How to Shop for Groceries With IBD

May 16, 2018 7:00 AM

Join a Michigan Medicine dietitian as she navigates the aisles, offering tips and tricks for a successful grocery trip.


When faced with endless choice at the grocery store, patients with inflammatory bowel disease could find themselves struggling.

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They might avoid foods that have been problematic in the past. Or they may steer clear of otherwise healthful items assumed to be triggers for ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

But shopping trips should suit the individual and an IBD patient’s approach can change based on their symptoms at the time, says Michigan Medicine dietitian Emily Haller, M.S., RDN.

“There are a lot of misconceptions on the internet about what people with IBD can and cannot eat,” Haller says. “I advise anybody with IBD to try to expand their diet and get the most variety they can.”

That means plenty of nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables (skins included), nuts and seeds.

It also means making simple swaps when flare-ups, strictures or adhesions arise: no-sugar-added juices and fruit cups instead of fresh fruit or pureed soups in lieu of whole veggies, for example.

Others may find that white rice and pasta are better tolerated than their brown and whole-wheat equivalents. Lactose-free products also can do the trick for some.

And while many IBD patients find relief through elimination diets such as the Low FODMAP diet, regimens designed to target and cut out trigger foods, it doesn’t mean the offenders face permanent exile.

“We always do a reintroduction,” says Haller, who urges professional guidance during these diets and for all aspects of IBD care. “Portion size is everything with food intolerance.

“And we recommend eating a high-quality, complete diet when a patient is in remission.”

Join her on a trip to the grocery store in the video above.