Crohn's Disease - Dietary Considerations

Crohn's disease is a painful digestive disorder. This article discusses dietary considerations that may help alleviate symptoms of the condition.

There is a great deal of debate surrounding the role of diet in Crohn's Disease. Because Crohn's is a digestive disorder, it would make logical sense that diet plays a large role in its management; however, according to many in the medical community, diet does not play a very large part, if any, in the cause of initial flare-ups. Yet, many Crohn's sufferers swear that their diet is a very important factor in whether or not their disease flares up or remains in remission. For many Crohn's patients, a food diary is essential in pinpointing which foods are troublesome. All this requires is a simple notebook in which to jot down notes regarding what you had for each meal, and how you felt afterwards. After a week or two you will be able to identify which foods are causing you the most problems, and which foods are the most easily tolerated.

However, it is agreed upon by everybody that diet can have an effect when Crohn's is in an active stage. This seems obvious when one considers that Crohn's is an inflammation of the intestinal lining; diets rich in foods that might irritate the lining further would seem to exacerbate the condition. High fiber and high residue foods that cause greater stool output tend to irritate an already irritated colon, and for this reason, many doctors and patients work together to design a low-fiber, low-residue diet for the patient to follow while the disease in an active stage.

Some basic tips for following a low-fiber, low-residue diet include avoiding fruits with skins or seeds, raw vegetables with skins or seeds, whole grain products, tough meats with gristle, nuts, seeds, and popcorn. Dairy products are also best avoided when on this diet, as are caffeinated beverages and excessive sugar. Removing all of these from one's diet can lead to some very boring meals, but unfortunately when Crohn's Disease is active, the intestinal tract cannot handle very much at all.

Though many foods are not tolerable during a Crohn's flare-up, it is still important to try and maintain a balanced diet. Here are some ideas for foods that can be eaten on this type of diet. For breads and cereals, consider plain white bread, white rice, cream of wheat, or plain melba toast. For fruits and veggies, drink pulp-free fruit juice and tomato juice, or strained vegetable juice, and mashed potatoes. All other vegetables are difficult to digest during an active flare-up of Crohn's and are best avoided. In the meat category, well-cooked tender beef, lamb, pork, and poultry are okay so long as they aren't dressed in spices or sauces. Remember, before embarking upon any kind of diet, it is critical to discuss your plan with your doctor.

As you continue on your diet, and hopefully begin to feel better, it is okay to introduce foods that may contain a higher fiber content than you had been eating. Remember, fiber is still important to a healthy colon, and when Crohn's is in remission, it is crucial to get the proper fiber for bowel health. Crohn's Disease is a unique condition in that it affects people differently - some people exhibit certain symptoms while others don't, and some people can handle certain foods while others can't. Many doctors will tell their patients to eat whatever they can tolerate while they are in remission, and this is when the patient must take control of his or her condition. With tools such as the aforementioned food diary, and being careful about what foods they put in their bodies, Crohn's patients can go a long way toward managing the disease with their diet.

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