A guide to eating out with Crohn’s Disease

Fresh, wholesome food
Fresh, wholesome food

A guide to eating out with Crohn’s Disease (guest post)

Crohn’s disease is quite a complicated illness. It affects every sufferer in a slightly different way, and can make eating out a bit of a pain. Everyone’s trigger foods are different, but most Crohn’s sufferers cannot eat spicy foods, fibrous vegetables, grain, red meat or fried foods. Alcohol and caffeine can also trigger off a bad reaction, and many have issues with dairy too. So how exactly do you eat out? Here are a few hints, tips and ideas.

  1. Before you go out, check out the restaurant or café you plan to visit. Go down and have a look at their menu, view it online, or call ahead to find out more about what kinds of food they serve, to ensure there are options that will not exacerbate your condition.
  2. Try and gauge your condition. If it is very well controlled, you may know from experience whether you can lift your usual restrictions slightly. However, if you are experiencing a flare-up, it may be best to stick to foods that you know will not make things worse.
  3. When you choose your beverages to accompany your meal, try and stick to non-alcoholic or low-alcohol drinks. When having ‘after-dinner drinks’ go for a decaffeinated coffee, or tea. If you have problems with dairy, you will know not to use cream if possible, and ask for milk or soya milk if this better suits your needs.
  4. Make sure, when choosing your meal, that you avoid your personal trigger foods. If you know that red meat, broccoli and red wine make your symptoms worse, don’t order a beef dinner with steamed veg and a glass of Merlot!
  5. If you must eat ‘naughty foods’, limit yourself to the smallest portion possible.

There are still a lot of foods that are deemed ‘safe’ and less likely to trigger painful symptoms. Chicken, fish and lean beef are good options, as is tofu. When choosing pastas or breads, opt for wholemeal rather than white: refined grains can be an issue for people who suffer with Crohn’s disease. If choosing a meal with a sauce, tomato-based sauces may be better than rich cream-based sauces due to the lactose content, which can also exacerbate symptoms. Salads are usually well tolerated too, so these can be used to accompany a meal as an alternative, although it is best to stick to light dressings.

As everyone with Crohn’s will know, curries can be a terrible mistake, and the hotter they are, the more they can aggravate the digestive tract. Mild curries such as kormas may be less of an issue, although they are creamy and rich. Consume at your own discretion.

Whatever meal you decide on, try and maintain a balanced diet. If you have difficulty eating a healthy mixt because of your condition, a doctor or dietician may speak to you about advanced medical nutrition to supplement your diet.

Crohn’s disease does not have to affect your social life. With a little bit of careful planning, you can be out enjoying some of the most beautiful cuisine the world has to offer.


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