You don’t want to over-analyze your food. Just document it and figure out what works and what doesn’t, slowly and in tiny increments.
If you throw yourself into one ulcerative colitis diet, cold turkey, you might be eliminating things you could have tolerated.
For example, Maggie suggests doing something like this: If you’re curious about dairy, put just a small bit of cheese on your pasta and see how you feel.
That being said, it is probably wise to avoid typical aggravators like, nuts, seeds, spicy foods, and certain others your doctor may warn you about.
The Elimination Diet Method
One way to investigate what foods you can include in your ulcerative colitis diet is the elimination method, which bears similarities to what Maggie did.
There are a number of foods considered as common irritants, such as dairy, wheat, eggs, peanuts, alcohol, sugar, etc. However, you may know your primary irritants right off and find yourself needing to eliminate many potential culprits and reintroduce them at certain intervals.
It can take a couple of weeks for certain substances, like gluten, to leave your system. Truthfully, the process requires some patience.
But that patience can lead to some very definitive results. This is because the longer you go without an irritant in your system, the more sensitive you become to it. Therefore, if that irritant is reintroduced, even in a very small dose, you will have a stronger reaction.
In light of this, also be sure to have the help of an IBD specialist. You don’t want to risk a strong reaction without a medical consultant to walk you through the process and be there to answer all the questions that will, inevitably, arise.
Doctors do subscribe medication to help reduce inflammation, which can be very helpful and, in the case of an emergency, surgery may be an option.
However, the hope is always to be preventative and to embrace our ability to help our bodies by daily management, as much as possible.
Vigorous documentation of the rise and fall of symptoms and your daily food intake will help you a great deal.
And, since you may be forced to give up food you crave and love, it is important to remember that there are many alternative recipes that create outstandingly delicious food.
The University Of Colorado Recipe Resources:
It is undeniably true that meal preparation becomes more intense when you’re forced to eat an alternative diet. However, there are many resources to help you learn to minimize the time and pain of meal prep.
You can pop on a computer and search for something like, “fast vegan meal prep”, or even better, why not take a stroll to your local bookstore, next Sunday, and see what they have to offer? While you’re at it, go ahead and pick up that novel you’ve been thinking of reading as a reward for going out of your way.
Low Fiber Diet
Another potential framework for your ulcerative colitis diet is the Low Fiber Diet (Also known as, the “Low Residue Diet”).
The list below includes low fiber vegetables and tender meats, but keep in mind that even items on this list can trigger a flare, and foods should be added back slowly and in small increments, as Maggie suggested earlier.
Maggie and her son had initially eliminated dairy because they realized it was a trigger, but later on they tried lactose-free milk and this was fine.
A list of recommended foods to include in your low fiber diet might run as follows:
- Dairy: Up to 2 cups of milk, cottage cheese, pudding, or yogurt per day
- Grains: Refined white breads, pasta, crackers, and dry cereals that have less than 1/2 a gram of fiber per serving
- Tender Meats: Meats and other proteins such as soft and tender cooked meats (eg. poultry), eggs, pork, fish, smooth peanut butter, and other nut butters
- Fruits: Juices with no pulp; canned fruits and applesauce (not including pineapple), raw, ripe bananas, melon, cantaloupe, watermelon, plums, peaches, and apricots
- Vegetables: Raw lettuce, cucumbers, zucchini, onion, cooked spinach, pumpkin, seedless yellow squash, carrots, eggplant, potatoes, and green and wax beans
- Fats and Sauces: Butter, margarine, mayonnaise, oils, smooth sauces, dressings (not tomato), whipped cream, and smooth condiments (without high fructose corn syrup)
Maggie and her son had to avoid vegetables with seeds in them, such as cucumbers. Some people may be able to tolerate these vegetables, but because of the seeds, she chose to avoid them rather than risk a flare.
The Pillars Of Your Ulcerative Colitis Diet—Anti-inflammatory Supplements
Maggie’s gastroenterologists at Boston Children’s Hospital also suggested anti-inflammatory supplements.
And the suggestion came with a word of advice: If you’re not spending more than $20 on a probiotic then it probably doesn’t work.
Both Culturelle and Florastor are recommended probiotics that have proven successful.
Your GI tract needs all the help it can get. Effective probiotics can restore good bacteria that helps us digest food. We do get probiotics from certain foods such as yogurt, but when our system has been through this kind of ordeal, it’s a good idea to provide a supplemental boost to an ulcerative colitis diet—no matter how refined it might be.
Additional supplements Maggie used to treat her son’s ulcerative colitis include:
- Vitamin D
- Fish Oil Omega 3 and 9
- Turmeric/Black Pepper
- Supplement suggestions may vary from patient to patient
Choosing the right supplements can be tricky, so we’ve created a free guide to help you find the highest quality options available. You can download your free copy below.
How To Track Your Ulcerative Colitis Diet
Maggie learned there is more than one way to track the results of your diet trials.
You can keep a small notepad and write everything down, or use a food tracker app.
The app Maggie found to be most helpful was GI Buddy. You can use it to record how you feel after you eat, how much sleep you’re getting, how many times you’ve gone to the bathroom, and stool descriptions.
GI Buddy is a full management system and food tracker app. for IBD conditions. It can be used to analyze a Crohn’s disease diet as well as an ulcerative colitis diet.
A Happy Ending To Ulcerative Colitis
In closing, Maggie happily shared that her son is in remission and slowly tapering off prescription medications. She reiterated that the careful tracking of food and making slow and modest dietary changes is crucial to success.
She also expressed her gratitude for having an incredible team of doctors to give her such excellent advice and treatment, warning against “analysis paralysis”—that anxiety and overwhelm which can come from reading too much of what’s available online.
She recommended you utilize resources that are trusted and come highly recommended by your medical team.
She elaborated that social media support groups, which at times may be informative and helpful, can also be overwhelming and exhibit too much conflicting noise on the topic.
Because of the support Maggie has received from Boston Children’s Hospital and her witnessing her son’s condition improve, she has been given hope. By sharing her’s and her son’s story with us, she offered her own support to any and all of us who are facing difficult health conditions.
You Are Not Defined By Ulcerative Colitis
Maggie feels it’s important for people to remember that an ulcerative colitis diagnosis does not have to define you. Just as the shape of your nose doesn’t decide your character and purpose, neither does your current health condition.
It’s hard to change your lifestyle so drastically, especially when it sometimes means giving up foods you love and crave. But it’s not the end of the world. With a carefully designed ulcerative colitis diet, you can lead a healthy life.
Boston Children’s Hospital recommends the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation as a trusted and informative resource.
And at Athletic Greens, we’re always seeking out new ways to help you find your way to optimal wellness. Please, tell us your stories, so we can provide an informed support system for others who have begun their journey from flare to remission.