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Ulcerative Colitis Health Center

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Ulcerative Colitis: Find Your Trigger Foods

Which foods cause problems for your ulcerative colitis (UC)? The answer is different for everyone.

To figure out what makes you feel worse, do some detective work. For several weeks, keep a diary of what you eat and when you have flares. Then look for patterns. Avoid things that seem to cause cramps or a trip to the bathroom. See if your symptoms get better or go away.

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Talk to your doctor about what you notice. Your goal should be to eat as many types of healthy food as you can, so your diet is as balanced as possible.

Problem Foods

Many people with UC have trouble with the same items. You may want to cut these out for a while and see if your symptoms ease up:

  • High-fiber fare like bran, nuts, seeds, and popcorn
  • Fatty, greasy items and sauces
  • Dairy products
  • Alcohol

Better Choices

Just because a food is on your problem list doesn't mean you have to give it up. You have choices.

Try a switch from full-fat to low-fat dairy. Or tweak your cooking method -- bake or broil meats instead of frying them. Bake or stew vegetables rather than eating them raw or lightly cooked.

You can also swap out items in the main food groups.

Grains

Common problem foods:

  • Whole-grain breads, bagels, rolls, crackers, cereals, and pasta
  • Brown or wild rice

Better choices:

  • Products made from white or refined flour
  • White rice

Vegetables and Fruits

Common problem foods:

  • Vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts
  • Leafy greens, including mustard, turnip, and collard greens, and spinach
  • Most raw fruits
  • Raisins and other dried fruits
  • Canned cherries and berries

Better choices:

  • Well-cooked vegetables without seeds
  • Ripe bananas, peeled apples, and melons
  • Soft, canned fruits without added sugar

Meat and Protein

Common problem foods:

  • Fried meats, such as sausage and bacon
  • Luncheon meats, like bologna and salami
  • Hot dogs
  • Dried beans, peas, and nuts

Better choices:

  • Tender, well-cooked meats and poultry
  • Fish
  • Eggs

Milk Products

Common problem foods:

  • Whole milk
  • Half and half
  • Sour cream

Better choices:

  • Buttermilk
  • Evaporated milk
  • Low-fat or skim milk
  • Powdered milk

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