Foods to Avoid With Ulcerative Colitis

by Tracy Davenport, Ph.D. Health Writer

The causes and relapses of ulcerative colitis (UC) are somewhat unknown. However, there are certain foods that may further aggravate UC symptoms for many, and should be limited or avoided. See if the following foods are still making their way onto your plate.

Hamburgers grilling on open flame.

Eat meat sparingly

While it is important that you follow a balanced diet that includes necessary protein, research has shown that a diet high in meat, especially red and processed meat, has been shown to increase the likelihood of a relapse. These tips can help you replace meats with plant-based proteins.

Older woman in grocery aisle holding cheese package.

Limit milk and cheese

The studies on the outcome of milk on UC symptoms are mixed. However, some research shows a clear connection to the benefits of removing foods rich in sulfur amino acids — such as milk and cheese – if you are living with UC.

Group of friends holding up different kinds of cocktails.

Avoid alcohol

While there have been some positive studies about alcohol consumption and overall health, alcohol offers little overall nutritional value. Research has also shown a connection between alcohol consumption and UC relapse.

Pile of loose, mixed, sugar-coated candies and movie snacks.

Lay off sweets and sugar

One of the ways scientists suspect that sweets and sugars are not good for those with UC is that they studied what those from Japan ate 20 years ago: a diet high in rice and low in sweets and sugars. Since that time, sweets and sugars have been on the rise in Japan as well as UC. While this may paint only part of the picture, other studies have shown that high consumption of soft drinks has been associated with UC.

Close-up of nutrition log sheet

Maintain a balanced diet

Like many digestive disorders, what works for some may not work for others. It can be difficult to say exactly what should be avoided for each person. However, those in the know agree that if you are living with UC it is extremely important that you drink plenty of liquids and maintain a healthy, balanced diet.

Food diary.

Your food choices affect your health

When you’re living with UC, you’ll start to notice that certain foods trigger your symptoms more than others. But following these basic guidelines can help you get on the right foot. It can also be helpful to start a food and symptom diary. Before long, you’ll be in the habit of eating foods that are good for your gut and easy on your UC.

Tracy Davenport, Ph.D.
Meet Our Writer
Tracy Davenport, Ph.D.

Davenport is the founder of Using the latest scientific research, she helps people live their healthiest lives via one-on-one coaching, corporate talks, and sharing the more than 1,000 health-related articles she's authored.