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Crohn's Disease Health Center

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Crohn’s Disease: Staying at a Healthy Weight

Crohn's disease can make it hard to keep your weight healthy and get the nutrients you need. But it's possible.

The inflammation linked to Crohn’s can give you nausea and diarrhea, as well as curb your appetite. As a result, you may eat less, making it harder to keep weight on. 

Some Crohn's medicines may also affect your weight. Corticosteroids such as prednisone can cause temporary weight gain. If that bothers you, talk with your doctor.

Keep Track of Your Weight

Are you at a healthy weight now? Your doctor or a registered dietitian can help you find out. They can also help you come up with a plan to get to and maintain a healthy weight. Because Crohn's disease affects people in different ways, you will need a plan that's just for you.

Exercise

People often exercise to try to lose weight, but it may also help stop weight loss. Exercise may boost your appetite. Being active also helps strengthen bones and muscles, both of which can be weakened by Crohn’s. Building muscle may help you gain weight.

Research suggests that low-intensity exercise, like walking, won’t make Crohn's symptoms worse. You may want to avoid certain exercises during a flare. Talk to your doctor about what type of fitness routine would work best for you.

Eating Tips

  • Eat small meals or snacks every few hours rather than three large meals a day.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and other fluids.
  • When you’re not having a flare, focus on eating a wide variety of healthy foods.
  • To be sure you get enough nutrients, take a multivitamin every day.
  • If you have little appetite or trouble eating solid foods, try drinking liquid nutritional supplements.
  • After a flare, slowly add back the foods you have avoided and boost your calories and protein to help make up for what you may have missed.

Your Best and Worst Foods

Everyone is different, so you are the best judge of what you can and can't eat. Some foods may trigger flares for you, and some may not. No foods are proven to cause or worsen Crohn's.

It may help to keep a food diary of what you eat and how you react to it. Over time, the diary may allow you to pinpoint troublesome foods and drop them from your diet. A food diary will also help you and your dietitian check the quality of your diet. 

What to Eat During a Crohn's Flare

As a general rule, the best foods to stick to during flares are bland, low fiber, and low fat. Some foods that may fit the bill are:

  • Bananas
  • White bread and white rice
  • Applesauce
  • Smooth peanut butter
  • Skinned potatoes
  • Steamed or broiled fish, such as salmon and halibut
  • Cheese, if you're not lactose intolerant
  • Refined pasta
  • Cooked vegetables
  • Cooked eggs or egg substitutes

WebMD Medical Reference

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