Seven Savory Tips for Summer Eating | Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation

Seven Savory Tips for Summer Eating

Shortly after the temperature goes up, it’s time for the barbeque grills to come out. The Fourth of July may mark the height of cookout season, but barbeque fun lasts all summer long. Don’t let IBD hold you back from enjoying any of the festivities! Here are seven ways you can manage your diet while frolicking in the sun with delicious food and the people you love.

1. Know yourself.

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are conditions that are unique to each individual. Through trial and error, you have probably learned what foods you can tolerate safely and what foods you can’t. This understanding should be your guide, especially during special dining occasions.

2. Offer a dish.

Why not call your hosts and ask if you can contribute to the menu? One of the best ways to make sure there will be something you can eat is to bring a dish of one of your favorite foods and share. The easiest way to explain is to say that you are on a medical diet and there are certain foods you are not allowed to eat.

3. Plan ahead.

Eat before you go so you don’t feel tempted by foods that may not be right for you. Start with small portions to avoid overeating in one sitting. If you don’t know if a particular dish or condiment will agree with you, you may want to try it prior in the comfort of your own home.

4. To drink or not to drink.

Stay hydrated and try to limit caffeinated drinks and alcohol. Some people with IBD find they can’t tolerate alcohol, while others can enjoy a glass of beer and wine without a problem. When you’re on maintenance medication or taking meds to induce remission, you must be very careful to avoid drug interactions with alcohol. Be sure you check with your doctor about alcohol consumption prior to having a drink.

5. Watch the extras.

Many barbeque staples contain certain spices or rich sauces. If you are not sure what is in a particular dish or condiment, don’t be afraid to ask or read the nutrition label. You can substitute mayonnaise with your favorite salad dressing or Miracle Whip. Look out for sorbitol, which is found in many sugar-free candies and desserts, as it may cause bloating and urgency. A fresh, seedless fruit salad is an excellent substitute.

6. Eat your (lean) meat.

Choose lean, skinless meats (such as chicken and pork) and fish (such as salmon, halibut, flounder, and swordfish). Red meat is high in fat, but a good source of protein and iron. If you are feeling well, it is fine to eat a burger or small steak. Your body can only digest six ounces of protein at any given meal, so remember to watch portion sizes. Try to avoid over-processed meats like hot dogs or sausages, as these contain excess fat and can be hard to digest. Grilled vegetables are a great option this time of year. Some vegetables, particularly cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, may cause bloating and gas. However, individual tolerance varies. If you are not feeling well, try well-cooked or pureed vegetables. Remove tough skins and seeds. Add vegetable stock to rice or pasta for additional nutrients.

7. Try to relax!

You may feel anxious before attending your next big summer outing, and you shouldn’t feel bad about that. Just remember, the focus is being with family and friends—not the food!


1. Kane S. IBD Self-Management: The AGA Guide to Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. Bethesda, MD: AGA Press; 2010:143-175.

2. Roscher B. How to Cook for Crohn’s and Colitis. Nashville, TN: Cumberland House; 2007.

3. Heller A. Eating Right with IBD. In: Patient Education Symposium September 18, 2011; New York, NY: Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America, Greater New York chapter; 2011.

4. Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America. Surgery for Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. Patient Brochures.  Accessed June 28, 2012.

For further information, call Crohn's & Colitis Foundation's IBD Help Center: 888.MY.GUT.PAIN (888.694.8872).

The Crohn's & Colitis Foundation provides information for educational purposes only. We encourage you to review this educational material with your health care professional. The Foundation does not provide medical or other health care opinions or services. The inclusion of another organization's resources or referral to another organization does not represent an endorsement of a particular individual, group, company or product.

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Published: June 8, 2016

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