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What Are Some "Safer" Vegetables for IBD Patients?

As a Certified Health Coach, I get this question a lot when working with clients who have IBD. And, as a Crohn's patient myself, I can honestly say that I once struggled with finding ways to get more nutritious vegetables in my diet. 

Raw vegetables vs. soft vegetables

However, it is not always the food itself that causes intestinal distress, rather it is the way in which it is prepared that determines how it affects one's stomach. You may have noticed that you can eat and tolerate roasted carrots much easier than raw carrots from a veggie tray. 

So the good news is that while it may seem like all vegetables are off limits, there are some options that can work well with your digestive tract while also providing you with the necessary nutrients your body needs.

Getting essential nutrients with Crohn's or UC

But why vegetables? Why can't you just eat all of the pasta and bread you want with an occasional scrambled egg on the side? It is important to get as many essential nutrients in your body, especially if you are losing so much after going to the bathroom frequently. 

Those with IBD tend to suffer from deficiencies in Vitamin D, B12, and iron. And vegetables are also a good source of other key nutrients such as zinc, folic acid, and magnesium. While it may be tempting to avoid veggies altogether, it is crucial that you fuel your body with as many essential key nutrients which will aid it in healing and and keep your immune system strong.

What are the best vegetables for Crohn's and UC?

Now that we've identified why you should eat vegetables, let's review how to do it safely. As a general rule of thumb, the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation recommends those who are experiencing flares to consume vegetables that have been steamed, canned, peeled, and/or cooked into a stew or soup. And, some go-to "safer" vegetables include:1

  • Potatoes (both sweet and white, as long as skins are removed)
  • Squash (butternut, acorn, spaghetti)
  • Carrots
  • Parsnips
  • Eggplant
  • Zucchini
  • Green beans

Veggies in soup are easier to digest

You may see a few ingredients above and realize that they would make delicious ingredients in soup. I am a huge fan of making large pots of chicken and vegetable soup, since chicken broth is thought to be healing to the mucosal lining and it is a great way to incorporate nutritious, yet soft, vegetables in a meal. 

You can also opt to make a smoother soup by using an emulsion blender to purify your vegetables, making them even easier to digest.

Roasted, steamed, and mashed vegetables

I also enjoy roasting my vegetables, making them softer yet with a little more flavor than if I were to steam them. And, since vegetables contain fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, it is beneficial to toss them in some olive oil before cooking them in order to truly get their full nutritional benefit. 

You can also mash your sweet potatoes and regular potatoes, again skins removed, and mash turnips for a savory, comforting side.

Getting vegetables into your IBD diet

As you can see, you don't have to feel like all hope is lost when it comes to eating vegetables while living with Crohn's or colitis. You can steam, roast, make them into a soup, or mash them so that they are easily digested. 

But, before you dive into your own bowl roasted acorn squash, be sure to taste a little at a time to be sure you can tolerate it, and always consult with your GI if you have specific questions about your current condition and the foods you should eat.

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