Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes chronic inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. If you are living with Crohn’s, you know that when you are having a flare, digestion and absorption of certain nutrients can be a challenge.
To make life easier, I've pulled from my experience as a registered dietitian to compile a list of Crohn's-friendly snacks to have on hand to help you get adequate nutrients while minimizing the uncomfortable side effects of a flare. Just throw them in your bag and you'll be ready to fuel up on the go!
Hard-boiled eggs are a great on-the-go snack. They can easily be prepared in batches and stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator so that you can grab one when you’re hungry or pack them in your lunchbox. One egg has 7 grams of high-quality protein in addition to iron, vitamins, and other minerals.
Oatmeal is ideal for a quick snack or breakfast that is packed with the good stuff: Just 1 cup contains 6 grams of protein and four grams of fiber, most of which is soluble fiber (which is more easily digested). Oatmeal is also rich in nutrients. You can add lactose-free milk instead of hot water to increase the protein and calcium content in your hot cereal.
Want to boost the nutritional content? Try adding lactose-free milk or protein powder. Adding a flaxseed oil or milled flaxseed to your smoothie can also add omega-3 fats, which can have an anti-inflammatory effect.
4. Nut butter
Spread some smooth peanut or almond butter on a refined grain (such as gluten-free bread) for a great non-perishable snack that you can take with you anywhere. Nut butters also contain heart-healthy omega-3 fats and provide 7 grams of plant-based protein in just 2 tablespoons.
5. Canned chicken or tuna
This great source of protein comes in cans, pouches, and even “to go” cups, so you can easily take it anywhere. Top a gluten-free cracker with your chicken or tuna or eat it right out of the container for a protein boost: A 3-ounce serving packs 21 grams of protein.
6. Lactose-free yogurt or cheese
Dairy products are often a symptom trigger for people living with Crohn’s disease, but lactose-free products are usually well-tolerated. Use lactose-free yogurt or cheese as a snack, or try one of the dairy alternatives such as yogurt made from almond, coconut, or soy milk. Protein content of these products varies, so check the label to make sure you are getting at least a few grams of protein in each serving.
Though most people add tofu to a main dish, did you know that you can eat it right out of the package? There are many “ready-to-eat” varieties of tofu in a different flavors (such as teriyaki). You can also add tofu to sandwiches or soups for an added protein boost: 1 half cup of tofu contains 10 grams of protein.
Beans like chickpeas that are blended into a dip such as hummus give you a healthy dose of protein and soluble fiber. Try dipping some roasted red peppers into your hummus for a snack full of nutrients and cancer-fighting antioxidants.
Avocados are an excellent source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and can easily be mashed for a sandwich spread or blended to make a healthy dip.
The bottom line
Eating several small meals and snacks each day can help you better manage your symptoms during a flare. Incorporating some of these simple snacks can assist you in getting the nutrition you need without exacerbating your Crohn’s symptoms. Happy snacking!