An important part of managing inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) symptoms is diet and nutrition. Proper nutrition helps children with Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis grow and maintain healthy weights. It also helps children avoid nutrient deficiencies (low levels of nutrients in the body). In many cases, dietary changes help relieve IBD symptoms. They may also help your child reach remission (period of time without symptoms), especially in children with Crohn’s.

Your child’s care team recommends a visit with a registered dietitian (RD) in Pediatric Gastroenterology at MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC). An RD can help you learn general diet guidelines for IBD. They can also help you learn about therapeutic diets that can be used alone or with other treatments (like medication). The care team can help create a diet based on your child’s needs and the most recent research around diet and IBD. Below is a list of possible diets to think about with the care team.

Diet How it helps Foods to eat Foods to remove Length of time
Exclusive Enteral Nutrition (EEN)
  • Helps almost 9 out every 10 children with IBD reach remission
  • Boost nutrition throughout the body
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Helps heal the gut lining
Liquid protein shakes, given by mouth or through a feeding tube All solid foods 8 weeks. Then, solid foods are slowly introduced over a 2-3 week period.
Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD)
  • Removes specific carbohydrates that can cause inflammation in the gut lining
  • Supports a healthier microbiome (gut environment)
  • Meat and fish
  • Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Most fruits and vegetables
  • Some legumes
  • Lactose-free cheese
  • Some homemade yogurts
  • Some homemade baked goods
  • Meat and fish
  • Sugar, including lactose
  • All grains
  • Starchy vegetables
  • Processed or packaged foods
As long as you would like
Crohn’s Disease Exclusion Diet (CDED)
  • Remove food that causes inflammation, changes to the microbiome and gut lining and intestinal permeability (how material passes through the gut wall to the rest of the body)
  • Plain chicken
  • Some meat and fish
  • Some eggs
  • Potatoes
  • Fruits, like bananas and apples
  • Vegetables
  • Some rice
  • Formula to meet nutritional need, as needed
  • Gluten
  • Dairy
  • Animal fats
  • Processed meat
  • Emulsifiers (additives that help two liquids mix properly)
  • All canned or processed foods
6 weeks. Then, the care team will help create a long-term nutrition plan for your child

Rev. 2/2020. MassGeneral Hospital for Children and Massachusetts General Hospital do not endorse any of the brands listed on this handout. This handout is intended to provide health information so that you can be better informed. It is not a substitute for medical advice and should not be used to treatment of any medical conditions.