IBD Management - Diet & Lifestyle

Although food and stress are not direct causes of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, a beneficial diet and lifestyle can help IBD sufferers reduce flares and avoid worsening symptoms. Proper nutrition and avoidance of problematic foods and emotional stress are good preventive measures you can take.

Diet And Lifestyle

Dietary Tips for IBD Sufferers

During periods of IBD flares, eating certain foods may precipitate abdominal discomfort and cramping. Talk with your physician about how to identify foods and beverages that could aggravate your symptoms, especially during a flare.

The following 6 tips and guidelines may help you avoid
flares and ease symptom severity:

1. Don’t consume problem foods or beverages.

Some foods may worsen your symptoms, such as: beans, cabbage, broccoli, raw fruit juices and fruits, popcorn, caffeine, and carbonated beverages.

2. Eat smaller meals.

Eating 5 or 6 smaller meals may be a better option than
eating 3 large meals.

3. Drink plenty of fluids.

Do drink plenty of fluids daily, particularly water. Avoid beverages that contain caffeine which can aggravate your symptoms and cause diarrhea.

4. Experiment with fiber.

Foods that are high in fiber, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, and grains, are part of a healthy diet. For some IBD sufferers, dietary fiber may cause diarrhea, abdominal pain and gas. If you’re considering adding significant amounts of fiber to your diet, it is best to get your doctor’s advice.

5. Consider adding multivitamins to your daily routine.

IBD symptoms such as diarrhea can deplete nutrients. Food triggers can limit your caloric intake and impair your nutrient absorption. Vitamin and mineral supplements may improve your ability to recover faster from a flare.

6. A qualified dietitian may help.

Talk to a registered dietitian about unusual weight loss, or other matters that may be related to nutritional deficiencies you could have. A dietician can help you develop a menu plan based on identified trigger foods to ensure adequate nutrition.


Healthy Lifestyle Changes

Regardless of your current physical health, adopting a health-boosting lifestyle is wise. It includes being active, eating the right foods and beverages, and avoiding alcohol and smoking. Make a commitment to physical activity, positive thinking, and avoiding negative situations.


Quit Smoking

If you are predisposed to developing Crohn's Disease, smoking will increase your risk of that happening, and may worsen your condition. Smokers are more likely to suffer relapses, require medications and repeat surgeries. Ask your doctor about effective ways to quit smoking. Your overall health will improve and you’ll avoid aggravating your present condition.


Emotional Stress

Mental and emotional stress can worsen the symptoms of your IBD and trigger flares. Although it's not always possible to avoid stress, you can learn ways to help manage it. Some of these include:

  • Exercise. Even mild exercise can help reduce stress, relieve depression and normalize bowel function.Talk to your doctor about an activity plan that's right for you.
  • Regular relaxation and breathing exercises. An effective way to cope with stress is to perform relaxation and breathing exercises. You can take yoga and meditation classes at home using books, CDs, or DVDs.
  • Other techniques. Set aside time every day for any activity you find relaxing — listening to music, reading, playing computer games or just soaking in a warm bath.
Research has suggested that proper management of IBD can result in positive outcomes – including reduced dependence on medications.

See your doctor if you have questions about your diet and medications, and about lifestyle programs in your community.