Today I got to thinking about the worst foods for inflammatory bowel disease. Before I discovered the SCD, while I was going through a very bad flare, the only thing I could safely eat was rice. Now I know that rice is ill-advised on SCD, but at the time, it was the only thing that brought me a little comfort.
Which meant that there were TONS of foods that I just couldn’t go near. Have you experienced the same thing?
Here’s a list of the most common foods that aggravate IBD symptoms. Obviously everyone’s body is different, but these are often the biggest culprits:
– Fibrous foods: You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand this equation: Chronic diarrhoea + fibre = bad idea. When I’m flaring I stay far, far away from foods that promote bowel movement, especially fruits and vegetables. Even when I’m not flaring I have to be careful with these foods.
– Dairy: Even before I officially learnt that I was lactose intolerant, I just knew that it wasn’t agreeing with me. I’d eat an ice cream and have hours worth of diarrhoea. Not really sure why I needed a test to tell me what I already knew, but there you go. Many IBD patients are lactose intolerant, and dairy is one of those things that most Westerners eat ALL the time. So if you’re having bad symptoms and you can’t put your finger on the trouble, try cutting out dairy for a bit and see if it helps. Or just go for the test.
– Nuts: They’re super healthy and beneficial but we simply can’t chew them well enough for our bodies to be able to digest them easily. That’s why SCD recommends nut milks and butters – and even that’s only much later.
– Fried food: Kind of a no-brainer, but there you go. In my opinion, no one should be eating unhealthy fried food (it IS possible to make healthy fried food, by dry frying or using healthy oils or even water). All the excess oil, especially from deep frying, can wreak havoc on your gut.
– Alcohol and caffeine: I MEAN WHAT IS THE POINT EVEN WITHOUT COFFEE AND WINE?? I hear you say. And I can but shake my head and shrug sadly. These two nectars of the gods make life living worth living on both sides of a really long work day. But when you’re flaring, they’re going to cause more trouble than they’re worth. However, even Elaine sanctions wine (dry only) and coffee (weak and not instant) in Breaking The Vicious Cycle.
PS: Chocolate also falls into the category but I just couldn’t bring myself to destroy your day further.
– Popcorn: Sob! What’s a movie without popcorn? A BOOK! This has always been a favourite treat of mine, but to be honest, I don’t miss the days of scraping kernels out of my teeth… four days later. Plus, I always felt horribly bloated and stuffed up after eating a mountain of the stuff. It’s not surprising: Popcorn is a wholegrain (already a problem for UC and Crohn’s), and one of the hardest of all the grains to digest.
– Fruit & veg with peels: But you already knew that, didn’t you? Skins and peels are tough and can aggravate the gut no end.
– Tomatoes: Perhaps due to all their pesky seeds (see below), tomatoes just don’t agree with certain people, especially during a flare. Monitor yourself because some people don’t have a problem at all. But I know that they can really cause me a lot of trouble if I’m not careful.
– Grains: We all know that gluten is the baddest of the bad foods for IBD, due to the fact that it really irritates the gut – plus most gluten-based produced today are filled with unimaginable amounts of processed crap. Instead of dealing with the discomfort, avoid it altogether.
– Seeds: Seeds are SO healthy but they can wreak havoc on a damaged intestinal system. That’s why SCD instructs you to de-seed all your fruit and veg in most of the stages except the last ones. This also includes all those really yummy and nutritious seeds like pumpkin, sunflower, etc. I learnt this really cool trick in a book I read by Sally-Ann Creed, called Let Food Be Your Medicine. If you want to know how well (or not well at all!) your intestines are breaking down your food, swallow a handful of sunflower seeds, preferably without chewing them. You’ll soon see whether the food in your system is being broken down or not.
By the way, I can highly recommend her book. It’s teaching me so much about the healing power of food and proper nutrition.
Which food has been the hardest for you to give up?