Of all the questions people email me with, "What can I eat?" is near the top of the list. And, unfortunately, there is no easy answer I can give. But I can relate my own experience of how I learned what I can and can't eat.
Even though there is a school of thought that diet doesn't affect those of us with IBD I hear from more and more people that some of their symptoms have been helped by modifying their diet. Ten years ago when my symptoms were at their worst I had lost a huge amount of weight, had virtually no appetite, and simply lived going from bathroom to bed. I was no longer working, my energy was non-existent, and every day I simply felt worse and worse. While the Internet wasn't nearly anything like it is today (thank goodness for sites like this one!) I was able to find little bits of helpful information and one of them was about doing something called an elimination diet (ED) - even a homeopathic doctor that I'd seen a few times recommended that I do it. I embarked on the ED half-heartedly, nothing else seemed to be helping me, the diet was rigorous, and I held out little hope that it would garner any positive results.
I bought the book, Breaking the Vicious Cycle, by Elaine Gottschall which outlined the specific carbohydrate diet, which was pretty similar to what the homeopath had explained the ED diet to be. But, Elaine's book really maps it out and even provides recipes that you can use while doing the diet.
As suggested by the name, the elimination diet is all about eliminating foods that may be causing a negative response by your body. I had to eliminate from my diet all wheat, dairy, sugar, preservatives, certain fruits and vegetables, pretty much anything pre-packaged, pre-made, or canned, things like ketchup, mayonnaise, and butter were on the verboten list as well. I was amazed the first time I went to the grocery store with my list of things I could and couldn't eat and began to read labels. I was dumbfounded when I realized that so many prepackaged and canned foods, like beans, contained sugar! You can read about my whole experience with the elimination diet in my book, Living with IBD & IBS: A Personal Story of Success.