Receiving a Crohn’s disease diagnosis can affect so many facets of your day-to-day life—especially your eating habits. Crohn’s is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which means enjoying certain foods can sometimes make you feel worse, especially if you’re in the throes of a flare-up. During these periods, you may experience tough symptoms like diarrhea, abdominal pain and cramping, and fatigue, among others.
Just like there’s no single or easily identifiable cause of Crohn’s, there’s also no universal experience of living with it. That means coming up with a set list of foods to eat and avoid isn’t exactly cut and dried.
“The types of foods that are safe and well tolerated by people with Crohn’s disease can vary depending on individual needs and triggers,” Danielle Gaffen, MS, RDN, LD, the founder of Eat Well Crohn’s Colitis, tells SELF. Foods that can worsen flare-ups for some people may not bother others, and vice versa.
Still, there are some common triggers that people with Crohn’s should be mindful of. Added sugars, alcohol, processed or fried meats, trans fats, some food additives, and foods that stimulate bowel movements (like caffeinated drinks or sugar alcohols) have all been linked to flare-ups, says Gaffen. While fiber also seems like a no-go—thanks to its ability to make you run to the bathroom—soluble fiber (the kind that dissolves in water and is found in some grains and fruits like apples) has actually been shown to alleviate symptoms for some people with Crohn’s. On the other hand, insoluble fiber, which doesn’t dissolve and is found in hardy vegetables like broccoli and brussels sprouts, may be more triggering, but there isn’t enough evidence to prove that it causes digestive issues associated with IBD.
As for the staples you should stock up on? That’s not universal either, but in general, Gaffen says, there are some foods that people with IBD, including Crohn’s, tend to tolerate better. These include foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon and nuts, well-cooked starches and grains, and nutrient-dense produce like bananas and avocados.
When Gaffen developed the following Crohn’s-friendly recipes, she kept all these factors in mind. The 10 recipes below seek to avoid the common triggers mentioned above, while emphasizing ingredients that may help ease certain symptoms. Plus, they’re also heavy on the flavors and nutrients you need to feel satisfied all day.
If you’re looking for quick, easy, and stomach-soothing meals—whether you’ve just been diagnosed with Crohn’s or have been living with the condition for years—we have you covered with breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and desserts to appeal to every palate.
Overnight Oatmeal Berry Jars
This recipe is so easy to throw together: Put everything in a jar, stir, and place in the fridge before bed, and you’ll have breakfast waiting for you when you wake up. Plus, its star ingredient can be soothing for people with Crohn’s. Gaffen often recommends oatmeal and oat-based products to her IBD clients, since research shows that this grain, which is rich in soluble fiber, may be easier to digest than whole wheat options. Inflammation-fighting berries add sweetness and ensure you’ll stay satisfied with an extra dose of fiber too. Get the recipe here.