Ulcerative colitis is a complex disease. It can be hard to diagnose and even more difficult to treat. Additionally, treatments and diet vary from person to person based on the severity of the ulcerative colitis, and most physicians want to include the ulcerative colitis patient in the treatment process where possible. This includes diet.
Ulcerative colitis is an illness that, while not often fatal, often continues to destroy the bowel so there is a 20 to 40 percent chance that surgery ultimately will be required. Keep in mind that ulcerative colitis is a bowel disorder that is characterized by inflammation and ulcerations. Symptoms include fever, severe cramping, bloody stools and diarrhea, which may be bloody, too.
What is the correct diet for this illness? For starters, there is no standard diet that can be given to an ulcerative colitis patient with utter confidence that it will be effective in fighting diarrhea. While many people talk about fluids generally being effective, the only fluid that is consistently helpful is water. One of the biggest offenders for ulcerative colitis patients that results in diarrhea is sugar. Therefore, fruit juices have to be approached with caution.
Fatty meats (or animal fats) in the diet are possible triggers of diarrhea for ulcerative colitis patients. Additionally, spicy foods can cause irritation of the colon. One must be wary of dairy products. Once again, however, the impacts and tolerance for various foods varies from person to person.
Once an ulcerative colitis patient has been effectively diagnosed, in addition to the pure medical treatment – such as drugs or surgery – a holistic approach will typically be employed. Most often, treatment decisions include the ulcerative colitis sufferer’s opinions. This will consist of methods of stress relief, exercise and diet.
As I said, there is no standard diet for the ulcerative colitis patient in preventing diarrhea, so all we can do is to look a few basic things that work for most people.
Water often works. Water sipped throughout the day is effective. That is how I drink water. I found that “chugging” eight-ounce glasses of water essentially bloated me, and often that pressure did bring about diarrhea. However, sipping throughout the day gives me the hydration I need for my entire body, including my bowel, without placing too much stress on me. It has become second nature.
Fatty fish oils have been proven in many tests to be very effective in preventing diarrhea, reducing flares of ulcerative colitis and reducing the needed medication.
Whatever goes into an ulcerative colitis patient’s mouth should be eaten in minimal amounts. I have found that taking even five very small meals is much more effective in reducing diarrhea than the typical standard (and heavier) breakfast, lunch and supper.
I have found skinless chicken, fish and certain fruits, such as apples, to be tolerable. I stay away from soda and coffee. Caffeine can be a big offender in causing diarrhea, because it is a stimulant.
As an ulcerative colitis patent I have found that I often am presented with a Catch-22 when trying to follow any kind of a diet. For example, spinach has iron, which is good for my illness. Yet it is a leafy vegetable, which can often cause gas and diarrhea. It is a fact that an ulcerative colitis patient needs vitamins and minerals to battle the illness, but many come with the side effect of gas, which causes cramping and possibly diarrhea.
The non-leafy vegetables such as carrots seem to be the most effective in preventing diarrhea. Further, slightly drier fruits such as raisins, dates and cantaloupes (with sufficient water) are effective, and I’m guessing they create less sugar than fruits, such as watermelon and peaches.
When you research ulcerative colitis diets you will find main course meals such as turkey, chicken, fish, shrimp scampi and blander soups, such as chicken noodle.
As a general rule, fried foods are always tougher on the bowel than foods prepared a different way.
The truth regarding preventing diarrhea in ulcerative colitis patients lies in individual procedures.
First, I have read time and time again that there is no effective diet for ulcerative colitis, and there really is no food that will be excluded once an ulcerative colitis patient’s symptoms are under control.
What has worked for me is to eat slowly and take small bites. When I eat that way, I give my body a chance to react. I don’t add a lot of new foods all at once so I can isolate those offenders that do cause diarrhea (or even make me cramp).
The last defense I have is a lot of water in small sips, and I prohibit my own use of fried, fatty foods and caffeine.
No matter what diet choices an ulcerative colitis patient makes, they will be useless without the other treatment prongs of stress relief, regular exercise, regular physician follow-up and religious adherence to prescription medicines (when required).
Ulcerative colitis requires attention to diet, but the battle for relief gets waged on many other fronts.