Ulcerative colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) which causes the colon and rectum to become inflamed. Symptoms include small ulcers, frequent diarrhoea and stomach aches. It is a long-term condition and needs to be managed. Specific foods do not cause colitis though they do cause flare ups. Thankfully, there are some things you can do to keep it under control and to minimise the complications.
Eat small meals
Eating smaller meals more frequently helps to control the symptoms of ulcerative colitis. Five or six meals, rather than the typical three is recommended. This is easier to manage for the digestive system as less strain is placed on it.
Keep a food diary
Certain foods will cause flare ups and each person is different. Keeping a detailed record of what you have eaten will help you to identify the foods you need to avoid and allow you to eliminate them from your diet.
Drink plenty of fluids
Due to frequent diarrhoea it’s easy to become dehydrated when you have ulcerative colitis, a high intake of water is essential to combat this. Alcohol and caffeine can worsen diarrhoea and fizzy drinks can cause flatulence, so avoid all three.
Eat a low-fibre diet during flare-ups
Temporarily eating a low-fibre diet during a flare up can help to reduce symptoms as they reduce the amount and the frequency of the stools you pass. Recommended foods which form this diet include: white bread, refined breakfast cereals (such as cornflakes), white rice, pasta and noodles, cooked vegetables (without peel, seeds or stalks), lean meat and fish and eggs.
The brain and digestive system are inextricably linked and there is a constant two-way exchange of information between them. It is therefore of no surprise that stress affects digestion and can exacerbate symptoms of colitis. Successfully managing stress levels plays an important role in reducing the symptoms. Exercise and relaxation techniques, such as meditation and yoga, are just a few beneficial activities that may help you to achieve this.
If you have ulcerative colitis and want further advice you should see an expert gastroenterologist.