Food can be one of the biggest triggers and challenges when it comes to Crohns management and inflammatory bowel disease. Learning which foods to avoid with Crohns and which ones can help reduce inflammation can be a long and painful process. For myself, it took me nearly 3 years of different diets of eliminating and adding foods one at a time to see what worked well for me and which didn’t. Well, this still isn’t a perfect science for my body, learning which foods to avoid has been really helpful in keeping my inflammatory bowel in remission.
This post should not be considered trying to provide medical advice. This post is sharing foods that I’ve learned to avoid in hopes of helping provide suggestions and ideas for those with bowel disease as well. Please speak to a medical professional about your Crohn’s or colitis and your specific diet recommendations, or treatment plans.
Crohns Symptoms with Trigger Foods
Here are some symptoms to watch out for with foods that might be causing a trigger and flaring up your system. Everyone can experience different symptoms; however, these are some of the most commonly experienced. Speak with a health care provider if you have questions about your specific symptoms.
- Abdominal Pain
- Lack of Appetite, worry about eating
- Passing blood in stool
- Frequent, and/or urgent bowel movements
High-fiber Vegetables and Fruits
One of my personal favourites, is leafy greens, and high-fiber vegetables and fruits. For most folks, this is a common food to avoid with crohns. These vegetables are insoluble fiber that can be painful in the digestive tract. When eaten in large quantities, or when inflammation is present it can easily lead to a flare in people with IBD and IBD. Below is a list of common fruits and vegetables that are high in fiber and foods to avoid crohn’s disease.
Fruits – grapes, raisins, strawberries, raspberries, apples (with skin), mango, oranges, pears, and avocado.
Vegetables – carrots, beets, artichokes, broccoli, kale, eggplant, fennel, cabbage, and mushrooms.
Caffeine can be a fantastic stimulant, however, when it comes to ulcerative colitis and crohns disease it is unlike to be your friend. Although caffeine does not contain fiber, the main trigger in most foods, it does create stimulation in the digestive tract which can aggravate your symptoms and flare. Most crohns disease diet suggestions include reducing or eliminating caffeine when possible. This can include but is not limited to coffee, tea, sodas, and chocolate.
Beans and Legumes Foods to avoid with Crohns
Next up for crohn’s foods to avoid are beans and legumes. Now, I myself and not a huge fan of these so eliminating them was simple for me. However, I do have many family members who love to cook with beans and legumes during the holidays. Beans and legumes are packed with fiber and are and are on most diets for crohns plans to reduce. As they’re high in insoluble fiber they can worsen your symptoms of loose bowel movements and diarrhea. Common beans and legumes to avoid on a crohns diet include chickpeas, peas, kidney beans, lentils, and black beans.
Whole grains are a common crohn’s disease foods to avoid as they’re high in fiber, and typically contain a nut or seed. These are fantastic for helping you feel full longer. As well, providing you many vitmains and minerals and overall a great benefit to your health. However, when living with IBS or IBD the fiber that is contained in whole grain products can be less than helpful to your bowels.
The seeds and nuts contained in whole grains can be painful in your digestive tract, as well as encourage more bowel movements and loose stool. Sticking to options such as regular bread, and basic grains can be helpful to not create more symptoms and pain within the digestive tract. These products also can trigger additional gas in the digestive tract. Which can cause pain and worsen symptoms for those with crohns disease. Common whole grain Foods to avoid with Crohns include multigrain products, oatmeal, whole wheat pasta, popcorn, and rye.
Dairy Foods to avoid with Crohns
When I was first getting diagnosed this was one of the first crohns food to avoid that the GI mentioned to me. Removing dairy, while not simple, typically can help reduce symptoms and pain for most individuals. The sugar (from lactose) found in dairy products is the culprit in making symptoms and pain worse. Non-dairy alternatives are a great choice for this time to avoid lactose and help reduce the chance of aggravating symptoms. Common dairy products to remove from your Crohn’s diet can include cheeses, milk, creamers, spreads, yogurt, and soy milk.
Last but not least, one of the most challenging is the sweets! Artificial sweeteners can cause issues in the digestive tract by contributing to additional bacterial overgrowth. This can cause symptoms to worsen and disrupts the intestinal mucus barrier. Sugar can be reduced, and for some people that can help with reducing symptoms. For others, it’s finding more natural sweeteners like stevia and raw honey to help as alternatives to baking and cooking.
Artificial sweeteners are unfortunately in a lot of foods, and until you start searching every label you likely aren’t aware of the quantity consumed. Reducing intake it one of the first suggestions my GI provided me and it did help quite a bit. As well baking my own sweets using sweetener alternatives helped me still enjoy baked goods but without the worry of worsening symptoms. Sweetener foods to avoid with crohns can include cakes, pastries, cookies, candy, pudding, jam and jelly, soft drinks (also caffeine!), canned foods, and breakfast cereals.
While each individual body is unique, and foods that should be avoided for one person may be helpful for the other, I hope this list has provided some ideas and suggestions. Speak to your health care professional if you have questions about your individual health. Share in the comments below what foods you avoid or try to incorporate for your IBS and IBD.