Eating a balanced diet when you suffer from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can be quite a challenge. People who live with Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis often find that many healthy and nutritious foods are now off limits as they can aggravate their condition and cause flare ups of nasty symptoms.
Raw fruits and vegetables often pose the most problems for IBD sufferers. These raw foods tend to be high in fibre and have a crunchy texture. Many people with IBD find it difficult to digest these foods and the high fibre content can exacerbate common IBD symptoms such as bloating, gas and diarrhoea.
To take the ‘ouch’ out of some of these nutritious foods you can try experimenting with different ways of preparing them so that they are more palatable and easier for your system to digest. That way you can have your apples and eat them too…and you know what they say about apples and doctors!
Stewing is a great option for tough-to-digest fruits and vegetables. Stewed fruits are particularly tasty and can be consumed on their own or with accompaniments such as yoghurt or porridge for breakfast. Try stewing some apples or berries in a little bit of water with some cinnamon and vanilla for extra flavour. Or you could try slow cooking your apples to make this delicious applesauce that’s great to have with sweet or savoury dishes.
Stewing vegetables is also a great way to make them softer and easier to digest whilst ensuring you’re still absorbing plenty of the nutrients they have to offer. Best of all, stewed vegetables have a warming, hearty comfort-food vibe but without the stodge and fat we tend to associate with comfort food. You can make a ‘stoup’ (stew-soup) easily by adding a variety of chopped veggies to a pot (things like potato, sweet potato, zucchini, broccoli, cabbage and onion) with some water, stock and tinned tomatoes. Throwing in some herbs will give your stoup extra flavour – veggies never tasted so good!
Steaming is great because it softens hard-to-digest veggies like broccoli without sacrificing too much of the flavour or nutrients in the process. Steaming is also a very lean cooking technique, which makes it great for the waistline. Try pairing steamed fish like salmon (which is packed with ulcerative colitis-friendly omega three oils) with some steamed greens like bok choy, broccoli and choy sum. Add a dash of soy sauce or a pinch of coriander to really enhance the fresh flavours of this healthy meal.
Roasting veggies and fruits helps to break down fibre, making these foods more easily digestible. Roasted veggies make for great side dishes for dinner or maybe you could try a roast vegetable salad by mixing cold roast root veggies together with your favourite salad dressing.
Roasting fruits also works wonders. Baked pears, cherries and stone fruits are not only friendlier on your digestive system, they also taste delicious!
As always, if you’re concerned about your diet and how this may be affecting your IBD, you should consult with your doctor, especially before making any changes. A referral to a dietitian can also be useful – their expertise in nutrition and formulating healthy eating plans for those with dietary restrictions can help you ensure you’re getting the right mix of vitamins and minerals without eating anything that will set off your IBD. Dietitians are also great resources when it comes to food preparation techniques and may be able to give you some ideas on how to turn these problem foods into dishes your body can happily handle.