Diet is thought to be both a main contributor of Crohn’s and colitis as well as one of the best natural treatments for these conditions. While no single dietary factor has been found to make IBD worse, several dietary factors could play roles in causing both the onset of the disease and in triggering flare ups of the disease. Although no single factor has been identified as a cure for IBD, there are many foods that seem to help minimize, reduce, and (in some cases) eliminate some of the symptoms.
The Best Diet
It is important to point out that while it may sound appealing to be able to reduce your symptoms simply by changing what you eat or how you prepare it, you must always exercise caution and consult with your medical team before trying any medical advice that you discover. As of the date of this publication, there are no one-size-fits-all cure-all diets. One diet that seems to help another person with Crohn's or colitis might make you sicker. On the other hand, a diet that others claim to make things worse for them may not affect you at all. Just because something has been written doesn't make it scientifically proven or right for you. Always look for reliable, evidence-based advice and then still run them by your physician or dietician before trying them yourself.
Function of Nutrition
Nutrition plays a major role in everyone’s health. For people with IBD, nutrition may help them by simply maintaining their general health, both when the disease is active and when it is in remission. Good nutrition can go a long way to preventing long-term complications and by helping to heal wounds and aid in immunity. Although the exact nutritional needs may vary from person to person, there are a few common dietary guidelines and rules that people with Crohn’s or colitis can follow to try to manage their symptoms (both preventing and reducing).
If your IBD is under control, and your physician agrees, you may not need to make any dietary modifications whatsoever. As long as you are eating a wide variety of the foods recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide you all of the nutrient that your body needs, and you feel good, you probably don’t need to (or want to) make any major changes to your diet.
However, if you are experiencing symptoms, you might want to consider making a few minor adjustments to your regular diet that could help with the miserable, and sometimes painful, symptoms, such as cramps, diarrhea, gas, and bloating. Never make any major changes that might compromise your nutritional status and choose a diet that allows you to maintain your ideal weight and energy levels and that you actually enjoy consuming.
Consult with your dietician before trying any of the following recipes and adjust serving sizes or ingredients accordingly:
- 3 cups of non-dairy milk
- 1 cup of quick-cooking rolled oats
- 2 tbsp packed brown sugar or pure maple syrup
- 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
- 2 tsp wheat germ, toasted
- 1 tsp margarine or butter
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- Pinch of salt
- ⅓ cup of nuts, raisins, or berries
In a large saucepan, over medium-low heat, combine milk, oats, brown sugar, flaxseed, wheat germ, margarine, cinnamon, and salt. Cook, stirring often, for 10 to 15 minutes or until thick and bubbly. Remove from heat; let stand for 2 minutes. Add raisins, nuts, or fruit.
Applesauce Snack Cakes
- ½ cup butter or margarine
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground allspice
- ½ tsp ground cloves
- 2 cups unsweetened applesauce
- In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar.
- Beat in eggs and vanilla until light and fluffy..
- Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and spices.
- Add creamed mixture alternately with applesauce, mixing well after each addition.
- Spoon into prepared muffin cups, filling each about two-thirds of the way full.
- Bake in preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until firm to the touch.
Carrot and Ginger Soup
- 3 cups water
- 2 cloves of crushed garlic
- 4 cups of sliced carrots
- ½ cup of chopped onion
- 1 tbsp vegetable bouillon powder
- 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
- ½ tsp grated ginger root
- 1 ½ cups milk
- In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add garlic, carrots, onion, bouillon powder, maple syrup, curry powder and ginger; return to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 40 -45 minutes or until carrots are tender. Remove from heat.
- Working in batches, transfer soup to blender and puree on high speed until smooth.
- Return soup to saucepan and add milk.
- Heat over low heat (do not boil or milk will curdle).
Smoked Turkey Tossed Salad
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp liquid honey
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
- 8 cups thinly sliced romaine lettuce
- 4 oz thinly sliced smoked or cooked turkey breast (sliced into strips)
- 4 oz part-skim mozzarella cheese (cubed)
- In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix together oil, vinegar, parsley, basil, honey, salt, and pepper.
- In a large mixing bowl, toss remaining ingredients. Cover and chill. Add dressing and toss.
Crazy Crunch Panino
- 4 slices of wheat bread (½ inch thick)
- 1 tbsp butter, melted
- 2 oz cheese
- 1 oz, deli baked ham
- 1 oz deli smoked turkey breast
- ¼ C crushed corn chips
- Brush butter onto each slice of bread and set aside, butter side down.
- Add cheese, ham, turkey, and chips to bread.
- Cover and press gently
- Place in grill press and close top plate.
- Cook evenly about 3 to 4 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve.
Potato Pancakes with Smoked Salmon
- 1 can drained potatoes or 2 medium potatoes, cooked
- ½ cup diced onion
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 4 slices smoked salmon, thawed
- Sour cream
- Shred potatoes on coarse grater and finely chop any leftover bits.
- In a bowl, combine potatoes, onion, egg, flour, salt, and black pepper to taste. Mix well.
- Shape into 4 small, thin pancakes.
- In a nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat.
- Fry pancakes in batches, turning once, until golden (about 3 minutes each side).
- Serve with a piece of salmon and dollop of sour cream.
- 2 cups water
- ¾ cup white rice
- 1 cup light sour cream
- 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
- ½ cup low-fat cottage cheese
- ½ cup chopped onion
- ¼ cup chopped mushrooms
- ¼ cup chopped green bell pepper
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil; add rice. Cover.
- Cook on low for about 20 minutes or until rice is tender and water is absorbed. Let stand for 5 minutes.
- Combine hot rice, sour cream, Cheddar cheese, and cottage cheese. Add onion, mushrooms, green peppers, and seasonings.
- Pour into a lightly greased 6-cup (1.5 L) baking dish.
- Bake, uncovered, in a 350 degree preheated oven for about 25 minutes.