8 Best Foods to Eat During a Crohn's Disease Flare-Up

  • Make eating a healthy diet your overall goal.
    When you have the chronic gastrointestinal disease known as Crohn’s disease, it’s important to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. It can, however, be a challenge for people with Crohn’s to get all the nutrients they need. That’s because it’s common for the small intestine to get inflamed, making it hard for your body to digest and fully absorb nutrients from food. Unfortunately, this can lead to malnutrition for many people who may already have a diminished appetite; this is a big problem because you need those calories and those nutrients! Eating certain foods won’t cure your Crohn’s disease, but they may help you cope with the symptoms. You may also need nutritional supplements. Ask your doctor for guidance and recommendations for nourishing your body.

  • 1. Low-fiber cereal
    Eating high-fiber foods can worsen the irritation and inflammation of your digestive tract. And if you’ve experienced any narrowing of your digestive tract, it can be really hard for your body to eliminate excess fiber in the foods that you eat. However, low-fiber cereals aren’t as hard on your body, and the fortified versions can still provide vital nutrients that your body needs. You can go with hot or cold cereals—just try to stick with options that contain 1 gram or less of fiber per serving.


  • 2. Yogurt
    Stock up on yogurt with probiotics, which are live microorganisms that can provide certain health benefits. Research suggests that eating yogurt with certain strains of the Lactobacillus bacteria might help to reduce inflammation from your Crohn’s disease. It will also give you a boost of calcium. Not all yogurt products contain probiotics, though, so look for the words ‘live and active cultures’ in the labeling.

  • 3. Fatty fish
    Fish that contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids might be a good choice for you. While research doesn’t show a definitive link between fish oils and reduced inflammation, omega-3 fatty acids with their anti-inflammatory properties may still be helpful. They’ll also give you a good amount of protein.

  • 4. Bananas
    Skip the high-fiber fruits like apples, which can be hard on your bowels, and go with low-fiber fruits like bananas and honeydew melon. You could also try canned or cooked fruit that doesn’t contain any seeds or skin.


  • 5. Potatoes
    Potatoes can be great to eat when Crohn’s symptoms are bad, but avoid the skin of the potato, which contains a lot of fiber that could irritate your gastrointestinal tract. Bake or roast a white or sweet potato and then scoop out the insides for a yummy meal. Cooking other vegetables may make them easier for your body to tolerate, as the raw versions tend to cause painful gas, bloating, diarrhea or other symptoms.


  • 6. Water
    No, water is not a food, but it’s still a critical part of your diet. If you’re eating a low-fiber diet, you may need extra water to help your bowels move as normally as possible. Or if you tend to suffer from chronic diarrhea, you’re at risk for dehydration, which makes drinking extra water even more crucial.


  • 7. High-calorie liquids
    Fortified high-calorie beverages can provide a much-needed boost of nutrition while giving your bowels a rest during a flare. Talk to your doctor about opting for a liquid diet for the duration of the flare before easing back into solid foods.


  • 8. Vitamin supplements
    It’s very likely that your body isn’t absorbing enough of the vitamins that it needs. In fact, about two-thirds of all people with Crohn’s disease have a vitamin D deficiency of some degree, so your doctor may suggest taking a supplement. Additionally, certain people with Crohn’s disease are unable to absorb enough B-12 from their diet and need oral supplements—and some even require a monthly injection to bring their B-12 levels up to where they should be.


  • Know what to avoid.
    You should avoid any foods that exacerbate your particular symptoms. For example, fiber may give you trouble. The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America suggests avoiding “scratchy” foods—that is, foods that contain a lot of fiber, or tend to scratch or scrape the lining of the already-inflamed intestine: think nuts, seeds, popcorn, whole grains, and raw vegetables. Some people also feel better if they avoid foods that are high in lactose. And still others find that fatty foods or fried foods tend to trigger flare-ups.


8 Best Foods to Eat During a Crohn's Disease Flare-Up
  1. Crohn's Disease. University of Maryland Medical Center. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/crohns-disease
  2. Crohn’s Disease. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/digestive-diseases/crohns-disease/Pages/facts.aspx
  3. Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis Diet and Nutrition Q & A. Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America. http://www.ccfa.org/resources/diet-and-nutrition-1.html
  4. Diet and Nutrition. Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America. http://www.ccfa.org/resources/diet-and-nutrition.html
  5. Donnellan CF, et al. Nutritional management of Crohn’s disease. Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology. 2013 May; 6(3): 231–242. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3625021/
  6. Eating the Right Foods. Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America. http://www.ccfa.org/resources/eating-the-right-foods.html
  7. Eating Tips To Get You Through The Holidays. Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America. http://www.ccfa.org/resources/holiday-eating-tips.html
  8. Lorea Baroja M, et al. Anti-inflammatory effects of probiotic yogurt in inflammatory bowel disease patients. Clinical and Experimental Immunology. 2007;149(3):470-479. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2219330/
  9. Nutrition and healthy eating: Low-fiber diet. Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/low-fiber-diet/art-20048511
  10. What is a Low-Fiber Diet? American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/treatment/survivorshipduringandaftertreatment/nutritionforpeoplewithcancer/low-fiber-foods

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Last Review Date: 2020 Jan 16
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