Understanding how to eat with Crohn’s disease is a mystery to most. It took me 10 years to figure it out but I had to figure it out on my own. I’m laying out all the details for you here so you don’t have to do the same.
Proper nutrition is critical for treating diseases of any kind but also to prevent it from cropping up at all. Eating a diet full of nourishing, wholesome organic foods, full of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats, and raw dairy will go a long way in fulfilling your health goals.
I know what you’re thinking. “But what if I already have Crohn’s disease?”
If you already have Crohn’s the same thing applies. It just means there are changes to your eating habits that must be made. These changes can range from slight to drastic depending on which side of the “healthy eating” scale you fall on.
It’s safe to assume that if you have Crohn’s disease already you’re in need of a nutrition adjustment in your eating lifestyle. No worries though. It’s very doable but you must be intentional and go into it knowing that the end result is the return of your health and vitality! I did it, many of my readers have done it, and so can you!
I did it, many of my readers have done it, and so can you!
Let’s jump in.
Keep A Journal
Whether you’re just starting out or not with any disease, it’s critical to have a way to measure your progress. There may be no better way than to journal or keep a food and symptom diary. I HIGHLY recommend this!
Not only does it allow you to measure progress, but it can create positive momentum, spurring you forward toward gaining control over this nasty disease.
Here’s what you’ll put in it daily.
- Foods you ate, separated by meal
- Symptoms at the time of the meal
- Consistency of your poop (See Bristol Stool Chart below)
- Your mood at each meal
- If you had blood in your stool or not
I strongly urge you to buy a dedicated notebook or pad that you can take with you anywhere. You can also use something like Evernote, Google Keep or any other digital note taking tool as a digital resource. An excellent mobile app for tracking these areas is called
An excellent mobile app for tracking these areas is called Cara. Find it in your app store and check it out. For more helpful mobile apps see the link below.
By keeping a diary/journal you’re able to narrow down the foods and triggers that worsen symptoms for you. You’ll easily see which foods don’t cause any problems at all also.
It’s not the same for everybody so I can’t provide an official list but here’s a list you can use that worsen symptoms for most. It’s a good baseline starter.
Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease
It’s important to note that the most successful folks will simply eat the same things that work day in and day out. Makes sense right? If you know a certain food doesn’t bother you, stick with those! This method allows for colon rest as well because you’re not constantly inflaming the affected areas and in turn allowing your
If you know a certain food doesn’t bother you, stick with those! This method allows for colon rest as well because you’re not constantly inflaming the affected areas and in turn allowing your inflammatory markers to decrease. One step closer to remission!
What Diet is Best for Crohn’s Disease?
First of all, let me preface this paragraph with a statement that is intended to drive you toward positive change in your health. Ready? Here it is…Quit looking for a new diet and start changing your lifestyle! - Bryce Dovenbarger Click To Tweet
Alright, back to it.
By far, the most common diet recommended by conventional doctors is a low-residue diet for Crohn’s. If you’re not familiar with the low-residue diet, let me explain.
The low-residue diet is similar to a low-fiber diet but with added restrictions. The restrictions exclude foods that can stimulate bowel movements and contractions. The reason it’s a popular option is it can increase the time Foods spend traveling through your digestive tract, which in turn allows for more nutrient absorption, the very thing Crohn’s patients need most during a flare. This method can potentially reduce diarrhea as well. Common foods to avoid on this diet include.
The reason it’s a popular option is it can increase the time Foods spend traveling through your digestive tract, which in turn allows for more nutrient absorption, the very thing Crohn’s patients need most during a flare. This method can potentially reduce diarrhea as well. Common foods to avoid on this diet include.
This method can potentially reduce diarrhea as well. Common foods to avoid on this diet include.
- Dairy – The amount of damage this disease causes in your GI can cause lactose intolerance. Because of this, dairy is more likely to increase symptoms of gas, bloating and diarrhea.
- High fiber foods – Fiber from fruits and vegetables can be a problem for some due to it aggravating symptoms. For 6-12 months, stay away from high fiber foods in the cabbage family such as broccoli, cauliflower, even corn, popcorn and whole grains.
- Fried Foods – Due to the greasiness and trans fat from vegetable oils, these foods will likely worsen symptoms greatly.
- Nuts and Seeds – Normally good healthy options for non-IBD sufferers, it tends to be harder for those with a compromised gut lining to break them down causing irritation and worsening symptoms.
- Tomatoes – Due to the acid nature of tomatoes, they can cause people with IBD quite of a bit of issue. Avoid these completely!
Dried Fruits and Berries – These foods contain high amounts of sugar. Sugar is inflammatory and will worsen symptoms greatly.
- Alcohol – Made with wheat containing high amounts of gluten and GMO’s, alcohol breaks down into sugar and is likely to worsen symptoms greatly.
- Caffeinated Beverages and Foods – Caffeine is a natural diuretic. It also causes the colon to spasm and can worsen diarrhea and cause even more frequent trips to the bathroom.
- Deli Meats – Packed with poor quality ingredients and lots of sugar, you’ll want to avoid deli meats as these ingredients will likely increase inflammation.
- Spicy Foods – These foods tend to aggravate the intestinal lining and worsen symptoms.
- Whole Grain Bread – Bread contains gluten and breaks down into sugar faster than a candy bar. This causes increased inflammation and will worsen symptoms.
All of these can and most likely will worsen Crohn’s symptoms. I would recommend you to remove these also but some of them can be worked back in at a later date. Some of these you will need to stop consuming completely and most should eliminate anyway as a preventive measure. With enough inflammation, anyone can develop Crohn’s!
Some of these you will need to stop consuming completely and most should eliminate anyway as a preventive measure. With enough inflammation, anyone can develop Crohn’s!
Low-residue is an option but it’s not a complete solution. It’s designed around the premise that you’ve heard over and over, food is not the cause or cure for Crohn’s disease. The flip side of this diet is to eat plenty of foods that are white. See if you can spot the problem with this. If you’re a regular reader, you should know by now. 🙂
The flip side of this diet is to eat plenty of foods that are white. See if you can spot the problem with this. If you’re a regular reader, you should know by now. 🙂
- Refined or enriched white bread and plain crackers, such as saltines or Melba toast (no seeds)
- Cooked cereals, like farina, cream of wheat, and grits
- Cold cereals, like puffed rice and corn flakes
- White rice, noodles, and refined pasta
For those new to all of this, it will take some time to recognize the issues related to certain foods and why they should not be consumed at all. It’s more of an educational process you’ll go through than anything.
It’s more of an educational process you’ll go through than anything.
So, look back at that list real quick.
If you’re stumped, no problem.
Here’s the issue.
There are keywords to look for. Avoid ALL foods with these words.
The reason we must avoid these foods is they’re extremely inflammatory. These foods are packed full of chemicals and if it’s white, you can almost guarantee it’s been bleached. Not only are they chemical filled but these foods are extremely high in sugar which is one of the primary causes of most disease. There’s a reason this diet doesn’t help IBD and Crohn’s sufferers and it only makes it worse. While the foods to avoid on the low-residue diet are spot on, just make sure you also avoid the foods mentioned above which they say are safe to consume. Not true, not true at all!
Not only are they chemical filled but these foods are extremely high in sugar which is one of the primary causes of most disease. There’s a reason this diet doesn’t help IBD and Crohn’s sufferers and it only makes it worse. While the foods to avoid on the low-residue diet are spot on, just make sure you also avoid the foods mentioned above which they say are safe to consume. Not true, not true at all!
There’s a reason this diet doesn’t help IBD and Crohn’s sufferers and it only makes it worse. While the foods to avoid on the low-residue diet are spot on, just make sure you also avoid the foods mentioned above which they say are safe to consume. Not true, not true at all!
While the foods to avoid on the low-residue diet are spot on, just make sure you also avoid the foods mentioned above which they say are safe to consume. Not true, not true at all!
The Proper Way to Eat for Crohn’s Disease
This is the exact way I ate to put Crohn’s and cancer into remission and choose to eat today.
Why? It’s delicious, filling, extremely nutritious. I can make just about anything I want to eat and so can you with a little help.
It takes some time to develop an eye for swapping ingredients but hang in there. It will come with a little diligence.
Before I get into what to/not eat, It’s important to note that the type of diet that works best depends on your ability to digest and absorb minerals, bacteria, fats, fiber and certain types of carbohydrates.
Each person with Crohn’s reacts differently to these food groups because of the medications they may be on, the amount of GI inflammation, and digestive enzymes they produce.
Classic Foods to Avoid – Again, food sensitivities vary from person to person but an overwhelming amount must avoid fried and spicy foods, all refined foods such as white bread, pasta, caffeine (yes, coffee too), carbonated drinks and alcohol.
In addition, wheat containing products due to gluten, grains such as corn and oats, pork, onions, yeast, starchy vegetables (potatoes) and beans.
These foods all tend to worsen Crohn’s symptoms.
Eat Gut Healing Foods – Because most diseases are due to inflammation, it’s critical to reverse it by eating foods that support lowering inflammation, or healing foods.
If you’re suffering from Crohn’s disease, I strongly recommend eating a Real Food Diet, which naturally decreases inflammation and gets you on the path to healing.
Consuming foods such as bone broth and bone broth protein which is packed with amino acids and collagen, are guaranteed to improve symptoms, reduce inflammation, and rebuild the lining of your gut.
The number one goal with Crohn’s is to reduce that inflammation so don’t wait. All the details for eating this way is in this article.
Cut Out Dairy – Crohn’s patients suffer from bloating, gas, cramping, and diarrhea. All very annoying, uncomfortable, and can be painful. Ease these symptoms by eliminating dairy altogether.
Conventional dairy from cows milk, cheese, etc. lactose or milk sugar. Some people are completely intolerant to dairy and most people with
Crohn’s can barely touch dairy without running to the bathroom. What’s worse is the fat content in dairy tends to inflame Crohn’s symptoms.
Avoid High Fiber Foods – If your intestinal inflammation is moderate to severe, symptoms will worsen with higher fiber foods. This also includes any raw fruits and vegetables.
It’s not because these foods are unhealthy but because your system is so compromised from inflammation. Especially avoid the following in raw form. Corn, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, nuts, seeds, popcorn, etc. You may tolerate some of these but, remember that journal?
That’s how you’ll know for sure. You can consume your fruits and vegetables still but it’s imperative to steam them so they are soft and easily digested.
Eat Smaller Meals – The premise here is to give your colon rest. By eating smaller meals, you’re allowing your digestive system to quickly digest foods and allow more time for recovery and rest.
Eating the American way, three large meals per day, means you’re overloading your body and your digestive system is constantly working overtime.
Eating smaller meals more often throughout the day will reduce gas, bloating, cramping along with other symptoms, not to mention help with nutrient absorption.
You’ll find you have more energy as a result. So give your gut a break!
Drink Lots of Fluids – I can’t stress this one enough. Our bodies are made of about 60% water. If you’re not drinking enough you’ll begin to go into dehydration mode.
Further, our digestive system requires a lot of water to sufficiently pass broken down foods through. You’ll notice frequent constipation and more Crohn’s flares if you’re not drinking enough.
Make sure you’re drinking at least 8, 8-ounce glasses of plain, filtered water per day. Bone broth, kombucha, and caffeine-free herbal teas are good too.
These beverages have added benefits of amino acids, electrolytes, and probiotics.
Supplements for Crohn’s Disease
- Multivitamin – Nutrient absorption is critical Crohn’s sufferers. Supplementing with a daily multivitamin is strongly recommended. Be careful though. There’s a lot of harmful vitamins out there full of chemicals. Look for a real food vitamin such as Axe Organics Men’s and Women’s multivitamin.
- Omega 3 fatty acids – Found in fish oil and other foods, this supplement is known for fighting inflammation and calming symptoms. Most do not get enough omega 3’s in their diet. Fresh wild-caught salmon is a great choice to get this much-needed supplement.
- Glutamine – This is a naturally occurring amino acid in the body that helps the intestine function normally. Therefore, adding this to your supplements would be beneficial in helping the recovery of a compromised intestine.
- Curcumin – With its incredible anti-inflammatory properties, this one can’t be ignored. Studies show that curcumin is very effective for IBD sufferers of any kind, reducing their symptoms and need for medications. Additional studies show that it may be effective in the prevention of bowel diseases and cancer as well. I recommend Mercola’s Advanced Curcumin.
- Slippery Elm – Slippery elm contains mucilage, a substance that is slick when mixed with water, coats the intestinal lining and in turn aids in the protection of a compromised gut.
- Probiotics – In addition to probiotic foods, taken daily, a high-quality probiotic supplement supports your immune system, digestion, and aids mineral absorption. Studies show those with Crohn’s benefit greatly by reduced symptoms and by reducing the incidence of diarrhea. Axe Organics probiotics contain SBO’s or soil based organism which are live bacteria. These are the best on the market.
- Digestive Enzymes – Taking a high-quality digestive enzyme before and after a meal aids your digestive tract in completely breaking down proteins, sugars, and starches, which in turn aids in the healing of an inflamed intestinal lining. The best digestive enzymes on the market are from Enzymedica.
- Licorice Root – This adaptogenic herb is an excellent addition to your Crohn’s supplements. Especially if stress of any kind is a trigger for you. Licorice can also help support the body’s natural processes for maintaining the mucosal lining of the stomach and duodenum. It is especially beneficial if someone’s leaky gut is being caused by emotional stress. You can get it in pill form or as an organic tea.
- Collagen Powder – This substance is the reason bone broth is so popular today. Athletes like Kobe Bryant used it to heal a torn achilles tendon in just 2-3 weeks! Amazing! Collagen is the main ingredient in bone broth and responsible for giving cartilage, bone, and tendons their strength. Collagen also contains the amino acids proline and glycine which are essential building blocks to repairing damaged intestinal lining. Drink 8-16oz of bone broth daily or take 2 tbsp of collagen protein 2x daily. The best on the market is Dr. Collagen.
Essential Oils for Crohn’s Disease
Frankincense – Known for increasing the secretion of digestive enzymes and relaxes the digestive tract muscles. It has an overall benefit of reducing Crohn’s disease symptoms as well as leaky gut syndrome. Colitis, ulcerative colitis, and IBS. Add 2x drops to 8 oz water daily or add 6-8 drops with grapeseed or melted coconut oil to a vegetable capsule to get these added benefits.
Lemongrass – A natural anti-inflammatory substance, lemongrass helps relieve pains from gas and bloating irritation in the stomach and bowels. The same application as Frankincense applies. However, you can also add lemongrass to teas or soups too.
Fennel – Fennel is known to relax the muscles of the intestines which in turn allows it to reduce inflammation, aiding in symptoms of intestinal spasms, bloating and gas.
Peppermint – Peppermint is excellent at soothing an inflammation and irritation of the gut. Put 2-3 drops in a vegetable capsule with melted coconut or grapeseed oil. You can also rub it on topically on and around the inflamed area.
If you have questions about essential oils, please contact me at email@example.com.
Other Lifestyle Upgrades to Relieve Crohn’s Symptoms
Stress is a part of our everyday lives which can’t be avoided in many cases. If left untamed, emotional and physical stress becomes a large contributor to worsening Crohn’s symptoms. Stress causes digestion to slow, causing inefficient breakdown of proteins and other foods. This can result in
Stress causes digestion to slow, causing inefficient breakdown of proteins and other foods. This can result in leaky gut syndrome and increase inflammation and worsen symptoms.
For more information and ways to relieve and prevent stress, see the following articles.
13 Ways to Kick Stress Now
Stress: 10 Ways to Manage It Effectively
Exercise for Body and Mind
This information has been gathered over time during my research. It has profoundly changed my life and my desire is that it can for you as well.
Dealing with Crohn’s disease or any IBD-related disease is extremely difficult but using these techniques, tips, supplements and more, you’ll see good improvement and can achieve long-term remission like I have.
Taking this disease by the horns and telling it how to behave comes down to how efficiently you manage inflammation via your eating and general lifestyle practices.
Making the choice to make positive, intentional change in these two areas will, without a doubt, change your life!
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