Slideshow: Delicious, Not Dull -- Tasty Diet Tips for IBD
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Beyond a Bland Diet
You can still eat delicious and satisfying food if you have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Bland foods may help when you're having a flare. But as you recover, eat a well-balanced variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, and proteins. Staying on a bland diet, eating only foods like applesauce and saltines, can slow your recovery from a flare. You need calories, protein, and other nutrients for your body to heal.
Recipe: Orange Cranberry Chicken
Looking for a zesty entrée that’s IBD-friendly? Try Orange Cranberry Chicken. With 25 grams of protein, it’s dairy-free and low fat. Pair it with brown rice, a healthy whole grain that’s low in fiber.
Keep a Food Diary
For many people with IBD, certain foods can trigger symptoms and these can vary from one person to another. For one, it may be raw veggies. For another, it may be sugar.
The best way to know what to eat, and what not to eat, is to keep a food diary. Online sites and mobile apps make easier than ever. Use your smartphone to record what you ate and how you felt afterward. After a few weeks, you'll know your triggers.
If you have IBD, the healthy bacteria living in your GI tract may be out of balance. Get a natural boost with the probiotics found in yogurt. This popular treat is packed with live cultures, which help gut health. Or try kefir, a tangy, fermented drink that’s also full of probiotics.
Eating and Drinking During a Flare
During a flare, cut out any of your usual triggers. You may want to avoid beans, whole-grain or multigrain breads, fruits, vegetables like cabbage or broccoli, and fatty or fried foods. Peel vegetables and fruits before you eat them; it may help. In addition to safe foods like bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast, you need protein, too, like chicken, ground beef, or tofu. It will keep your strength up and help you heal. Alcohol, caffeinated drinks and juices may aggravate your stomach.
Recipe: Beef and Mushroom Stew
To warm up on a chilly evening, try WebMD's Hearty Beef and Mushroom Stew. It's delicious and dietitian-approved for people with IBD. You'll get lots of protein -- 25 grams per serving -- and unlike a lot of soups and stews, this recipe has no hard-to-digest beans.
Eat Smaller Meals
For a lot of people with IBD, meal size matters. Eating too much can trigger symptoms. Instead of three big meals a day, go for five smaller ones: breakfast, lunch, dinner, and two snacks. Aim for portions that are about the size of your fist. Small meals also help with cramping, a common problem if you have IBD.
You can still have fun dining out with friends despite your IBD. Even though you're not in the kitchen, you still have control. Don't be afraid to ask the waiter or chef specific questions about how your food is prepared. You can also call a restaurant ahead of time to check, or look at the menu online, so you know what to expect. It’s good to carry snacks with you for occasions when you can’t find anything on the menu that fits the bill.
Recipe: Harvest Roasted Veggies
Raw fruits and vegetables can irritate your stomach. If IBD symptoms are acting up, avoid these triggers. Otherwise, lightly roast them to break down the fiber, as with this Harvest Roasted Balsamic Vegetable recipe . Your meal will be easier to digest and you'll still get loads of healthy nutrients from the sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, and other veggies. Bonus: This recipe is cholesterol-free.
A lot of people with IBD are lactose intolerant -- their bodies can't break down protein in milk products. But they still need the essential nutrients in diary, such as calcium. Soy milk, almond milk, rice milk, and other options may be easier to digest. Most are fortified with a lot of the same nutrients as regular milk, including calcium and vitamin D.
Recipe: Deviled Eggs
Try this IBD-friendly version of a favorite appetizer, Deviled Eggs. Eggs have protein and iron, and are easy to digest. This version also cuts down on fat by substituting cottage cheese for some of the yolk.
Add One New Food a Day
After a flare, you may want to stick only to your "safe" foods. That's understandable. But don't get stuck. Once you feel well, add one new food a day. See how it goes. If you don't react well to a food, cross it off your list. But you may be happily surprised. There are probably a lot more foods that you can tolerate than foods you can't.
If you have IBD, you may be more likely to get dehydrated, especially when you're having symptoms. Stay hydrated. Remember to sip your drinks. Gulping them down can cause uncomfortable gas. Be careful with alcohol and caffeinated or carbonated drinks – all three can make you dehydrated or trigger symptoms of the disease.
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Aline Charabaty,MD, assistant professor of medicine, director, IBD Center, Georgetown University Hospital, Washington DC; expert, Crohn's amp; Colitis Foundation of America.
Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America: "Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis: Diet and Nutrition Q&A," "Diet and IBD," "Living with Crohn's and Colitis," "Nutrition and IBD."
UCSF Medical Center: "Nutrition Tips for Inflammatory Bowel Disease."
UpToDate: "Management of Mild to Moderate Ulcerative Colitis, "Nutrition and dietary interventions in adults with inflammatory bowel disease."
Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, Director of Nutrition, WebMD.
UpToDate: "Nutrition and Dietary Interventions in Adults with Inflammatory Bowel Disease."
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.