10 Foods to Eat During a Crohn's Flare-Up
While eating certain foods can’t cure Crohn’s Disease, the proper diet can have a profound effect on your gastrointestinal tract.
Foods That May Help Ease Crohn’s Symptoms
The foods that you put into your body can have an impact on the severity of your Crohn’s symptoms. Crohn’s patients identify various foods as triggers, and others as foods that help ease symptoms. However, both triggers and “power foods” are highly variable and individual in their expression—what works for one person might not work for someone else, or might even make symptoms worse.
In this slideshow, we overview some foods that Crohn’s patients have reported benefits from. By eating one or more of these foods during a flare-up, you may be able to reduce symptoms and lead a more pain-free life. We can’t guarantee success, but these are certainly worth investigation.
Live-culture yogurt can be a great food to eat if you suffer from Crohn’s disease. The probiotics in this form of yogurt can help in aiding with recovery of the intestine (CCFA, 2004). You may want to avoid yogurts, however, if you find you have trouble with digestion of dairy proteins, as this can make Crohn’s-associated diarrhea and gas symptoms worse.
Oily fish such as salmon, tuna, and herring may help with some of your Crohn’s symptoms (Cleveland Clinic, 2009). Certain types of both contain omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory properties and may help reduce the inflammation that causes the worst of your symptoms (Simopoulos, 2002).
Fruits & Vegetables
A diet containing plenty of fruits and vegetables can help make symptoms less severe (UMMC, 2010). If, however, you find that raw fruits exacerbate a flare-up, give unsweetened applesauce and bananas a try. Both are good for you and can fulfill your craving for healthy sweetness.
For many Crohn’s patients, carrots can be a great vegetable for getting your fill of nutrients without aggravating symptoms. During a Crohn’s flare-up, be sure to cook the carrots until they’re soft and tender, as cooked carrots aren’t only easy to digest, but they also contain antioxidants that may help with Crohn’s symptoms (Aghdassi et al., 2003).
Cheese can be a great way to put calcium back into your diet without having to get it from milk. As was mentioned earlier, dairy products such as cheese can be hard on digestion for some Crohn’s patients. Certain cheeses have reduced amounts of lactose, including Swiss and cheddar. Greasy foods containing cheese, however, are best avoided in order to reduce likelihood of diarrhea and gas symptoms (NIH, 2012).
You may want to skip the high-fiber potato skins, as they are likely to aggravate inflammation, but the insides of potatoes can be great to eat during a Crohn’s flare-up. Like bananas, potatoes provide a great source of potassium, and can potentially help your body maintain its balance of fluids while you’re battling inflammation (Linus Pauling Institute, 2010).
If you suffer from Crohn’s, you may find it helpful to avoid cereals that are high in fiber, especially whole-wheat or whole-grain cereals. However, there are certain cereals with low amounts of fiber that will help you get your nutritional requirements. These include refined cereals, such as Cream of Wheat, and dry cereals such as Special K, Corn Flakes, and Rice Krispies (Mayo Clinic, 2011; NIH, 2012).
High-calorie liquid nutritional formulas, such as those produced by Ensure, can potentially be great for use during a Crohn’s flare-up (NDDIC, 2011). These shakes, which come in a variety of palatable flavors, are packed with the nutrients you may be missing by having to avoid certain foods that you find aggravate symptoms. This can help boost your energy level and strengthen your immune system, which will help restore your body’s natural balance. If you’re dealing with a need to gain weight, there are formulas that can help you regain any weight you may have lost. It should be noted that Ensure contains dairy, however, which may not agree with certain Crohn’s patients.
Low-Fiber Foods and More
If you’re looking for a way to potentially decrease your Crohn’s symptoms through diet, look for low-fiber and soluble fiber foods, which tend to be easier on the digestive system. You may want to take vitamin supplements during this time in order to ensure that you’re getting the nutrition you need to fight inflammation (Mayo Clinic, 2011).
You should consult with your healthcare provider about decisions regarding your diet or taking vitamins and supplements. Your provider may refer you to a dietitian to help with planning out your meals (NDDIC, 2011).