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How should I eat during a flare or remission?

Watch those trigger foods

Some foods may trigger cramping, bloating, and/or diarrhea. Many of these “trigger foods” should also be avoided if you have recently had surgery or been diagnosed with a stricture (a narrowing of the intestine caused by inflammation or scar tissue). Certain foods are easier to digest and can provide you with the necessary nutrients your body needs.

It’s also important to maintain a diverse and nutrient-rich diet even when you are in remission and your symptoms have subsided or even disappeared. Introduce new foods slowly. Remember to stay hydrated with water, broth, tomato juice, and rehydration solutions. Consult with your doctor or dietitian before making any changes to your diet.

These foods can help you stay healthy and hydrated:

  • Fiber-rich foods: oat bran, beans, barley, nuts, and whole grains, unless you have an ostomy, intestinal narrowing, or if your doctor advises you to continue a low-fiber diet due to strictures, or recent surgery.
  • Lean protein: lean meats, fish, eggs, nuts, and tofu.
  • Fruits and vegetables: try to eat as many “colors” as you can, and remove the peel and seeds if they bother you.
  • Calcium-rich foods: collard greens, yogurt, kefir, and milk (if you are lactose intolerant, choose lactose-free dairy products or use a lactase digestive enzyme).
  • Foods with probiotics: yogurt, kimchi, miso, sauerkraut, and tempeh.
  • Refined grains: sourdough, potato or gluten-free bread, white pasta, white rice, and oatmeal.
  • Fully cooked, seedless, skinless, non-cruciferous vegetables: asparagus tips, cucumbers, potatoes, and squash.
  • Oral nutritional supplements or homemade protein shakes: ask your doctor or your dietitian about what supplements may fit your nutritional needs.

What are some helpful food preparation tips?

Here are some helpful hints for you:

  1. Eat four to six small meals daily.
  2. Stay hydrated — drink enough to keep your urine light yellow to clear — with water, broth, tomato juice, or a rehydration solution.
  3. Drink slowly and avoid using a straw, which can cause you to ingest air, which may cause gas.
  4. Prepare meals in advance, and keep your kitchen stocked with foods that you tolerate well (see list below).
  5. Use simple cooking techniques — boil, grill, steam, poach.
  6. Use a food journal to keep track of what you eat and any symptoms you may experience.

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