Meal Planning With Ulcerative Colitis

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Nancy LeBrun on July 29, 2021
  • Man on couch with stomach pain
    Do Food Choices Affect Ulcerative Colitis?
    If you have ulcerative colitis, or UC, an inflammatory bowel disease that affects the large intestine, your food choices didn’t cause your condition, but they may help you avoid flares, manage them when they do occur, and ensure you get enough nutrition. There is no “UC” diet, but foods that experts recommend during a flare are different than when you are in remission. It can take trial and error to find a diet that’s helpful in avoiding triggers that cause the diarrhea and discomfort of UC, but there are some healthy, tasty options.
  • Grilled Salmon Fillet
    1. If you are experiencing the pain and distress of a UC flare, follow a low residue diet.
    Your entrée can include lean proteins like chicken, fish, eggs or tofu, served with refined grains like white rice or pasta, and well-cooked vegetables prepared without the skin or seeds, such as asparagus, sweet potatoes, and squash. Try choosing low fiber fruits like bananas and cantaloupe. You’ll need plenty of calories and nutrients during a UC flare, so if your appetite isn’t great or you’re anxious about eating, try making yourself a delicious protein shake, but skip the dairy.
  • Eating vegan bowl with edamame beans, broccoli, avocado, beetroot, hummus and nuts
    2. When you are in remission, try some of the opposite foods you might eat during a flare.
    Lean protein is still good, but switch to fiber-rich grains like beans, oats, barley, and whole grain breads, unless your doctor wants you to stay on a low-fiber diet. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, but you can remove the skin and seeds to make them easier to digest. To get enough calcium, try yogurt; if you want to avoid dairy, try dark green vegetables. Probiotic-rich foods like yogurt and sauerkraut are also good choices.
  • plate with french fries, white rice, mashed potatoes
    3. Avoid common ulcerative colitis trigger foods.
    Triggers vary from person to person, but one common trigger is lactose, the sugar in dairy foods. Consider avoiding products that include milk and cheese, especially soft cheeses. You can try lactose-free dairy products instead, or milk and yogurt made from almonds or oats. Many sugar substitutes like sucralose are hard on your gut, as are sugary foods like pastries and candy. Stevia- or honey-sweetened food may be a better choice. Other foods that can trigger a flare or are hard to digest are high-fat, spicy, and fried foods, caffeinated drinks, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and kale.
  • Chicken Soup Broth
    4. Stay well-nourished with ulcerative colitis.
    It can be hard to feel like eating when you have ulcerative colitis, but good nutrition is important to help heal the ulcers that can develop during a flare. The inflammation makes your body lose protein while increasing the need for calories, and people with UC can become malnourished. It’s also easy to become dehydrated. Make sure you’re eating enough lean protein every day and stay hydrated with water, broth and other beverages that are calming to your digestive system.
  • Oatmeal with fruit
    5. Plan when to eat as well as what to eat.
    You may feel better eating several small meals a day instead of three bigger ones. If you’re looking for easy-to-digest options, you could have a bowl of oatmeal with chopped dates and cinnamon in the morning, crackers with nut butter for a snack, a veggie omelet for lunch, hummus on whole wheat pita in the afternoon, and chicken tacos (minus the spicy salsa) for dinner. Drink plenty of liquids whenever you eat, as well as periodically during the day. After a flare, add different foods into your diet slowly, one at a time, to see what you can tolerate.
  • chicken-breasts-on-pan
    6. Add flavor to ulcerative colitis meals with herbs rather than spices.
    Food that can work for you during a flare can also be tasty. Try herbs to liven up meals instead of hot spices. Pasta with asparagus tips topped with fresh parsley, sage, parmesan and a little olive oil can make a delicious meal. Add cinnamon to sourdough toast with a little honey drizzled on top. Try broiled or grilled salmon with a yogurt sauce made with fresh herbs, served with spinach sautéed in a little olive oil or roasted sweet potatoes. Drizzle honey on a banana for dessert or snack time. Keep a list of UC-friendly meals and snacks you’ve prepared for easy reference.

    Consider buying or borrowing from the library a cookbook with recipes that are good for people with inflammatory diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease.
Ulcerative Colitis Diet | Meal Planning With Ulcerative Colitis

About The Author

Nancy LeBrun is an Emmy- and Peabody award-winning writer and producer who has been writing about health and wellness for more than five years. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and the American Society of Journalists and Authors.
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Last Review Date: 2021 Jul 19
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