I’ll admit it: I’m guilty. Though I know I should avoid some foods that can trigger my Crohn’s disease, I sometimes give in to temptation.
Firstly, I want to mention that food does not cause Crohn’s disease or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Crohn’s is an autoimmune disease and a form of IBD. While primary symptoms relate to the gastrointestinal tract, the condition also has other manifestations throughout the body.
Some foods can irritate your digestive system and exacerbate symptoms, leading to a flare. IBD patients have various presentations of the disease, with different areas affected, a wide range of symptoms, and various levels of severity.
Discuss any dietary changes with your gastroenterologist and healthcare team. Make a list of trigger foods by keeping a food diary containing a record of your meals and symptoms. I suggest eating smaller meals throughout the day, chewing your food well, maintaining an adequate water intake, and drinking slowly.
Following are the types of foods that cause me the most problems with Crohn’s:
Some vegetables, although healthy for most people, trigger my Crohn’s disease. Asparagus, green beans, and corn are among the worst offenders due to the skin or peel, which is hard to digest. When these foods pass through the digestive tract, they can cause diarrhea, gas, and pain. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower may cause problems, particularly if your bowel is inflamed or strictures are present — chewing well before swallowing can help. Instead, try well-cooked or mashed carrots, spinach, and potatoes. Peel raw fruits and vegetables before eating.
Spicy or acidic
I have an almost instant reaction to tomatoes and tomato-based sauces. If I eat a meal that contains tomatoes, I get an upset stomach, acid reflux, burping, and cramps. Perhaps it is the tomato seeds, acidity, or skin that cause the problem. I know that acidic foods are an issue as I can’t tolerate lemons, limes, or even sour candies. I don’t eat spicy foods either, as some spices can upset me. I avoid hot sauces and similar condiments that I used to enjoy.
Fried and greasy
While fried and greasy foods are unhealthy for everyone, consumption of these foods can cause worsening diarrhea and other symptoms in Crohn’s patients. The fats in fried foods are not readily digested. Try other cooking methods such as boiling, steaming, poaching, or baking instead.
For some of us, vegetables are trigger foods; for others, it’s caffeine. Some may be symptomatic with fried foods, others with sugary goods. Each person with Crohn’s has their trigger foods, and it’s crucial to figure out which foods affect you and your IBD. Knowing which ones to avoid will enable you to manage your disease more effectively while ensuring that you receive the nutrients you need.
Note: IBD News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of IBD News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to IBD.
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