Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory condition most likely to strike in the small or large intestine, is notorious for flare-ups. It shows symptoms such as diarrhoea, abdominal cramping, fatigue, and sudden weight loss that scuttle social lives. Many treatment options include immune-suppressing and anti-inflammatory medications, but you must tailor a nutritional diet to carry you through the rough patches. The first step to controlling Crohn’s disease is to work with a nutritionist and adjust your diet. Ironically, although you can’t precisely eat your way out of Crohn’s, the right meal plan can help you feel better.
Scroll down to know how to eat during remission or flare. You never know. Sometimes, you can draw on these strategies to support a friend who may be going through a Crohn’s flare.
Understanding the Crohn’s Disease Diet
Crohn’s disease is part of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that results in chronic inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. It happens when the immune system considers normal bacteria present in the digestive tract as foreign substances and attacks them. Symptoms of Crohn’s vary from person to person, making it challenging to stick to certain foods or specific nutrition for individuals with the condition.
When left unnoticed, Crohn’s disease can seriously interfere with daily activities, increasing the aspects of being painful and debilitating. However, research shows that adapting to Crohn’s disease diet will help restore gut health and boost your overall digestive health. It includes high-calorie, low-fat, well-cooked, and low-salt diets.
Following the Crohn’s diet might mitigate the symptoms. However, since one diet plan doesn’t work for everyone, you must experiment with your dietary choices and be mindful of the reactions. In short, you have to eat like a picky child during a flare.
The HealthifyMe Note
Bland foods are your best friends in a Crohn’s disease diet. Also, don’t be afraid to experiment since a recovery or remission diet is highly individual. Use a notebook or food diary to track everything you eat and check whether or not symptoms follow. Finally, take the diet slowly by trying a little at a time and see how you feel afterward.
Best Foods for Crohn’s Disease Diet
Maintaining a healthy and well-balanced diet is vital for everyone, especially if you have Crohn’s disease. Here is the list of the best foods to start with that will aid in soothing your intestinal inflammation while meeting the body’s nutritional requirements.
- Fish, Poultry, and Meat: salmon, swordfish, tuna, sardines, eggs and chicken
- Fruits: grapefruits, oranges, berries, bananas, cranberries, pineapple, and apricots
- Vegetables: spinach, sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot, mushrooms, beets, asparagus, cucumbers, and bell peppers
- Fats and Oils: fish oil, flaxseed oil, olive oil, omega-3-fatty acid, and mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids
- Grains, nuts, and seeds: Plain, low-sugar cereal, oats, quinoa, and Gluten-free bread
- Vitamin and Minerals: iron, selenium, calcium, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C, and vitamin B complex
- Probiotic foods: yoghurt, kefir, kombucha, and fermented vegetables
- Other Foods: turmeric, ginger, bone broth, isoflavones, fibres, and prebiotic foods
Foods That Can Worsen Crohn’s Disease
No matter how conscious you are, Crohn’s tends to cause sudden flare-ups. While everyone is different, below are some food sources you must avoid to keep flare-ups at bay and your digestive system happy and healthy.
- Dairy Products: most dairy sources, including processed cheese and creamy foods
- Legumes and Vegetables: raw vegetables, beans, popcorn, and nightshade vegetables
- Fats and oils: omega-6-fatty acids, corn oil, canola oil, and soybean oils
- Processed foods: fried foods, processed meats, cured meats, bacon, sausage, refined carbs, processed grains, gluten products, and most spicy condiments
- Vitamins and Minerals: sodium-rich foods
- Sweets: added sugar, candies, cookies, cakes, cereals, and corn syrup
- Other foods: spicy foods, high-fat foods, fried foods, nuts and seeds, caffeine, and alcoholic beverages.
Some fibre may be acceptable during a flare, but insoluble (difficult to digest) fibre is a no-go. Therefore, peel, de-seed, and cook the fruits and veggies that contain fibre. You’ll probably want to avoid the following while experiencing a flare:
- Greasy foods
- Butter, margarine, mayonnaise
- Gas-producing foods
- Caffeine and alcohol
The HealthifyMe Note
Active Crohn’s disease might cause difficulty in nutrient absorption and increase the risk of vitamin and mineral deficiency. Hence what you eat plays a significant role in managing the condition. During active flares, swap high-fibre foods with low-fibre ones, ensuring to eat well-cooked, skinless, seedless, non-cruciferous produce. You can also take oral supplements to meet your nutritional needs.
Reference Crohn’s Disease Diet Plan
Proper nutrition is vital for Crohn’s. The meals must be soft, easy to digest, and low-fibre. Confused about how to prepare the daily diet schedule? Here are the sample meal plan options for Crohn’s disease diet for your reference.
- Early morning: Ripe banana/cucumber infused water
- Breakfast: Veg poha/idli/veg vermicelli + eggs white portion with strained pomegranate juice
- Mid-morning: Ripe banana/cantaloupe/ coconut water
- Lunch: Chapati with plain fish/chicken stew
- Evening: Home-made vegetable soup
- Dinner: Plain chapati/ boiled rice with vegetable dal
Ways to Improve the Benefits of Crohn’s Disease Diet
Maintain a Food Journal
Keeping up a food journal will help you to remember the specific food triggers. By tracking the intake of certain foods and the symptoms simultaneously, you can identify the food sources that worsen the flare-ups.
Engage in Mindful Eating
While what to eat and not to eat is a significant concern, you must also focus on other eating habits. Consuming smaller and balanced meals will help ease digestion and combat flare-ups. The crucial role of mindful eating is to pay attention to your body’s response to a particular food.
Active Exercise Regime
Besides diet and nutrition, staying active is crucial to lead a healthy life. A regular exercise routine will reduce the symptoms of inflammation and improve the conditions. It could be any form, from simple exercises like walking and yoga to highly intense practices like running or playing sports. So jump right back to a customised fitness plan and nutrition with HealthifyMe!
Relax and Reduce the Stress Level
Stress is one of the major factors in modern life that affects your overall health. For example, constant stress can harm the gut microbiome, triggering flare-ups of Crohn’s or other autoimmune disorders. Hence it is critical to reduce overall stress, which will help you feel better and increase your productivity.
Quality Sleep Pattern
Most people with Crohn’s do not get the regular 7-8 hours of sleep daily, which will cause serious consequences. Hence be it an afternoon nap or a good night’s sleep, make sure you are getting adequate sleep hours, emphasising the quality of the sleep pattern.
Drink Plenty of Water
Drinking plenty of water helps you to stay hydrated and maintain your overall health. Other healthy choices are bone broth, kombucha, infused water, coconut water, and probiotics to ease the symptoms.
Practice deep breathing for a few minutes daily to reduce muscle tension and ease the cramping muscles. In addition, managing stress in such a way with deep breaths will aid in managing Crohn’s disease symptoms.
There are no single or one-size fits all diet plans for Crohn’s disease since it is an autoimmune disorder that affects each patient differently. In general, devise a diet that avoids processed foods that trigger gut inflammation. The objective is to discover which foods make your symptoms go and eat more of those critical to your overall health and may help you feel better. Then, when you’re in remission, nourish your body with whole grains, vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, lean meats, fish, beans, and eggs. Blending the optimal diet plan with a regular exercise routine will help you prevent flare-ups and reverse the effects of Crohn’s disease, controlling the root cause and improving your overall well-being.