You've been diagnosed with Crohn's Disease. Your doctor informs you that to stay healthy and feel well you must control the foods you eat. What kinds of options are available to you?
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Low Residue Diet Best
Depending upon the phase of Crohn's you are experiencing, your dietitian or doctor may recommend that you adhere to a low residue diet. A low residue diet has less of the fibre rich elements that can irritate an inflamed bowel. Low residue foods are good for Crohn's patients because they leave few undigested elements behind in the digestive tract.
Foods to Consider
Some of the best low residue foods include enriched and refined breads, white rice, fruit and vegetable juices (with the exception of prune juice). Meats can include well cooked chicken and fish. Eggs are acceptable but they are very high in cholesterol; use an egg substitute instead. Well cooked vegetables without skin are usually all right, with some exceptions from the broccoli family.
Foods to Avoid
High-residue foods are generally associated with fibre rich items like whole grain breads, many fruits, beans, corn, lentils, and other foods that pass through the digestive tract either partially or wholly undigested. Stay away from beef and pork and do not bread or fry your meat. Avoid high-fibre foods from the cruciferous family like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and kale. Eliminate all seeds, raisins or nuts that can become trapped in lesions in your intestines. Gluten, dairy products, caffeine and whole grains should also be eliminated.
Sweets and Goodies
Let's get the bad news out of the way first! Popcorn has the same potential as peanuts or raisins to become trapped in lesions in your intestinal tract. Corn is also one of the high fibre items on your "Do Not Eat" list. Treats and desserts can include applesauce, watermelon, jello, peaches, seedless grapes, and sometimes peanut butter. You may find that you can safely add other items if you are in remission, but check with your dietitian first.
Crohn's and Vitamins
In a normal healthy diet, most or all vitamins come from the daily intake of food. However, the diet of a Crohn's patient is restricted and does not always provide the necessary vitamins and minerals. Supplements may help to make up for this loss, but it is always best to check with your doctor before using them.
The Diet While in Remission
Many times throughout your life you will find that your Crohn's symptoms have gone into remission. Crohn's can even go into remission for years at a time. You may be tempted during this period to eat many of the forbidden foods on your list, but exercise caution. Check with your dietitian and doctor first to see if you should.
A New Diet Can be a Challenge
Taking precautions with your diet is no different than making other plans in your life that keep you safe and healthy. Creating new recipes to meet your needs can be an interesting challenge. Search online for new recipes, exchange ideas with friends and invent your own dishes. You may find that by creating and sharing new alternatives you're benefiting others as much as yourself.
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