Eat a Well-Balanced Diet for IBD
Food doesn't cause ulcerative colitis (UC), but UC can make eating difficult. Say spinach aggravates your symptoms -- you may be tempted to stop eating all veggies, all the time. But diarrhea can rob you of important nutrients, and digestive disorders like UC can put you at risk for malnutrition. To nourish your body, aim for well-balanced meals. Don't eliminate entire food groups from your plate.
Fight Anemia and Fatigue With Iron
Ulcerative colitis flares can wear you out. One reason for your fatigue may be anemia -- a low red blood cell count. Bleeding ulcers and bloody diarrhea can cause it. To fight anemia, boost your blood iron levels. See if you can tolerate iron- and folate-rich foods like spinach or raisins. Egg yolks and artichokes may be other options that are easier on the stomach.
Drink Fluids for Ulcerative Colitis
Smoothies and meal replacement drinks can be a good way to get nutrition when you can't handle solids. And they can easily add nutrients and calories to your diet if you’re having trouble maintaining your weight. Fluids, like water, are also important because UC increases dehydration risk. It affects your colon's ability to absorb water and salts.
Look for Dairy Alternatives
If dairy makes your ulcerative colitis symptoms worse, you may be lactose intolerant. First, try dairy that's lower in lactose -- such as hard cheeses and yogurt. If you need to avoid dairy completely, look for substitutes like soy. Your goal: make sure you are getting plenty of bone-strengthening calcium and vitamin D. Inflammatory bowel disease can put you at risk for bone loss.
Probiotics May Help Digestion
Looking for natural help for ulcerative colitis indigestion? Try probiotics. Although research is not definitive, these good bacteria may help regulate digestion. Probiotics can be found as liquid or pill supplements, or in foods like yogurt. Some experts say they can be especially helpful if the good bacteria naturally found in your gut is wiped out by antibiotics or diarrhea.
Trouble With High-Fiber Foods?
If fiber irritates your colon during flares, avoid high-fiber foods. You may want to skip nuts and seeds, whole grains, and raw fruits and vegetables for a short while -- they're harder to digest. This is sometimes called a "low-residue diet." Although not scientifically proven, some experts say it may help with discomfort. But it won't help decrease inflammation. Peeling fruits and veggies is another way to cut fiber.
Cook Gassy Foods
Hard time figuring out which foods may be worsening your cramping, diarrhea, and gas? Take a look at gassy foods. Broccoli, cauliflower, and beans are known to cause gas and be difficult to digest. But before completely nixing them from your diet, try them well-cooked. That may solve the problem.
Eat Small Meals to Help With Cramping
Cramping can be a common ulcerative colitis problem. Try eating five to six small meals. Or eat three smaller meals, plus two to three snacks. Giving your digestive system smaller amounts to work with can help avoid cramping, and ensure your body gets a steady stream of nutrients.
Keep a Food Journal
Writing down what you eat and how you feel from day to day can help you spot foods that may make you feel bad. Find suspect foods? Try avoiding them. Then add them back into your diet a week at a time, to see if you feel any different. Spicy and fatty foods and caffeinated carbonated drinks are common trouble-makers.
Look for Well-Rounded Foods
Because ulcerative colitis can limit the foods you can eat, be open to possibilities. Foods like pizza may seem unhealthy. But look at a food's whole nutritional value. Foods that have more than one food group -- such as lean protein, low-fat dairy, and vegetables -- can pack a lot of value, if you can tolerate them. This can be especially helpful if you're having trouble maintaining weight.
Nutrition Advice for Ulcerative Colitis
There's no magic diet that's right for everyone with ulcerative colitis. Talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian. Getting personalized information can help you find foods that are easy on your digestion and good for you. These experts can also help you figure out if you're missing out on any key nutrients. If so, they may suggest foods or supplements to help you get the nutrition you need.