Crohn’s disease: Surprisingly healthy foods you should avoid during a flare-up

Symptoms of Crohn’s disease include severe cramping pains in the abdomen, especially before passing a stool; there could be an explosion of diarrhoea once on the toilet, which can be speckled with blood, mucus and pus. Clearly unpleasant, the life-long condition can also lead to anaemia, so feelings of fatigue can be overwhelming. 

Some people develop a fever, and it is not uncommon for people to lose a lot of weight as the body struggles to absorb any nutrients.

“Your diet and nutrition are a major part of life with inflammatory bowel disease,” said the charity Crohn’s & Colitis. During a flare-up, healthy foods can actually be a trigger for more cramping, bloating and diarrhoea.

It is possible for “raw green vegetables” to make symptoms worse, especially cruciferous vegetables, such as:

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Other healthy foods you may want to avoid include: whole nuts, whole grains, and fruits with skin and seeds. Of course, during a flare-up, it is still important to have a diet where the body can gain nutrients and minerals.

Vegetables might be tolerated if they are not defined as cruciferous vegetables. The vegetables that may not worsen symptoms during a flare-up include:

  • Asparagus tips
  • Cucumbers
  • Potatoes
  • Squash.

They also need to be “fully cooked”; as for fruits, low-fibre fruits should be okay during a flare-up. This includes bananas, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, and cooked fruits.

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High-fibre fruits are a no-no, as they are much harder for the body to digest. When it comes to grains, refined grains tend to be better tolerated than whole grains during a flare-up.

This includes sourdough bread, potato, or gluten-free bread, white pasta and rice, and oatmeal. Other foods to avoid that can trigger painful symptoms during a flare-up include:

  • High-fat foods
  • Sugary foods
  • Lactose.

Example foods include: pastries, butter, fried foods, cheese and cream. Furthermore, it is better to avoid alcohol and caffeine during a sensitive period.

Do not attempt to do an elimination diet without the help of your healthcare team. This is so they can make sure you are still receiving the necessary nutrients.

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