Nutritional Guidelines for ulcerative colitis patients

If you suffer from ulcerative colitis, then you probably already know that certain foods intensify the symptoms of the disease. Ulcerative colitis is an idiopathic inflammatory bowel disease characterised by a chronic inflammation and sores on the large intestine. The symptoms of the disease come and go. Considering that for all of us a healthy nutrition plays a crucial role in maintaining a good health, then for ulcerative colitis patients it is fundamental to follow a balanced diet regime.

Weight loss is often linked to the occurrence of the disease. Patients with ulcerative colitis present signs of malnutrition, especially if they have experienced intense diarrhea for weeks, or even months, that deprived them of useful nutrients. Such deficiencies, as well as electrolyte disorders due to diarrhea, make the patient feel weak and tired, and often cause anaemia.

The patient’s nutrition should be based on a balanced dietary scheme rich in proteins, compound carbohydrates, whole-grain cereals and healthy fats. These foods will give you the necessary energy to feel healthy. You can freely consume meat, fish, poultry, fats, pasta, and moderately dairy products, fruits and vegetables.

In case you find that certain foods make the symptoms worse, feel free to avoid them or exclude them from your diet for a certain period of time. Some patients choose to consume reduced quantities of vegetable fibres, in order to regulate bowel movement. A qualified nutritionist will help you find out which are the foods that irritate your bowel and eliminate the discomfort caused by the disease symptoms.

By knowing the foods that trigger a flare, you can have better control of the disease and a better quality of life. Here’s a list of foods that may make the symptoms worse, although this is not yet scientifically verified:

– Alcohol
– Caffeine
– Foods rich in vegetable fibres, whole-grain products
– Legumes
– Dried fruits
– Pepper and spicy foods
– Dried nuts and seeds
– Popcorn
– Raw vegetables
– Unprocessed sugar
– Very hot foods

A useful trick would be to keep a food journal recording the foods you consume. This will help you find out those actually making your symptoms worse. Buy a small notebook you can carry with you and write down each food you eat throughout the day, or record your daily diet just before you go to bed.

Whatever you do, the following guidelines will help you to better control the symptoms.

1. Record everything you eat. A daily journal will only be helpful if you record everything you eat and the subsequent symptoms you experience. In case you consult a nutritionist, this will be a valuable tool for him/her, too.

2. Record the quantities and the way your meals were prepared. Some patients experience discomfort after consuming a large quantity of chocolate, but not when they have small portions. Fried chicken can irritate their bowel, but chicken cooked in the oven does not. Do not record just the food you consume, but also how often you eat it and how you cooked it. This will help you keep enjoying foods that do not worsen the symptoms if properly consumed.

3. Record the intensity of the symptoms. You could use a scale of intensity from 1 to 10.

4. Dare to experiment! While keeping your food journal, you could gradually add to your diet small quantities of the foods you usually avoid fearing that they will lead to a flare-up. This will help you understand whether these foods are indeed to blame. Remember! Your aim should be to eat as many foods as you can!

5. Keep your food journal at least for 3 weeks. This is the time you’ll need to study the symptoms. You could always get back to your journal every time you want to add a new food to your diet.