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Creating a Crohn's disease diet plan

There is no cure for Crohn's disease, but some people find that avoiding certain foods can help prevent the disease from flaring-up.

With Crohn's disease, the small intestine can be inflamed, making it hard to digest and absorb key nutrients from food. The lack of sufficient nutrients, along with a poor appetite, can lead to malnutrition.

There is no evidence to confirm that diet plays a role in Crohn's disease, but seek medical advice about dietary changes that may help.

While eliminating some foods may be beneficial, it is important to still eat regular meals and have a healthy, balanced diet to ensure the body gets the nutrients it needs.

Which foods should I avoid with a Crohn's disease diet plan?

The foods that trigger symptoms differ for each person with Crohn's disease. To know which foods to leave out of your diet plan, you'll need to determine which foods trigger yours. Keeping a symptom diary can help identify trigger foods. Many people with Crohn's disease find that the foods on the following list aggravate symptoms during disease flare-ups. So it's likely that at least some of these listed foods will trigger your symptoms:

  • Alcohol
  • Milk and dairy products
  • Spicy food
  • Fatty food
  • High- fibre foods

Once you've identified foods that cause your symptoms to flare up, you can choose either to avoid them or to learn new ways of preparing them that will make them tolerable. To do that, you'll need to experiment with various foods and methods of preparation to see what works best for you. For instance, if certain raw vegetables trigger a flare up, you don't necessarily need to give them up. You may find that steaming them, boiling them, or stewing will allow you to eat them without increased GI symptoms. If red meat increases fat in the stools, you could try eating minced sirloin to see if you can tolerate a leaner cut of beef. Or you might decide to rely on low-fat poultry without skin and fish as your main sources of protein. Seek a registered dietitian's advice about healthy eating with Crohn's disease.

Is a low-residue diet a Crohn's treatment diet?

A low-residue diet is one that's low in specific foods that add residue to the stool. Many individuals with small- bowel Crohn's disease have a narrowing or stricture of the lower small intestine (the ileum). For them, a low-fibre with low-residue diet can help lessen abdominal pain, cramping and diarrhoea. And while scientific proof is lacking, this diet may also help decrease frequency of bowel movements for some people. Foods that may be recommended to avoid on a low-residue diet may include:

  • Corn hulls
  • Nuts
  • Raw fruit
  • Seeds
  • Vegetables

Seek a registered dietitian's advice about a low-residue diet for Crohn's disease.

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