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Special Diets

Many people with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) have reported benefiting from a particular diet. However, there are some things you should know before we get into more detail about these diets:

  • Most diets have not been scientifically proven to prevent IBD or provide sustainable disease control.
  • There is a lot of debate in the medical community regarding the benefits of these diets.
  • Some diets may increase the risk of malnourishment because they involve avoiding certain food groups that provide valuable nutrients.
  • A diet should not replace medical treatment.
  • Speak with your doctor or dietitian first before starting a particular diet.
  • There is no one single diet or eating plan that will do the trick for everyone with IBD.
  • CCFA does not endorse or encourage use of any specific diet.

7 “talked about” diets

Elimination diet

Involves eliminating certain foods from your diet to see which ones may be causing problems. It's helpful to keep a Food Journal if you and your doctor decide the elimination diet is right for you.

Low-fiber with low-residue diet

Minimizes the intake of foods that add bulk residue to stool (raw fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts). It's sometimes used during flares, or in patients with strictures (narrowed areas of the bowel).

The Colitis 5-Step Formula

Uses a “natural pathogen killer” to eliminate infection and — when used with proper diet and physical activity — may put digestive system back in order.

The Specific Carbohydrate Diet™

Involves reducing poorly digestible carbohydrates to lessen symptoms of gas, cramps and diarrhea. Consists mainly of meats, vegetables, oils and honey.

The Maker's Diet

Focuses on four components of total health — physical, mental, spiritual and emotional.

Total bowel rest

Short period of complete bowel rest (during which time patients are nourished with fluids delivered intravenously) may decrease IBD symptoms.

Elemental diet

Limits carbohydrate intake to reduce microbes that might contribute to IBD symptoms.

The best diet? The one that meets your needs.

The best diet is one that meets your individual nutritional needs while helping you better manage your IBD symptoms. Your customized meal plan will be determined by:

  • Which disease you have (Crohn's or ulcerative colitis)
    • For Crohn's patients: Whether you have an intestinal stricture (narrowed areas of the bowel) or have ever had a blockage before
  • What part of your intestine is affected
  • If your disease is active (having symptoms) or inactive (remission — not having symptoms) — get tips on how to eat during active and inactive disease.

Work with your doctor, dietitian or nutritionist to create the meal plan that's right for you. And keep in mind that at various times in your life, your IBD can change in terms of how it affects you. So your diet may need to change, too.