“Some examples of foods that do not contain detectable FODMAPs include strawberries, pineapple, kale, spinach, carrots, oranges, cucumbers and parsnips, additionally, meat, poultry, fish and eggs—unless prepared with marinades, sauces, or seasonings that include high FODMAP ingredients,” says Lavy.If that’s not enough to get you meal planning, you can find a complete list of low-FODMAP foods here. If you need a little more direction, Scarlata adds that some of her low-to-moderate FODMAP grocery store staples include:OatsBrown riceQuinoaChia and pumpkin seedsSlow leavened sourdough breadPeanut butterLactose-free plain Greek yogurt and lactose-free milkFirm tofuPumpkinIf you’re looking for more of an on-the-go snack, there are low-FODMAP snack bars you can buy at the store or online, such as FODY foods, Go Macro, and Enjoy Life foods.High-FODMAP foods listWhen someone with IBS eats high-FODMAP foods, they will likely experience unpleasant side effects, like stomach pain, bloating, gas, and an urgency or a change in their bowel habits, according to Monash University. While researchers are still trying to understand what exactly is happening in the body and brains of people with IBS, they do think it has something to do with how the brain perceives these symptoms, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).“Our gut bacteria ferment these carbohydrates and this can produce gas and draw water into the intestines,” says Lavy. “While this process occurs in everyone, those with IBS typically tend to have visceral hypersensitivity, meaning their brain may perceive this normal reaction as painful.”Some commonly consumed high-FODMAP food triggers for IBS include:OnionGarlicMangoHoneyFoods rich in lactose, like milk and yogurtStone fruitsCauliflowerBroccoliWatermelonWheatRyeBarleyApples and pearsMost beansThe thought is that by avoiding these foods, you may be able to reduce or eliminate the painful GI symptoms associated with IBS.What is a typical shopping list for low-FODMAP recipe ideas?Although you may think your options are limited on a low-FODMAP diet, there are plenty of foods to add to your grocery cart. You just may need to get a little creative when it comes to your meals. To help, Scarlata has an extensive list of low-FODMAP foods that she shares with patients, and there are a number of easy tips and recipe ideas you can follow.One way to add flavor is with infusion, says Lavy. “Garlic-infused oil can be used in recipes to provide flavor without the FODMAPs, since FODMAPs are not fat soluble, meaning they cannot leach into fat,” says Lavy. Another tip is to swap onions for other flavor-producing vegetables. “Chives and the dark green parts of scallions and leeks are low-FODMAP, so these options can be used in place of onion,” she recommends.And don’t forget other high-flavor add-ins like citrus and herbs. For example, lemon juice or fresh orange slices can brighten a dish, and herbs and spices, such as cinnamon, rosemary, thyme, oregano or paprika, add tons of flavor, says Lavy.
Does that mean you need to eat a low-fat diet to feel your best? Not necessarily, but if you notice that your IBS symptoms get worse on days when you eat particularly rich and fatty meals—especially creamy dishes, cured meats, fried foods, or fast food like pizza—then that’s something worth paying attention to.If fat seems to be your culprit, your doctor or dietitian may recommend following an elimination plan to identify specific fatty food triggers, and then assess your fat intake to see what kind of adjustments can be made based on your personal needs.Gluten-free dietGluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. If you have celiac disease, eating gluten sets off a wonky immune response that triggers lots of inflammation, leading to some really severe symptoms that can cause intestinal damage. Many people with IBS report experiencing symptoms after eating foods that contain gluten, even if they don’t have a wheat allergy or celiac disease, research shows. Experts refer to this as “non-celiac gluten sensitivity.”“While it is not necessary to avoid gluten if you are not diagnosed with celiac disease, some individuals with IBS feel relief when avoiding gluten,” Henigan confirms. One possible reason for this? These individuals may actually be responding to the elimination of FODMAPs, as many foods that contain gluten also contain FODMAPs. For others with IBS, eating foods that contain gluten is no big deal and a welcome part of their diet.If you’re unsure about gluten, check in with your doctor, who can run the appropriate tests to determine whether or not you have celiac disease or a wheat allergy. If you’re cleared of both and still suspect gluten may be doing more harm than good when it comes to your bowel habits, you can work with your doctor or dietitian to develop an elimination diet for gluten specifically. You may find that only certain foods that contain gluten—but also contain, say, tons of fiber—may be the culprit, so you may not need to avoid all gluten completely. Once you ID your specific triggers, you can create a balanced plan that works for your needs.Lactose-free dietHultin says that if you feel bloated or gassy (or other annoying GI symptoms) after eating lactose, then you might want to check in with your doctor about getting tested for lactose intolerance. “The symptoms of lactose intolerance are very similar to the symptoms of IBS, so it is important to rule the former out,” she says.If you have IBS and you’re lactose intolerant, then steering clear of cow’s milk products may help you prevent a flare-up. “People with lactose intolerance need to avoid foods that contain lactose, including cow’s milk, cheese, yogurt, sour cream, ice cream, buttermilk, cream cheese, butter, and prepared foods that could have these ingredients in them,” Hultin says.Instead, according to the Mayo Clinic, you may want to switch to dairy products that are lower in lactose if you can tolerate them, like ricotta cheese or kefir, as well as plant-based milks and yogurts.Is your diet the only IBS trigger you should be aware of?IBS is a complex condition, so it’s important to remember that while food is a big piece of the puzzle, it’s not the only thing that could be triggering your symptoms. For example, going through a heavy period of stress, taking certain medications like NSAIDs, not getting enough exercise, and not getting enough sleep can all contribute to an IBS flare-up, depending on the person, per the NIDDK.That’s why it’s so important to work closely with your doctor if your digestive symptoms are starting to take an overwhelming toll on your life. They can prescribe certain medications that help relieve your specific IBS symptoms and help guide you on the best lifestyle changes you’ll need to make to feel more in control of your condition.Sources:1. World Journal of Gastroenterology, Diet in Irritable Bowel Syndrome: What to Recommend, Not What to Forbid to Patients2. Journal of Nurse Practitioners, Addressing the Role of Food in Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptom Management3. Nutrients, Low-FODMAP Diet Improves Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptoms: A Meta-Analysis4. Advances in Nutrition, Low-Residue and Low-Fiber Diets in Gastrointestinal Disease Management5. BMJ Clinical Research, Soluble or Insoluble Fibre In Irritable Bowel Syndrome In Primary Care? Randomized Placebo-Controlled TrialRelated:
Some health care providers may counsel their patients to try a FODMAP elimination diet during an UC flare, followed by reintroduction of FODMAP foods once in remission.What does that mean for actually eating food? Well, you may want to try swapping high-FODMAPs like cauliflower, mushrooms, dried fruit, cow’s milk, and legumes for low-FODAMPs like eggplant, carrots, grapes, potatoes, eggs, quinoa, and tofu.Mediterranean dietThe Mediterranean diet is widely considered to be one of the world’s healthiest eating patterns for people with and without chronic conditions.Characterized by a high consumption of fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats—hello, olive oil and fish— the Mediterranean diet has been linked with increased diversity of the gut microbiome.9 Good news for people with IBD, since diversity in the gut bacteria could help to ease symptoms.Paleo dietWhile you may have heard of the paleo diet, the autoimmune protocol diet (AIP), which is considered to be similar to the paleo diet, may have some benefits for people with IBD.“There is some data on use of an autoimmune paleo style diet to help reduce symptoms in those with colitis,” says Dr. Singh, yet the research is very new and limited.This type of elimination diet should only be undertaken after discussions with—or the help of— a medical professional to make sure you are getting the necessary nutrients and calories.The AIP diet recommends avoiding gluten and refined sugar, as well as an initial elimination phase of, well, just about everything else. That includes grains, legumes, nightshades, dairy, eggs, coffee, alcohol, nuts and seeds, oils, and food additives.You then (thankfully) reintroduce foods until you figure out what works best for your gut. The goal is to cut out foods that cause an inflammatory response.Although some very small studies see the benefits of this style of eating, more research is needed.10Gluten-free dietIf you have UC and feel a little gassy or bloated after eating pizza or a sandwich, you’re not alone. Many people with IBD have digestive side effects, like the aforementioned gas and bloating, when eating gluten. In a large observational study of more than 1,600 participants, half of the patients reported symptom improvement and nearly 40% fewer IBD flare-ups on a gluten-free diet.11Again, everyone is different, but experimenting with gluten-free alternatives for things like bread, crackers, and cake, may be worth trying to manage UC.Tips for meal preppingNow that you have a sense of what to eat for ulcerative colitis, it’s time to get in the kitchen. Meal prepping some simple ingredients can make your life easier and prevent a UC flare. Here are some simple strategies:Buy pre-chopped fruits and veggies. Having produce in your fridge that don’t require any preparation will make you more likely to add them to your plate at mealtime.Go frozen. Frozen fruits, veggies, and whole grains are generally as nutritious as fresh produce. Buy frozen fruit for smoothies, frozen veggies for soups and casseroles, and frozen grains to heat up in the microwave as a side dish.Pick up ready-made proteins. Stock up on simple options, like a rotisserie chicken or canned beans.Make a big batch of soup. Not only is soup soothing, it’s also an easy way to add a ton of veggies to your diet and is super easy to make in big batches.Stock up on healthy fats. Load up your cabinet with nuts, oils, and seeds for snacking, cooking, or adding texture to a recipe.Supplements and other lifestyle changes to tryBesides diet and medicine, there are a few other therapies that could be helpful for people with ulcerative colitis.