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5 tips for finding your trigger foods

5 tips for finding your trigger foods

Updated on
November 12, 2023
Medical reviewer
Medically reviewed by
Brittany Rogers, MS, RDN
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Written by
Romanwell Dietitians

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:ď‚Ž

  • Spicy foods
  • Deep-fried foods
  • Milk and dairy products
  • Processed meats
  • Strongly seasoned foods
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Energy drinks
  • Coffee
  • Alcohol
  • Cabbages
  • Pork
  • Pastries
  • Sweets
  • 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.

For example:

  • 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.

For example:

  • Instead of using 1 teaspoon of chili powder, use ÂĽ teaspoon of chili powder
  • Instead of using 1 cup of sugar, use ÂĽ 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.


We can help you reduce your symptoms without a restrictive diet
Pay as little as $0 per appointment with insurance
brittany rogers rd


  1. 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.

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