Living with Ulcerative Colitis: Are you getting the proper amount of nutrients?


Living with Ulcerative Colitis is an everyday battle. You could be having a great week where you don’t have any flare-ups, but then the next week you can keep any food down and you notice you are losing weight. While everyone who has Ulcerative Colitis deals with it in various ways, one of the most common ways to combat symptoms of UC is a change in diet.

Getting the right amount of nutrients/food intake depends on a couple of different factors. Your food plan/intake is personalized based upon age, weight, height, gender, and physical activity, but you also have to take into account what health issues you may have. Keep a close eye on how different foods make you feel.  If dairy causes a flare-up, it may be time to cut down or cut it out completely.

Every person’s body operates differently. No one person’s diet will be the same as someone else. It’s also important to note that there is not a single diet or meal plan that will work for everyone. Depending on symptoms different types of diets may be recommended, such as: 

  • A high-calorie diet:  Many people with UC lose weight and can develop signs of malnutrition. A high-calorie diet may prevent these problems. 
  • A lactose-free diet: People with UC may also have lactose intolerance. 
  • A low-fat diet: UC may interfere with fat absorption and eating fatty foods may trigger symptoms. This is often recommended during a UC flare.
  •  A low-fiber diet (low-residue diet): This can help reduce the frequency of bowel movements and abdominal cramps.
  • A low-salt diet: This diet is used when patients are on corticosteroid therapy to help reduce water retention.
  • A low FODMAP diet: FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligo-Di-Monosaccharides and Polyols, which are types of sugars found in certain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols. This diet is used in people who have intolerance to FODMAPS. 

Attention to nutrition is important for patients with UC, as the symptoms of diarrhea and bleeding can lead to dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, and loss of nutrients. It may be necessary to take nutritional supplements if your symptoms do not allow you to eat a nutritionally balanced diet. It’s important that you always talk to your health care professional about any changes in diet, symptoms, and if you need to take supplements. 

Many people with UC have found it easier to eat smaller, more frequent meals rather than a few large ones. This helps with digestion and also can help increase the nutrition absorbed from the foods you eat.