Eating can be tricky when you have ulcerative colitis. Some foods can trigger symptoms, so you’ll need to be mindful of getting the right nutrients. Big meals and foods that are high in fiber, sugar, or fat may be hard for your body to digest.
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 must be careful about how much and what foods you eat. 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.
A 2014 study suggested that female participants with ulcerative colitis didn’t get enough calcium. Calcium deficiency increases the risk of osteoporosis. Yogurt is rich in minerals, which helps keep your bones strong.
If lactose stirs up your ulcerative colitis symptoms, try 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. You can top it 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.
However, everyone is different, so hummus could still be a triggering food for some. Start with about 1/4 cup of hummus with 2 ounces (oz.) of pita chips, and see how you feel.
Hummus is also high in healthy unsaturated fat. The right types of dietary fat can help you regain any weight you might have lost during an ulcerative colitis flare.
You should avoid high fiber whole wheat chips if you’re in the middle of a flare. Instead, try dipping with pretzels or pita chips.
If hummus is well tolerated, you may want to try a small serving of 1/4 cup of roasted chickpeas. 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 (tsp.) 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 often lack sufficient potassium.
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 cornflakes 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 a good calcium source.
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? Try cheese sticks instead of blocks.
Smooth almond or other nut butter is rich in filling protein. You may want to 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 have about
In addition, most people don’t eat a whole artichoke in a dip, so a small amount should be well tolerated even with higher fiber content.
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?
These drinks are high in protein, vitamins and minerals, and calories. They’re an easy way to make up for any gaps in your diet.
Spinach, bananas, chickpeas, smooth nut butter, melons, and low fiber bread 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, and 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.