Living with Crohn's disease can be a difficult struggle that many people face daily. Flare-ups caused by Crohn's disease can cause extreme abdominal pain that's seemingly unbearable to deal with. Even if you don't believe it, a simple change in how you eat can help ease the symptoms of frequent flare-ups. With the help of Top Nutrition Coaching, you can work with qualified nutrition experts to help you create the best diet for Crohn's disease. This personalized diet plan will help reduce the chance of a flare-up and significantly improve your quality of life.
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The Bottom Line:
- Why do I need a diet for Crohn’s disease? - The best way to get enough nutrition and take control of your health are to work with your medical team, choose healthy foods, and avoid foods that worsen your symptoms.
- Top diets for Crohn’s disease - A low-fiber diet, traditional Mediterranean diet, low FODMAP diet, DASH, and gluten-free diet are some of the many diets worth exploring for those with Crohn’s disease
- How Top Nutrition Coaching can help - Every person has a unique Crohn's disease case, so each person will require a customized treatment strategy. A nutritionist or dietitian at Top Nutrition Coaching can help you make a personalized treatment plan.
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Why do I need a diet for Crohn's disease?
Nutrition affects your overall health and well-being and your Crohn's disease symptoms. When you have Crohn's disease, you must pay close attention to your diet. While eating other foods you enjoy may worsen your symptoms, eating some foods can help ease your symptoms. The signs of Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis can lead to severe complications like nutrient deficiencies, weight loss, and malnutrition if the proper nutrients aren't provided.
According to the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation, restoring and maintaining good nutrition takes balance. Getting enough calories and nutrients from your food is the best way to stay healthy and avoid being undernourished. The best ways to get enough nutrition are to work with your medical team, choose healthy foods, and avoid foods that worsen your symptoms.
Top 10 Diets for Crohn's Disease
While it's recommended you work with a licensed nutritionist or dietitian who can help you create a personalized diet plan based on your condition, you can begin by changing your eating habits yourself. Here is a list of the top ten diets you can switch to to ease Crohn's Disease symptoms.
This diet is recommended to reduce cramping and bowel movements by consuming less dietary fiber. This diet entails avoiding raw green vegetables, nuts, seeds, popcorn, whole grains, unpeeled raw fruits, and cooked fruits.
Eating a low-fiber diet can be especially helpful when you have a stricture or bowel obstruction or after surgery, when your gut might need a little extra time to heal before you can return to your regular diet. A low-fiber diet may help with Crohn's symptoms and flare-ups; reduce gas and bloating; prep the bowels before surgery or a colonoscopy; and can help with chronic diarrhea. However, as the name suggests, a low-fiber diet can be low in important fiber. A diet high in fiber keeps the digestive system functioning normally, therefore, adopting this diet could lead to constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, and diverticulitis. You might also experience nutrient deficiencies and feel hungry more frequently.
Bottom Line: A low-fiber diet can be a great solution to managing Crohn's disease and making bowel movements more healthy and regulated. It's an excellent choice for those who suffer from frequent digestive issues.
Traditional Mediterranean Diet
This diet contains calcium-rich foods high in fiber and plant-based, including olive oil, low-fat dairy, herbs, and spices. This diet has little to no red meat, while poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt are recommended in moderation. A Mediterranean-style diet helps improve symptoms and quality of life for people with mild to moderate Crohn's disease.
The following characteristics describe a traditional Mediterranean diet:
- Various fruits, vegetables, minimally processed grains, and legumes comprise most of the diet.
- Olive oil, nuts, and seeds are the primary sources of fat.
- Fish oil is a significant source of animal protein. Every once in a while, a small amount of red meat is eaten.
- Little cheese, yogurt, and little to no butter or cream make up most dairy products.
- Wine may only be consumed with meals and in moderation.
- Only desserts are appropriate for celebrations, typically made with honey, olive oil, and almonds.
This diet encourages a wholesome eating regimen, increases lifespan, promotes healthy aging, and reduces the risk of developing heart disease, depression, and dementia. It might help with healthy weight loss when combined with calorie restriction. However, certain foods in this diet are pricey, and some dietary restrictions might be challenging to adhere to. Additionally, this diet has been known to cause nutritional deficiencies; and preparing some of the meals can be time-consuming.
Bottom Line: The traditional Mediterranean diet is an excellent choice for those with a lot of free time who are conscious of the nutrients they need when preparing meals. That said, this diet might not be the best choice for someone starting a new diet on their own for the first time, but it is a great way to ease the symptoms of Crohn's disease.
Low FODMAP Diet
IBS patients are frequently advised to follow a low-FODMAP diet, which also helps with Crohn's disease symptoms. Sugars are short-chain carbohydrates that are hard for the small intestine to absorb. They are also called FODMAPs, which stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. People who have trouble with their digestive system after eating FODMAPs may find that a low-FODMAP diet helps.
Research shows that eating fewer FODMAPs may help with symptoms like bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and pain. People with a more severe case of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), like Crohn's or ulcerative colitis, may also get relief.
Professionally founded and backed by extensive research, a low FODMAP diet reduces the symptoms of Crohn's disease and inflammation and assists in locating dietary triggers. However, the Low FODMAP Diet is restrictive, not a sustainable remedy, is arduous to change, and is not advised for children or pregnant women.
Bottom Line: IBS and Crohn's disease symptoms are intended to be temporarily managed with a low-FODMAP diet. Even though it is very strict and hard to change, it can be used to find the foods that make a person sick.
Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH)
To aid Americans with high blood pressure, the DASH diet was created in the 1990s (hypertension). It also performs other tasks. DASH makes use of an anti-inflammation strategy. Most grains are whole, most fruits and vegetables are abundant, fish, poultry, and legumes are the primary protein sources, and pro-inflammatory foods like red or lean meats, sweets, and sugary beverages are consumed in moderation.
On the DASH diet, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish are more important than foods with a lot of saturated fat. And that's good news for people with Crohn's disease because too much saturated fat can cause inflammation and exacerbate the symptoms of the disease.
DASH has anti-inflammatory effects, offers a balanced diet, can provide a lifetime of wellness, and is supported by large health organizations. However, DASH is hard to sustain; there are no convenience foods; substantial food tracking is necessary; it's not made to promote weight loss, and it might only be suitable for some.
Bottom Line: Numerous nationwide health organizations use and endorse the DASH diet. Despite having proven health benefits, it requires a lot of food tracking and maintenance, which can be difficult for many people to manage independently.
Gluten, a protein in foods made from wheat, barley, and rye, is excluded from this diet. A gluten-free diet has improved some Crohn's Disease patients' symptoms. With this diet, there are some risks to your nutrition, though. Gluten-free foods often have more fat and less of some essential nutrients, including B vitamins, iron, and trace minerals. Gluten-free grain products are also often lower in fiber, iron, zinc, and potassium. which can make you gain weight. Before recommending a gluten-free diet, your doctor may want to perform a test for celiac disease.
- Diet is essential to treat celiac and gluten sensitivity
- Choices can focus on whole foods
- Safe to follow with proper nutritional planning
- Diet can be adjusted to suit other needs, such as dairy-free
- It may improve symptoms for those who are lactose intolerant or who have Crohn's
- Diet can be deficient in fiber
- Nutritional deficiencies can occur
- Food choices at restaurants are limited
- Many packaged gluten-free foods are unhealthy
Bottom Line: Cutting gluten out of your diet can help your health in many ways, like reducing Crohn's disease flare-ups. However, it could do more harm than good, so it's essential to consult a professional to see if going gluten-free is right for you.
Carbohydrate Exclusion Diets
These eating regimens severely restrict or avoid refined grains, fiber, and some sugars altogether. There are many carbohydrate-free diets, such as the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, which says you can't eat soy, lactose, grains, and all other refined and processed foods. You also eliminate some vegetables from your diet, such as potatoes, okra, and corn. Keep in close contact with your healthcare team to maintain a healthy nutritional balance. Your body might need more B vitamins, calcium, vitamin D, or vitamin E if you eat this way.
- It may help manage Crohn's Disease and flare-ups
- It may help treat GI symptoms
- Restricts nutrients
- Requires work
- No scientific support
Bottom Line: Reducing carbs from your diet can be a great way to control Crohn's disease and stop flare-ups. However, these diets can run a severe risk of restricting essential nutrients from your body, so it's important to consult with a registered dietitian while on this diet.
Many people switch to a vegetarian diet to improve their health or lower their risk of getting certain diseases. The benefits of a plant-based diet are numerous and well-established. Adding more vegetables to your diet and cutting back on meat and dairy just a few days a week can help reduce inflammation and stress on your heart and circulatory system. A diet primarily made up of plants can make it much less likely that you will have another flare-up.
- Reduced risk of disease
- It might improve immune function
- A greater variety of foods
- Provides a complete diet
- Favorable environmental effects
- Less convenient
- Exposure to chemicals
Bottom Line: Eating a plant-based diet is good for your health in many ways, including reducing and stopping Crohn's disease flare-ups. However, adjusting to it can be expensive, inconvenient, and challenging.
Low-Calorie, Low-Fat Diet
No matter where the fat deposits come from, maintaining a low-calorie, low-fat diet will help eliminate some of them and lessen Crohn's disease symptoms. Eat a lot of leafy greens, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and healthy fats to help prevent fat storage. Consume seafood and lean meat instead of fatty meat. Finally, avoid alcohol and caffeine, but not necessarily.
- No food is off limits
- Promotes nutritious eating
- It may improve heart health
- Aligns with some dietary guidelines on fat intake
- Hard to sustain
- May increase intake of less healthy foods
Bottom Line: When calories are restricted, low-calorie, low-fat diets have successfully promoted weight loss. But if these diets aren't carefully planned or watched, they can leave you short on vitamins and minerals.
Traditional Nordic Diet
The Nordic diet has been linked to less inflammation and better anxiety and stress symptoms. Because this diet is full of nutrients, these meals can help ease Crohn's disease symptoms and reduce flare-ups. The grain rye, proven to lower blood sugar levels, the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein, and PSA, a marker for male prostate cancer, deserve special mention.
Even though their cuisines are different, Finland, Sweden, and Denmark all eat the same healthy core foods, such as:
- Whole rye products (bread, muesli)
- Canola oil is the principal oil
- Can improve specific inflammatory markers
- It can help you lose weight
- Can prevent Type 2 Diabetes
- Can alleviate Crohn's Disease flare-ups
- It may not always be practical
- Potentially expensive
Bottom Line: The quintessential healthy diet is the Nordic diet. It can prevent and lessen the symptoms of many severe conditions, like Crohn's disease, which is one of them. To make sure you are getting the most out of this diet, consulting a certified nutritionist is necessary.
Traditional Okinawan Diet
Okinawa is a Japanese island known for having a large number of healthy people over 100 years old. The restricted diet, which also lowers the risk of many chronic diseases like Crohn's, deserves a large portion of the credit.
A traditional Okinawan diet is:
- Low calorie
- Rich in vegetables, including seaweed
- Rich in legumes, particularly soy
- Moderate in fish
- Low in meat and dairy
- Moderate in alcohol
- It has a lot of soy
- Dense in seaweed
- The primary source of starch is Okinawan sweet potato
- It's low in fat
- It helps people live longer thanks to its powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds
- Calorie and fat-free
- Highly fibrous
- It also contains complex carbohydrates
Bottom Line: Although the traditional Okinawan diet might encourage a longer life span, it might not suit everyone. It may be challenging to adhere to over time due to its restrictive nature, which restricts or prohibits otherwise healthy food groups.
How Top Nutrition Coaching Can Help
To begin with, choosing a diet for your Crohn's Disease can be stressful and overwhelming. Every person has a unique Crohn's disease case, so each person will require a customized treatment strategy. Talk to a qualified nutritionist or dietitian at Top Nutrition Coaching to make a personalized treatment plan to get the most out of your diet.
Top Nutrition Coaching has many tools that will make it easier for you to find a nutritionist. After completing your health evaluation, you can speak with a specialist who has been matched to you to determine which nutritionist is the best fit for you. Connecting with someone who can help you achieve your health-related goals is quick and simple using this method. To better help a matched professional understand your way of life and goals, complete the health evaluation at Top Nutrition Coaching.
Changing to a diet that encourages healthy eating habits is best for you, whether you have Crohn's disease already or want to prevent it along with many other serious health issues. Given the variety of options and Crohn's disease variations, a registered dietitian from Top Nutrition Coaching can help you develop the best Crohn's Disease diet so you can get back to living your best life.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Still unsure about recommended diets for Crohn's disease? Below are a few frequently asked questions that may help you form a decision.
What foods should a Crohn's patient avoid?
While there's no specific Crohn's Disease diet since different foods trigger different people, the main foods to avoid after a flare-up are whole grains, beans, high-fiber fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, alcohol and caffeine, sweeteners, dairy, spicy foods, and greasy, fatty foods.
What aggravates Crohn's disease?
Although there isn't conclusive proof that any specific foods cause Crohn's disease, some things appear to make flare-ups worse. Thus, keeping a food diary can help you pinpoint your own trigger foods. Beyond that, try maintaining a healthy liquid diet, eating smaller meals, and staying hydrated.
Can you heal Crohn's with a diet?
While there's no known cure-all diet for Crohn's, eating and avoiding certain foods may help prevent flare-ups. It can also be beneficial to work with professionals, such as a Registered Dietitian, who can personally work with you to curate the best diet plan for you.