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Nutrition & IBD

Diet and nutrition are a complex part of pediatric IBD. Food choices can influence the risk of developing disease. There is no clear singular cause of IBD but it is likely that food and environment play a role amongst other factors.

Diet and risk of developing IBD

A diet high in fruits and vegetables reduces risk of IBD.


Diets high in animal fat, animal protein and refined sugar increase risk of IBD. These foods are common in a typical “western diet

What food choices may help improve my (child’s) IBD when they are in remission?

A MEDITERRANEAN-TYPE DIET  (instead of a typical Western diet) has been shown to help prevent flares and better manage IBD. This means a diet high in fruits and vegetables, olive oil and oily fish, whole grains, nuts, minimally processed dairy, and lean proteins. 


It is important to remember that there is no “IBD Diet” that will cure your child’s IBD but your Doctor and Dietitian can help you make food choices that will support your child’s healthy growth and development.


There is no recommended maximum portion size for many processed foods – generally the less often, the better. Your Dietitian can help you adapt these recommendation to your family and your child’s preferences.


Whole Grains

  • Brown rice

  • Whole Potatoes (mashed, roasted, boiled)

  • Whole Wheat Pasta

  • Oatmeal (add your own toppings)

  • Cheerios or shredded wheat

  • Brown bread

Fruits and Vegetables

  • Whole, fresh fruit and vegetables

  • Canned or frozen fruit and vegetables with no added salt or sauces

Unsaturated Fats and Oils

  • Olive oil

  • Vegetable oils (canola, sunflower, flaxseed)

  • Soft Margarine

Lean Proteins

  • Chicken, turkey, and poultry

  • Fish

  • Beans, lentils, chickpeas

  • Eggs

  • Whole nuts, natural nut butters

Dairy products

  • Milk (any fat percentage)

  • Plain yogurt (add your own fruit, honey, or maple syrup for sweetener)

  • Cheese


  • Water

  • White milk


Refined Grains

  • White rice

  • Frozen French fries or boxed mashed potatoes

  • White Pasta

  • Packaged pre-sweetened oatmeal

  • Froot Loops or sugar added breakfast cereals

  • White bread

Processed fruit and vegetables (with added sugars, thickeners, and emulsifiers)

  • Canned fruit

  • Fruit leathers

  • Fruit or Vegetable juice

  • Fruit gummies

Saturated Fats

  • Butter, lard, shortening

  • Hard margarine

  • Deep fried foods

Processed meats and proteins

  • Sausages, hot dogs, pepperoni

  • Deli meats

  • Peanut butter (with sugar added)

  • Chicken nuggets

Dairy products with thickeners and sugars

  • Processed cheese slices

  • Chocolate milk

  • Sugar sweetened yogurt

  • Ice cream

Processed drinks

  • Pop

  • Energy drinks

  • Coffee

  • Alcohol

  • Sugar sweetened drinks (5 Alive, Sunny D, Kool Aid)

  • Sugar alternative drink flavours (Mio, Crystal lite)

What should be on my plate? 

The Canadian Food guide is an excellent source of information on how to build a meal. 

Eat protein foods

Have plenty of vegetables and fruits

Choose whole grain foods

Here is an image of a plate that is divided into 3 sections.

  • The left half of the plate is green to represent the Vegetables and Fruit food group.

  • The bottom right section covers a little more than a quarter of the plate and is yellow to represent the Grain Products food group.

  • The top right section takes up the remainder of the plate and is red to represent Meat and Alternatives food group.

Finally, do not forget about two important components of your diet:

  • Water and the Milk and Alternatives food group

  • Oils and Fats food group

Prebiotics and Probiotics

Probiotics, in general, have not shown to be effective in treating Crohn disease, however, there may be some evidence to support specific probiotics (VSL#3) in the management of mild to moderate active UC or recurrent pouchitis.

Prebiotics are dietary components (ffiber that can help feed gut bacteria. Regular consumption of dietary fibre may reduce the risks of flares in patients with Crohn disease, but there is no evidence that support dietary fibre as a treatment for IBD.

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