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What is the Anti-Inflammatory Diet for IBD?

The IBD-AID™ was derived from the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) and modified with current research on the human microbiome. Research has shown that IBD patients have an imbalance of gut bacteria, which contributes to inflammation.  This diet helps to restore balance between helpful and harmful bacteria while promoting good nutrition. The IBD-AID has three phases to treat flares and progress to the ultimate goal of maintaining remission.  Every day incorporate the four fundamental components on the IBD-AID™:

1. Probiotics

  • These are fermented foods that have live bacteria within them, such as plain yogurt, kefir, kimchi, miso, and fermented veggies like sauerkraut.

2. Prebiotics

  • Foods that feed and maintain the good intestinal bacteria.
  • IBD-AID™ emphasizes the importance of soluble fiber, which helps increase beneficial short chain fatty acids as well as making a gel-like substance to enhance stool consistency and slow gut motility. This means decreased inflammation, more formed and regular bowel movements.  Because we recognize the importance of soluble fiber (which is a prebiotic), we promote steel-cut oats on the diet.

This is only a partial list of pre- and probiotic foods:

Probiotic Foods

Prebiotic Foods

Plain Yogurt

Oat groats, Steel-cut Oats, (rolled just “ok”)

Aged Cheese


Fermented veggies

Ground Flax seed, chia, hemp seed






Chicory root



Raw honey


Fermented Cabbage*



All vegetables, some fruits

Tempeh* (grain free)


*contains both pre-and probiotic components

3. Avoidance

  • The IBD-AID diet emphasizes avoidance of certain carbohydrates that are pro-inflammatory which may be disturbing the normal gut flora. Foods that contain lactose, wheat, refined sugar (sucrose), and corn are avoided in all phases of the diet.
    1. Avoidance can starve out the bad bacteria.
    2. Avoidance of these foods helps a sensitive gut recover.
    3. Eliminate Trans fats (store-bought baked goods, anything containing “partially hydrogenated oil”) processed foods and fast food.

4. Good Nutrition

  • Eat a variety of fruit and vegetables. These foods are rich in micronutrients, vitamins, minerals and fiber, but eat them in the FORM your gut allows (blenderized, or whole)
  • Lean proteins and healthy fats. (legumes, nuts, olive oil, avocado, ground flaxseed, fish, eggs, probiotic yogurt and kefir)
  • Limit intake of saturated fat to <5g/serving (meats, dairy, etc.)
  • Increase intake of good fats from nuts, avocado, olive oil, etc.

Together, the foods in this diet decrease bowel inflammation, aid in the repair of the gut, and help to restore balance to the immune system.

Q: What foods should I avoid? 

  • Trans fats (store-bought baked goods, anything containing “partially hydrogenated oil”)
  • Emulsifiers like carrageenan, maltodextrin, and polysorbate 80, carbosymethylcellulose (check ingredients).
  • All foods with refined sugar
  • Sugar substitutes (artifical sweetners, sucralose, aspartame, stevia, xylitol, erythritol, agave, liquid sweetners, etc.)
  • Grains, except for oats (MAYBE barley….)
  • Fast food or processed food
  • Cow's milk & fresh cheeses (aged cheese is ok) 

Q: Can I drink coffee, and/or tea on this diet?

A:  Coffee and tea are allowed in moderation, but please use non-dairy milk and allowed sweeteners, such as raw honey. 

IBD-AID™ Phases

Please check with a trained dietitian to see which phase of the diet you should be starting in or if you have any other questions.

Phase 1: Bringing it back to basics

If you are currently experiencing a flare or any bleeding, you should select foods from the Phase 1 portion of the diet. This phase of the diet is appropriate for those experiencing urgency and frequency of bowel movements or pain, and is helpful for patients who have recently been hospitalized. At this stage, you may not be able to tolerate many foods. In particular, the texture of the food is important. This phase emphasizes soft-cooked or pureed food using a blender, depending on your personal tolerance.

Example foods: smoothies, well-cooked oats (may need to add double water, cook longer, and puree. Start with small portions, as tolerated), pureed soups, pureed vegetables (see IBD-AID foods lists), yogurt and miso (good sources of probiotics), and ground lean meats and fish. Ground flax or chia seeds (if you can tolerate ground seeds – see below, avoid with strictures or narrowing)

Phase 2: Introduction of more foods and textures

Your symptoms have improved significantly, but you may still be experiencing some symptoms. At this stage you may be able to tolerate some fiber, but may still have some difficulty digesting foods very high in fiber or fat. More fibrous foods are added in this phase, in the form of soft cooked vegetables and pureed beans/lentils. Use the foods list as a guide to help you advance to this stage. Remember to drink plenty of water and increase probiotic foods when adding fiber to your diet!

Examples of foods to add at this phase: soft greens (butter lettuce, cooked collard greens, baby spinach without stems), well-cooked lean meats, aged cheeses, nut butters, tomatoes, pureed berries with seeds strained out, and foods baked with IBD-AID friendly flours (bean flour, nut flours). 

Phase 3: Remission

You are feeling stronger and are becoming more comfortable eating a greater variety of foods. Your bowel movements are well controlled and solid.

Examples of foods to add: stir-fried vegetables and meats, shellfish, citrus fruits, whole beans, and apples (ideally cooked).

Note: Each person’s ability to tolerate foods will be different, and foods will have to be added or removed from the diet depending on your individual tolerance. Please discuss any dietary questions with your dietitian. When adding new foods, it is normal to experience some mild stomach upset. However, if you notice a continued increase in bowel frequency/urgency or a prolonged decrease in the quality of your stools, please consider removing the new food from your diet or talking with your dietitian.

Sample Daily Menus for each Phase

**All phases build upon each other and foods specified for earlier phases can also be eaten in later phases:  Phase I recipes can be used in Phase II and III. Phase II recipes can be used in Phase III etc.

Phase I (Also appropriate for Phase II& III)

Banana Oat Smoothie
Greek Yogurt or Kefir (Optional: with maple syrup or honey)

Caribbean Avocado Soup
Carrot and Coriander Soup
Nonnie’s Zucchini Omelette

Baked Fish in a Parcel with Miso Sauce
Iron-rich Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

Snacks and dessert
Quick & Easy Pumpkin Treat
Homemade Chocolates

Phase II (Also appropriate for Phase III)

Slow-Cooker Oats
Banana Almond Oat Pancakes
Scrambled Tofu
Early Morning Smoothie

Butternut Squash Bisque
Watermelon and Microgreens Salad
Sue’s Stuffed Mushrooms

Roast chicken
Tofu Stir Fry with Zesty Almond Sauce
Spaghetti Squash with Tomatoes, Basil, & Farmer’s Cheese

Snacks and desserts
Mango Salsa
Cheddar Cheese Crackers
Banana Muffins
Honey and Vanilla Roasted Pears

Phase III

Kale & Fruit Smoothie
Frittata with Squash and Celeriac Home Fries
Gluten-Free Granola and Yogurt

Red Pepper and Tomato Soup
Mediterranean Chickpeas and Vegetables
Coconut Curry Red Lentil Soup

Cannellini Beans with Kale and Walnuts
Chickpeas With Sole And Spinach
Tofu Stir Fry with Miso Sauce

Desserts and Snacks
Cinnamon Apple Muffins
Guacamole and Cheddar Cheese Crackers 

How to make IBD-AID an efficient, routine part of your life

1. Get prepared

  • We have developed menus, shopping lists, and recipes.
  • Join an IBD-AID cooking class.

2. Relax

  • This diet provides excellent nutrition and the whole family can be eating the same things you do.
  • There will be times you fall off the IBD-AID but it is important to get back on track. We aim for a diet of 80% compliance.

3. Ask Questions

  • Keep a food log with symptoms.
  • Do not hesitate to email/call your dietitian with questions. We will work with you to make modifications.

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