Foods To Avoid If You Have Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative colitis is a chronic form of inflammatory bowel disease. It causes inflammation and ulcers in the digestive tract leading to severe abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloody stools, and other symptoms. The disease affects the innermost lining of the colon and rectum and symptoms tend to develop over a period of time. It is known to be a debilitating condition and can also cause life-threatening complications in certain cases. There is no cure for ulcerative colitis and treatment focuses around managing the symptoms. One such management technique revolves around managing your diet. If you have ulcerative colitis, what you eat is known to have a profound impact on your symptoms. Foods can even trigger a flare-up of the disease. There are certain types of foods that you need to avoid when suffering from this condition. To prevent your condition from worsening, let us take a look at foods to avoid if you have ulcerative colitis.

Foods To Avoid If You Have Ulcerative Colitis

Foods To Avoid If You Have Ulcerative Colitis

A lot of importance is placed on the role of diet and that of gut bacteria in ulcerative colitis and other inflammatory bowel diseases. While the research on this is still in its early stages, it is believed that fiber has a major role to play in such conditions. While fiber is known to protect the colon, it still needs to be reduced when you experience a flare-up of your symptoms.

This is why when you have a flare-up, you should follow a diet that is low in fiber. This is helpful in reducing the material present in your colon, thus reducing your symptoms and also helping you recover faster. Your doctor is also likely to prescribe you a low-fiber diet during your flare-ups. Here are certain recommendations that you should follow to get relief from your symptoms.

Pasta, Cereals, Whole Grain Bread

Foods that are high in fiber are difficult for people having ulcerative colitis to digest as it causes irritation to the digestive tract. Whole grain flour contains high levels of fiber since the bran or the germ has not been removed. This is why you should avoid consuming food that contains whole grain flour such as:

  • Noodles
  • Macaroni
  • Bread
  • Cereals
  • Pasta

When you are experiencing a flare-up, then you should opt for eating white bread and pasta that have been made from enriched white flour. Avoid these if you are gluten intolerant though. Flour is considered to be enriched when nutrients that get lost during the germ and bran process are added again.

You can also consider having corn flakes, oats, cream of wheat, and puffed rice, as these are low in fiber content.

Whole Grain Foods

You should avoid consuming whole grain foods such as:

  • Whole grain oats
  • Quinoa
  • Wild rice
  • Brown rice
  • Buckwheat

The reason why you should avoid these foods is that they still contain the fibrous endosperm, the bran, and the germ, and are likely to cause irritation to your digestive tract, flaring up your ulcerative colitis symptoms.

Other whole grains that you should also avoid include:

  • Spelt
  • Wheat-berries
  • Millet
  • Plain barley
  • Bulgur wheat

Well-cooked white rice is a preferable option to have if you are suffering from ulcerative colitis.

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts, be it raw or cooked or even made into flour, need to be avoided if you have ulcerative colitis. Nuts contain fibers that are extremely difficult to digest when your digestive system is affected by ulcerative colitis. Nuts that you should avoid include:

  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Hazelnuts
  • Walnuts
  • Pecans
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Pistachios
  • Peanuts

Similarly, seeds are also likely to cause a flare-up. In fact, seeds are even more likely to aggravate your symptoms as compared to nuts since they contain a type of insoluble fiber that can further cause gas, diarrhea and bloating. Seeds that you should avoid include:

  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pine nuts
  • Sesame seeds
  • Flax seeds
  • Millet


Beans, peas, lentils, and other legumes are rich in fiber and protein. They also contain certain indigestible sugars that are likely to cause gas and worsen your symptoms, especially if you are experiencing a flare-up already. Avoid the following legumes:

  • Adzuki beans
  • Soy nuts – including edamane and soybeans
  • All beans, including chickpeas

Fibrous Fruits and Vegetables

Fibrous fruits are vegetables are no doubt healthy for you, but they are also rich in fiber. If you are having a flare-up then fibrous fruits and vegetables should be avoided. These include:

  • Fruits that have seeds that can’t be removed before eating, for example, berries
  • Dried fruits
  • Raw fruits
  • If a fruit has been peeled or if the flesh of the fruit has been cooked to make it very soft, then it is safe for you to have. An example would be applesauce. Certain canned fruits are safe to eat but avoid the ones that are packed in excess sugar.
  • Fruit juices without the pulp are fine to have, but avoid having prune juice.

Similarly, only have vegetables that have been peeled or skinned and have been cooked until they become soft. Do not have any raw or undercooked vegetables, such as corn. Canned vegetables and potatoes are safe to consume but without their skin.

The best option for getting the nutrition from vegetables is to have pureed vegetable soups.

Dairy Products

Dairy products are a big no-no when you have ulcerative colitis. Dairy is generally a major trigger for flares. Avoid all dairy such as milk, yogurt, butter, and cheese.


Remember that diet has a very important role to play in maintaining your health and it is important to still continue to eat healthy even when your condition may cause you to lose your appetite. You can use the information mentioned here to help you manage your symptoms and also recover faster from symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, or strictures. To move towards remission, you can gradually move towards high fiber foods, but it would be better to consult your doctor before making any sudden and drastic dietary changes.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:April 16, 2019

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