My Top Flare-Friendly Foods

Even though we are labelled with Crohn’s or colitis, I have found that we all often seem to have different symptoms: from the foods we eat to the intensity of symptoms. But one thing we all seem to have in common with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is the dreaded “flare”.

You know, the pain, diarrhea, bleeding, etc. that we all love to hate. It’s a revolving door because you know a flare is coming sometimes, but you still have to eat. Which causes stress, which intensifies your flare, and so on.

I mean, who doesn’t love to spend hours in the fetal position or going to the toilet 10, 20, 30 times a day.

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Associating eating with pain

For me, in the beginning, I would get flares all the time. I was very ill and the pain was intense - as well as the frequent trips to the toilet. I found myself spending most of the day on the toilet. I have described a flare pain as a moving train and I had no idea how to deal with it when it came to food. I associated eating with pain, so naturally I barely ate in the hope of minimising the pain.

The pain still came regardless if I ate or not but no one could convince me either way. I maintained a food diary and I recommend all newly diagnosed people to do so. You can see what your trigger foods may be and then avoid during flares or overall.

Eating food then became something that I dreaded and gave me high anxiety. I would lie when people asked me if I was hungry because I knew what would happen as soon as I ate and for years I would rather starve than intensify my flare pain. I was not worth the suffering and of course I lost a lot of weight. To the point of skin and bone.

Giving my intestines a rest

Over the years, I learned that whenever I felt a flare coming or was caught at the beginning of one, I immediately stopped eating and switched to a liquid diet. My GI told me that when I do this, it gives my intestines a chance to rest which in turn helps with the pain. It never took it away completely, just made it more bearable.

After a few days (I always give it plenty of time) I start adding foods slowly starting with bananas or peanut butter followed by peanut butter on bread, and so on. I avoid all meats during this time and when I introduce heavier foods, I always try to remember to chew everything really well.

Flare friendly foods

After switching to a liquid diet, my top 4 foods during or coming out of a flare are:

  • Peanut butter – I used to have a “flare jar” with peanut butter in it and I ate it right from the spoon (still do from time to time). It was/is an easy protein for me and easy on my insides.
  • Banana – small bites and chewed well or even mashed in a bowl.
  • Applesauce – very easy on my insides and gives me something sweet.
  • Yogurt – very easy on my insides and the only dairy I can eat. For some reason it does not aggravate my Crohn’s.

There are dozens of books and websites telling you or recommending foods to eat during flares and I am sure they work, for some people, but you need to figure it out for yourself. Remember, what works for some, may not work for you. It is going to take a lot of trial and error (thus the food diary). I know that IBD and food do not mix, especially during a flare and I also know it is very very frustrating filling your mind with dread and anxiety but you will figure it out because you have to eat.

For me, I switch to a liquid diet right away and that works for me. This is something that should be discussed with your own doctor before trying.

What works for you?

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