While Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis may not be the result of reactions to specific foods or a poor diet, paying special attention to your diet may help reduce symptoms, replace lost nutrients, and promote healing.
Our surgeons, gastroenterologists, radiologists, nutritionists, and other specialists work side-by-side, communicating with patients and each other to provide coordinated, customized treatment solutions. Together, we will provide a personalized treatment plan that includes information and guidance on foods to eat and foods to avoid.
How Can Nutrition Help My IBD?
For people diagnosed with Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, it is essential to maintain good nutrition. These conditions often reduce your appetite while increasing your body's energy needs. Common symptoms like diarrhea can reduce your body's ability to absorb protein, fat, carbohydrates, and even water, vitamins, and minerals. Some important nutritional guidelines for managing IBD include:
- Inflammatory bowel disease can make it hard to get the nutrients you need.
- It is important to eat a healthy, varied diet to help you keep your weight up and stay strong.
- Some foods can make symptoms worse. Not eating these foods may help reduce your symptoms.
- No one diet is right for everyone with an inflammatory bowel disease. Keep a food diary to find out which foods cause problems for you. Then you can avoid those foods and choose others that supply the same nutrients.
- Because you may not be absorbing all the nutrients from the food you eat, you will need to eat a high-calorie, high-protein diet. This may be easier to do if you eat regular meals plus two or three snacks each day.
- You may need to take vitamin and mineral supplements to help you get the nutrients you need.
While your diet can remain flexible and should include a variety of foods from all food groups, your doctor will likely make some recommendations for you, such as restricting your intake of dairy if you are found to be lactose-intolerant.
Meet Heather Tressler, RDN
Heather Tressler is a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) and master certified health education specialist with over two decades of experience. She holds a master’s degree in health education from Penn State and a bachelor’s degree in nutrition sciences from Immaculata University. Heather lends her expertise as a registered dietitian and nutrition specialist, working one-on-one with patients in the IBD/Celiac Disease Clinic at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, specializing in digestive health for adults and children. She works closely with her patients with digestive disorders to find foods and patterns of eating that assist with symptom management, while ensuring nutrient adequacy. Heather’s work combines her passion for teaching and nutrition, and she believes in the power of dietary intervention as an important tool in improving overall health. Heather is an important asset to our team.