Healthy Living

When Going Out to Eat with Crohn's Disease, What's the Safest Cuisine?

When Going Out to Eat with Crohn's Disease, What's the Safest Cuisine?

When you have Crohn’s Disease, living everyday life can be tough enough, but going out to eat may add an extra challenge. In addition to the challenges presented by frequent bathroom breaks, you may find it difficult to locate restaurants that serve food items that don’t exasperate your symptoms.

Before You Go

Before you go, you should have a list ready of all of the foods that you can eat, as well as all of the ingredients that you absolutely cannot tolerate. Fortunately, many restaurants now post their entire menus online, although they won’t all list the ingredients. Call ahead of time and ask the manager or cook if they have any of the cuisines on your list. Don’t forget to ask about the type of oil that they use if you plan on ordering any fried foods. You will also want to find out what type of beverages they have available.

The Right Menu

While there is no one-size-fits-all menu, there are some items that might make symptoms worse, and others that seem to help diminish some symptoms. It is important that you double check any suggestions with your doctor or dietician and make your selections based on your own symptoms, tolerances, and personal nutritional goals.

Breakfasts

We all know that breakfast is a key meal. Eating something at the start of your day will help boost your metabolism. Skipping breakfast can cause an increase in your gas production and lead to pain, and increased hunger. As a result, when you are starving, you are more likely to eat faster without chewing adequately or stopping when you should feel full. This can lead to indigestion issues, bloating, swelling, and increased risk of obstruction.

Breakfast Options:

  • Hashbrown Casserole
  • Oatmeal
  • Apple Pancakes
  • Banana Waffles
  • Tofu Muffins

Soups

People often turn to soup as a comfort food when they are sick. When someone with Crohn’s Disease or Colitis is feeling well, the last thing they usually want is a reminder of sicker times. However, soups may be a great option to be able to eat foods that you normally wouldn’t be able to handle when prepared in other ways. A lot of soups are puréed, which makes fibrous foods a lot easier for your body to digest.

Soup Options:

  • Vegetable Stock
  • Carrot and Ginger Soup
  • Beef Barley Soup
  • Creamy Cauliflower Soup
  • Chilled Avocado Soup

Salads

Many people with IBD think that salads are the forbidden food but it does not always have to be difficult to digest. However, salads are often so full of essential nutrients that a lot of doctors and dietitians suggest that you should eat salads as much as possible whenever you are well. There are a lot of low-fiber and lettuce-free salad options out there, so try to expand your mind a little bit and try a few of them.

Salad Options:

  • Cucumber Watermelon Salad
  • Beet and Feta Salad
  • Pasta and Bean Salad
  • Tangerine Salmon Salad
  • Avocado Dressing

Meat and Poultry

Meat and poultry can provide you with many essential nutrients, like protein, iron, zinc, and B vitamins. Each of these nutrients are crucial during times of disease activity, as well as while in remission. Good nutritional choices means eating a variety of healthy foods in order to maximize your body’s nutrient intake. Including meat and poultry in your cuisine choices can be a helpful way to meet your nutritional goals.

Meat and Poultry Choices:

  • Beef Stroganoff
  • Lamb Chops
  • Citrus Chicken
  • Chicken Burgers
  • Turkey Meatloaf

Fish and Seafood

There are a lot of benefits to including fish and seafood on a regular basis. Fish is an excellent source of minerals, vitamins, and protein, which are all essential to maintaining optimal health. Furthermore, a lot of people with IBD report a very good tolerance to fish, especially white fish (such as snapper, tilapia, cold, and haddock). Fish is especially important to include in your diet if you cannot tolerate other meats in order to get the protein and iron that you need.

Fish and Seafood Options:

  • Tandoori Haddock
  • Orange Hoisin Salmon
  • Tuna Noodle Casserole
  • Coconut Shrimp Curry
  • Jumbo Shells Stuffed with Crabmeat, Cheese, and Dill

Vegetarian and Vegan

The benefits of a plant-based diet are thought to come from the fact that this diet contains complex carbohydrates, minerals, and vitamins, is low in saturated fat, and mostly high in fiber. While a diet high in fiber may present some complications for individuals with IBD, there are some preparation modifications that may help make vegetables easier to digest and less likely to cause flare ups.

Vegetarian and Vegan Options:

  • Spinach Frittata
  • Eggplant Pilaf
  • Shepherd’s Pie
  • Falafel in Pita
  • Nutty Tofu and Green Vegetable Stir-Fry

Pasta

Pasta is often enriched with vitamin B, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and iron. In addition to providing all of these nutrients, pasta can also be an excellent source of protein and carbohydrates. Without fatty buttes and cream sauces, pasta can also be a great and low-calorie food choice.

Pasta Options:

  • Spaghetti and Soy Balls
  • Linguine Alfredo
  • Pasta with Roasted Vegetables and Goat Cheese
  • Spinach Cheese Tortellini in Puréed Vegetable Sauce
  • Stuffed Pasta Shells

Side Dishes

When we think of side dishes, we normally think of recipes that are based on vegetables or grains, both of which are great avenues for nutrition. Vegetables contain B vitamins, carbohydrates, vitamins A and C, and fiber. Most vegetables are low in calories and fat. Rice and barley also provide us with carbohydrates and fiber, but also contain protein, riboflavin, thiamin, niacin, iron, and magnesium.

Side Dish Options:

  • Tangy Green Beans
  • Honey-Glazed Carrots
  • Cheesy Broccoli and Potato Casserole
  • Sweet Potato Fries
  • Coconut Rice

Snacks

Adding snacks between smaller meals is a great way to hold yourself over between larger meals, which will prevent you from overeating and aid in your digestion. Finger foods and simple snacks are great options for people on the go, especially when traveling or frequenting events where your healthy diet options are not available. A lot of these snacks listed can be kept in the fridge or freezer in individual baggies for a quick graze here and there.

Snack Options:

  • Applesauce Snack Cakes
  • Ham and Cheese Quesadillas
  • Seafood Tortilla Pinwheels
  • Almond Butter
  • Mango Lassi

Desserts

Desserts are a great way to end you meal and reward you for all of your dieting and fitness discipline. You will obviously need to avoid anything that makes your symptoms worse (such as dairy), but you still deserve a tasty reward every now and then.

Dessert Options:

  • Cinnamon Baked Pears
  • Pumpkin Pie Tarts with Ground Almond Crust
  • Peanut Butter Flaxseed Cookies
  • Oat Bran Raisin Cookies
  • Maple Barley Pudding

Beverages

Beverages are required to stay hydrated and hydration is essential to good health. Liquids are especially important during hot weather, during times of highly physical activity, and when you are sick with diarrhea or attached to a pouch. Decaffeinated and non-alcoholic drinks are also a great way to help hold you over between snacks and meals and can supplement your nutritional needs.

Make sure that you take advantage of the ease of mixing healthy vegetables and fruits into great smoothies so that you can have a quick source of nutrients during long trips or while visiting events that may not have healthy options for you. Employers and teachers may also be more willing to let you keep a nutrition or supplement drink near your desk than they would snacks.

Beverage Options:

  • Pumpkin Smoothies
  • Strawberry Orange Flaxseed Smoothie
  • Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie