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Foods to Avoid During a Crohn's Disease Flare-Up

author image Denise Hamilton
Denise Hamilton has been writing since 2006. She is a registered dietitian with work featured in the "Your Health," "Health Matters" and "Health and Fitness" sections in the "Star-Gazette" newspaper of Elmira, N.Y. Hamilton holds a Master of Science in clinical nutrition from the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science.
Foods to Avoid During a Crohn's Disease Flare-Up
A fryer basket with french fries. Photo Credit: Nikolodion/iStock/Getty Images

Crohn's disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, mostly affecting the ileum and the colon. The cause and medical cure for Crohn's disease remains unknown. Symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal pain, poor appetite, weight loss, rectal bleeding, fever and skin problems. Goals of treatment include controlling symptoms that may occur as a result of the disease. There are no foods known to actually cause additional injury to the intestine, but certain foods may increase diarrhea and cramping.

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Dairy Products

People with Crohn's disease might find that they are lactose intolerant. Symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal pain and gas may improve with the elimination of lactose or milk products. Milk products that may not be tolerated include milk, puddings, custards, ice cream, cottage cheese, hard cheeses, cream soups and other dairy products. If lactose intolerance is a problem, lactose-free milk products are available as well as using an enzyme product prior to eating meals that contain dairy products.

High-Fat Foods

Treatment for Crohn's disease may include avoiding high-fat, fried foods due to impaired digestion or absorption of fat. A high-fat diet can worsen diarrhea. High-fat foods that may cause a problem include butter, margarine, shortening, cream sauces and products made with whole milk. Other high-fat foods to avoid include deep-fried and fast foods, desserts, snack foods such as crackers and potato chips, fatty meats with the skin, palm and coconut oil.

High-Fiber Foods

High-fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains are generally healthful, but with Crohn's disease these foods can make symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal pain and gas worse. Steaming, boiling, baking or stewing vegetables may make them more tolerable. Removing the skin and seeds from fruits and vegetables or using canned fruits may also be better tolerated. Some vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, beans, onions, cabbage, peas and corn, may also cause increased amounts of gas. Other foods that may cause a problem include nuts, popcorn and fruit juices, especially from citrus fruits.

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