vegetable juice
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Fruit or Vegetable Juices

After a flare of Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, you may not feel like eating much. But you need calories and nutrients, so start your diet again slowly. Fruit or vegetable juices are great when you don’t have much of an appetite. They give you vitamins plus hydration without weighing you down. Just choose one without pulp -- the fiber could cause cramping or bloating. You may want to water down your juice if it’s high in sugar, since too much of the sweet stuff could trigger diarrhea.

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apple sauce
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Applesauce

It’s a safe bet as a first food to eat after a flare-up. It’s easy to digest and low in insoluble fiber, the kind that cleans out your gut and can aggravate your symptoms. Plus, applesauce has plenty of nutrients, like potassium and vitamin C.

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hard boiled eggs
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Cooked Eggs

Scrambled or hard-boiled, they’re usually easy to digest, and they’re full of filling protein, iron, and vitamin D. They can be one of the first things you eat right after a flare. Experts say you should start your diet again with smaller meals every 3 or 4 hours instead of having larger breakfasts, lunches, and dinners right away.

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cooked green beans and carrots
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Cooked Carrots and Green Beans

It’s a smart strategy to add one or two foods back into your diet every few days. Start with soft solids before you try firmer ones. Pay attention to how your body reacts to a food before you add others to your meal plan. You’ll want to be extra slow and cautious when it comes to eating fiber again. Tender cooked veggies that don’t have seeds, like carrots and green beans, are a good place to begin.

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plain chicken
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Plain Chicken

Mild and versatile, this bird has protein, B vitamins, and zinc, a mineral that helps your immune system work well. It’s a good choice for the first days after a flare-up, but make sure it isn’t marinated or dipped in anything too adventurous. Spicy foods make symptoms worse for most people with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

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steamed salmon
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Steamed or Broiled Fatty Fish

You’ll want to steer clear of fried foods, since they can make stomach problems worse. But fish like sardines, salmon, and mackerel are great choices if you broil or steam them. That’s because they’re rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which fight inflammation. They can also help you get protein and vitamin D.

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peanut butter on toast
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Creamy Peanut Butter

Steer clear of the chunky kind for now -- the hard bits of peanuts can be irritating.  Look for a spread without added sugar, too. Peanut, almond, or cashew butters are delicious ways to get a dose of protein. You could spread it on plain crackers like saltines, or on white or sourdough bread, all of which are safe after a flare-up.

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pasta
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White Pasta

Check the label on the package, and look for a brand that has less than 1 gram of fiber per serving. It’s best to avoid tomato sauce since it can have seeds, which can make your symptoms worse. So toss your pasta with a little olive oil instead. Bonus: Olive oil can help reduce inflammation.

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cantaloupe
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Ripe Cantaloupe

Melons like this or watermelon are easy to digest, and they're low in insoluble fiber, so you should be able to eat them without any problems. Cantaloupes are rich in vitamins C and A, and they’re also about 90% water, meaning they’ll help you stay hydrated, too.

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mashed potatoes
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Potatoes

You’ll need to take the fiber-filled skins off first. But once you do, they’re a good first food to have after a flare, especially when you mash them to a soft texture. And potatoes are a healthier choice than you might think: They have plenty of potassium, magnesium, and vitamin C.

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avocado
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Avocados

They're soft, mild, rich in healthy fats, and can fight inflammation. They also pack a lot of calories per serving, which is helpful if your flare-up made you lose too much weight.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 04/16/2018 Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on April 16, 2018

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SOURCES:

Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America: “Managing Flares and Other IBD Symptoms.”

Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America: “Diet and IBD.”

UCSF Medical Center: “Nutrition Tips for Inflammatory Bowel Disease.”

Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America: “Diet, Nutrition, and Inflammatory Bowel Disease.”

Simopoulos, A. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, December 2002.

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: “Fish: Friend or Foe?”

Lucas, L. Current Pharmaceutical Design, 2011.

UC Irvine Health: “Nutrition & IBD.”

Dreher, M. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, May 2013.

Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on April 16, 2018

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

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.