What To Avoid and Eat During an IBD Flare

flare friendly food

One of the most common questions I get is: “what should I eat during an IBD flare?” and while every body truly is different, there are definitely foods I would avoid when in an IBD flare. 

First off, what classifies as a “flare”? A flare is when your IBD (Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis) is active and showing symptoms. A flare can be minor, or it can be severe, and it can last for months, weeks or only days. When you are showing no symptoms, it is called being in remission.

So, what you eat during a flare also truly depends on the severity of the flare. My flare in 2018 was so severe that I could only “eat” liquids without gut-wrenching pain (but even those hurt), so I stuck with clear liquids.

With less symptomatic flares I don’t go fully liquid, but I try to eat easy-to-digest foods. I eat soups, cooked veggies and fruit only, smoothies, etc. I cut out all raw fruit, veggies and greens, as well as full nuts, dried fruits and other difficult-to-digest foods. If you eat inflammatory foods like beans or legumes or fibrous foods like brown rice, I would cut those out for a while too.

Here is an easy, comprehensive list of foods I would personally avoid during flares:

  • Legumes

  • Whole nuts/seeds

  • Crunchy/chunky nut butters

  • Whole grains

  • Popcorn

  • Dried fruit

  • Raw greens

  • Raw vegetables

  • Raw fruit (especially ones with little seeds like strawberries)

  • Even some cooked veggies can be hard to digest like Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, mushrooms, cabbage and parsnips)

  • Carbonated drinks – they can irritate the digestive tract and cause gas (I personally avoid carbonated drinks 90% of the time)

  • Gum

  • Caffeine

  • Alcohol

  • Refined sugar (if you don’t already avoid this due to IBD)

  • Sugar alcohols (like sorbitol and mannitol)

  • Fried foods

  • Any high fat foods

  • Spicy foods

  • Black pepper

  • Gluten

Here is an easy comprehensive list of foods that are easier to digest during flares:

  • White rice – personally, I eat a mostly grain-free diet, but white rice is extremely easy to digest and when my flares are more severe I will incorporate white rice to ensure I am at least getting some caloric intake

  • Rice cakes – I find rice cakes are also easy on my stomach during flares (and all of the time to be honest!)

  • Steamed and pureed vegetables (my go-to’s are carrots, peeled butternut squash, peeled delicata squash, beets and peeled zucchini)

  • Peeled and boiled fruit like apples, pears or peaches

  • Ripe bananas

  • Apple sauce (check to make sure there is no added sugar or gums!)

  • Vegetable juices

  • Boiled chicken – you want to stick to lean meats when flaring as fats are harder to digest

  • Fish

  • Smoothies with pre-cooked and then frozen fruits and veggies (that have also been peeled) – blending helps pre-digest foods

  • Collagen – I take collagen daily as it can aid in gut health, but I especially take it during flares

  • Scrambled eggs – hardboiled eggs are more difficult to digest

  • Smooth nut butters may be tolerated in small amounts – depending on the severity of the flare, the high fat content may make it difficult to digest

  • Avocado

I hope these lists help next time you feel a flare creeping in! Sticking with these foods, resting, staying hydrated and keeping stress LOW LOW LOW always help during my flare. :)


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