3 IBD-Friendly Treats For Summer

‘Tis the season for picnics, barbecues and farmers markets. At a Mighty picnic, all food preferences are welcome! Before hosting anyone, I like to find out which dietary restrictions they have. These can span from gluten-elimination for celiac disease to more nebulous undiagnosed GI issues. 

I was curious what Mighties would say when I put this question out to the community: What are your favorite stomach-friendly summer foods? All GI-related conditions are so different, and every person’s triggers are so different.  Lo and behold, some patterns emerged. We created a poll of the most mentioned foods, and the results came down to these three desserts 

I focused on desserts for people living with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).  There’s confusion around this topic, and I personally live with IBD. (Specifically, I have ulcerative colitis, an autoimmune condition affecting the large intestine. Crohn’s disease is also a form of IBD affecting additional areas). My pet peeve is when people insinuate my diet choices are the culprit for my IBD — there isn’t a known cause. I have plenty of family and friends living with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), who often joke that they’re far more sensitive to foods. That said, I do really watch what I eat when I’m in a flare-up. 

I reached out to nutritionist Arielle Leben, M.S., R.D., C.D.N, at the IBD Center at NYU Langone Health to delve into the summer treats topic. Read on to get insights from this expert dietician, alongside people like myself living with IBD.

“Dehydration is one of the primary nutritional concerns for patients with IBD who are experiencing diarrhea. As temperatures begin to rise during the summer, the risk of dehydration becomes even greater. Sorbet, smoothies and fruit popsicles are great ways to stay hydrated and enjoy summer fruit,” Leben wrote.

1. Sorbets

Example: Watermelon Sorbet — watermelon is the signature summer fruit!

Patient perspective: “Recipes like the Watermelon Sorbets are refreshing and hydrating without added sugar and replace my cravings for options like ice cream that can cause dehydration and increased ostomy output.” -Jenny Harrison of Girls With Guts. Lives with Crohn’s disease and ostomy/short bowel syndrome.

2. Smoothies

Example: Cherry Limeade Smoothie. If you’re sensitive to sugar, go DIY.

Leben suggests no more than 2 fruit servings so you can steer clear of high sugar content.  “There are many packaged fruit smoothies on the market that contain 40+ grams of sugar because they include multiple fruit purees or fruit concentrates. Although these products contain no added sugars, even this amount of natural sugar can be a trigger for many IBD patients,” she added.

Patient perspective: “Smoothies help me to stay hydrated without causing extra cramping from inflammation or strictures. However, some of these recipes call for added sugar, which is not recommended for patients like me who must follow a short bowel syndrome diet to control ostomy output.” Jenny shared.

Leben also accentuated the benefits of DIY smoothies — the customization factor. “Many patients cannot tolerate roughage like leafy greens in their whole form, but are fine with them when blended into smoothies. A serving of anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids from chia seeds is also a great addition depending on a patient’s tolerance.”

3. Popsicles

Example: Fresh Fruit Popsicles

Some DIY recipes call for Greek yogurt. For those who need to avoid lactose, Leben suggests subbing a lactose-free Greek yogurt to provide just as much protein. “People with IBD with active inflammation or recovering from a surgery typically have increased protein needs and benefit from good sources of lean protein in their diet,” she added.

Patient perspective: I’ll definitely be having these ahead of my colonoscopy, as long as there are no seeds in it. Fruits like raspberries and blackberries are sneaky with their tiny seeds. When I was younger, a nutritionist at the IBD center told me a rule of thumb I haven’t forgotten: If it can get stuck in your teeth, avoid these foods during flareups!

Stay tuned for part 2 of this series on side dishes (hint: salads that are safe)!

What’s something you used to think was taboo, but now are comfortable sharing? Answer in our brand new Women+ With IBD Community.

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