Crohn's Disease Diet: What to Eat & Avoid (with Meal Plan)

The Crohn's disease diet is one of the most important steps in the treatment of this condition. Some foods can worsen symptoms and should therefore be eliminated from the diet. Whenever possible, you should opt for easily-digested options that vary from day to day prevent nutritional deficiencies.

Generally, people with Crohn's disease experience periods of intense gastrointestinal symptoms, such as diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain, changes in taste, constipation and loss of appetite. All of these can result in malnutrition. Learn more about the symptoms of Crohn's disease and what causes it.

Generally speaking, it is important for a Crohn's disease diet to below in sugary foods and caffeinated drinks, as sugars and caffeine irritate the intestine and can worsen symptoms.

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What to eat

Crohn's disease is a health condition characterized by constant inflammation of the intestine that interferes with the absorption of nutrients. The degree of malabsorption depends on how much the intestine has been affected and whether part of it has already been removed due to the disease.

The nutritional goals of Crohn's disease is to avoid intestinal irritation, prevent malnutrition, achieve optimal nutrient absorption, relieve symptoms, avoid flare-ups and improve the patient's quality of life.

1. Allowed foods

Some foods allowed in the diet are:

  • Rice, purees, pasta and potatoes;
  • Lean meats, such as chicken;
  • Boiled egg;
  • Fish such as sardines, tuna or salmon;
  • Cooked vegetables, such as carrots, asparagus and pumpkin;
  • Cooked and peeled fruits, such as bananas and apples;
  • Dairy products, as long as the person is not lactose intolerant;
  • Avocado and olive oil.

In addition to consuming these foods, patients are advised to take omega 3 supplements to help reduce inflammation. Depending on the nutritional risk, some patients may additionally be prescribed vitamins and minerals such as calcium, folic acid, vitamin B12, iron and vitamins A, D, E and K.

Furthermore, the use of probiotics and glutamine can also help improve bowel function, however, all of these supplements should be prescribed by a doctor or registered dietitian.

Some people may have lactose intolerance and/or gluten intolerance in addition to Crohn's disease. In these cases, these patients should also avoid these foods.

2. Foods to avoid

Foods that should be avoided because they can irritate the gastrointestinal tract and worsen symptoms are:

  • Coffee, black tea, caffeinated soft drinks
  • Seeds
  • Raw vegetables and unpeeled fruits
  • Papaya, orange and plum
  • Honey, sugar, sorbitol or mannitol
  • Dried fruits, such as peanuts, walnuts and almonds
  • Oat
  • Chocolate
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Pork and other fatty meats
  • Buttery biscuits, pastries with puff pastry, chocolate
  • Fried foods, gratins, mayonnaise, processed frozen meals, butter and cream

These foods are just a few examples that can worsen the symptoms of the disease. However triggering foods can vary from one person to another.

3-day meal plan

The following table outlines a sample 3-day meal plan for Crohn's disease:

Meals Day 1 Day 2 Day 3
Breakfast Scrambled egg with toast + strained fruit juice diluted in water Rice milk with toast + strained fruit juice diluted in water Slice of bread with boiled egg + strained fruit juice diluted in water
Morning snack Baked banana with cinnamon  Baked apple (peeled) with cinnamon Baked pear (peeled) with cinnamon
Lunch or Dinner Skinless chicken breast with mashed potato and cubed pumpkins, seasoned with olive oil  Grilled salmon with rice and carrot salad, seasoned with olive oil  Skinless turkey breast with mashed pumpkin with carrot and pea salad, seasoned with olive oil
Afternoon snack Jello Baked banana with cinnamon Toast with apply jelly

The Crohn's disease diet varies from person to person because sensitivity can increase at any time and foods that were normally consumed may have to be eliminated from the diet for a period. This diet should be adapted according to each person, which is why  counseling with a registered dietitian is essential.

Other important recommendations

People with Crohn's disease should eat several small meals during the day and avoid going for a long time without eating so that the intestine maintains regular activity. It is very important to chew your food well to help with the digestive process and reduce the chances of intestinal irritation.

High fiber-foods should be consumed in moderation, and therefore you can reduce the fiber content of fruits and vegetables by peeling, cooking and mashing them. Food should be cooked with natural seasonings and grilled, boiled or baked.

Because Crohn's disease can cause diarrhea, it is important to stay hydrated by drinking water, coconut water, and fruit juice diluted with water and strained to avoid dehydration.

It is important to consult a registered dietitian regularly, as it may be necessary to make some dietary changes to avoid malnutrition and relieve specific symptoms.