What should I eat if I have ulcerative colitis?

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Jigneshkumar Patel, MD from Medical Center of Trinity offers advice on what not to eat if you have ulcerative colitis.
Anthony L. Komaroff, MD
Internal Medicine
What to eat will depend if you are in an acute flare-up of ulcerative colitis or between flare-ups.

Between flare-ups, eat a well-balanced diet to replace lost nutrients, promote healing, and improve your tolerance for medications. Include omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, protein, and fiber (especially soluble fiber).

Sources of soluble fiber include oats, barley, skinned apples, oranges, potatoes, and dried beans.

Omega-3s can be found in flaxseed (ground or oil) and seafood (especially salmon, Atlantic mackerel, herring and sardines.)

Good sources of calcium include milk, yogurt, cheese and fortified orange juice.

The best sources of protein are low-saturated fat animal products, such as seafood and chicken and other poultry (without the skin). Beans and soy are also excellent sources.

To keep your energy up, try a snack that balances protein and carbohydrates. This might include a low-fat cheese stick and some fruit, peanut butter and crackers, or hummus and whole-grain pita bread.

During your flare-ups you will be extra sensitive to the symptoms of your disorder. What foods you can tolerate will vary. However, certain items commonly cause problems.

The foods you may want to avoid include:
  • Spicy foods
  • Alcohol
  • Coffee
  • Chocolate
  • Raw and certain other vegetables (often corn, cabbage, beets, tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers)
  • Stringy and/or fatty meats
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Diet drinks
  • Raw, unpeeled fruit
  • Shellfish
  • Dairy foods
In addition to avoiding the foods that bother you, you may be able to minimize symptoms and maximize comfort by eating small, frequent meals.

Foods that are more commonly tolerated during flare-ups are:
  • Refined grains
  • Well-cooked eggs
  • Tender meats
  • Thoroughly cooked vegetables
  • Fruits with seeds and skin removed
  • Soups with clear broths
And remember, it is also important to drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
Harvard Medical School The Sensitive Gut

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Harvard Medical School The Sensitive Gut

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.