If you’re thinking about setting health-related goals for the coming months or year, here are nine evidence-based diet and lifestyle priorities to consider:
1. Choose more fruits, veggies, & leafy greens
According to a recent study, people with Crohn’s disease who consumed high-fiber foods (including fruits and vegetables) were 40% less likely to flare than those who avoided high-fiber foods2. Think about how you can introduce your favorite fruits and vegetables into your diet in a way that is satisfying and makes you feel good. You may need to adjust the texture of these foods to improve tolerability by blending, pureeing, or peeling them.
2. Consume some cooked and cooled starches and legumes
Leftover potatoes, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, or rice are all great options. If you don’t regularly consume legumes, consider starting with a small portion size. You may need to adjust the texture of these foods by mashing or pureeing them to improve tolerability.
3. Choose mostly homemade meals
If you can, opt for mostly home-cooked meals throughout the week. Try creating a list of go-to meal ideas you and your family enjoy. Hang the list on your refrigerator and add to it throughout the year. When you’re not sure what to cook, you can browse your homemade meal menu for some ideas or download our free IBD recipe book for some fresh ideas.
4. Choose a variety of proteins throughout the week
There are so many different ways to incorporate protein into your weekly meals. Rather than focusing on restricting certain types of protein, like red meat, try introducing a greater variety of protein into your diet. Some great options include seafood, chicken, turkey, lentils, tofu, tempeh, yogurt, nuts, nut butter, seeds, seed meal, or seed butter.
5. Choose certain fats more than others
Olive oil, flaxseed oil, avocado, nuts, nut butter, seeds, seed meals, and seed butter are all great options.
6. Try out gut-directed hypnotherapy
Gut-directed hypnotherapy is a form of medical hypnosis that has been shown in research studies to prolong periods of remission and decrease the likelihood of flares3,4.
7. Consider working with a pelvic floor physical therapist
Pelvic floor physical therapy has been shown to improve symptoms in 68% of IBD patients who experience difficulty with bowel evacuation and 80% of people with fecal incontinence5.
8. Exercise a few times per week
Studies have shown that just three 1-hour workouts per week can have significant effects on fatigue and quality of life in people with IBD6.
9. Introduce mindfulness-based therapy into your routine
Mindfulness-based therapy has been shown to reduce stress and depression and improve quality of life in people with IBD7. Mindfulness-based therapy may also reduce markers of inflammation8.
Keep in mind that these priorities are only suggestions, and you should personalize them to fit your needs, lifestyle, and preferences. There is always room in your diet for all the foods you enjoy, and there are countless ways to integrate these recommendations into your life in a sustainable and enjoyable way.
- Sasson AN, Ingram RJM, Zhang Z, Taylor LM, Ananthakrishnan AN, Kaplan GG, Ng SC, Ghosh S, Raman M. The role of precision nutrition in the modulation of microbial composition and function in people with inflammatory bowel disease. Lancet Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2021 Sep;6(9):754-769. doi: 10.1016/S2468-1253(21)00097-2. Epub 2021 Jul 14. PMID: 34270915.
- Brotherton CS, Martin CA, Long MD, Kappelman MD, Sandler RS. Avoidance of Fiber Is Associated With Greater Risk of Crohn's Disease Flare in a 6-Month Period. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2016 Aug;14(8):1130-6. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2015.12.029. Epub 2015 Dec 31. PMID: 26748217; PMCID: PMC4930425.
- Keefer L, Taft TH, Kiebles JL, Martinovich Z, Barrett TA, Palsson OS. Gut-directed hypnotherapy significantly augments clinical remission in quiescent ulcerative colitis. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2013 Oct;38(7):761-71. doi: 10.1111/apt.12449. Epub 2013 Aug 19. PMID: 23957526; PMCID: PMC4271841.
- Szigethy E. Hypnotherapy for Inflammatory Bowel Disease Across the Lifespan. Am J Clin Hypn. 2015 Jul;58(1):81-99. doi: 10.1080/00029157.2015.1040112. PMID: 26046718
- Khera AJ, Chase JW, Salzberg M, Thompson AJV, Kamm MA. Systematic review: Pelvic floor muscle training for functional bowel symptoms in inflammatory bowel disease. JGH Open. 2019 Jun 24;3(6):494-507. doi: 10.1002/jgh3.12207. PMID: 31832550; PMCID: PMC6891014.
- van Erp LW, Roosenboom B, Komdeur P, Dijkstra-Heida W, Wisse J, Horjus Talabur Horje CS, Liem CS, van Cingel REH, Wahab PJ, Groenen MJM. Improvement of Fatigue and Quality of Life in Patients with Quiescent Inflammatory Bowel Disease Following a Personalized Exercise Program. Dig Dis Sci. 2021 Feb;66(2):597-604. doi: 10.1007/s10620-020-06222-5. Epub 2020 Apr 1. PMID: 32239380.
- Ewais T, Begun J, Kenny M, Rickett K, Hay K, Ajilchi B, Kisely S. A systematic review and meta-analysis of mindfulness based interventions and yoga in inflammatory bowel disease. J Psychosom Res. 2019 Jan;116:44-53. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2018.11.010. Epub 2018 Nov 14. PMID: 30654993.
- González-Moret R, Cebolla A, Cortés X, Baños RM, Navarrete J, de la Rubia JE, Lisón JF, Soria JM. The effect of a mindfulness-based therapy on different biomarkers among patients with inflammatory bowel disease: a randomised controlled trial. Sci Rep. 2020 Apr 8;10(1):6071. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-63168-4. PMID: 32269278; PMCID: PMC7142151.