Ulcerative Colitis Diet Plan: List Of Trigger Foods To Avoid

Research shows that 3.1 million people in the US (1.3%) have been diagnosed with an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a type of inflammatory bowel disease. 

It is a long-term condition that affects the large intestines and rectum. 

Ulcerative colitis happens when small ulcers develop in the colon’s lining, which can result in bleeding and pus. 

There may be times when you are in remission or have mild symptoms, and in other periods you may be in a flare-up or relapse where your symptoms are increased.

The foods you eat can help you manage the condition and put less stress on the colon.

Your doctor may recommend following an ulcerative colitis diet plan to help you avoid IBD trigger foods as part of a comprehensive approach to managing the condition.

If you are unsure of what to eat and avoid, you’ve come to the right place. 

Here, you’ll find a list of foods to avoid that trigger ulcerative colitis and what to include in your diet plan.

Keep in mind that individual responses to dietary changes can vary in managing digestive issues. 

It may involve some trial and error to find what works best for you.

Foods To Avoid With Ulcerative Colitis

If you are having an ulcerative colitis flare-up, you want to avoid foods that create a lot of residue since it can irritate the stomach. 

You may also want to avoid other foods that cause irritation on the bowels or are gassy. 

Highly inflammatory foods include sugary, fatty, and processed foods. 

Here are the trigger foods you may want to avoid when having a flare-up if you have ulcerative colitis:

  1. Alcohol 
  2. Caffeine 
  3. Baked goods (cakes, cookies, brownies, and muffins)
  4. Candies and chocolate 
  5. High-lactose foods (milk, yogurt, cream, and ice cream)
  6. Fast food
  7. Fried foods
  8. Processed vegetable oils 
  9. Fatty cuts of meat 
  10. Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage)
  11. Nuts and seeds
  12. Processed meats (bacon, sausages, and hot dogs)
  13. Raw fruits with skin 
  14. Berries 
  15. Raw vegetables 
  16. Sodas and other carbonated beverages
  17. Spicy food (curries, chili, sriracha, and hot sauces)
  18. Sugary drinks 
  19. Whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, and wild rice)
  20. Whole grain bread and pasta 
  21. Sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners (sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, sucralose, aspartame, and saccharin)

What To Eat If You Have Ulcerative Colitis

Now that you know which foods to avoid, let’s go over those foods you want to include in your ulcerative colitis food list when having a flare-up. 

1) Anti-inflammatory Foods

The following low-residue foods have anti-inflammatory properties and won’t irritate your intestines. 

  1. Applesauce 
  2. Aprictors (without skin)
  3. Cantaloupe
  4. Banana
  5. Cooked fruit 
  6. Honeydew melon
  7. Papaya
  8. Nectarines (without skin)
  9. Plums (without skin)
  10. Watermelon (without seeds)
  11. Cooked vegetables 
  12. Potatoes (without skin)
  13. Squash (cooked)
  14. Eggs
  15. Cottage cheese (low-fat)
  16. Hummus
  17. Peanut butter powder
  18. Lean pork 
  19. Chicken (no skin)
  20. Tofu
  21. Plain yogurt 
  22. Fish (no skin)
  23. Cream of wheat
  24. Farina
  25. Grits
  26. Oatmeal 
  27. Melba toast
  28. Pasta
  29. Puffed rice
  30. Tortillas 
  31. Saltines
  32. White bread
  33. White rice 

2) Omega-3 Foods

Make sure you eat a source of omega-3 fatty acids every day. 

Since omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties, evidence suggests that they can help manage inflammatory bowel conditions. 

The best sources of omega-3 fatty acids include fatty fish, such as: 

  • Mackerel
  • Salmon
  • Sardines

If you are not having a flare-up, you can eat hemp seeds, chia seeds, and flaxseeds. You can also include flaxseed oil or chia seed oil in your diet. 

If you are not used to adding an omega-3 fatty acid source daily, you may want to consider an omega-3 supplement. However, before doing so, make sure you speak with your doctor. 

3) Probiotics

Probiotics may also be a good way to help manage ulcerative colitis. Probiotics (healthy bacteria) can colonize the gut and form a protective barrier. 

Research shows that probiotics may be an effective tool in handling symptoms of ulcerative colitis. 

While you can include fermented foods, they may increase gas, worsening symptoms. In this case, a probiotic supplement may be a better option. 

Consult with a healthcare provider before adding a probiotic supplement, especially if you are on chronic medication.

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Other Ways To Manage Ulcerative Colitis Naturally

Diet is not the only way to treat ulcerative colitis. The frequency of meals and other lifestyle changes can also help decrease the risk of flare-ups. 

Here are some simple tips that can help you control ulcerative colitis:

  • Eat more frequent meals. Eat four to five meals rather than two to three large meals. 
  • Chew slowly and increase the frequency. 
  • Keep track of your meals with a food diary. This will allow you to understand your symptoms and search for patterns on why your symptoms are showing up. 
  • Stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water (especially if you have diarrhea) will prevent you from getting dehydrated. 
  • Avoid drinking from straws since they can increase gas and bloating. 
  • Search for ways to help you handle stress. Anxiety and stress can increase the risk of symptoms showing up. Good ways to help you cope with stress are meditation, yoga, journaling, and walking. 
  • Give meal prep a try. Planning your meals will allow you to have more control over your food. This can significantly reduce the risk of symptoms showing up. 


Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel condition. It happens when ulcers show up in the intestines, increasing the risk of digestive issues. 

Some people can live free of symptoms, but they may experience symptoms once in a while (flare-ups). 

The foods you include in your ulcerative colitis diet plan can decrease the risk of flare-ups and help you manage them. 

Avoid IBD trigger foods with high residue (high in fiber) or foods that can irritate your intestines, such as caffeine, alcohol, fatty and sugary foods, and spicy foods. 

Instead, you want a low-residue diet with anti-inflammatory foods, such as omega-3 fatty acids and probiotics. 

Make sure you also make lifestyle changes, such as eating more frequently, drinking plenty of water, and keeping a food journal. 

If you are still experiencing regular flare-ups, even while taking medication and making changes in your diet, consult with a specialist to get personalized advice.

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  1. Marton LT, Goulart RA, Carvalho ACA, Barbalho SM. Omega Fatty Acids and Inflammatory Bowel Diseases: An Overview. Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Sep 30;20(19):4851. doi: 10.3390/ijms20194851. PMID: 31574900; PMCID: PMC6801729.
  2. Fedorak RN. Probiotics in the management of ulcerative colitis. Gastroenterol Hepatol (N Y). 2010 Nov;6(11):688-90. PMID: 21437015; PMCID: PMC3033537.
  3. CDC. People with IBD Have More Chronic Diseases.

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