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Foods That Are Bad for Colitis

author image August McLaughlin
August McLaughlin is a certified nutritionist and health writer with more than nine years of professional experience. Her work has been featured in various magazines such as "Healthy Aging," "CitySmart," "IAmThatGirl" and "ULM." She holds specializations in eating disorders, healthy weight management and sports nutrition. She is currently completing her second cookbook and Weight Limit—a series of body image/nutrition-related PSAs.
Foods That Are Bad for Colitis
Glazed doughnuts on a cooling rack. Photo Credit: arinahabich/iStock/Getty Images
Medically Reviewed by
George Krucik, MD, MBA

Colitis, also called ulcerative colitis, is an inflammatory bowel disease characterized by chronic bouts of abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, gas and diarrhea. While no known cure exists for colitis, according to, medical therapies and lifestyle changes may help reduce your symptoms and prevent potential complications. These changes include eating small, frequent meals, limiting alcohol and caffeine intake and avoiding foods that worsen your symptoms. For best results, seek specified guidance from your doctor or dietitian.

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Sweet Fruits and Juices

Fruits are valuable sources of fiber and nutrients that strengthen your body's immune system. Certain fruits, however, may trigger or worsen colitis symptoms. De Lamar Gibbons, author of "The Self-Help Way to Treat Colitis and Other IBS Conditions," suggests that colitis sufferers avoid orange juice, oranges, sweet apples, pears, grapes, melons, pineapple, bananas and sugary jams and jellies. If you have difficulty digesting or tolerating fiber-rich foods, avoid fruit peels and dried fruit. You may also find cooked fruit and unsweetened sauces, such as applesauce, more tolerable than fresh varieties.

Nuts and Seeds

Similar to sweet fruits, nuts and seeds are nutritious foods that may not bode well if you have colitis. Thus, avoiding fiber-rich nuts and seeds may help improve your symptoms, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Varieties particularly high in fiber include almonds, flaxseeds, hazelnuts, pecans, Brazil nuts, pistachios, chestnuts, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. Cashew butter provides a lower-fiber alternative to almond and peanut butter. Incorporate low-fiber healthy fat sources, such as olive and canola oil, into your diet in place of nuts and seeds for heightened benefits.

Added Sugars

Added sugars are ingredients that add sweet flavor and calories but few nutritional benefits to foods and beverages. Added sugars may also exacerbate colitis symptoms, according to Gibbons. Common sources of added sugars include regular soft drinks, candy, milk chocolate, pancake syrup, jelly, frosting, pastries, graham crackers, frozen desserts, sugary breakfast cereals and commercially prepared pies, cakes, cookies, doughnuts. To keep your added sugar intake low, avoid prepared foods and beverages that list sugar, corn syrup, brown rice syrup, dextrose, fructose, maltose or honey as main ingredients.

Dairy Products

Dairy products, like most foods, affect people with colitis differently. While yogurt and kefir provide healthy bacteria that may improve your symptoms, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, cow's milk and high-fat dairy products may contribute to gas pain, bloating and diarrhea. High-fat milk, cheeses, ice cream, butter and cheesecake are also high in saturated fat -- a fat form linked with high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. If you tolerate dairy products well, stick to fat-free or low-fat varieties. If not, opting for soy-based or other non-dairy equivalents may prove beneficial.

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