On Phase 4, one can start to introduce raw fruit and veg. It’s much easier to prepare obviously – rinse and chop – but for me, that’s about where the benefits end.
I can’t comment on raw food diets – I don’t know much about them except that proponents swear by them and theoretically speaking, they should offer a number of benefits to the body.
For me, given the state of my GI system and UC history, I know that eating raw veg is a Very Bad Idea. The only two raw items I eat are bananas and avo – both of which must be very ripe before I consume them.
Raw food can seriously aggravate a damaged gut and even before my colitis diagnosis, my nutritionalist advised me to avoid it as my colon was in such a sorry state and struggling to digest hard, fibrous foods.
While some sources say that cooking fruit and vegetables destroys the enzymes and nutritional value, there are just as many sources that say this isn’t true.
It’s up to you to decide whether to include raw food in your diet, but if you have IBD, it’s worth considering the following:
1. As anyone with IBD knows, raw food contains lots of insoluble fibre which can be irritating to the gut and very hard to break down. This can aggravate your IBD symptoms and lead to bloating, gas, cramping and diarrhoea. Yup, I probably don’t even need to mention this to you!
2. When you’re flaring, avoid veggies that are known to cause these symptoms – the sulphur-containing veg like cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, beans and broccoli. Instead, stick with those that are easier to digest – the phase 1 veggies like butternut, carrots and zucchini, well cooked and blended.
3. If you’re prone to bloating and gas, peel all your fruit and veg before eating it, and remove all the seeds. Yes it’s a time-consuming task, but it may well be worth it.
4. Also be careful to avoid vegetables high in insoluble fibre when you’re flaring, like peppers, celery and sweetcorn. These can also be damaging to people with strictures. I know from past experience that sweetcorn wreaks havoc on my system and I always avoid it.
5. If there are fruits or vegetables that you can’t tolerate raw, try peeling, de-seeding and cooking them and see if your symptoms improve. You may even be able to tolerate them raw but without the skin and seeds – like cucumber for example. Test, test, test!
6. The guys at SCDLifestyle.com recommend starting with berries when you transition to raw food on SCD, as they’re the easiest to tolerate and they can have a very healing effect on the gut.
For now, I’m mostly avoiding anything that isn’t well cooked, and even so, I’m still experiencing major bloating, gas and cramps. Vegetables are my UC kryptonite but I’m not keen to give them up. I’ll keep phasing in more of them as I progress on phase 4 and see how I fare.