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Top 12 Crohns/Colitis Trigger foods (based on 10 research studies)

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Although there’s not a single diet that works for everyone with IBD, there are definitely certain foods that trigger symptoms more commonly than others. So, I wanted to share some research with you on this topic so that you understand where this list of common trigger foods actually comes from.


In my experience, a lot of people with inflammatory bowel disease are able to accurately locate some of their trigger foods (which may include some of the ones in this blog post) but usually are not able to locate all their trigger foods.That’s probably because trigger foods can be time and/or dose dependent. Also, there are many lifestyle factors that appear (in my experience) to worsen symptomatic reactions to trigger foods, and therefore, I recommend controlling for these factors BEFORE restricting your diet in order to keep it as expansive as possible.


These research studies were all based on patient reports of food triggers. The only exception is the research study on the far right in charts #3 & 4 which was based on search engine results and the recommendations from those websites.


Chart #1: Number of research studies indicating particular trigger foods

It may or may not be surprising that participants in seven out of the ten research studies reported that fatty/greasy foods and dairy products trigger symptoms making them the two most commonly reported trigger foods. Spicy foods, raw nuts, red/processed meats, corn/popcorn, raw fruits/vegetables, and beans/lentils were all reported by participants in four-to-six of the 10 research studies.

Chart #2: Number of research studies indicating particular food as triggers


Sweets/added sugars, raw seeds, high fiber foods, and citrus fruits were all reported to trigger symptoms in three of the 10 research studies.


Below are charts that show a comprehensive view of the trigger foods and research studies.



Chart #3: Compilation of research on patient reported trigger foods

Chart #4: Compilation of research on patient reported trigger foods

Keep in mind that even if these foods worsened symptoms for participants in these research studies, that doesn’t mean that these foods should be avoided by YOU. Your diet needs to be individualized to keep it as expansive as possible, reduce the risk of nutrient deficiencies and malnutrition, and maintain a healthy relationship with food.


Some foods on this chart are suggested in research studies to increase certain types of bad gut bacteria (inflammatory foods) and others in this chart are suggested to increase certain types of good gut bacteria (anti-inflammatory foods), but all could potentially trigger an increase in symptoms such as frequent or urgent diarrhea, constipation, changes in stool consistency, gas, bloating, pain, and/or cramping.


Which of these foods from this chart are definitely your trigger foods? Let me know in the comment section below! And stay tuned for next week because I’ll be sharing the top trigger beverages in people with crohn’s and colitis based on the latest research!

P.S. If you’re tired of trying to do this on your own and are ready to get guidance in finding your trigger foods, click here to apply for a complimentary breakthrough session, where we can chat about where you are now, where you want to be instead, and I’ll make some recommendations for next steps.

“I’m so happy that I’m learning my trigger foods and I’m able to consistently and confidently eat 3 meals a day. I’m now down to2 healthy solid bowel movements a day.”

(Prior to us working together, Sonia was having 4-6 loose bowel movements a day and skipping meals because she had a lot of anxiety around making food decisions for fear of triggering symptoms. See her full testimonial under the compliments section)


Disclaimer: The information provided is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnose, or treat medical diseases. It is strictly for informational purposes. Prior to undertaking any change in treatment or diet seek the advice of your physician. This blog post does not replace individualized medical nutrition therapy or medical advice. 

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