Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory bowel diseases are conditions that cause inflammation in the digestive tract. The two main types are:

  • Crohn’s disease – commonly affects the small intestine and can cause scarring and narrowing.
  • Ulcerative colitis – typically causes sores in the colon and rectum.

Inflammatory bowel diseases can lead to:

  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Bleeding
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Surgery

These are serious conditions that require regular medical care and treatment. Getting proper nutrition is important and can be difficult when symptoms are present. Poor nutrition and stress do not cause inflammatory bowel diseases, but they can make symptoms worse.

Here are some general tips for managing inflammatory bowel diseases:

  • Keep a log of your diet and symptoms to help identify foods that cause problems.
  • Avoid foods and beverages that make symptoms worse. For many people, these may include spicy food, caffeine, alcohol, and fried foods. Some people are also bothered by dairy products, nuts, or carbonated drinks.
  • Drink adequate fluids, especially when diarrhea is present.
  • Try eating smaller meals more often.

For more specific ideas, see Managing IBDs with Diet.

Did You Know?

If you are having trouble managing your diet and have an inflammatory bowel disease, it may help to see a Registered Dietitian (RD). Registered Dietitians can help identify the foods you tolerate best and assist you in creating an eating plan to improve your health and nutrition. To find an RD, talk with your doctor or visit to find an RD near you.

Think you may have Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis? Talk to you doctor about your symptoms and consider seeing a gastroenterologist for diagnosis and treatment options.