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Cooking For People with Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Posted Aug 24 2008 1:49pm
BETTINA GREGORY: Hello. I'm Bettina Gregory. Choosing the right diet is a daily problem for as many as a million Americans with Crohn's Disease or Ulcerative Colitis. There's no evidence that any particular foods cause or contribute to these inflammatory bowel diseases. But for any individual, the wrong foods can promote flair-ups, or make symptoms worse. And the right foods can help promote healing.

The Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America recently hosted a program on Nutrition and Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Nutritionist Leslie Bonci spoke with us about dietary guidelines. And joining us was Ricky Safer, who has a son with ulcerative colitis. Ricky and Leslie have been working with the Foundation on a collection of recipes for patients with I-B-D.

RICKY SAFER: We have our ingredients already in the blender. We have ice cubes and some low-fat milk and a little bit of honey, and then all we're going to do is add the bananas.

BETTINA GREGORY: This is a banana drink?

RICKY SAFER: This is a banana smoothie. And we go over to the blender. Okay. So that took all of about maybe a minute. And then all we have to do before is just pour it into the glass, and we're ready to serve it. One of the wonderful things is the easy preparation, because when you're not feeling well, if you can have something nutritious and make it in a minute or so -- well, another 30 seconds to cut up the bananas -- we're all set.

So this is also great. Either you can have it for breakfast, you can have it as a snack. You can have it with dinner. And one of the things we're trying to do with all the recipes is have lots of substitutions in them. So, for example, for this one you can use a low-fat milk, some of the milk substitutes that Leslie talked about. If you're lactose intolerant, you can substitute some fruit juices, apple juice, orange juice. And if you don't like bananas or you can't tolerate bananas, you could have peaches, mangos. If you can stand fruits with seeds, you can do raspberries, strawberries.

BETTINA GREGORY: Ah, good. This is lovely.

RICKY SAFER: Anything. My son likes to use frozen fruits because he doesn't even have to cut up the food. He just goes to the freezer, takes it out, throws it in.


RICKY SAFER: It saves on ice. That's an important thing. And if you use frozen fruits, you use fewer ice cubes. And then another suggestion we've had from people is to put peanut butter in.


RICKY SAFER: Yeah. Quite a few substitutions.

BETTINA GREGORY: Leslie, we have an e-mail question about vegetables. Tom from Virginia says he's been on a low-fiber diet for more than ten years, and that he simply cannot handle uncooked vegetables. But he says he really doesn't like what he calls the cooked, soft, mushy stuff, either. What can you tell us about fruits and vegetables for someone like Tom?

LESLIE J. BONCI, RD: We have lots of options out there. First of all, people can buy frozen vegetables, and just lightly cook them and then they're not mushy. Or even sautéing something a little bit makes it not mushy, but still gives it some flavor. The other thing is, people often forget vegetable soup. That's a great way of getting it in. Or even spaghetti sauce, or even something like a tomato or vegetable juice, so we do have some options in terms of the vegetables.

When people use canned -- and a lot of times people get worried about the sodium content. We can buy things that are no-salt-added. We can rinse them off. So we have lots of options, but again, we need to watch the amount, starting small, building up.

BETTINA GREGORY: Ricky, you have a vegetable option for us. Have you got a vegetable dish today?

RICKY SAFER: I certainly do. This one is called Ricky's RataThai.

BETTINA GREGORY: Well, we have to ask, how did it get that name?

RICKY SAFER: In our family, we have sort of a strange tradition. We spend a lot of time talking about food and eating, unfortunately, and we like to name recipes that we really like and want to keep making again.

So this is sort of Thai style, but we've made it -- the sauce is a bit bland. It doesn't have that spice, so it hopefully will work with people with IBD. It works great with my son. So that's where the name comes from.

So let me pull out the ingredients we have. Basically, you start out by cutting up vegetables, as many different types as you would like. Today we have sliced cucumbers, carrots, snow peas, cilantro -- which I really love. We can do anything. Radishes. If you have a problem, as we talked about, with raw vegetables, you can try steaming some vegetables a bit, broccoli or anything else you want to try. If you want to make it as a main dish, we very often will cook a breast of chicken and chop that up, too, so then it becomes a main dish instead of just a salad. And the sauce is a fairly typical Thai peanut sauce, but since many people with IBD can't eat nuts, it just starts with creamy peanut butter, so you shouldn't have that problem. And it does have some red pepper in it to give it a little spice. You can make it very spicy if you want or very bland.

These are noodles, any type of a thin noodle that you've boiled, and one suggestion I just learned today was to boil them in vegetable broth, so another way of getting some vegetables. So just boil those, cut up the veggies, and then you're all ready to eat. One of the nice things about this, you can make it in the morning, cut everything up, put everything in the refrigerator, and then as soon as you're ready for dinner you come home from work, just throw it on the table.

So, typically what we do, we also have some bean sprouts. This is my dish. I've taken some of these noodles, put them in, thrown in the bean sprouts, the cilantro, and then I would typically take maybe some carrots, cucumbers -- excuse my fingers -- snow peas, pour the sauce on it, mix it all up. And then if I can eat peanuts I will add some crushed peanuts at the end.


RICKY SAFER: This is really popular with our family, and one of the things I like about it, that we like, what we're trying to do with all our recipes is to have recipes we can share with the family, and everybody is eating the same thing, including the person with IBD. So sometimes when I make this, if my son is in a position where he can't eat very many vegetables at all, he will just take the bowl of noodles, the chicken and put the sauce on, and he is very happy, and the rest of us are eating the fiber that we're supposed to be eating.

BETTINA GREGORY: And it's a dish with a lot of different options.

RICKY SAFER: There are so many different options. Any type of vegetables, any type of meat. Really, the constant is just the noodles, the peanut sauce, and you can really mix anything in.

BETTINA GREGORY: That's a look at Nutrition and Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Leslie Bonci and Ricky Safer joined me at a recent event sponsored by Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America. For more information about I-B-D, log onto the Foundation's web site at I'm Bettina Gregory. Thanks for joining us.

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