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How to Eat During a Crohn's Disease Flare

By

Geoffrey Zakarian

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This content is created or selected by the Healthgrades editorial team and is funded by an advertising sponsor. The content is subject to the Healthgrades medical review process for accuracy, balance and objectivity. The content is not edited or otherwise influenced by the advertisers appearing on this page except with the possible suggestion of the broad topic area. For more information, read the HealthGrades advertising policy.

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geoffrey zakarian

Sometimes, you crave the cheesy goodness of mom's mac and cheese. Other times, a sweet dessert may be calling your name.

During a Crohn's disease flare, however, you might have to choose your meals based on what will appease your digestive tract rather than your appetite. Follow these tips to eat well while managing symptoms of a flare.

Choose veggies wisely. Fiber—while essential to good health—can further irritate your digestive tract. To get less of it, cook your vegetables instead of eating them raw. Avoid gas-producing varieties like broccoli and cauliflower altogether. A hearty soup with easy-to-digest veggies like potatoes can taste great and satisfy many of your nutrient needs.

Scale back on fruits. Like vegetables, many fruits contain lots of fiber. Cook them if you can—for instance, prepare a lightly sweetened applesauce (just peel the apples first, since most of the fiber is in the peel). Or switch to those that are naturally soft and fleshy, such as melons, which cause fewer symptoms.

Downgrade your grains. When you're feeling fine, make a habit of choosing more whole grains, such as whole wheat bread and pasta. They contain more B-vitamins and other nutrients you need. But during a flare, they may worsen your symptoms. Instead, eat more refined grains, including French bread and sourdough. Steer clear of baked goods or cereals with whole nuts and seeds.

Pick up more protein. You might need more protein than normal to battle inflammation during a flare. Ask your doctor or dietitian for details. Good bets for people with Crohn's disease include seafood, lean cuts of pork or beef, or smooth nut butters.

Fill up on fluids. Make sure you're staying hydrated, especially if you have diarrhea. Skip caffeinated beverages and sugary sports drinks or sodas. Sip water instead—with a splash of fruit juice for flavor, if you like. 

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Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Mar 11, 2016

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Medical References

  1. Diet, Nutrition, and Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation (http://www.ccfa.org/assets/pdfs/diet-nutrition-2013.pdf);
  2. Crohn's Disease and Diet, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6442478050);

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