Medical Diets and IBD

Physicians May Prescribe These Special Diets During a Flare-up or After Surgery

For people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), diet is a major concern. While there is no one diet that is prescribed for all people with IBD, there are several medical diets that could be used as a part of a treatment plan. At some point, most patients get sent home from the doctor's office or hospital with a special diet.

Here are four of the specific diets that are most often prescribed to IBD patients. However, none of these diets are meant to be followed long-term. Cutting foods or food groups out of the diet for long periods of time could result in vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Always consult a physician before starting or stopping any diet.

1
Clear Liquid Diet

Glass of Water
Did you think that "clear liquids" pretty much meant "water?" Nope! There is so much more that is allowed on a clear liquid diet.. Image © WLADIMIR BULGAR / Getty Images

The clear liquid diet may be prescribed after abdominal surgery. Often, the first "meal" a patient is allowed a day or two after abdominal surgery contains items found on the clear liquid diet. This is a way of easing the gastrointestinal system into processing food again after the fasting that takes place before and after surgery.

When a patient does well on the clear liquid diet, her diet might be advanced further. After a clear liquid diet, the full liquid diet might be next, followed by soft foods or bland foods. Patients are usually moved through these diets slowly in order to give the digestive system plenty of time to adjust. More »

2
Full Liquid Diet

Pudding
A full liquid diet is still very restrictive, but there are some foods on it that may surprise you.. Image © Regis Vincent / Photographer's Choice RF / Getty Images

A full liquid diet may be prescribed after a patient has graduated from the clear liquid diet as the next small step on the way to solid foods and resuming a typical diet.

A key difference between the clear liquid diet and the full liquid diet is the addition of liquids that contain milk products or milk alternatives. For those who are lactose intolerant, this can be especially tricky, as foods containing cow's milk will need to be substituted with non-milk alternatives (such as soy, almond, or coconut). More »

3
Lactose-Free Diet

Soy Milk
A lactose-free diet can be tricky at first, but the good news is that we don't need cow's milk for a healthy diet and there are many milk alternatives available.. Image © Maximilian Stock Ltd. / Photographer's Choice / Getty Images

A lactose-free diet could be recommended at any time for those who have, or who are suspected of having, lactose intolerance. Lactose intolerance causes symptoms such as diarrhea, gas, and abdominal pain, which can be difficult to distinguish from the symptoms of IBD. That's why many physicians recommend that patients with IBD or other digestive problems try avoiding milk products for a time, to see if any symptoms resolve.

There are many ways to get calcium and vitamin D in the diet without cow's milk, and a nutritionist or dietician can help formulate an eating plan that doesn't sacrifice vitamins and minerals.  More »

4
Restricted Fiber Diet

Bread
A low-fiber diet can seem very restrictive at first, but if you get creative, you can still make your meals interesting.. Image © Westend61 / Getty Images

A restricted fiber diet may be recommended in a variety of circumstances, such as during a flare-up or as the last step before resuming an unrestricted diet after surgery. This diet consists of a variety of foods, but emphasizes restriction of foods that contain a high amount of fiber, such as some vegetables and grains.

Fiber is an important part of the diet, and a low-fiber diet isn't recommended long-term. Many people with IBD have problems with very fibrous foods. However, the goal of a treatment plan is to get back to an unrestricted diet that includes foods that contain fiber. More »

What Diet Should You Use?

Your physician and your medical team are going to be your best resources when it comes to the diet plan that is best for your IBD. These restricted diets are typically only used for a short time, and not as a long-term solution.

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