A group of happy foods including a baked chicken breast, a bowl of rice, a can of tuna, a sandwich, a bowl of oatmeal, and a saltine cracker welcome a walking, smiling carton of almond milk into the heart shape where they are all arranged.

Safe Foods: Sharing My Favorites

I am sure we all have foods we consider safe. Those foods vary because it is different for everyone. Many of us are scared to try foods outside of our list of safe foods when we are dealing with a flare, but it is helpful to know what has worked for others if you are looking for something to add to your diet during flares.

We are all far too familiar with the extremely bland diet of gelatin and chicken broth. Anyone who has gone through prep work for a colonoscopy is familiar with this limited diet and likely grew tired of these foods in a short period of time. Maybe they should not be called foods. They are basically liquid and thickened liquid. Of course, many of us are willing to revert back to them during the worst of our flares.

Burning out on bland diets

Anyone who was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome more than a decade ago was likely to be told to stick to a diet with a lot of baked chicken and rice. We were also told to avoid fried foods, and that was about the end of counseling on diet back when I was diagnosed. A person can only eat so much chicken before they begin to feel like they may grow feathers. That is what happened to me. I tried to stick to this very limited diet until I was so sick of chicken that I just could not stomach one more bite of it. That is when I decided to start trying other foods during flares.

I did identify another safe food fairly quickly. Once I realized I had another food I could eat with little or no problem, I did not bother trying anything else. That left me stuck with a diet of chicken, rice, and plain tuna. It was still too soon to consider chicken broth and gelatin. The mere thought of either still turned my stomach.

Adding to the menu

After burning out on tuna, I was miserable again. How could anyone be expected to live on such a bland diet? The thought of eating just those few things was unbearable. The misery led me to binge on every single food I loved, and the result was disastrous. The cramping was constant, and I could not venture far from home. I decided it was time to try to find another food that did not lead to a horrible flare.

Realizing that turkey was similar to chicken, I gave it a try. I soon learned I could eat turkey on honey wheat bread with mustard without causing severe upset. Adding cheese, lettuce, or tomato was out of the question. I also learned I could handle tuna with a bit of mayo and sweet relish on honey wheat bread if I was not in the middle of a flare. Of course, neither of these was a gourmet meal, but I was happy I could eat a sandwich. I can also handle plain crackers and oatmeal.

Getting in the guilty pleasures

One of my greatest guilty pleasures is a certain black and white cookie with a glass of cold milk. I also like cold cereal. The problem is milk agitates me to end. It causes cramping almost immediately, and that turns the delicious snack into an instant regret. My most recent discovery is almond milk. I have not adjusted well enough that I want to dunk cookies in it, but I am perfectly content with it in a bowl of cereal. This adds another item to my list of safe foods, and I am always thrilled to find something new that does not lead to tremendous amounts of pain and suffering.

I hope to eventually identify enough safe foods that I have a little bit of variety during the worst flares. If you have a list of flare favorites, I would love to try a few of yours to potentially add to my safe list.

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