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Ulcerative Colitis Diet: Foods to Eat and Avoid


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Are you wondering if you can eat nuts or seeds if you have ulcerative colitis? There is a diet for people with ulcerative colitis. Here's how to follow the colitis diet.

There are some diseases and medical conditions that require a strict diet. People who have ulcerative colitis, a chronic inflammatory bowel disease, need to pay attention to what they eat. They should follow a colitis diet so that it can help manage symptoms and promote overall digestive health. The diet should be rich in nutrients, consisting of foods that are easy to digest and gentle on the intestine. Fluids should also be part of the diet if you have ulcerative colitis. Read on to learn how to follow a colitis diet.

What is ulcerative colitis?

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

If you have colitis, eat porridge for breakfast. Image Courtesy: Freepik

How to follow the ulcerative colitis diet?

A 2015 study published in the European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology found that people who ate more sugar and saturated fat and less vegetables and fruits had a higher risk of the disease. Although there is no one-size-fits-all diet for ulcerative colitis, there are some general guidelines.

1. Breakfast

Choose easily digestible foods like oatmeal with mashed bananas and a little honey. Experts say avoid adding nuts or seeds, which can be difficult to digest.

2. Mid-morning snack

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

3. Lunch

Eat light food like boiled vegetables. Prefer a light combination of rice and vegetables for lunch. Avoid heavy sauces or spices that can cause bloating.

4. Afternoon snack

Greek yogurt with a drop 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 cooked carrots and mashed potatoes. Avoid high-fat meat or fried foods.

6. Have breakfast before sleeping

Eat freshly cooked upma or boiled corn chaat or mashed potatoes with a drink 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 should avoid if you suffer from this 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 may aggravate symptoms due to their rough texture and high fiber content.

2. Spicy Food

Spices and hot sauces are great ways to enhance the flavor of dishes. But they can irritate the digestive system and cause bloating.

3. Dairy Products

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

Why are fluids important for people with colitis?

It is important for people with colitis to stay hydrated, especially during outbreaks when diarrhea can lead to dehydration. Experts say aim to drink at least 8 to 10 cups of fluids daily, including water, herbal teas and electrolyte-rich drinks like coconut water.

Drink coconut water as part of your colitis diet. Image Courtesy: Adobe Stock

Food and Nutrition Management Tips for Colitis

Here are some more useful diet tips to manage colitis.

1. Keep a food diary

Keep a diary in which 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 eating only three heavy meals a day, eat small and frequently. In 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 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 dietitian to design a plan that meets your needs and addresses any underlying nutritional deficiencies or complications.

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