The Top Foods to Add to Your Diet if You Have Inflammatory Bowel Disease

You’ve certainly heard of irritable bowel syndrome — and you likely know someone who deals with this condition, too. Mayo Clinic explains it’s an extremely common chronic disorder that can cause cramping, abdominal pain, gas, bloating, and diarrhea. And it’s also closely related to inflammatory bowel disease, though it’s important to note the two conditions differ greatly.

WebMD explains inflammatory bowel disease causes inflammation and can damage the bowels. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis fall under the umbrella term of IBD. Those with IBS can find relief from their symptoms by eating the right foods, but for those with IBD, it’s vital that they eat the right diet to help them achieve some relief. Here are the foods those with IBD should add to their diets.

Salmon, mackerel, and herring

Raw salmon fillet

Raw salmon fillet | OlenaMykhaylova/iStock/Getty Images

There’s no evidence to suggest that a diet can directly help irritable bowel disease — but certain foods, like fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, can certainly help alleviate the worst symptoms. University of California San Francisco says omega-3s have been known to reduce inflammation, which can be incredibly beneficial here. Additionally, after a flare-up, it’s more important than ever to meet nutrition needs. And high-protein foods, like fish, can help you maintain muscle and body mass.

Plain chicken and cooked eggs

Chicken and eggs may sound bland, but they’re both excellent sources of protein. As mentioned before, this can be particularly beneficial after a flare-up. And because the foods aren’t spicy, they’re not likely to irritate your stomach, either.

UCSF notes you should also consider eating small meals when possible. Solid foods aren’t always well-tolerated. If this is the case for you, eating half a chicken breast or just one hardboiled egg instead of a large meal might be easier.

Applesauce and bananas

It’s wise to follow a low-residue diet when you have IBD, which essentially means limiting high-fiber foods. For this reason, many fruits and veggies (particularly the raw and cruciferous kind) can be a challenge to consume. That doesn’t mean you should give up on fresh produce altogether, though. MedicineNet.com suggests applesauce and bananas as good alternatives here. They’re both bland and soft, making them excellent choices to eat after a flare-up. Additionally, these foods will help you get more vitamins and minerals in your system without the aid of supplements.

Diluted juices

Freshly squeezed orange juice

Orange juice | canovass/iStock.com/Getty Images

Here’s another great food item to consume if you’re experiencing discomfort from IBD-related symptoms. Diluted juice offers vitamins and minerals without having to eat solid foods. Not only that, but you’ll also get additional calories and electrolytes that you may be missing.

Juice alone won’t be enough to sustain you for long, however. If you’re having trouble keeping solid food down for extended periods, be sure to ask your doctor about next steps.

Plain cereals and white bread

Whole-grain bread is often recommended for most individuals to add to their diet. But if you’re experiencing troubling IBD symptoms, make sure to stick with white bread. Whole grains may be too fibrous, thus exasperating your symptoms.

Not only are white breads and cereals easy on the stomach, but they’re also typically calorically dense, which can be helpful if you can’t keep food in your system following a flare-up.

Types of foods to avoid

Mozzarella sticks

Mozzarella sticks | bhofack2/Getty Images

There are certain foods that are known to make IBD symptoms much worse, as they can trigger flares and altogether make the disease worse, MedicineNet.com warns. Foods high in saturated fat (like red meat), fried foods, high-fiber foods, high-sugar foods, alcohol, and caffeinated beverages are generally not well-tolerated. Additionally, many with IBD have trouble with dairy. For this reason, creamy sauces should also be avoided.

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