Food, glorious food!

Something that people often ask me about, and are usually confused by my responses, is food. I aim to give some clarity to the topic in an overview of my understanding.

When I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, I was basically told one thing by the dietician that visited me on the hospital ward.

A low residue diet can sometimes help during flares, but basically just stick to a healthy balanced diet.

Let’s see what she meant by that…

  • Well obviously, a dietician is always going to advise a healthy balanced diet, so that makes sense.
  • A low residue diet focuses on eating foods that have a low amount of insoluble fibre, this helps to speed up the passage of food in the gut, while also cutting out foods that might irritate the intestine, which can worsen a flare-up.
  • The dietician handily added can sometimes help into her advice, this is because ultimately there is a lot we don’t understand yet about IBD, which includes the role of food in flare-ups and disease management.

The Low FODMAP diet is also spoken about a lot, which stands for something complex but it basically means avoiding certain carbohydrates (refined carbs, sugars, etc.). The theory here is that these carbohydrates are difficult to digest and so hang around in the gut, causing irritation, and are great food for bacteria, which all adds up to an immune response probably leading to… a flare-up.

I’ve found some foods cause bloating or cramping (so I avoid them), but nothing has caused a flare-up. Some people’s disease activity and symptoms might be helped or hindered by certain foods, and it’s probably true for them, but everyone experiences the disease differently. There are lots of studies into the relationship between Crohn’s/Colitis and food, but so far the best answer I’m aware is that no food causes the disease and no diet is a cure.