A lot of people ask me what foods I can eat and what I can’t, between having ulcerative colitis and over 20 food allergies. It’s not easy, but over the years I’ve found what works for me and hope this post can inspire you to find out how you can feed your body well during a flare-up.
My last flare-up was over two years ago but before then, they were almost a monthly occurrence for me. I dreaded even a slight stomach twitch for fear that it meant a flare-up was on the horizon.
Can you relate?!
Since taking my health into my own hands by removing the foods I had sensitivities and/or allergies to and adding in a bunch of gut-healing superfoods and supplements, I’ve been flare-up free.
So how did I find out what these foods were?
First, I started by removing the five most inflammatory foods in the American Standard Diet (SAD for short…coincidence?!). These are: dairy, wheat, soy, sugar and corn.
From there, I ran an elimination diet with a health coach to help me pinpoint which other foods were triggers for me. I found out things like sunflower, coconut and eggs also bothered me, so out they went from my fridge and cabinets!
I then learned how to really tune into the signals my body was sending me every time I ate to understand what else may be bothering me. After doing that deep investigative work, I was in the clear and feeling a-okay!
But in the back of my mind, I know I’m not 100% in the clear. As those of you with ulcerative colitis also know, the cause of it is still unknown, flare-ups can happen randomly and there is no known cause to date.
BUT there is a lot you CAN do to keep flare-ups at bay and repair your digestive tract from the destruction that toxins and inflammation leave in their wake. And that’s the food that you eat.
So…what should you eat when your digestive symptoms are active?
First, there is no definitive diet, because what works for one person might not work for another, but these dietary theories are among the most popular and effective for those of you with digestive distress:
- Low FODMAP
- Low residue
- Small nutrient-dense meals
- Hydrating liquids
- SCD or autoimmune protocol (elimination diets)
- Anti-inflammatory food
- Adapted paleo (your personalized paleo diet for maintenance)
Now, even thinking about trying new foods or following a particular dietary protocol may scare you because when we’re flaring , we can’t imagine eating at all, or we just want to eat whatever will stay in our body! However, the foods that suit your unique body best will appeal to you and will stay inside you.
That’s because they’re food that are packed with the nutrients your body is CRAVING, they send signals to your digestive system that they’re there to help repair, and your body doesn’t have a toxic reaction to them.
So when I have flared-up in the past, or when my digestion just isn’t feeling right, I turn to these foods until I’m feeling better:
- Seafood (e.g. wild caught salmon)
- Mango (and other seedless, peeled fruits)
- Cooked/pureed veggies (e.g. kale)
- Collagen powder
- Bone broth
- Water (and lots of it)
- Licorice root tea
I also try to eat these foods in the most easily digestible form possible to give my digestive system a break while it’s trying to repair itself. I often turn to a few soup recipes (here, here and here)
Here’s what I avoid when I’m having a flare up:
Aside and in addition to the foods I tested as being sensitive or allergic to, I also avoid any food that could stimulate or irritate normal bowel functions. These include:
- Spicy Foods
- Red Meat
- Dried Fruits
- Nuts and Seeds
- Raw veggies
- High fiber foods
I encourage you to also take the time to find out what foods aren’t serving you well and which do (maybe even steal from some of the foods and dietary theories I listed above). From there, really tune into your body’s key signals to uncover what it needs in times of flare ups and what you’re better off avoiding. I promise by doing this work, you’ll be well on your way to restoring your gut health.