Why is a Healthy Diet Important for Children with IBD?

For many children with IBD, it can be a struggle to keep a healthy weight. Many children with IBD lose weight. This happens for a few different reasons:

  • Inflammation can cause your stomach to hurt when you eat, causing you to eat less.
  • The hormones that your immune system makes can stop your hunger.
  • Inflammation in your intestine can stop you from absorbing the calories you are eating.
  • Inflammation can cause you to burn extra calories.

How Can I Help My Child Have a Healthy Diet?

  • Treating inflammation can fix many of the nutritional problems your child may have. Your doctor may recommend high-calorie shakes to increase the calories and gain some of the weight back.
  • Many children with IBD need a multi-vitamin and specific vitamin supplements to help get the right amount of vitamins in their diet.
  • A dietician on our team will help you create a nutritional plan for your child. Talk with your doctor about some of the dietary options listed below.

What Are Some Dietary Options for Children with IBD?

  • Lactose-free diet – Many people with IBD are lactose-intolerant. Lactose is the sugar in milk. It must be digested before it is absorbed. If your child is lactose-intolerant, lactose may lead to diarrhea and cramping.
  • Low-fiber, low-residue diet – Some people (such as those with stricturing Crohn’s disease) may need a low-fiber, low-residue diet. This means avoiding foods with large parts that are not digestible. This includes raw vegetables, fruits with seeds and rinds, and white rice. Your doctor may also tell your child not to eat popcorn or whole nuts.
  • Specific carbohydrate diet (SCD) – This diet avoids complex sugars and is detailed in the book “Breaking the Vicious Cycle.” Some people use this diet to treat IBD, but there are not many studies about it. Most patients on the SCD also need to take medicine. All people on the SCD should meet with their doctor and dietician regularly.
  • Enteral Nutritional Therapy – One effective IBD treatment is getting over 90% of daily calories in a liquid nutritional supplement. In many pediatric IBD programs, especially in Europe, enteral nutritional therapy is the first treatment. This diet can be challenging because most of your calories must come from a liquid formula. However, the treatment is very effective, low risk and results in healing of the lining of the bowel.

Rev. 11/2013

This document is intended to provide health related information so that you may be better informed. It is not a substitute for a doctor's medical advice and should not be relied upon for treatment for specific medical conditions.