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Diet for Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Care Instructions

Picture of the lower digestive system

Your Care Instructions

Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are types of inflammatory bowel disease. What you eat doesn't increase the inflammation that causes your disease. But some types of foods may make your symptoms worse.

No one diet is right for everyone with an inflammatory bowel disease. Foods that bother one person may not bother another. Your diet has to be tailored for you.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Keep a food and symptom diary. As soon as you know what foods make your symptoms worse, your doctor or dietitian can help you plan the right diet for you.
  • Eat a variety of different foods.
  • Try eating 3 meals plus 2 or 3 snacks a day. It may be easier to get more nutrition if you spread your food intake throughout the day.
  • Take vitamin and mineral supplements if your doctor or dietitian recommends them.
  • Try adding high-calorie liquid supplements, such as Ensure Plus or Boost Plus, if you have trouble eating enough, get full quickly, or have been losing weight without trying.
  • See your doctor or dietitian if your diet feels too limited or you are losing weight without trying.
  • Make sure to get enough iron. Rectal bleeding may make you lose iron.
    • Check out Iron and Your Health to learn more.
    • Visit AHS.ca and enter "iron and your health" into the search box.
  • During a flare-up, avoid or reduce foods that make symptoms worse.
    • If dairy products bother you, choose dairy products that are low in lactose, such as yogurt, lactose-reduced milk, and hard cheeses like cheddar.
    • If you have fat in your stools, they may look greasy, or you may see oil droplets in the toilet water before flushing. This means that your body is having trouble digesting the fat you eat. Choose lower-fat foods and cooking methods instead of higher-fat ones. Examples of lower-fat foods are: poultry, or fish, such as cod, low-fat dairy products, fruits, vegetables, and grains. Try baking or broiling food rather than frying or deep frying to lower the fat content.
    • Higher fibre foods make symptoms worse during flare-ups. Cook fruits and vegetables without hulls, skins or peels, or seeds to lower the fibre.
    • Try different ways of preparing fruits and vegetables, such as steaming, stewing, or baking.
    • If fruits and vegetables bother you, remove the hulls, skins or peels, seeds, or choose canned varieties.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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