Ulcerative colitis causes ulcers and inflammation in a person’s digestive tract. Because of this, it can make choosing food difficult for those living with the condition.

Ulcerative colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), along with Crohn’s disease.

A person with ulcerative colitis may experience:

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), some people may also lose their appetite or eat less. There is no cure for this condition, but treatment options include surgery or certain medications.

A healthy diet may help prevent a person from contracting IBD. However, a person with ulcerative colitis or other types of IBD should always contact their doctor before making any dietary changes.

Food can also vary from person to person in its effect on the symptoms of ulcerative colitis. A person should make notes about foods that help or worsen symptoms and avoid or include them in their diet as necessary.

This article will list some snack ideas to help a person living with ulcerative colitis maintain a healthy diet.

a person is chopping a banana with a knife on a wooden chopping board. There are sliced avocados on the board too.Share on Pinterest
Marko Geber/Getty Images

A banana can make a quick, simple snack for people with ulcerative colitis.

A person can simply peel and slice it as they wish. Alternatively, they can blend it and mix it with their chosen milk for a delicious smoothie.

According to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, bananas are low in fiber. This means they could make a good snack for people who have recently had surgery, or people who are experiencing a flareup.

A single banana also contains 451 milligrams (mg) of potassium. According to a 2017 study, a person with ulcerative colitis may have lower potassium levels, as they can lose potassium in their urine. The study confirms the anti-inflammatory properties of potassium, which could help ease symptoms in a person with ulcerative colitis.

However, the study did say that dietary changes may not affect a person’s potassium levels. Therefore, a person might also consider taking potassium supplements.

Crackers are bland and easy to digest. If a person pairs them with cheese, they can have a small, yet tasty snack.

Cheese and crackers offer a combination of simple carbohydrates, vitamin D, protein, and calcium.

People living with ulcerative colitis can often tolerate hard cheeses since they contain less lactose than softer cheeses.

Cheeses that are lower in lactose can include:

  • parmesan
  • gouda
  • cheddar
  • Swiss

Cheese is also a good way for a person with ulcerative colitis or another inflammatory bowel disease to introduce more calories to their diet.

Learn more about healthy cheeses here.

Hummus is made with mashed chickpeas, olive oil, and other seasonings.

The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation recommend 1/4 cup of hummus and 2 ounces of pita chips as a snack.

To make hummus at home, a person can blend chickpeas, tahini, and a little olive oil together. They can add seasoning to taste but should avoid adding too much salt.

Even though it is high in fiber, pita chips and hummus can be a generally well-tolerated snack or small meal. The chickpeas in hummus may help symptoms in a person experiencing gas or bloating.

Roasted chickpeas provide a combination of fiber and lean protein. They are also a good source of soluble fiber, which is helpful in the formation of stool. However, a person should avoid soluble fiber if they are experiencing diarrhea or a flareup.

Roasted chickpeas are an easy snack to prepare. They cook quickly in the oven in about 45 minutes at 350°F (177°C).

A person can season roasted chickpeas with their favorite flavors, but they should avoid adding excessive salt to them.

A person can eat avocado toast as a healthy snack.

Avocados contain many nutrients and healthy fats. They can help a person with ulcerative colitis add more calories to their diet in a healthy way.

Since whole grain foods are harder to digest for a person with ulcerative colitis, a person should opt for white bread as their toast when possible.

Yogurt is a great way to include probiotics in a person’s diet.

Some people may find that probiotics can help ease symptoms of ulcerative colitis because of the healthy bacteria they provide to a person’s gut.

However, research on the effect of probiotics on a person with ulcerative colitis is limited.

One small 2018 study showed that probiotics could cause brain fog, gas, and bloating.

A person with ulcerative colitis should talk to their doctor before including probiotics in their diet.

Find out about probiotics and ulcerative colitis here.

The Canadian Society of Intestinal Research recommend eggs for people with IBD, including those living with ulcerative colitis. They note that many people living with ulcerative colitis tolerate eggs better than other sources of protein.

Eggs contain amino acids and omega-3 fatty acids.

A person can boil a large batch of eggs at the beginning of the week for a quick, easy snack every day.

A person can add the eggs to a small salad or eat them on their own.

For a liquid snack, green tea can bring many health benefits to a person with ulcerative colitis.

The condition causes diarrhea, which can mean a person loses a lot of fluids and could become dehydrated. Keeping hydrated using beverages such as green tea can be crucial.

A 2013 study concluded that the polyphenols found in green tea can be beneficial in treating people who show mild to moderate symptoms of ulcerative colitis.

Raw nuts may worsen symptoms for people with ulcerative colitis. However, smooth nut butters, like smooth peanut butter, are generally well-tolerated and a good source of protein.

A person can opt for white bread or potato bread, which are both lower in fiber than whole grain bread.

A melon salad made by mixing a variety of melons may be a good snack option for a person living with ulcerative colitis.

People with ulcerative colitis generally tolerate melons, such as honeydew, cantaloupe, and watermelon, well.

To make a melon salad, cut open each of the melons and use a spoon or scoop to remove small portions of the melon’s flesh. Mix the portions together in a bowl and serve.

Store any leftovers in an airtight bowl in the refrigerator.

Oatmeal can make a tasty, quick snack.

The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation recommend a person combine a half cup of cooked oatmeal with a cup of calcium-fortified unsweetened soy or almond milk.

For added flavor, mix in a small amount of cinnamon or applesauce.

A simple baked potato can make a good snack for a person living with ulcerative colitis.

Top a baked potato with a small amount of shredded Cheddar cheese, non-dairy cheese, or other low-sodium seasonings to add flavor, calcium, and protein.

In one 2015 study, researchers listed baked potatoes as a food that is not as likely to cause symptoms of ulcerative colitis to flare.

However, a person may want to avoid them during a flare and they should avoid eating the potato skin.

A person should avoid any food that they know can cause a flare.

Dietary triggers can vary from person to person.

A person who is not sure what foods aggravate their condition should consider keeping a food journal. A food journal can help a person identify foods that may trigger or cause their symptoms to return or worsen.

Once they have identified the trigger food, they can avoid it.

The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation state the following foods are generally not well-tolerated when living with ulcerative colitis. As a result, a person should typically avoid:

  • foods high in insoluble fiber, including:
  • high-fat foods, such as:
    • butter
    • margarine
    • deep-fried foods
  • sugar-filled foods or drinks
  • foods or drinks that contain non-digestible sugar alcohols, such as:
    • sorbitol
    • mannitol
  • spicy or hot foods
  • caffeinated beverages
  • alcohol
  • lactose, including from:
    • milk
    • ice cream
    • soft cheese

Learn more about foods to choose and avoid with ulcerative colitis here.

The following are commonly asked questions about colitis.

Can pizza cause a colitis flare-up?

If gluten and dairy trigger a person’s colitis symptoms, they may wish to avoid eating pizza. Alternatively, a person can try a gluten-free pizza base and use lactose-free cheese.

Is tomato sauce bad for ulcerative colitis?

A person with ulcerative colitis may be able to eat tomato sauce in moderation. However, it may be best to avoid eating whole tomatoes as the skin can be difficult to digest.

Does cheese aggravate ulcerative colitis?

Some people with ulcerative colitis may not be able to tolerate lactose. A person can choose lactose-free cheese options. People may be able to tolerate hard cheese better than soft cheese.

Is a hamburger okay to eat with ulcerative colitis?

A person may wish to limit their intake of red meat and processed meats. They can also try alternatives to red meat, such as turkey and game birds.

A person living with ulcerative colitis should always contact their doctor and registered dietitian before making any dietary changes.

Foods that can trigger symptoms of ulcerative colitis will vary from person to person. Therefore, a person should keep a food diary and note any symptoms particular foods give them.

However, some foods potentially can help a person ease their symptoms, including melon, chickpeas, white bread, and oatmeal.

Read this article in Spanish.