Chances are your inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is under good control thanks to effective medicine. But even if you're in remission from Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, you may fear having sudden cramps or worse when you're out and about. The good news: You don't have to give up your social life.
People who've been there share their advice:
It's a diet that limits high-fiber foods, like whole-grain breads and cereals, nuts, seeds, raw or dried fruits, and vegetables.
"Residue" refers to undigested food, including fiber, that makes up stool. The goal of the diet is to have fewer, smaller bowel movements each day. That will ease symptoms such as diarrhea, bloating, gas, and stomach cramping.
Your doctor may recommend this diet for a short time when you're having a flare, or after surgery to help with recovery. But it's not a general eating plan for all people with IBD.
Crohn's can make it harder for your body to absorb nutrients from food. Ask your doctor to suggest a nutritionist who can make sure your diet is right for you. He can also let you know if you need any vitamin supplements.
What You Can Eat
On a low-residue diet, you can eat:
Refined or enriched white breads and plain crackers, such as saltines or Melba toast (no seeds)
Cooked cereals, like farina, cream of wheat, and grits
Cold cereals, like puffed rice and corn flakes
White rice, noodles, and refined pasta
Fruits and Vegetables
The skin and seeds of many fruits and vegetables are loaded with fiber, so you need to peel them and avoid the seeds. These vegetables are OK:
Well-cooked fresh vegetables or canned vegetables without seeds, such as asparagus tips, beets, green beans, carrots, mushrooms, spinach, squash (no seeds), and pumpkin
Cooked potatoes without skin
Tomato sauce (no seeds)
Fruits on the list include:
Canned or cooked fruits without seeds or skin, like applesauce or canned pears
Milk and Dairy
Milk products are OK in moderation. Milk has no fiber, but it may trigger symptoms like diarrhea and cramping if you have lactose intolerance, which means your body can’t process dairy. You could use lactase supplements or eat lactose-free products.