend who may be going through a Crohn’s attack.
Understanding Crohn’s Disease Diet
Crohn’s disease is part of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that results in chronic inflammation of the digestive system. It occurs when the immune system considers and attacks the normal bacteria in the digestive system as foreign substances. Symptoms of Crohn’s disease vary from person to person, making it difficult to stick to certain foods or nutrition for individuals with the condition.
When left unnoticed, Crohn’s disease can seriously interfere with daily activities, adding to the aspects of pain and debilitation. However, research shows that adapting to the diet for Crohn’s disease will help restore gut health and promote overall digestive health. They include high-calorie, low-fat, well-cooked, low-salt diets.
Following the Crohn’s diet may relieve symptoms. However, since one diet plan does not work for everyone, you should experiment with your food choices and be mindful of feedback. In short, you have to eat like picky kids during a flare.
Bland foods are your best friends on the Crohn’s disease diet. Also, do not be afraid to experiment because the recovery or calm regime is very individual. Use a notebook or food diary to keep track of everything you eat and check if symptoms keep track. Finally, follow the diet slowly by trying a little at a time and see how you feel afterward.
Best foods for Crohn’s disease diet
Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet is vital for everyone, especially if you have Crohn’s disease. Here is a list of the best foods to start with that will help calm gut inflammation while meeting the body’s nutritional requirements.
- Fish, poultry and meat: Salmon, swordfish, tuna, sardines, eggs and chicken
- the fruit: Grapefruit, orange, raspberry, banana, cranberry, pineapple and apricot
- vegetables: Spinach, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, mushrooms, beets, asparagus, cucumbers, and peppers
- Fats and oils: Fish oil, flaxseed oil, olive oil, omega-3 fatty acids, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids
- Grains, Nuts and Seeds: Low-sugar plain cereal, oats, quinoa, and gluten-free bread
- Vitamins and minerals: Iron, Selenium, Calcium, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Vitamin B complex
- Probiotic foods: Yogurt, kefir, kombucha and fermented vegetables
- Other foods: Turmeric, ginger, bone broth, isoflavones, fiber, and prebiotic foods
Foods that can aggravate Crohn’s disease
No matter how conscious you are, Crohn’s tends to cause sudden flare-ups. While everyone is different, here are some food sources you should avoid to keep bloating at bay and your digestive system happy and healthy.
- Dairy productsMost dairy sources, including processed cheese and creamy foods
- Legumes and vegetables: Raw vegetables, beans, popcorn, and nightshade vegetables
- Fats and oils: Omega-6 fatty acids, corn oil, canola oil, and soybean oils
- Processed foodsFried foods, processed meats, cured meats, bacon, sausages, refined carbohydrates, processed grains, gluten products, and most hot seasonings.
- Vitamins and minerals: Sodium-rich foods
- candies: Added sugar, sweets, biscuits, cakes, cereal, corn syrup
- Other foods: Spicy foods, foods high in fat, fried foods, nuts and seeds, caffeine and alcoholic beverages.
Some fiber may be acceptable during a flare, but insoluble (hard to digest) fiber is off-limits. Therefore, peel fruits and vegetables that contain fiber, remove the seeds from them, and cook them. You may want to avoid the following while experiencing a flare:
- fatty foods
- Butter, ghee and mayonnaise
- Gas-producing foods
- Caffeine and alcohol
Active Crohn’s disease may cause difficulty absorbing nutrients and increase the risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Hence what you eat plays an important role in managing the condition. During an active flare, replace high-fiber foods with low-fiber ones, ensuring you’re eating well-cooked, skinless, seed-free and non-cruciferous products. You can also take nutritional supplements orally to meet your nutritional needs.
Crohn’s disease diet plan reference
Proper nutrition is vital for Crohn’s. Meals should be soft, easy to digest and low in fiber. Confused about how to prepare the daily diet schedule? Below are typical meal plan options for a Crohn’s disease diet for your reference.
- Early morning: Water soaked with banana/cucumber
- Breakfast: Poha vegetable / idli / vermicelli plant + egg white with pomegranate juice.
- Mid-morning: Ripe banana / cantaloupe / coconut water
- Lunch: Chapati with plain fish / chicken broth
- Evening: homemade vegetable soup
- Dinner: plain chapati / boiled rice with dal vegetables
Ways to Improve Diet Benefits for Crohn’s Disease
Keep a food journal
Keeping a food diary will help you remember specific food triggers. By tracking the intake of certain foods and symptoms simultaneously, you can identify food sources that aggravate seizures.
Engaging in mindful eating
While what you eat and what you don’t eat is a major concern, you should also focus on other eating habits. Eating small, balanced meals helps facilitate digestion and combat skin breakouts. The primary role of mindful eating is to pay attention to your body’s response to a particular food.
Active exercise regime
Along with diet and nutrition, staying active is essential to living a healthy life. A regular exercise routine will reduce symptoms of inflammation and improve conditions. It can be in any form, from simple exercises like walking and yoga to very intense practices like running or playing sports. So go straight to your personalized fitness and nutrition plan with HealthifyMe!
Relax and reduce stress
Stress is one of the major factors in modern life that affects your overall health. For example, constant stress can damage the gut microbiome, leading to flare-ups of Crohn’s or other autoimmune disorders. Hence, it is critical to reduce overall stress, which will help you feel better and increase your productivity.
good sleeping pattern
Most people with Crohn’s disease do not get 7-8 hours of regular sleep per day, which leads to serious consequences. Thus, whether it is an afternoon nap or a good night’s sleep, make sure that you get enough hours of sleep, focusing on the quality of your sleep pattern.
drink a lot of water
Drinking plenty of water helps you stay hydrated and maintain your overall health. Other healthy options are bone broth, kombucha, soaked water, coconut water, and probiotics to relieve symptoms.
Practice deep breathing for a few minutes each day to reduce muscle tension and ease muscle cramps. Additionally, managing stress in this way with deep breathing will help manage Crohn’s disease symptoms.
There are no one-size-fits-all diet plans for Crohn’s disease because it is an autoimmune disorder that affects each patient differently. In general, come up with a diet that avoids processed foods that cause IBD. The goal is to discover foods that make your symptoms go away and to eat more foods that are important to your overall health and may help you feel better. Then, when you’re in a calm state, feed your body with whole grains, vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, lean meats, fish, beans, and eggs. Combining the optimal diet plan with a regular exercise routine will help you prevent flare-ups and reverse the effects of Crohn’s disease, control the root cause and improve your overall health.