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Learning what specific foods or ingredients trigger your Crohn’s or colitis symptoms can help you feel more confident in food selection and improve your overall quality of life.
However, finding your personal trigger foods on your own can feel overwhelming, especially given the vast number of foods and ingredients we eat on a daily basis.
In this article, we share 5 tips to help you get started finding your trigger foods.
1. Learn the definition of a trigger food
A trigger food is any food that leads to an increase in symptoms when consumed. These foods may be inflammatory or anti-inflammatory and are different for everyone with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or microscopic colitis.
2. Learn examples of common trigger foods and beverages
Some of the most common trigger foods for people with IBD include:
- Spicy foods
- Deep-fried foods
- Milk and dairy products
- Processed meats
- Strongly seasoned foods
- Carbonated beverages
- Energy drinks
- Citrus fruits
3. Notice how you feel after eating common trigger foods
Remember, trigger foods are personalized. So, if chili powder doesn’t cause an increase in symptoms, unless told otherwise by your doctor, you can eat chili powder.
4. Give yourself options for dealing with trigger foods
Option #1: Swap it out
If the symptoms aren’t worth it or you’re equally satisfied with an alternative option, try swapping it out for an alternative.
- Instead of using chili powder, use cumin and sweet paprika instead
- Instead of using butter or ghee, use apple sauce or olive oil in the recipe instead
Option #2: Decrease the portion size
If you really love the trigger food, try decreasing the portion size in the recipe or try eating less of the food to see if that alone is enough to decrease symptoms.
- Instead of using 1 teaspoon of chili powder, use ¼ teaspoon of chili powder
- Instead of using 1 cup of sugar, use ¼ cup of sugar
Option #3: Have it as is
Sometimes the symptoms are worth it! If the symptoms are not worth it, try 1 or 2 instead.
5. Work with an IBD registered dietitian
If you’re still confused about how to find your trigger foods, or worried about the nutritional quality of your diet, reach out to an IBD dietitian like us. We’ll help you keep your diet as expansive and enjoyable as possible while reducing your symptoms and boosting your quality of life.
- de Vries JHM, Dijkhuizen M, Tap P, Witteman BJM. Patient's Dietary Beliefs and Behaviours in Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Dig Dis. 2019;37(2):131-139. doi: 10.1159/000494022. Epub 2018 Nov 2. PMID: 30391940; PMCID: PMC6381876.