Fall Food Guide for Ulcerative Colitis: What to Eat and What to Avoid

Health Writer
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Fall means fun hikes, soft sweaters, and beautiful foliage. It is also a time of football tailgates, sweet treats, and spicy drinks. That said, some of the foods we love in the fall may be better than others if you are living with ulcerative colitis (UC). Read ahead to find out which fall foods to choose and which to avoid in order to feel your best.


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Apples are a healthy snack

Apple picking is a wonderful fall activity for the whole family. However, how the apples are eaten can make a difference in how you feel. According to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, you should always choose whole foods over highly processed foods. This means you may want to enjoy a sliced-up apple and skip the apple cider donut.


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Be aware of pumpkin spice everything

This time of year, there is no limit to where you might find spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. From lattes to muffins, warm spices seem to be sprinkled everywhere. Some spices may be settling to the digestive tract while others may be stimulants. Also, beware of extra sugar that is often added to balance the flavors of the spices in many spiced treats. Erring on the side of caution when it comes to added spices may be key.


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Sweet potatoes are superfoods

Following a nutrient-rich diet is important. Sweet potatoes are readily available in the fall and are chock-full of nutrients and fiber. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, sweet potatoes are rich in potassium and vitamins A, B6, and C. They can be baked and served topped with walnuts for extra healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Baked sweet potatoes can also be kept refrigerated and added to everything from waffles to soup for added nutrition.


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Halloween candy may not be a treat

None of us benefit from too much candy. If you have UC, you may have even more reasons to skip dipping into the trick-or-treat stash this year. Candy is full of empty calories, but of greater concern may be the food additives that are included in many processed sweet treats. A 2015 study published in Nature, found that some common food additives, even in relatively low concentrations, may induce low-grade gut inflammation.


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Tailgating can be tricky

Tailgating is a great time to hang out with your friends before the game. If you have UC, it’s important that you continue your social life as much as possible. However, tailgating activities are often full of high-fat food which, in at least one study, showed an increase risk of flares. Planning ahead for the event by offering to bring foods you know are nutritious and well-tolerated can help you feel your best.


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Roasted pumpkin seeds have mixed reviews

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, pumpkin seeds are relatively high in protein, fiber, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin A. However, pumpkin seeds can be difficult to digest. Even roasted, the shell of the pumpkin seed can be hard and could be an irritant if you are experiencing a flare-up.


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Warm soups can be nutrient-packed

Fall reminds us to eat soup once again. If you have UC, soup can be a smart choice for your weekly menu. Not only is soup hydrating, but it can also be full of the vitamins and nutrients your body needs. Broth soups are healthier than most cream soups. Also, homemade soups are preferable to store-bought soups because you can control the amount of sodium, spices, and fats that get added.


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Consume hot drinks with care

This time of year, everyone is walking around with a mug full of something warm. While extra liquid can be good for you, especially during a flare-up of your UC symptoms, not all drinks are equally helpful. Many hot drinks contain caffeine, excess sugar, and a high-fat dairy product. However, certain herbal teas can be a good choice. Look for teas that are caffeine-free and contain soothing ingredients such as ginger and turmeric. Turmeric has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.


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Embrace fall’s harvest

Even though we often think of apples and sweet potatoes in the fall, there are many other fruits and vegetables that are ready to harvest this time of the year. Carrots, pears, squash, spinach, peaches, brussels sprouts, parsnips, cauliflower, and turnips are all full of antioxidants and can be found at your local farmers market. Boiling or roasting the veggies will make them easier to digest.


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Everyone’s ulcerative colitis is different

The relationship between diet and UC is not completely understood. What we do know is that paying attention to what you eat and how you feel afterward can help you feel your best throughout the fall season. Consider keeping a food diary, too! With a little preparation and education, you can enjoy seasonal flavors even with UC.