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6 Foods to Avoid with Ulcerative Colitis

 6 Foods to Avoid with Ulcerative Colitis

When you have ulcerative colitis (UC), every bite or sip can make or break your day. 

While the wrong choices can lead to cramping, diarrhea, and abdominal pain, the right choices can do the opposite — bring you comfort, satiety, and nutritional peace.

Here’s some insight from one of Chicago’s most experienced gastroenterologists, Dr. Darrien Gaston, at Metropolitan Gastroenterology Consultants. He explains managing your ulcerative colitis symptoms by controlling your dietary choices.

Ulcerative colitis 101

Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that affects the lining of the colon and rectum. The most common symptoms are abdominal pain, diarrhea, and rectal bleeding. 

We can’t cure UC, but we can help you manage it with medication and lifestyle changes, particularly regarding diet.

The role of diet in ulcerative colitis

While diet doesn’t cause ulcerative colitis, certain foods can trigger symptoms or make them worse. Knowing what to avoid can help you manage flare-ups. Here are some key foods to avoid if you have ulcerative colitis.

1. High-fiber foods

High-fiber foods are harsh on your digestive system, particularly during a flare-up. They can increase bowel movements and aggravate symptoms like diarrhea and abdominal pain.

Examples of high-fiber foods include: 

Alternative choices: Opt for cooked or peeled fruits and vegetables and choose refined grains like white rice and white bread, which are easier to digest.

2. Dairy products

Many people with ulcerative colitis are lactose intolerant, meaning they can’t properly digest lactose, the sugar in milk and dairy products, which can lead to bloating, gas, and diarrhea.

Examples include: 

Alternative choices: Try lactose-free dairy products or alternatives like almond milk, soy milk, and lactose-free yogurt.

3. Fatty and greasy foods

Fatty foods are hard to digest and may exacerbate diarrhea and abdominal discomfort.

Examples of fatty and greasy foods are: 

Alternative choices: Lean proteins such as chicken breasts, fish, and plant-based proteins like tofu can be easier on your digestive system.

4. Sugary foods and drinks

Sugary foods and drinks increase inflammation and lead to excessive gas and bloating.

Examples include: 

Alternative choices: Opt for water, herbal teas, and natural sweeteners like honey in moderation.

5. Alcohol and caffeinated drinks

Alcohol and caffeine irritate the lining of your colon and increase the frequency of bowel movements.

Avoid drinks like: 

Alternative choices: Herbal teas and decaffeinated beverages can be gentler on your digestive system.

6. Spicy foods

Spicy foods irritate your digestive tract and worsen symptoms like diarrhea and abdominal pain.

Steer clear of: 

Alternative choices: Use mild seasonings and herbs like basil, oregano, and parsley to add flavor without the heat.

More help for ulcerative colitis

Studies estimate that about 1.6 million Americans have ulcerative colitis or its fellow IBD, Crohn’s disease. While these conditions are still incurable, researchers constantly work on a solution. 

Meanwhile, Dr. Gaston can help you manage your symptoms with medications and biologics that work with your body to calm the effects. If dietary changes alone aren’t resolving your UC symptoms, call Metropolitan Gastroenterology Consultants in Chicago, Illinois, and get started on a treatment to help you regain your life. 

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