• Welcome to Crohn's Forum, a support group for people with all forms of IBD. While this community is not a substitute for doctor's advice and we cannot treat or diagnose, we find being able to communicate with others who have IBD is invaluable as we navigate our struggles and celebrate our successes. We invite you to join us.

Help! Do you always have to watch what you eat?

I can't help noticing that alot of people are talking about food that is bad for them or makes them feel worse.

I want to know what is normal - should I be aiming for no symptoms and a normal (unrestricted) diet again, or is that going to be unlikely? I still have mild inflammation in the ileum and lower intestine, so I am still watching what I eat.

Please break the news gently....
Half of me wants to hear I can pig out at any restaurant.
The other half wants to hear that by keeping to a stricter diet the chances are I will stay on milder medication and be less likely to have a major flare in the future. If I knew that it would be worth the effort.
It really is an individual thing. What your stomach can tolerate can be different than for others, and even vary for yourself day to day. Keeping a food journal until you find trigger foods and tolerable foods is a great way to track what you are comfortable with. For example, I KNOW tomato based meals - spaghetti, chili, fresh tomatoes, etc...will be a guaranteed trigger of pain and D for me so I don't allow them for myself too often. However, I do indulge in them from time to time because they are some of my favorites. Personally, I haven't found a normal diet, unrestricted diet for me yet. So, if you are up to it, definitely pig out! If not...tread on the lighter side. I just take my meds daily, if I go out to eat, I am sure to take my lomotil in hopes it holds off running trips to the bathroom...good luck!
Honestly for me a strict diet has really helped me to stay on mild medication. I have to follow it to the letter for a few months to a year and after that once in awhile I can cheat if I am out to dinner with no symptoms. Then, it's back to my diet. If you're interested, shoot me a pm :)
My goal was to find foods that I could eat that didn't have me running to the toilet halfway through a meal and after. I wanted to feel confident that I could eat something in public without having an accident. Beyond that, I eliminated anything that caused me pain. It becomes a habit after awhile to just avoid certain things, although I think most of us still breakdown and have something that we know will cause us a problem and then just suck it up while we wait for it to pass.
I do know I feel better when I stay to a stricter diet ( I.e. Avoid my trigger foods). With that said sometimes I just want a chocolate bar and know what the consequences are and just suck it up.

Even though I'm pretty well 100% sure if I stuck to a stricter diet that I would feel better... It's hard resigning myself to that and actually making it happen on a daily basis. So I kinda flow back n forth between 'oh today's a decent day!' to 'what the hell did I eat?!'
my diet is insane. I eat one ingredient foods and make my own
breads.I eat a low glycemic diet because along with crohns
I have pcos.It is good to eat what you are craving.
The healthier you eat the more you will Crave healthy foods.
you cannot just suddenly become a health nut.Your cravings
Will become unbearable and youwill break and gorge. It is better
To have a slow transition and o do I ever still love my sweets.I is
About weighing your pros and con's and knowing your limits.
There are foods you just should not eat.like chips and popcorn.
Basically anything hard or with shape edges. As for fruits and veggies
I have an extractor. It makes digesting the little buggers easier.
I add protein powder for an extra boost and add chia seeds and flax oil
For added omegas along with a krill capsule.
Working with your GI and dietition is extremely important.
Also if you need meds that are not covered depending where you are
There are programs that help.I've been on entocourt for three years and
Haven't had a problem. I was on pred and suffer from extreme weight
Gain and dehydration.
You need to keep a food diary - boring as all hell but it helps, and also note what foods make your symptoms worse or better.

I'm having a flareup right now (go me) so I'm back to eating plain boring food, no bread, no dairy, etc etc etc, mainly just lean meat with rice or potatoes. When I'm through it, I'll go back to what passes for 'normal' for my diet. Which is so darn complicated it's easier to ask me what I can eat than what I can't eat haha.

Good luck. If you can't be bothered to do a proper food diary just photograph everything you eat. Helps if you're a serial Instagram user because then you can post what you've eaten and record your symptoms after eating it in the comments.
And of course there is always the lovely, added complication, that you can do everything food wise "right" and still have problems!

But I agree sticking to things I know are safe keep me pretty stable in terms of D.

My most major flares tend to have no trigger (that I can find) they just crop up out of the blue, but diet does play a role day to day for me for sure.
I've found that I need to be really strict with diet to minimize symptoms but that diet has little to no impact for me on active disease and the ability for my small bowel to develop new strictures.

My absolute minimum no negotiations as far as my gut is concerned is simple freshly/home prepared food with only a few ingredients. Complicated ingredient lists and processed foods seem guaranteed to make me feel unwell. I eat a lot of chicken and fish, a little red meat, eggs, fruit and vegetables and low lactose dairy like SCD yogurt and butter. Basically after trying elimination diets that had me introduce rice really early, and potatoes fairly qucikly too, and without any obvious bad effects early on I've found that I'm actually healthier on a strict SCD diet with a few extra exclusions.

There are certainly times when I've wished I could eat what I wanted so I feel you there but no meds have ever helped with some of my symptoms so I feel I don't really have a choice when it comes to using diet. And it is nice to feel a bit healthier so I've mainly come to terms with that. Of course there are times when certain family members complain that I can't just eat whatever as though I'm being rude but even that doesn't outweigh the benefits of diet for me.

Our response to diet does seem to be so individual though. For some people it seems not to make any difference and for others it's transformative. I think quite a lot of us have an inbetween response but it can still have at least some benefit. So I guess all any of us can really do is try for ourselves, if it's something we want to do, and see what the results are. If you have a good response and feel a lot healthier with less symptoms then it makes it a lot easier to stick to.
I like that term "minimize symptoms". The trouble with crohns is that you just never know what may trigger symptoms. You can journal everything you eat, come up with a safe list and for 3 months everything is great and then wham....every single thing makes you sick. Start all over again and something that would send u to the bathroom half way through eating it is now your safe food. It's just a constant juggle. One thing I could never eat we're grapes, now I can eat a whole bag and no problem. So... Be prepared for the ongoing changes for no apparent reason.


Staff member
I like that term "minimize symptoms". The trouble with crohns is that you just never know what may trigger symptoms. You can journal everything you eat, come up with a safe list and for 3 months everything is great and then wham....every single thing makes you sick. Start all over again and something that would send u to the bathroom half way through eating it is now your safe food. It's just a constant juggle. One thing I could never eat we're grapes, now I can eat a whole bag and no problem. So... Be prepared for the ongoing changes for no apparent reason.
So true. The only time I recall having few symptoms with a consistent diet was when I was on liquids only. Yet there are people who have a hard time with liquids as well. For me what I could tolerate constantly changed. I think it's good to continue to experiment with food yet keep in mind obvious triggers that tend to send anyone to the bathroom even if they don't have IBD like fried food (or fast food or super greasy food). Then there's fiber to be mindful of especially if you have a narrowing. We're in this for the long haul so if you're feeling up to it try something new. :)
It is an individual thing.

For me, I know that I cannot eat red meat, ever again, no matter what.

Then, I have a list of trigger foods.

When I'm in a flare, I cannot eat any of my trigger foods (corn, broccoli, high fat foods, high fiber foods, fried things, grapes, cabbage, salad, cucumbers, radishes, etc). I have to stick to bland things like bananas, apple sauce, rice, boiled chicken, toast, soup, etc. When my system is calm again and you will learn when yours is, I can slowly add some of those trigger foods back, but I have to pretty much always eat very small portions of these and not often. Again, you will learn this as well.

You will have moments when you will pig out and you will think, why did I do that, especially after a long episode of pain. It's all a part of the learning process. It's a psychological loss. It's a process. It's difficult when you learn that a lot of the foods you so love, actually are the ones that are hurting you most. Again, it's a process and it's only human nature to throw a temper tantrum and eat the foods you yearn for because you are "sure that you will find a way to not be triggered by them".

I also find that I am much more likely to have issues when I eat out at restaurants for some reason. I do have my favorite restaurants which I know the foods I eat there sit well in my gut and then the rest of the time, I cook at home. I don't feel limited. I used to, but now it seems like a normal way of life for me.

After several years, this will pass. I still get moments where I wine and think it's so unfair that I cannot eat a filet mignon like normal people. OMG those were so good with a-1 and some horse radish or some worstershire sauce or nice big juicy hamburger! And cabbage. I love large quantities of cabbage, cucumbers, pickles, and popcorn with tajin and . . .I love salad! I'm a rabbit! . . . well, the point is, my body does not like them. Forgive me for my spelling. But anyway . . . the craving passes just as quickly as it came and then I'm done with my pity party.

Someone else mentioned keeping a food journal. It's very good advice. I would not advise keeping one while you are in a flare though because it's hard to see through it and it will seem like you can't eat anything and the data will be really inaccurate. When you are out of flare, keep the diary. You will find a pattern in no time. It helps to look online for a list of foods that commonly trigger IBDs to have a guide to help you find patterns more easily. Just my opinions though.

Best wishes to you!