🌟 Now accepting insurance! Get started



6 evidence-based tips to reduce your symptoms that don’t involve a restrictive diet

6 evidence-based tips to reduce your symptoms that don’t involve a restrictive diet

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

Want to reduce your Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis symptoms without a restrictive diet? In this article we share 6 evidence-based tips you can implement today to reduce your symptoms that won’t leave you feeling restricted or stressed about your diet. 

1. Establish regular eating patterns

When and how frequently you eat can make a big difference in how you feel. It’s common to want to skip or delay meals when you’re not feeling well or if you’re afraid of triggering symptoms. However, skipping or delaying meals can lead to overeating later in the day which could actually worsen your symptoms, such as acid reflux. Our IBD dietitians recommend eating safe foods every few hours, or at least 3 meals per day, so that you can listen to your hunger cues as they arise .

2. Adjust the type, texture, and amount of fiber you consume

Diet guidelines recommend people with IBD eat at least the same, if not more, fiber than the general population. While you should eat plenty of fiber throughout the day, sometimes it can be irritating to your symptoms, especially if you’re not used to consuming it regularly. To improve your tolerance to fiber, try adjusting the type, texture, and amount you consume:

  • Adjust the type of fiber - Choose more soluble fiber instead of insoluble fiber (e.g. peel the skin off of fruit and vegetables). Not sure which part of your food is soluble vs insoluble fiber? Ask yourself if the food would soften or disintegrate if left in water for an extended period of time. If so, it’s likely a soluble fiber (e.g. raspberries). If it would remain intact, it’s likely an insoluble fiber (e.g. the skin of an apple, or raw kale).
  • Adjust the texture of fiber - Choose soft, smooth textured foods instead of rough or raw foods (e.g. choose smooth nut butter instead of raw nuts)
  • Adjust the amount of fiber - Introducing too much fiber into your diet too quickly can lead to an onset of symptoms. If you’re not eating much fiber today, start by slowly introducing fiber in small amounts and gradually increase the portion size over time. 

If you have stricturing Crohn’s disease, talk to your doctor and IBD dietitian to find out how to consume fiber safely.


3. Learn your trigger foods and swap them out for alternatives

Trigger foods are foods or beverages that cause an increase in symptoms. Everyone’s trigger foods are different so it’s important to learn what works best for you in particular. Once you’ve identified your trigger foods, you can swap them out for better tolerated alternatives that preserve the pleasure in eating but don’t cause symptoms (e.g. swapping dairy milk out for a simple-ingredient, non-dairy alternative). 

Some 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
  • Coffee
  • Alcohol
  • Cabbages
  • Pork
  • Pastries
  • Sweets
  • Citrus fruits

4. Try pelvic floor physical therapy

If you have difficulty fully evacuating your bowels, have constipation, or have bowel accidents, pelvic floor physical therapy may be helpful in reducing your symptoms. To find a pelvic floor physical therapist in your area, ask your gastroenterologist for a referral.

5. Try mindfulness-based therapies

Practicing mindfulness-based therapies may help to reduce inflammatory markers which could lead to fewer or less severe symptoms. Mindfulness-based therapies may also help you reduce stress, depression, and improve your quality of life. Examples include walking meditations, body scans, yoga, and breath work. 

6. Work with an IBD registered dietitian

It’s recommended that all patients who experience symptoms or who have changed their diet as a result of their IBD see an IBD registered dietitian. If you want to reduce your symptoms without using a restrictive diet, reach out to learn how we can help. Our IBD registered dietitians can help you

  • Find exactly what foods are triggering your symptoms
  • Normalize your bowel movements by correcting diarrhea or constipation 
  • Expand your diet to include the foods you love without causing urgency, pain, gas, bloating, or cramping
  • Come up with safe meal and snack ideas that you both enjoy and can tolerate
  • Boost your energy levels and overcome chronic fatigue

Request a call to learn if our nutrition counseling programs are right for you.


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


  1. Cozma-Petruţ A, Loghin F, Miere D, Dumitraşcu DL. Diet in irritable bowel syndrome: What to recommend, not what to forbid to patients! World J Gastroenterol. 2017 Jun 7;23(21):3771-3783. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v23.i21.3771. PMID: 28638217; PMCID: PMC5467063.
  2. Levine A, Rhodes JM, Lindsay JO, Abreu MT, Kamm MA, Gibson PR, Gasche C, Silverberg MS, Mahadevan U, Boneh RS, Wine E, Damas OM, Syme G, Trakman GL, Yao CK, Stockhamer S, Hammami MB, Garces LC, Rogler G, Koutroubakis IE, Ananthakrishnan AN, McKeever L, Lewis JD. Dietary Guidance From the International Organization for the Study of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2020 May;18(6):1381-1392. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2020.01.046. Epub 2020 Feb 15. PMID: 32068150.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Fitzpatrick JA, Melton SL, Yao CK, Gibson PR, Halmos EP. Dietary management of adults with IBD - the emerging role of dietary therapy. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2022 Oct;19(10):652-669. doi: 10.1038/s41575-022-00619-5. Epub 2022 May 16. PMID: 35577903.

Download our Flare Fighter Recipe Book

IBD friendly recipe book - Romanwell

Free Recipe Book for IBD

  • Flare-friendly recipes that tend to be well tolerated by most
  • Quick, simple, and delicious meals
  • Ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert
  • Written by the IBD dietitians at Romanwell

Download our free IBD Starter Kit

IBD starter kit Romanwell

An essential self-advocacy guide for IBD

  • Essential vocabulary to know
  • Who should be on your IBD care team & questions to ask them
  • Nutrition-related labs & how to request them
  • When to ask for a referral and to whom

Work with an IBD dietitian

Schedule a call to start working with a Romanwell IBD dietitian today

Get started

Sign up for our newsletter

Ready to get started?

Schedule a call to start working with one of our IBD dietitians today

Get started