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The Best Diet for Crohn's Disease

Crohn’s disease is a chronic, relapsing inflammatory bowel disease. It is an autoimmune condition in which the body’s immune system attacks the intestinal tract. Anywhere along the intestinal tract can be affected. 

With inflammation in the intestine, you might wonder what the best diet for Crohn’s disease is to help ease the inflammation and make meal times more manageable. Before getting into the best diet for Crohn’s, let’s talk about some symptoms you might be experiencing. 

What are the five symptoms of Crohn's disease?

Some of the most common symptoms you might be experiencing with Crohn’s are:  

  • Nausea

  • Abdominal pain/cramping

  • Persistent diarrhea

  • Rectal bleeding

  • Unintentional weight loss 

While these are the more common symptoms, those with Crohn’s also experience fever, loss of appetite, fatigue, anemia, etc. 

These symptoms make it extremely difficult to eat and tolerate foods without pain. So, what is the best diet to reduce these symptoms to remission? Let’s talk about all the different diets studied and what the research says about the best diet for Crohn’s.  

The best diet for Crohn’s Disease

Since people with Crohn’s disease have issues absorbing nutrients due to inflammation and reduced intake from decreased appetite, it is essential to consume a well-varied diet. A few different diets have been studied in individuals with Crohn's. So, what’s the best diet for Crohn's?

Since Crohn’s disease is inflammatory, it makes sense that an anti-inflammatory diet is the best nutritional therapy for Crohn's. The diet studied in those with mild-moderate symptoms is the Mediterranean diet. This diet is one the most well-researched diets and has been shown to improve inflammatory markers, quality of life, and nutritional status. The Mediterranean diet is characterized by the generous consumption of vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, and nuts; a minimal intake of red meat and whole-fat dairy products; increased fish consumption; moderate red wine intake; and liberal use of olive oil in cooking and food preparation.

Picture of Mediterranean diet, the best diet for Crohn's disease)ingredients (vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, nuts)

Another diet that has been studied to improve Crohn’s is the FODMAP diet. It stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. This diet is commonly used for individuals with irritable bowel syndrome. 

The FODMAP diet is an extremely restricted diet meant to be done over a short period, so only follow this diet with the help of a healthcare provider like a doctor or registered dietitian. In addition, research has shown that the FODMAP diet does not reduce intestinal inflammation, something the Mediterranean diet does. However, when compared to a regular Westernized diet, people with Crohn’s have seen some improvements in symptoms.

The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation has also mentioned several other diets for Crohn’s disease, including IBD-AID, Autoimmune protocol diet (AIP), Crohn's Disease Exclusion Diet (CDED), CD-TREAT diet, Specific Carbohydrate diet, etc. These diets may be helpful, but make sure that before attempting any of these diets, you are doing so with the help of a dietitian or healthcare provider. Research has shown, however, that these diets may lack several vitamins and minerals, which is not good, considering Crohn’s already leads to deficiencies. More research needs to be done before we can make evidence-based recommendations. 


Crohn's trigger foods

Now that we know the best diet for Crohn’s disease, you might be wondering if your favorite foods are something you can still eat or if they could be triggering inflammation. You might Google things like: Can you eat pizza with Crohn’s disease? Can you eat a salad with Crohn’s? Is peanut butter OK for Crohn’s disease? Can I have ice cream with Crohn’s? What about potatoes? 

Everyone may have different trigger foods, although there are some common trigger foods and beverages:

  • Insoluble fiber

  • High-fiber foods: Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, asparagus

  • High lactose-containing foods: cow’s milk, cream, ice cream, custard 

  • Sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners:  sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, sucralose, aspartame, saccharin

  • Added sugars and sugary foods: cookies, pastries, coconut sugar, honey, maple syrup, etc.

  • High-fat foods: butter, cheesy dishes, fried foods

  • Spicy foods: sriracha, chili powder, etc.

  • Alcohol

  • Caffeinated coffee/tea, energy drinks, and other caffeinated beverages

  • Sugar-sweetened beverages: soda, coffee/espresso drinks with sugar/syrup, juices, etc.

The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation also mentions that pro-inflammatory foods like red meat, processed foods, coconut oil, dairy fat, and palm oil may trigger people. 

How to calm a Crohn's flare-up

You might accidentally trigger a flare-up while figuring out what foods your body can handle. What should we do in that case? Follow a bland diet, eating bananas, toast, rice, applesauce, and boneless, skinless, boiled chicken. 

If it gets awful, over-the-counter medicine might be the best solution. Many medications can help treat gas, bloating, pain, and diarrhea. 


Crohn’s disease is a chronic autoimmune condition characterized by inflammation in the intestinal tract. The Mediterranean diet, rich in vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, nuts, and fish, has shown effectiveness in improving inflammatory markers and quality of life for those with mild to moderate symptoms. However, caution is advised, and dietary changes should be made under healthcare supervision due to potential nutritional deficiencies associated with Crohn’s.

A pinterest pin showing the words The best diet for Crohn's Disease over some pictures of ginger


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