Which foods are causing problems for your ulcerative colitis (UC)? That's the million-dollar question. The answer is different for everyone.
To figure out which foods make you feel worse, try an elimination diet. For several weeks, keep a diary of what you eat and when you have flares. Then look for patterns. Avoid things that seem to bring on cramps or a trip to the bathroom. See if your symptoms get better or go away.
Whenever Serena Ehrlich goes someplace new, she scouts out the location of the bathroom. That's because Ehrlich, 38, a Los Angeles-based salesperson for a commercial wire service, has ulcerative colitis. She developed the disease 12 years ago and has been in remission for the past three. Still, the old habit lingers. "Everyone who has ulcerative colitis will tell you that when you walk into a bookstore, a shop, or a restaurant, that's the one thing you want to know first. It's our rule of thumb."
You may need to experiment to figure out if a part of your diet truly gives you trouble or whether it just made your symptoms worse during a flare.
Talk to your doctor about what you notice. Your goal should be to eat as many different types of food as you can. The best diet for UC is one with well-balanced variety.
Many people with UC report problems with the same foods. You may want to avoid these or cut back and see if your symptoms get better:
High-fiber foods such as bran, nuts, seeds, and popcorn
Fatty, greasy items and sauces
Below are common foods that may make UC symptoms worse, along with some safer options.
Just because a food is on your problem list doesn't mean you have to give it up. You can switch from full-fat to low-fat dairy and change your cooking method. Choose baking or broiling meats over frying. Bake or stew vegetables instead of eating them raw or lightly cooked.
Common problem foods:
Whole-grain breads, bagels, rolls, crackers, cereals, and pasta
Brown or wild rice
Products made from white or refined flour
Vegetables and Fruits
Common problem foods:
Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts
Leafy greens, including mustard, turnip, and collard greens, and spinach