If you’re one of many Americans suffering from colitis, you may sometimes feel helpless when facing its debilitating signs and symptoms. After all, the cause of certain types of colitis remains unknown, so no exact treatment can be given to directly attack it. But maintaining a specific colitis diet and going through basic lifestyle changes can help alleviate some of its symptoms.
There is no direct evidence that the foods you eat cause colitis, but there are definitely certain kinds of foods and beverages that worsens its signs and symptoms. A colitis diet regimen can be established by learning to identify and avoid which foods causes the aggravation of symptoms, and which foods help to relieve its debilitating symptoms.
Effective colitis diet regimen
You can learn to lessen the effects of colitis by following a proven colitis diet regimen:
- Limit your intake of dairy products. A colitis diet regimen tries to decrease the amount of lactose in the diet. Lactose and some of the contents of dairy products (including microorganisms) can cause diarrhea, abdominal pain, and gas, especially in lactose-intolerant people. If you are lactose-intolerant, you can try enzyme products that help break down the lactose in dairy products. Also, seek help from a dietitian to help you plan a low-lactose colitis diet. The dietitian may also give you advice if you need to find other sources of the nutrients you may be missing from dairy products.
- Be careful with your fiber intake. Although a high fiber diet is commonly associated with a healthy lifestyle, those suffering from colitis could actually be harmed by a high fiber diet. Food fiber can make diarrhea, abdominal pain, and gas worse. After all, fiber is harder to digest compared to other food products. For a low-fiber colitis diet, avoid eating raw foods, try to steam, stew, or bake them to break down the fibers. Check with your doctor before increasing your dietary fiber intake.
- Learn to avoid foods that cause symptoms to become worse. These may include foods that are known to be gas-forming: beans, cabbage, broccoli, raw fruit and juices, corn and popcorn, as well as caffeinated and carbonated beverages. Listen to your body; do not eat foods that cause your symptoms to become worse.
- Eat small but frequent meals. Six small meals are lighter on digestion than a few large ones. This causes less strain on intestinal processes and lessens the production of large quantities of acid during digestion
- Bottoms up on more liquids. A good colitis diet program is buoyed by an increased intake of liquids, especially plain drinking water. When desired, watered down juices and thin broths are also beneficial. Avoid caffeinated drinks such as tea and coffee, for they stimulate intestinal movement and can worsen diarrhea. Also, keep away from carbonated drinks, as they are known to produce gas (they contain dissolved gas, in the first place).
- Ask your doctor about taking multivitamins. Colitis and the restricted colitis diet can make you miss out some vital nutrients. Essential vitamins and minerals may not be absorbed by your intestines in sufficient quantities if there is frequent bowel movement. Vitamin and mineral supplements can help your body replenish lost nutrients. Remember that they can’t provide all essential nutrients (such as carbohydrates and proteins), so supplements must never be substituted for meals.
- Consult a dietitian. If you are losing weight and if your food intake has become very limited, seek advice from a dietitian.
Supporting your colitis diet program by toning down stress
Stress per se doesn’t cause colitis, but it can certainly aggravate its symptoms. Stressful events vary, and they affect different people differently.
Stress can cause changes in your normal digestive processes. You’ve experienced this before – it’s hard to eat when something is bothering you, nervousness causes butterflies and rumbling sounds in your stomach, and it’s even hard to swallow when you’re confronted with something really unexpected. Stress speeds up the formation of stomach acids, and interferes with normal intestinal movement.
Supplement your colitis diet program by reducing stress:
- Exercise – reduces stress, relieves depression and tension, and normalized bowel function
- Biofeedback – learn to control your heart rate, breathing by reading body monitors (e.g. pulse rate/heart monitor) and learning to slow down
- Relaxation and breathing exercises
- Hypnosis, music, yoga, meditation, reading, etc – relaxation techniques to boost your colitis diet