Research shows that nutrition can’t cause or cure ulcerative colitis. There are no foods that can cause someone to develop ulcerative colitis, and there is no miracle diet that will cure people of the condition. However, good nutrition does play an important role in the management of ulcerative colitis symptoms, especially during a flare.
Ulcerative colitis flare-ups are uncomfortable and frustrating. Pain, bloating, cramping, fatigue, rectal bleeding, and diarrhea are common symptoms during flare-ups. If you’re in the midst of the flare, changes in your diet can help control your symptoms and allow your intestine time to heal. If you have a flare…
- Bland is better. When in the midst of a flare, nix spicy foods. Applesauce, ripe bananas, peanut butter, avocado, white rice, oatmeal, hard boiled eggs, and refined or enriched breads and pastas are all easy-to-digest foods that you may want to put on the menu.
- Limit fiber intake. High-fiber foods like nuts, seeds, raw fruits and veggies, and whole grains can be tough to digest so avoid these foods during a flare. Seeds like sunflower seeds are obvious and easy to omit, but remember other sources of seeds like berries, smoothies, jams, or yogurts with fruit.
- Cook vegetables. Vegetables can be hard to digest, especially veggies like celery, onion, broccoli, or cabbage. Avoid raw vegetables. Well-cooked carrots, string beans, or sweet potatoes are a safe veggie option. If you boil vegetables, reuse the water to cook rice to recapture some of the lost nutrients.
- Hydrate. The diarrhea that often occurs during an ulcerative colitis flare can cause fluid loss. Water is your best option to replenish fluids. Sugary, carbonated, alcoholic or caffeinated beverages can make symptoms worse. Sip beverages instead of gulping because gulping introduces air to the digestive system, which can cause discomfort.
- Eat small meals often. Many people with ulcerative colitis find that smaller meals are easier to tolerate. Rather than the traditional 3 large meals a day, eat five small means every three or four hours.
- De-stress. Stress doesn’t cause ulcerative colitis but it can worsen and maybe even trigger flare-ups. Mild exercise like walking, biking, or swimming can relieve tension and keep bowels moving regularly.
- Keep a food diary. A record of what you eat is handy for identifying troublesome foods.
While carefully watching what you eat can help ease symptoms of ulcerative colitis, there are very few treatments for ulcerative colitis currently available. Participating in research is one of the best ways to actively search for a cure. Research helps increase the understanding of ulcerative colitis and trial new treatment options. If you or a loved one has ulcerative colitis, fill out the form below to learn more about a clinical trial that you may qualify for.