Creating a Crohn's Disease Diet Plan
Is a low-residue diet a Crohn's treatment diet?
A low-residue diet is one that's low in specific foods that add residue to the stool. Many individuals with small-bowel Crohn's disease have a narrowing or stricture of the lower small intestine (the ileum). For them, a low-fiber with low-residue diet can help lessen abdominal pain, cramping, and diarrhea. And while scientific proof is lacking, this diet may also help decrease frequency of bowel movements for some people. Foods to avoid on a low-residue diet may include:
- corn hulls
- raw fruits
Can keeping a daily food diary help me self-manage my Crohn's disease?
Yes. Keeping track of the foods you eat each day can help you identify the "offenders" -- foods that may trigger symptoms. Avoiding these foods, especially when your disease is active, may give you better control of the symptoms.
You can also use a daily food diary to help you and your doctor determine if you're getting a properly balanced diet. It can show whether you are getting enough protein, carbohydrates, fats, and water. It can also show whether you are getting enough calories to maintain your weight and energy.
To start your diary, record the foods you eat each day and the serving sizes in a small notebook. Enter the date, food, and any symptoms you might feel after eating this food in the notebook.
After a month or two, set up a time to review your food diary with a registered dietitian. The dietitian can determine if you're getting essential nutrients in a well-balanced meal plan or if you might need supplements. Proper nutrition helps the body heal itself and keeps you well. So, having a nutrition discussion with a registered dietitian is important to your overall health and to the management of Crohn's disease.
What else is important in a Crohn's disease diet plan?
Limiting some food triggers may help control your symptoms during disease flares. But don't restrict yourself so much that you make malnutrition, which often accompanies Crohn's disease, worse. You'll need to find other sources to replace calories, protein, carbohydrates, and fats that are in the foods you eliminate. To do that, you'll need to focus on including nutrient-dense foods in your diet plan.
While fast foods should normally be avoided in a healthy diet plan, sometimes they can give your diet a needed boost. Some fast foods can offer a valuable supply of key nutrients and calories. For instance, pizza offers calories, protein, and nutrients such as calcium and vitamins A, B, C, and D. A milkshake is high in calories and calcium. Of course, if you are lactose-intolerant, you need to remember to take the proper medication before drinking a milk product.
Ask your doctor or dietitian about vitamin and mineral supplementation. For example, many people with Crohn's disease have a vitamin D deficiency. A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine reported that higher doses of vitamin D (1,000 to 2,000 IU each day) may be beneficial, particularly in reducing the risk of colorectal cancer, which may be higher in individuals with IBD. The National Academy of Sciences has established that a dose of 2,000 IU/day of vitamin D is safe. But it's still important that you check with your personal physician to see what dosage is ideal for your situation.