Diet Changes

Seven Nutrition Tips for Ulcerative Colitis Patients

Sara Suchy Nov 8th, 2012 (updated Sep 27th, 2016)
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Ulcerative colitis is an autoimmune disease that attacks the digestive tract and hinders the absorption of nutrients into the body. For this reason, it is important to eat a diet high in many vitamins and minerals and to pay careful attention to what foods cause UC flares.

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Variety in your diet
Variety in your diet

The temptation for people with ulcerative colitis and other bowel disease is to eat a bland diet which is often low in nutritional value.  Instead, one should strive for varied diet high in vitamins and minerals while paying attention to which particular foods cause flares.

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Keep a food journal
Keep a food journal

Because not all foods will cause the same issue in any two people, it is important to keep track of which foods cause you problems and the easiest way to do that is to keep a food journal.  The journal can be as simple as writing down everything you eat and noting any adverse side effects.  The journal is a good thing to take to doctor appointments as well.

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Eat well, eat often
Eat well, eat often

Ulcerative colitis also hinders the body's ability to absorb calories resulting in low body weight and malnutrition.  Patients should strive to eat high calorie and high protein diets.  Many people will eat three meals a day plus two or three healthy snacks to stay nourished.

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Supplements
Supplements

While it is always preferable to get essential vitamins and minerals from food, some people may not be able to tolerate some foods that are high in one particular nutrient.  If nutrient gaps exist, it may be necessary to add nutritional supplements.  Many people with ulcerative colitis need to supplement vitamin B12 and Iron in their diets. 

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Common foods to avoid
Common foods to avoid

While each person's particular food sensitivities will differ, there are a few foods that are more likely to cause issues for people with ulcerative colitis than others.

  • High fiber foods (whole grains and raw fruits or veggies)
  • Dairy products
  • High-fat foods
  • Caffeine
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Alcohol

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Stay hydrated
Stay hydrated

It is important for all people to stay hydrated, but especially people who suffer from Ulcerative Colitis or any other Inflammatory Bowel Disease.  This will help avoid dehydration, kidney problems, gallstones and a myriad of other issues aggravated by Ulcerative Colitis.

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Pay attention to sensitivity changes
Pay attention to sensitivity changes

As you get to know your condition and how you need to eat, keep in mind that food sensitivities can change.  A food journal will be very helpful in helping you and your doctor discern which foods cause you problems and under what circumstances.