Ulcerative Colitis Diet Plan

  • Medical Author:
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

  • Medical Editor: Bhupinder S. Anand, MBBS, MD, DPHIL (OXON)
    Bhupinder S. Anand, MBBS, MD, DPHIL (OXON)

    Bhupinder S. Anand, MBBS, MD, DPHIL (OXON)

    Dr. Anand received MBBS degree from Medical College Amritsar, University of Punjab. He completed his Internal Medicine residency at the Postgraduate Institute of medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India. He was trained in the field of Gastroenterology and obtained the DPhil degree. Dr. Anand is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology.

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Quick GuideUlcerative Colitis Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Ulcerative Colitis Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

19 trigger foods to avoid with an ulcerative colitis diet plan

Dietary choices do not cause ulcerative colitis, but certain foods can trigger and worsen symptoms. Learning to identify trigger foods can help reduce the frequency and severity of ulcerative colitis symptoms. Not all people with ulcerative colitis have the same triggers, but a list of some of the most common include:

  1. Alcohol can stimulate the intestine, triggering diarrhea. Some people tolerate alcohol better than others.
  2. Caffeine, found in coffee, tea, chocolate, and energy drinks, is a stimulant and can speed up the transit time in the colon, leading to more frequent trips to the bathroom.
  3. Carbonated beverages including sodas and beer contain carbonation that can irritate the digestive tract, and cause gas. Many contain sugar, caffeine, or artificial sweeteners, which can also be ulcerative colitis triggers.
  4. Dairy products should be avoided if you are lactose intolerant, as they can cause symptoms similar to ulcerative colitis. Not everyone with ulcerative colitis is lactose intolerant.
  5. Dried beans, peas, and legumes are all high in fiber and can increase bowel movements, abdominal cramping, and gas. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, you can try these foods in small amounts, or pureed to see if they do not trigger symptoms.
  6. Dried fruits, berries, fruits with pulp or seeds are other foods high in fiber that can trigger ulcerative colitis symptoms.
  7. Foods containing sulfur or sulfate can cause excess gas production. Sulfate may be found in many foods, including beer, wine, some juices, dairy milk, eggs, cheese, dates, dried apples and apricots, almonds, wheat pasta, breads, peanuts, cruciferous vegetables, raisins, prunes, red meat, and some supplements.
  8. High fiber foods, including whole-grains, can increase bowel movements, abdominal cramping, and gas.
  9. Meats, especially fatty meats, can trigger ulcerative colitis symptoms. Excess fat may not be properly absorbed during a flare, and this can make symptoms worse. Red meat can be high in sulfate, which triggers gas.
  10. Nuts and crunchy nut butters, and seeds that are not ground up (such as in smooth peanut butter or tahini) can cause worsening abdominal cramping, bloating, and diarrhea. During a flare, even tiny fruit seeds (such as those in strawberries or in jams) may trigger symptoms.
  11. Popcorn is another high fiber, bulky food that is not completely digested by the small intestine and can trigger diarrhea and bowel movement urgency.
  12. Sugar alcohols (such as sorbitol and mannitol) are found in sugar-free gum and candies, some ice creams, and some fruits and fruit juices (apples, pears, peaches, and prunes) and can cause diarrhea, bloating, and gas in some people.
  13. Chocolate contains caffeine and sugar, both of which can irritate the digestive tract and cause cramping and more frequent bowel movements.
  14. Vegetables, especially raw vegetables, are high in fiber and can be difficult to digest, causing bloating, gas, and abdominal cramps. This is particularly true for stringy vegetables such as broccoli, celery, cabbage, onions, and Brussels sprouts. Many people with ulcerative colitis also find it hard to digest corn and mushrooms because they are hard to digest to begin with.
  15. Refined sugar can pull more water into the gut and cause diarrhea.
  16. Spicy foods, hot sauces, and pepper can cause diarrhea in many people, and in someone with ulcerative colitis experiencing a flare spicy hot foods may trigger or worsen symptoms.
  17. Gluten, found in wheat, rye, barley, and some oats, can trigger symptoms similar to ulcerative colitis in people who have gluten sensitivity.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/6/2016

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  • Ulcerative Colitis Diet - Type of Diet

    What type of diet plan do you follow to avoid ulcerative colitis flares, and soothe symptoms?

  • Ulcerative Colitis Diet - Trigger Foods

    What foods or drinks trigger your ulcerative colitis flares?

  • Ulcerative Colitis Diet - Soothing Foods

    What foods have you found to be soothing when your ulcerative colitis is active?

  • Ulcerative Colitis Diet - Other Triggers

    What other things have you found that trigger your ulcerative colitis flares, for example, stress, medications (prescription or OTC), herbal products or supplements, etc.?


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