Ulcerative Colitis Diet: A Beginner’s Guide and Meal Plan

Ulcerative Colitis is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that affects the inner lining of the large intestine, resulting in ulcerating sores. The primary symptom of ulcerative Colitis is abdominal pain, diarrhea, and rectal bleeding. People who suffer from this condition will often find it difficult to eat certain foods, as these can trigger flare-ups and worsening symptoms.

The Ulcerative Diet helps people with ulcerative Colitis manage and control their symptoms. It is a whole-food, natural diet that contains anti-inflammatory foods and avoids processed ingredients. The Ulcerative Diet focuses on eating easily digestible foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts. It also emphasizes avoiding certain foods that can aggravate symptoms, such as dairy and red meat.

The Ulcerative Diet is an effective way to manage and control ulcerative colitis symptoms. By eating nutrient-rich foods and avoiding those that can worsen symptoms, those with ulcerative Colitis can help reduce flare-ups and improve their quality of life.

This article provides a basic overview of the Ulcerative Diet and tips on implementing it into your lifestyle. With some planning, you can ensure you’re getting the nutrition you need and avoid foods that can trigger symptoms.

What Is an Ulcerative Colitis Diet?

An ulcerative colitis diet is a type of diet in which a person with ulcerative colitis can ease their symptoms by consuming the right foods through elimination. Although no one diet plan is the perfect answer for a person with gastrointestinal distress, meal planning, keeping track of food, and limiting food that triggers unwanted symptoms can help a person with UC avoid issues.

what is an ulcerative colitis diet
What Is an Ulcerative Colitis Diet?

People with ulcerative colitis should only eat foods that do not trigger symptoms. Some of the most common foods include low-fiber fruits, refined grains, lean protein, omega-3 fatty acids, protein shakes, sugar-free foods, nut butter, cooked vegetables, and grilled meats. 

The importance of the colitis diet is to help ease the symptoms of ulcerative colitis, such as diarrhea, nausea, gastrointestinal distress, urgent bowel movements, and bleeding. 

What Is the Other Term for Ulcerative Colitis Diet?

The ulcerative colitis diet has other common methods and types in today’s society. For example, the stomach Ulcerative diet, Crohn’s diet, and irritable bowel disease (IBD) diet. All of these diets help manage symptoms associated with inflammatory bowel diseases.

A low-fiber diet, low-carb diet, low-FODMAP diet, paleo diet, and gluten-free diet are also considered other types of diets for ulceratibe colitis. All of these diets reflect the purpose of the colitis diet, which is to find out what foods trigger GI distress and eliminate these foods in a daily and weekly meal plan.

For example, people who suffer from ulcerative colitis should keep a food diary and document what foods they eat and their reactions. Suppose gluten-free foods are easier on your stomach. In that case, your diet will most likely reflect a gluten-free diet, including high protein levels, non-gluten starches, vegetables, and fruits. 

How Does the Ulcerative Colitis Diet Work?

The colitis diet works by helping prevent unwanted gastrointestinal symptoms in those with ulcerative colitis. This diet works by experimenting with different foods and documenting which foods ease internal stomach symptoms. 

Most people with UC find that low-fiber fruits, cooked vegetables, refined grains, lean protein, and omega-3 fatty acids do not bother their stomachs. If your GI symptoms are in remission, you can eat high-fiber foods, healthy fats, protein, and whole fruits and vegetables.

What Are the Health Benefits of the Ulcerative Colitis Diet?

A colitis diet often emphasizes whole foods, high amounts of vegetables, consuming fruits, lean protein sources, and omega-3 fatty acids. As a result, any type of colitis diet you choose, whether it is a Mediterranean diet, paleo diet, gluten-free diet, or other options, can be healthier than eating processed foods, high levels of unhealthy fats, and simple carbohydrates. 

  1. Better sleep: Following the Ulcerative diet can improve your sleep by reducing bowel pain and discomfort.
  2. Reduced inflammation: The Ulcerative diet will reduce the inflammation and irritation in your digestive tract.
  3. Improved digestive health: The Ulcerative diet will help keep your gut healthy and improve digestion. 
  4. Lower risk of flare-ups: Eating an Ulcerative diet can reduce the risk of flare-ups and other symptoms associated with ulcerative Colitis.
  5. Remission of symptoms of several digestive diseases: Following the Ulcerative diet can help achieve remission of symptoms in people with ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s disease, and irritable bowel syndrome.

What Are the Health Risks of the Ulcerative Colitis Diet?

Suppose you are experimenting with the types of foods that make your ulcerative colitis flare up. In that case, this can sometimes cause distress and discomfort in your body. During these periods of discomfort, GI issues can occur, and digestion can be problematic. 

  1. Malnutrition:  If you are not careful to get enough nutrient-rich food, it can lead to malnutrition.
  2. Increased bloating: When you first begin the Ulcerative diet, you may experience additional bloating as you experiment and find what foods trigger your flare-ups.
  3. Weight loss: Since the Ulcerative diet restricts certain foods, it can lead to unintentional weight loss.

What Should You Eat During a Flare-Up in an Ulcerative Colitis Diet?

If you have ulcerative colitis, there are certain foods to eat during an ulcerative colitis flare to minimize symptoms and avoid GI distress. If you are experiencing diarrhea, fast bowel movements, bleeding, or fatigue, it is time to limit foods that may cause any issues with your digestion.

  1. Low-fiber fruits, including melons and bananas
  2. Cooked, non-cruciferous vegetables with the skin removed: turnips, beets, potatoes, carrots
  3. Refried grains, including white bread, pasta, and white rice
  4. Lean proteins such as fish, chicken, and tofu

If you are experiencing a flare-up, the best diet for ulcerative colitis flare up includes low-fiber fruits, cooked vegetables, refined grains (white pasta), lean protein (chicken), omega-3 fatty acids (fish), protein shakes, and nut butter. 

What Should You Eat During Remission in the Ulcerative Colitis Diet?

For those in remission of their colitis, you can experiment with other foods that are hard to digest during your flare-up periods. Suppose you have already experimented with foods that are minimal to aggravate your symptoms. In that case, you can slowly incorporate these colitis foods into your daily diet.

  1. Fruits and vegetables
  2. Whole grains like brown rice or quinoa
  3. Lean proteins such as fish, chicken, or tofu
  4. Low-fat dairy products such as yogurt or kefir
  5. Healthy fats like olive oil
  6. Nuts, seeds, and legumes

Begin with fiber-rich foods, healthy fats, protein, whole fruits, whole vegetables, whole wheat bread, and vitamin D. Some common foods you can begin to add to your diet include oats, olive oil, nut butter, lean meat, salmon, eggs, vegetables, pasta, and brown rice. 

People should limit their caloric intake depending on their basal metabolic rate and activity level. Those interested in losing weight should reduce their caloric intake by 300-500 calories daily. If you are not trying to lose weight, ensure you are eating enough calories to meet your daily energy needs.

What Foods Should Avoid While on an Ulcerative Colitis Diet?

Most people should avoid ulcerative colitis triggers foods, such as deli meat, dried fruit, berries, prune juice, raw vegetables, relish, dressings, pickles, sauces, nuts, popcorn, seeds, and caffeine. These foods to avoid with colitis and heavy sauces can be hard to digest, increase diarrhea, and reduce fiber intake.

  1. High-fiber fruits and vegetables: broccoli, brussels sprouts, and apples
  2. Seeds and nuts: walnuts, sunflower seeds, cashews, almonds
  3. Beans and legumes: peanuts, black beans, pinto beans,
  4. Whole grains: Whole wheat bread, pasta, and other whole grain products
  5. High Lactose Dairy products: cheese, milk, and yogurt
  6. Red meat: steak, pork, veal
  7. Processed foods: packaged snacks and frozen meals
  8. Beverages: alcohol, caffeine, carbonated drinks

The best practices to follow while doing the colitis diet include finding out what types of foods are easy to digest, limiting high-sugar and high-fat foods, limiting heavy sauces, reducing caffeine intake, and focusing on eating the best food for colitis. 

How to Do an Ulcerative Colitis Diet?

There are certain instructions and foods to avoid with ulcerative colitis when you are doing the colitis diet.

  1. Make an appointment with your doctor: Your doctor will be able to provide personalized advice on how to follow the Ulcerative diet.
  2. Make a list of foods to avoid: Make a list of the food and drinks you should avoid while following the Ulcerative diet.
  3. Make a list of foods to eat: Make a list of healthy foods you can have while on the Ulcerative diet.
  4. Stock your kitchen: Stock up on all the healthy foods you need to get started on the Ulcerative diet.
  5. Read labels: Make sure you read the labels of any food or drink you buy to check for potential triggers.
  6. Avoid eating out: Eating out can be difficult when you’re on an Ulcerative diet, as restaurants often use ingredients that could trigger flares.
  7. Track what you eat: Keeping a food journal can help track how your body responds to certain foods.

The proposed time frame for a colitis diet depends on your diagnosis and symptoms. For people with ulcerative colitis, following a colitis diet is lifelong. Finding out what foods hurt your stomach and what foods for colitis are easy to digest can help you live a healthy life. 

Who Should Do the Ulcerative Colitis Diet?

Certain groups of people should consider doing the Ulcerative Colitis diet for optimal health. In some instances, such as developing ulcerative colitis, having chronic stomach pain, or showing intolerances to food groups, these people should do food tests and find out what they can cut out to prevent GI distress and identify the best diet for ulcerative colitis.

Athletes, such as bodybuilders, may also need to begin the colitis bodybuilding diet to reduce their body weight, avoid stomach problems during high-intensity training sessions, and lose muscle mass. Lastly, diabetic people or those with intolerances, such as gluten, may begin a colitis diet to balance their blood sugar and limit negative reactions to specific food groups. 

What Are the Best Recipes for an Ulcerative Colitis Diet?

There are specific types of food to eat with colitis, including an ulcerative colitis food list and colitis foods to avoid. 

  • Turkey Tacos: Lean ground turkey, roasted vegetables, crunchy corn taco shell, Greek yogurt
  • Noodle Bowl: Grilled chicken, white rice, corn, chestnuts, and steamed vegetables
  • Grilled Salmon: Grilled salmon, pistachios, roasted asparagus, potatoes 
  • Pasta with Shrimp: Angel hair pasta with olive oil, garlic, herbs, shrimp, cooked peas, and sauteed mushrooms 
  • Butternut Squash Soup: Yellow onion, carrots, butternut squash, sweet potato, vegetable broth, tofu, and garlic 

What Is a Sample Ulcerative Colitis Diet Plan?

Below is a sample Colitis Diet Plan providing three different options for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

  • Breakfast Options
    • Sweet potato pancakes: Sweet potatoes, sweet onion, ginger, egg, flour, salt 
    • Applesauce: Apples, cinnamon, water 
    • Smoothie bowl: Frozen banana, grapes, mango chunks, spinach, apple, Greek yogurt, ice 
  • Lunch Options
    • Sweet Potato Hummus: Baked sweet potatoes, lemon juice, garlic, salt, roasted red peppers 
    • Vegetable Soup: Onion, zucchini, squash, oregano, red pepper, chickpeas, vegetable broth 
    • Salmon: Grilled salmon, pistachios, potatoes, and asparagus 
  • Dinner Options
    • Spaghetti Squash: Cooked spaghetti squash with your choice of toppings
    • Pasta: Angel hair pasta with olive oil, garlic, shrimp, sauteed mushrooms, peas
    • Salmon: Grilled salmon, pistachios, potatoes, and asparagus 

What Are the Facts About the Ulcerative Colitis Diet?

There are various facts about the colitis diet that are helpful for those who want to limit GI distress.

  • Discomfort: During the first week of the colitis diet, people can expect some discomfort as they are trying to figure out what food groups are causing stomach distress. After they have figured out what types of foods and food groups are hard to digest, the process of weeding out these foods can bring relief. 
  • Inexpensive: The colitis diet is inexpensive compared to other specialty diets. People who need to limit ulcerative colitis symptoms can usually buy items in bulk, such as low-fiber foods, low-carb foods, and high-protein sources. 
  • Atkins Alternative: The colitis diet vs. the Atkins diet has some similarities. A few people who experience issues with high-carb foods may begin to follow a low-carb diet to reduce their colitis symptoms. An Atkins diet is a low-carb version of a colitis diet that helps the body burn fat instead of carbs for energy. 
  • Weight Loss: The colitis diet is good for weight loss because foods that slow down your digestion can cause a person to become bloated and gain weight in their midsection. Limiting high-GI foods can help a person reduce abdominal bloating. 

Is Ulcerative Colitis Diet Considered a Healthy Diet?

Yes, the ulcerative colitis diet is healthy because it helps a person suffering from UC enhance their digestion and avoid stomach pains. 

Is the Ulcerative Colitis Diet Expensive?

No, the ulcerative colitis diet is not expensive. Many foods used in Ulcerative diet recipes are naturally low in saturated fat and cholesterol, so they don’t have to be costly.

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Athletic Insight Research


The Athletic Insight Research team consists of a dedicated team of researchers, Doctors, Registered Dieticians, nationally certified nutritionists and personal trainers. Our team members hold prestigious accolades within their discipline(s) of expertise, as well as nationally recognized certifications. These include; National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer (NASM-CPT), American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA-CPT), National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Nutrition Coach (NASM-CNC), International Sports Sciences Association Nutritionist Certification.