There is no standard, fixed diet for all crones patients. To make a diet chart each individual patient has to go through trial and error method and find out which food does not cause any irritation in their GI (gastrointestinal) tract and which food initiates symptoms like bowel cramp, gas production and diarrhea or increases chances of flare-up of Crohn’s disease. Crohn’s disease symptoms are mainly related to the intestine and it is this part of the digestive tract that is mostly infected in Crohn’s disease. In Crohn’s disease it is observed that certain portions of the small intestine become inflamed, preventing it to carry out its normal function properly. This leads to other Crohn’s disease symptoms like malabsorption, malnutrition and even dehydration.
Intestines (especially the small intestine) are where foods are broken down (hydrolyzed) from large molecules (macromolecules) into smaller, water soluble particles with the help of enzymes (biological catalysts). Some of the enzymes are secreted from the walls of the small intestine and plays a major role in digesting proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Minerals and vitamins like iron, calcium and vitamin D are absorbed through the small intestine and these are essential for normal bone formation and hemoglobin (a protein found in red blood cell and is responsible to carry oxygen around the body) production.
In order to get cured of the disease the infected area needs to be healed and healing is only possible when the body gets proper balanced diet and the intestine is in optimum working condition. So crohn’s patients should choose foods which enables healing without causing any irritation in digestive tract. Some tips on preparing a suitable Crohn’s diet are discussed below.
Identifying foods that trigger symptoms:
Each patient has their own types of food that makes symptom to surface and upset the GI tract. Some common foods that aggravate Crohn’s disease symptoms in most of the patients include high fiber food, raw fruits and vegetables, red meat, beverages (coffee and tea), carbonated drinks, fast foods, spicy foods, chocolate, alcohol and also milk in case of patients who have lactose intolerance. Avoiding these foods enables a patient to skip flare-ups or recurrence of the disease. You should keep in mind that if you ate something for example a banana and within or after ten minutes you face stomach or abdominal pain it is not for the banana. The pain might be for something you took three or more hours before.
Maintain a dairy:
Once you have figured out which foods are beneficial and does not aggravate or initiate Crohn’s symptoms and which foods activates the symptoms, make a note of it. Write down in your food diary all the foods that you take and what symptoms you face everyday so that next time when you visit a dietitian this record will assist him or her to help you in making a personalized, nutritional and healthy diet chart.
Recognize and make a note of symptoms:
Understand which types of food encourage activation of Crohn’s symptoms like bowel cramp and diarrhea. For example in patients who are intolarent towards lactose will have symptoms like stomach pain, indigestion and mild diarrhea and even nausea and vomiting. Make a note of what food you take everyday and the symptoms that occur in details. Just jolt down the details in your food diary at the end of everyday. This will come as a major help when you and your dietitian try to figure out how eating and drinking affects your health and what changes to make so as to draw the perfect balanced Crohn’s diet for you.
As discussed previously maintaining a dairy where information is present about food intake and symptoms comes in handy. So why not add more details to this information. Instead of writing “ate vegetables and meat and juice” it could be more precisely written like “ate half cup cauliflower, 2 ounces of roasted chicken and 1 glass of orange juice”. Since amount of food you take can affect Crohn’s disease symptoms you should get into the habit of measuring what food u eat or drink.
Supplements and liquid diet
: For patients who are suffering from fistulas or bowel obstruction or have undergone resection of small intestine, they may have problem absorbing nutrients from food. So it is better if they switch to liquid diet and/or ask for minerals and vitamin supplements from their doctors.
There are many evidences that show that after spending lots of money on medications patients became fed up and finally took the initiative to simply change their diet plan. They were surprised to find that by simply constructing a personalized diet plan gave them quiet a control over their disease. Preparing a well balanced nutritional Crohn’s diet not only helps in healing of the inflamed intestinal walls but also enables the patient to effectively manage the disease by avoiding flare-ups caused by “trigger foods”.
A dietitian or a doctor will tell you to figure out which food is GI tract friendly food to you. There is no point in visiting a dietitian if you don’t have the basic idea about which foods causes discomfort in your GI tract. After collecting details on what food is good for your system and which food aggravates symptoms the guidance of a dietitian is absolutely necessary while making the ultimate diet chart. Or otherwise you may exclude a food item which does not need to be eliminated from the chart or you might end up planning a diet that does not include a balanced diet and may suffer from nutritional deficiency. Once a personalized diet chart is made for you make sure that you stick to it.
Crohn’s diet: What food to avoid
Food that may trigger or even aggravate Crohn’s disease symptoms vary from person to person. So in order to keep the Crohn’s disease symptoms under control, it is essential to figure out which particular foods are harmful for an individual Crohn’s patient and then to construct a Crohn’s diet plan accordingly.
Possible foods that may trigger Crohn’s disease symptoms or flare-ups are as follows:
- Alcohol (such as beer, wine and whiskey): Alcohol can increase inflammation of the bowel.
- Oils, butter, mayonnaise, margarine
- Beverages (coffee and tea): Intake of beverages can cause increased inflammation and to some extent gas and can even make diarrhea worse.
- Carbonated drinks: These drinks can cause gas production in the stomach.
- Corn husks, whole grains and bran
- Dairy products (if lactose intolerant) like milk, cake, pudding: Lactose intolerance is common in Crohn’s patients and intake of lactose can result in distressing Crohn’s disease symptoms like bowel pain, gas, cramps and diarrhea.
- Fatty foods (fried foods or fast foods): Crohn’s patients are often unable to absorb fat through their intestine and this increases fat content in the stool which worsens diarrhea.
- High fibre containing foods: During a flare up or when Crohn’s disease symptoms are active high fiber food should be avoided as much as possible. Fibrous diet increases the secretion and contraction of intestine (both small and large) and thus painful abdominal spasms (contractions) can occur in Crohn’s patients.
- Gas-producing foods: cabbage-family vegetables (like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels), dried peas, beans and lentils, onions and chives should be avoided as these cause gas in the stomach and intestines.
- Nuts and seeds (peanut butter, other nut butters)
- Raw fruits and vegetables: Not all vegetables and fruits should be avoided rather only those that aggravate or initiate Crohn’s disease symptoms should be restricted. For Crohn’s patients, whose bowel have become very narrow due to inflammation, fruits and vegetables should be absolutely avoided.
- Red meat and pork
- Spicy foods: Spicy foods tend to aggravate inflammation and can even cause heartburn.
Crohn’s diet during a flare-up and activated stage of Crohn’s disease in quite different that when the Crohn’s patient is going through remission (cure) or an inactive stage of Crohn’s disease.