Snacks for IBD: Ideas for Quick and Easy Bites | MyCrohnsAndColitisTeam

Updated on September 07, 2021

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Snacks for IBD Ideas for Quick and Easy Bites

Figuring out what to eat when you have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can feel like trying to solve a riddle. Since there’s no one-size-fits-all diet for Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis (UC), what works well for one person can cause flare-ups in another. Many people with Crohn’s disease or UC carefully read ingredient lists and cautiously experiment with different foods. But what about when you just want a quick bite to eat?

Members of MyCrohnsAndColitisTeam have expressed confusion and frustration about what to grab for a snack.

One member stated: “I have a very difficult time finding any safe foods; a meal or a snack, it doesn’t matter. It’s all just a big headache (stomachache, too) for me. Something may be OK with my body one day, and then the next time I eat that same food, it can totally disagree with my body. This happens a lot. I have figured out that if something doesn’t sound good and I eat it anyway, then I will always get a bad stomachache for sure.”

Taking the time to figure out your trigger foods and find safe, go-to foods can take the guesswork and frustration out of snacking with IBD. Here are some suggestions to help you build a list of enjoyable snack foods to add to your meal plan.

Nutritious snacks can help combat the chronic weight loss and malnutrition that often accompanies IBD. Not every snack needs to be nutrient-packed, but finding creative ways to meet your body’s nutritional needs is essential.

Getting enough protein is a common problem for people with IBD. To help maintain strong bones and muscles, aim for a daily intake of 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. Bite-sized portions of protein spread throughout small meals and snacks can make it easier to meet this goal.

High-Protein Snacks

A variety of protein shakes and bars are tailored to meet different dietary needs. You can find gluten-free, lactose-free, low-sugar, vegan, and other variations of protein shakes to work around your preferences or known food intolerances. However, some people with IBD have trouble digesting processed protein products (especially those that contain artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols). If that’s true for you, you could try lean protein items like:

  • Boiled eggs

  • Cold cuts, like a turkey or ham roll-up (with or without a slice of cheese)

  • Cottage cheese

  • Greek yogurt

  • Shrimp cocktail

  • Spoonfuls of peanut butter or other nut butters, such as almond or cashew

  • String cheese or fresh mozzarella balls

  • Tuna or sardines on plain crackers

Remember, there’s no rule that you can’t eat typical “meal items” for snacks. Chopped, baked chicken breast or firm tofu in a tortilla with hummus is another quick and filling way to get a protein boost between meals.

Everyone is different, but several members of MyCrohnsAndColitisTeam have reported issues with seeds, nuts, and popcorn:

  • “I ate a bunch of pistachios in 2018 and feel like I’m still suffering in 2020 from eating them. They threw me into a serious flare.”

  • “Nuts and seeds are a definite no-no.”

  • “Snacking for me was popcorn, cashews, and pistachios. Not anymore.”

  • “Sadly, I ate kettle corn yesterday, and I’m regretting it today. ?”

To satisfy the urge to crunch, try baby carrots, peeled apple slices, pickles, plain crackers, or rice crackers. Members who miss popcorn have had some success with “puffed corn” snacks.

One member takes the time to prepare popcorn in a way that doesn’t irritate their gastrointestinal tract: “I can eat a couple of cups of popcorn once in a while if I pop it myself and use tweezers to pull off all the little bits of husk. Yes, I really do this. It’s worth it because the popcorn soaks up excess liquid in my colon.”

Not surprisingly, salsa and other spicy or acidic foods cause trouble for many. “I cannot tolerate acidic foods like tomato-based sauces, oranges, orange juice, lemons, limes, grapefruit, or any food high in acidity at any time,” one member shared. “They all cause burning diarrhea. Spicy foods also are problematic.”

Sometimes people with UC or Crohn’s disease find that the fiber in raw fruits and vegetables is tough on their digestive tract. Removing the skin and seeds from fruit or vegetables or choosing canned or cooked items may help. You can also try blending frozen produce into a smoothie to make it easier to digest.

Keeping a food diary and logging your symptoms can help you identify which ingredients you’d rather avoid. As you learn more about your body, trying new snack ideas will expand your options.

Fortunately, MyCrohnsAndColitisTeam members have shared their top foods to fuel their bodies and beat cravings. Some of their tips include:

  • “Since I have a lot of abdominal scar tissue, all of my meals have to be snack-sized. So, I snack all throughout the day. I used to snack on raw veggies, but I can’t anymore. Instead, I drink green drinks. I like tomato juice, as well as peanut butter crackers, cheese crackers, Airheads, and Rice Krispies Treats.”

  • “My favorite snack is creamy peanut butter, rice cakes, and carrots.”

  • “Ensure Plus and hard and soft cheeses can be hard on us, a registered dietitian told me. I cook an apple and put plain yogurt on it.”

  • “Gluten-free cookies and crackers, organic apples, and organic almond butter work well for me.”

  • “I like saltines (the mini ones are particularly tasty), Carr’s Entertainment Cracker Collection crackers with some slices of Jarlsberg cheese, and Social Tea biscuits. Also, peeled pears — when perfectly ripe (which seems to take a while and then only lasts a couple of days) — are delicious!”

  • “Right now, my favorite snack foods are rice cakes, applesauce, and vanilla yogurt.”

For a Sweet Tooth

If you have a sweet tooth, finding treats that don’t aggravate IBD can bring you joy without the painful side effects. Here are some MyCrohnsAndColitisTeam members’ favorite sweets:

  • “I’m ashamed to admit this at 78 years of age, but jelly beans are a lifetime favorite.”

  • “Warm bananas with honey, cinnamon, and chopped pecans are perfect when I want something sweet.”

  • “I eat lots of frozen pops and Italian ice pops.”

  • “My wife makes cookies for me that contain no sugar or flour. They don’t cause any pain. Some are sweetened with mashed bananas, sweet potatoes, or applesauce. I love them to satisfy my sweet tooth.”

Go Seedless

Removing the skin or seeds from fruits and vegetables can bring some of your favorite foods back into rotation. MyCrohnsAndColitisTeam members suggest:

  • “I can eat cucumbers if I take out the seeds, and I love my mother’s cucumber salad. I’m sick of bananas, but I love seedless watermelon. I can eat peeled peaches and tangerines, too.”

  • “My go-to snacks are applesauce, toast with a schmear of peanut butter topped with sliced bananas, or seedless strawberry jam.”

  • “I do hummus with cucumber spears, but I have to take the seeds out.”

MyCrohnsAndColitisTeam is the social network for people with Crohn’s disease and their loved ones. On MyCrohnsAndColitisTeam, more than 145,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and IBD.

Are you living with IBD? What are your favorite go-to snacks? Share your suggestions in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on MyCrohnsAndColitisTeam.

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