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Ulcerative colitis diet: Food tips to manage the inflammatory bowel disease

Wondering if you can have nuts or seeds if you have ulcerative colitis? There is a diet for people with ulcerative colitis. Here is how to follow the colitis diet.
View All Images Woman eating healthy food
Follow the colitis diet. Image courtesy: Freepik
Natalia Ningthoujam Published: 17 Feb 2024, 01:30 pm IST
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There are certain diseases and medical conditions that call for a strict diet. People who have ulcerative colitis, a chronic inflammatory bowel disease, need to pay attention to what they eat. They should follow the colitis diet so that it can help to manage the symptoms and promote overall digestive health. The diet should be rich in nutrients, with foods that are easy to digest and are gentle on the gut. Fluids also need to be part of the diet if you have ulcerative colitis. Read on to know how to follow the colitis diet.

What is ulcerative colitis?

Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease that primarily affects the colon and rectum. It causes inflammation and ulcers in the innermost lining of the large intestine, leading to symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, rectal bleeding, and weight loss, says dietician Shruti K Bhardwaj.

Oatmeal
Eat oatmeal for breakfast if you have colitis. Image courtesy: Freepik

How to follow the ulcerative colitis diet?

A 2015 study published in the European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology found that people who consume more sugar and saturated fat, and less vegetables and fruits are at a greater risk for the disease. While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all diet for ulcerative colitis, there are some general guidelines.

1. Breakfast

Opt for easily digestible foods like oatmeal with mashed banana and a dollop of honey. Avoid adding nuts or seeds, which can be hard to digest, says the expert.

2. Mid-morning snack

Enjoy a piece of ripe, peeled fruit like a pear or apple. These provide vitamins and natural sugars without irritating the digestive tract.

3. Lunch

Have a light meal such as steamed vegetables. Prefer light lunch combination of rice and vegetables. Avoid heavy sauces or spices that might trigger inflammation.

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4. Afternoon snack

Greek yogurt with a drizzle of honey or a small handful of well-cooked rice crackers can provide a boost of protein and energy.

5. Dinner

Choose easily digestible proteins like tofu or well-cooked lentils with a side of cooked carrots and mashed potatoes. Avoid high-fat meats or fried foods.

6. Before bed snack

Eat fresh cooked upma or boiled corn chaat or mashed potato with beverage like herbal tea, says Bhardwaj.

What are the worst foods for colitis?

If there are best foods for colitis, there are also foods that you need to avoid if you suffer from the condition.

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1. High-fiber foods

Whole grains, nuts, seeds, and raw fruits and vegetables are not good for people with colitis. They can aggravate symptoms due to their rough texture and high fiber content.

2. Spicy foods

Spices and hot sauces are great ways to enhance the flavour of dishes. But they can irritate the digestive tract and trigger inflammation.

3. Dairy products

Some people with ulcerative colitis are lactose intolerant or sensitive to dairy. This can lead to discomfort and diarrhea.

Why are fluids important for people with colitis?

Staying hydrated is crucial for people with colitis, especially during flare-ups when diarrhea can lead to dehydration. Aim to drink at least 8 to 10 cups of fluids per day, including water, herbal teas, and electrolyte-rich beverages like coconut water, says the expert.

Woman enjoying coconut water
Drink coconut water as part of colitis diet. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Food and nutrition management tips for colitis

Here are some more helpful dietary tips to manage colitis.

1. Keep a food diary

Keep a diary where you can write about what you eat. You can track your meals and symptoms to identify trigger foods and patterns.

2. Eat small, frequent meals

Instead of just having three heavy meals in a day, go for small and frequent ones. This way overloading the digestive system can be prevented.

3. Consider supplements

Talk to your doctor about adding probiotics, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D supplements. These can help to support your gut health.

By following these guidelines, people with ulcerative colitis can better manage their symptoms and improve their overall quality of life. However, it is essential to work closely with your dietician to tailor a plan that meets your needs and addresses any underlying nutritional deficiencies or complications.

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About the Author

Natalia Ningthoujam has written on various subjects - from music to films and fashion to lifestyle - as a journalist in her career that started in 2010. After getting stories from the crime scene, police headquarters, and conducting interviews with celebrities, she is now writing on health and wellness which has become her focus area. ...Read More

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