Eating can be tricky when you have ulcerative colitis. Some foods can trigger symptoms. You also have to be mindful that you get enough of the right nutrients.
Inflammation in your intestines can make it harder for your body to absorb vitamins and minerals from the foods you eat. You can also lose nutrients from vomiting and diarrhea.
Ulcerative colitis may make you less interested in eating. Nausea and taste changes caused by the disease or its treatments can dampen your appetite. That makes it harder to get the calories you need each day.
When you’re in an active flare, you also need to be careful about how much and what types of foods you eat. Big meals and foods that are high in fiber, sugar, or fat may be hard for your body to digest.
Small meals or snacks every few hours may go down easier than three big meals a day. If you’re not sure what to eat, try these 10 ideas for ulcerative colitis-friendly snacks.
Yogurt is a good source of probiotics. These friendly bacteria help your gut run more smoothly. Make sure the yogurt you buy says “live and active cultures” on the label. That means it contains probiotics.
Studies suggest that female patients with ulcerative colitis don’t get enough calcium. Calcium deficiency increases the risk of osteoporosis. Yogurt is rich in the mineral, which helps keep your bones strong.
If lactose stirs up your ulcerative colitis symptoms, choose one of the many lactose-free yogurt varieties available.
Top tart yogurt with sliced melon. This ulcerative colitis-friendly food introduces a hint of sweetness without adding too much sugar.
Whole-grain foods are a good source of fiber, which normally helps reduce constipation and supports overall health. The high levels of fiber in whole grains may be hard to digest during an ulcerative colitis flare.
Potato or sourdough bread is usually easier to tolerate for people with ulcerative colitis. Top with scrambled eggs for a good source of protein.
Add sautéed spinach for a healthy dose of iron.
This chickpea-based dip packs in a lot of plant-based protein, iron, and folate. Chickpeas are usually well tolerated during ulcerative colitis flares, even though they’re a good source of fiber.
Hummus is also high in healthy unsaturated fat. The right types of dietary fat can help you gain back any weight you might have lost during an ulcerative colitis flare.
You should also avoid high fiber whole-wheat chips if you’re in the middle of a flare. Use pretzels or pita chips for dipping instead.
These versatile legumes are loaded with protein, folate, iron, and a type of soluble fiber called raffinose. Bacteria produce the fatty acid butyrate in your digestive tract when they break down this fiber.
Butyrate helps bring down inflammation in the colon.
To make this crunchy treat, toss one can of chickpeas in 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Dust with a little bit of garlic powder.
Place the coated chickpeas on an oiled cookie sheet. Brown them in the oven at 350°F (177°C) for about 45 minutes.
Bananas are high on the list of healthy foods if you’re in an ulcerative colitis flare. They’re easy to digest and rich in potassium. People with irritable bowel disorders, like ulcerative colitis, are often deficient in this mineral.
Blend one cup of low fat milk with one cup of yogurt, a ripe banana, and ice. Choose a dairy-free alternative if you’re sensitive to lactose. You’ll get a filling and nutritious snack that you can take with you on the go.
High fiber bran and wheat cereals could set off a bout of diarrhea and other ulcerative colitis symptoms. But you don’t have to cross cereal off the snack list. It’s still a good source of vitamins and minerals.
You do want to choose your cereal wisely, though. Lower fiber options like corn flakes and rice puffs are easier on your gut.
Yogurt is often easier on your gut if lactose causes ulcerative colitis symptoms. Or opt for a dairy alternative like soy or rice milk. Top your bowl of cereal with sliced bananas to ramp up the nutrition.
This snack is perfect in its simplicity. Cheese is high in protein and fat and is a good source of calcium.
Hard cheese is lower in lactose than other dairy products. It may be easier to digest than soft cheeses like cream cheese.
Need a snack that travels well? Buy cheese sticks instead of blocks.
Smooth almond and other nut butters are rich in filling protein. Just opt for the creamy varieties, which are easier to digest than whole nut bits.
Spread the nut butter onto a pita or tortilla. Top with banana slices for potassium and roll up. You can take this portable snack with you on the go.
This easy-to-make dip will help you sneak in your daily veggie servings. Artichokes are a low fiber food that’s generally safe for people with ulcerative colitis. They’re also a prebiotic. That means they feed the good bacteria in the gut and may support colonic health.
Combine one can of artichoke hearts and a package of chopped spinach with low fat yogurt and shredded cheddar cheese.
Pour the mixture into a casserole dish. Then bake at 350°F (177°C) for 20 to 25 minutes. Serve with sliced carrots and cucumbers for dipping.
Don’t feel like preparing a snack? One easy solution is to buy a ready-made nutritional shake like Boost or Ensure.
These drinks are high in protein, vitamins and minerals, and calories. They’re an easy way to make up for any shortfalls in your diet.
Spinach, bananas, chickpeas, smooth nut butters, melons, and low fiber breads and cereals are healthy foods that are generally easy on your gut if you have ulcerative colitis. But you don’t need to limit yourself to the snacks on this list. Ask your doctor and dietitian what other foods might be a good fit for your nutritional needs.
Play around with different combinations of foods to see which ones you like and can easily digest. Keep a diary. Note when your symptoms appear and what you were eating at the time. Share it with your doctor to help fine-tune your menu for both meals and snacks.