Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Diet

  • 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.

What Is Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)?

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a term that includes a group of diseases that cause chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal (GI, digestive) tract. The two most common types of inflammatory bowel disease are Crohn's disease (Crohn disease) and ulcerative colitis (UC). In Crohn's disease, the inflammation appears in patches anywhere in the GI tract from the mouth to the anus. In ulcerative colitis, there is chronic inflammation and sores (ulcers) that are continuous along the small intestine and colon.

What Is an Inflammatory Bowel Disease Diet Plan?

There is no special diet that is recommended for treating inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), but some people with Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis manage symptoms with dietary changes and a low-residue or low-fiber diet that includes:

  • Eating smaller and more frequent meals
  • Taking vitamins and other nutritional supplements
  • Avoiding problem or trigger foods such as fatty and fried foods, meats, spicy foods, diary, and fiber-rich foods because they often trigger symptoms of bloating, diarrhea, and abdominal pain and cramping.

People with Crohn’s disease may have difficulty tolerating dairy products because of intolerance to milk (lactose intolerance). They also are more prone to nutritional deficiencies because of the lack of nutrient absorption in the intestine. If you have IBD, discuss any dietary changes with your doctor, registered dietitian, nutritionist, or other health care professional.

Foods to Avoid in an IBD Diet

Some people with inflammatory bowel disease, for example, Crohn's ulcerative colitis, find that certain foods or products trigger flares, which worsens the disease. Examples of foods to avoid if you have IBD include:

  • Fatty, fried foods
  • Spicy foods
  • Meats
  • Creamy sauces
  • High-fiber foods including raw fruits and vegetables
  • Nuts, seeds, and beans
  • Caffeinated beverages
  • Sweets including candy, soda, and juice
  • Alcohol

Foods to Include in an IBD Diet

People with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis often find it difficult to get their daily nutritional needs because of their disease. Vitamins and other nutritional supplements can help provide some of the necessary nutritional needs to people with IBD.

A low-residue diet can relieve flare-ups. Include foods that are soft and bland, for example:

  • Applesauce
  • Bananas
  • Oatmeal
  • Lean poultry or fish, plain
  • Eggs
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Canned fruit
  • Rice
  • Noodles
  • White bread
  • Diluted juices
  • Plain cereals

Talk with a doctor, nutritionist, dietician, or other health care professional about your specific dietary needs if you have inflammatory bowel disease.


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