IBD Nutritional Therapies

We have one of the most robust IBD nutritional programs in the West, offering both traditional and cutting-edge nutritional therapies. We believe that nutrition is an important component in the management of IBD, especially in reducing inflammation and microbial imbalance in the gut. We have expertise in different dietary therapies, including, but not limited to, the specific carbohydrate diet (SCD), exclusive enteral nutrition (EEN), and the Crohn’s disease exclusion diet (CDED). For some children, nutritional therapies have demonstrated results comparable to medications when implemented under medical direction. As with medical therapies, we individualize therapeutic diets by creating a specific plan, one child and family at a time. 

If you are new to IBD and you want to learn more about nutritional therapy, you and your child will meet with our specially trained and experienced IBD nutrition team for a comprehensive nutritional consultation. In addition, we are available to provide ongoing support for the successful implementation and continuation of various nutritional strategies. We tailor our care because we know that every child is unique and what works for your child might not work for another.

Exclusive enteral nutrition (EEN)

EEN is one of the few medically proven diets for inducing remission and is still the first-line therapy in Europe. Studies have shown that people with Crohn’s disease who use EEN for induction have similar rates of response compared to steroids. Medical formulas provide all of your child’s nutritional needs by mouth or by naso-gastric tube, a tube that delivers the formula directly to the stomach. The EEN diet is maintained for up to two to three months and can make up 100 percent of your child’s diet. It is a safe and successful option for inducing remission and requires close monitoring. After achieving remission, your child may transition to another diet for maintenance therapy. Your child may also continue to use formula for a portion of his or her nutritional needs (partial enteral nutrition [PEN]) in addition to other medical or dietary maintenance therapies.

Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD)

We are proud to be one of the first few centers in the United States to offer the SCD as part of our IBD care. Since 2004, we have provided expert guidance for families on this diet and continue to be a leader in this field. The SCD is a nutritionally balanced wholesome diet focused on nutrient-rich foods, including vegetables, fruits, meats, fish, healthy fats and oils, eggs, legumes/beans, nuts, and nut flours. As part of the diet, you eliminate sugars, processed foods, preservatives, all grains, starchy vegetables, and lactose-containing dairy. We tailor diet plans to meet other dietary restrictions your family may have, such as vegetarianism and food allergies, to ensure nutritional safety. If clinically indicated, we work with you to liberalize the diet after sustained remission.

Many of our IBD families have used this diet successfully to control symptoms with and without medication. By promoting good nutrition and a healthy gut, the diet allows for increased absorption of nutrients that support growth, energy, and learning. We are one of few study sites for the PRODUCE study via the IMPROVECARENOW network, which seeks scientific evidence to support anecdotal success of the diet, moving IBD treatment forward across the nation.

Modified specific carbohydrate diet (mSCD)

We recognize that a strict SCD diet may not be feasible for everyone. The mSCD is very similar to the SCD but allows five additional foods, making the diet easier and more flavorful for your child. Added foods include oatmeal, organic rice, sweet potato, maple syrup, and cacao powder. It is also a part of the PRODUCE study via the IMPROVECARENOW network, to compare its effectiveness with the strict SCD.

Crohn’s disease exclusion diet (CDED)

CDED is a whole-food diet combined with enteral nutrition (medical formula). It is based on the knowledge that some foods can cause inflammation and worsen symptoms of Crohn’s disease. This diet is divided into phases wherein the initial phase consists of elimination of gluten, dairy, processed foods, sugars, and red meat. Your child is allowed certain foods along with enteral formula, which provides 50 percent of his or her calories. After 12 weeks, as your child achieves remission, the diet becomes more flexible and more closely aligned with a Mediterranean diet. Eventually, your child may be allowed some regular meals.

General nutrition

Optimal nutrition, in all shapes and forms, plays a crucial role in your child’s health. For this reason, we also provide nutritional guidance, monitoring, and goal-setting for general healthy eating for IBD, as well as guidance for veganism/vegetarianism, athletes, food allergies, picky eating, and much more. Our nutritional offerings are tailored to your child’s individual needs, life stage, physical activity levels, and cultural preferences. Our IBD nutrition team takes a holistic approach to working toward realistic and achievable outcomes while ensuring that your child’s diet contains all of the energy and nutrients required to help him or her thrive now and well into the future. When designing your childs diet, we look to the specific IBD diets described above, but we also take guidance from a variety of other diets, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Anti-inflammatory: This diet prevents chronic inflammation through food by avoiding certain carbohydrates and processed foods, and focusing on vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, lean protein, and healthy fats.
  • Autoimmune protocol (AIP): As with the anti-inflammatory diet, this diet’s focus is on lowering inflammation. Allowed foods include meat, fish, vegetables, some fruits, and healthy oils. Foods to avoid include dairy, all grains, legumes, beans, nuts, and seeds.
  • IBD-AID: Created for people with IBD, this diet focuses on eating pre- and probiotic foods to promote healthy gut flora. On it, you avoid carbohydrates such as wheat, corn, and refined sugars to eliminate bad gut bacteria.
  • Low FODMAP: A diet low in fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols, which helps eliminate sugar alcohols and short chain carbohydrates from the dietsugars that are traditionally hard to absorb.
  • Mediterranean: This diet is traditionally followed by people from countries near the Mediterranean Sea and includes fish, healthy fats, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

To learn more about specific diet and nutrition with IBD, visit Patient and Family Resources.