Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, mostly affecting the ileum and the colon. The cause and medical cure for Crohn’s disease remains unknown. Symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal pain, poor appetite, weight loss, rectal bleeding, fever and skin problems. Goals of treatment include controlling symptoms that may occur as a result of the disease. There are no foods known to actually cause additional injury to the intestine, but certain foods may increase diarrhea and cramping.
People with Crohn’s disease might find that they are lactose intolerant. Symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal pain and gas may improve with the elimination of lactose or milk products. Milk products that may not be tolerated include milk, puddings, custards, ice cream, cottage cheese, hard cheeses, cream soups and other dairy products. If lactose intolerance is a problem, lactose-free milk products are available as well as using an enzyme product prior to eating meals that contain dairy products.
Treatment for Crohn’s disease may include avoiding high-fat, fried foods due to impaired digestion or absorption of fat. A high-fat diet can worsen diarrhea. High-fat foods that may cause a problem include butter, margarine, shortening, cream sauces and products made with whole milk. Other high-fat foods to avoid include deep-fried and fast foods, desserts, snack foods such as crackers and potato chips, fatty meats with the skin, palm and coconut oil.
High-fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains are generally healthful, but with Crohn’s disease these foods can make symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal pain and gas worse. Steaming, boiling, baking or stewing vegetables may make them more tolerable. Removing the skin and seeds from fruits and vegetables or using canned fruits may also be better tolerated. Some vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, beans, onions, cabbage, peas and corn, may also cause increased amounts of gas. Other foods that may cause a problem include nuts, popcorn and fruit juices, especially from citrus fruits.