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Many people with ulcerative colitis (UC) question what they eat. They may wonder, "Is my diet causing my UC flares?" or "Can I reduce my symptoms by eating differently?" Unfortunately, there is no easy answer. Not many clinical studies about diets have been done for people with UC.

However, a variety of dietary guidelines from health care professionals are available. Before making any changes to your diet, you should discuss them with your doctor or nutritionist.

Are there specific foods that help control UC? Click for answer

Specific foods do not control UC and a specific diet cannot cure UC. Return to question

When you're feeling well and are not experiencing a UC flare

Whether or not you have UC, it's important for everyone to follow a well-balanced diet. Simply stated, that means eating the nutrient-rich calories your body needs and getting regular exercise. According to US dietary guidelines, this routine should help you maintain a healthy weight.

These foods are considered part of a healthy, balanced diet.

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Whole grains
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy (If you are lactose-intolerant and have diarrhea after drinking or eating dairy, you should avoid lactose-containing foods)
  • Seafood
  • Lean meats and poultry
  • Eggs
  • Beans and peas
  • Nuts and seeds

If you're trying to gain weight or keep your weight stable — which may be a challenge for those with UC — you may need extra calories and more protein to help your body recover from a UC flare. Be sure to discuss your specific needs with your doctor.

Is there a benefit to avoiding certain foods?

Some people with UC have found that eating certain food seems to lead to symptoms such as diarrhea. This may not be a UC flare — symptoms can happen even when in remission. However, as a result, many of these people will eliminate that food from their diet. Health care professionals have found that there is no benefit to avoiding certain foods if you're trying to prevent UC flares. In fact, doing so may decrease important nutrients your body needs, especially during a UC flare.

If you do plan to avoid a particular food because you believe it triggers symptoms, talk to your doctor first. He or she may ask you to try it again to be sure that you cannot actually tolerate that particular food.

Talk to your doctor first before making any changes yourself.

When you're having a UC flare

Appetite loss during a UC flare may make it harder to maintain a balanced diet and get adequate calories and protein. Also, many patients avoid foods they believe increase their symptoms, such as pain, nausea, and diarrhea.

During a UC flare, it is important to drink lots of water. Drink at least 8 cups of water each day. Stay hydrated. Drink at least 8 cups of water each day.

Tips for dealing with a UC flare

Here are some tips that may help you during a UC flare:

  • Be sure to eat smaller amounts of food throughout the day
  • Drink lots of water; at least 8 cups of water a day can help avoid dehydration

Some patients may need supplements due to loss of vitamins or minerals.

  • Iron may be necessary for patients at risk of anemia from blood loss
  • Extra calcium may be required if there is bone loss due to low calcium intake, corticosteroid treatment, or low vitamin D from inadequate sun exposure

Remember, it is important that you don't eliminate healthy foods unless you are sure after multiple tries, and after working with your doctor, that a particular food affects you.

The best approach is to discuss your options with your doctor or nutritionist to help determine a plan that is right for you.

Use this printable journal to track your UC symptoms. Jot down any changes you notice then share it with your doctor.