Kitchen Appliances That Every IBD Patient Should Have
I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis (UC) when I was 8 years old, and over the past two decades of living with UC, these five kitchen gadgets and appliances have helped get me through flares.
5 Kitchen Appliances You Need if You Have IBD
When you have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), you may find that many nutritious foods aggravate symptoms during periods of disease activity — and as a result, meal preparation feels like a daunting task. Depending on disease severity and the portion of the GI tract affected, you may have trouble digesting and absorbing foods like fruits and vegetables. These foods are important to consume because they contain vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber and phytochemicals that selectively feed good gut bacteria, called prebiotics. Prebiotics promote a healthy gut microbiome and help reduce inflammation in the body.
Luckily, there are a variety of kitchen appliances that can help you tolerate these foods by breaking them down into a form that is easy to digest, won’t worsen irritation, and perhaps most important, tastes good.
For IBD patients, flares are a fact of life, and when your intestines are inflamed, the last foods you want to eat are raw fruits and vegetables. As a result, you may miss out on nutrients that are critical for healing, as well as fiber that feeds good gut bacteria to ultimately promote a healthier gut environment. Blending allows you to reap the benefits of these nutritious but hard-to-digest foods by “predigesting” their fibers so that they go down smoothly and with minimal irritation.
My blender is the most heavily used appliance in my kitchen. It has both helped me through flares and supported me in maintaining remission. From smoothies to soups, sauces, and dips, it’s extremely versatile and allows me to pack many nutrients into one meal.
Blenders can range from $20 single-serving appliances intended for college dorm rooms all the way up to industrial-strength varieties running a couple hundred dollars. Initially, I was reluctant to dole out money for a fancy blender, but once I invested in a high-powered model, I found that it practically paid for itself within a few months, because I use it so often. Investing in a quality blender helps ensure that fruits and vegetables will be adequately liquefied or pureed for optimal digestion.
Cleanblend Blender Classic, $179.99;?Cleanblend.com
Steaming is my go-to vegetable cooking method during UC flares. It softens the texture of vegetables that would cause irritation if eaten raw, such as carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and zucchini. When actively experiencing symptoms, I thoroughly steam vegetables so that they’re soft enough to mash with a fork. If I’m having a more severe flare, I may even puree steamed vegetables in my blender to break them down further.
Steamer baskets are inexpensive and easy to use: Simply add an inch or two of water to a large pot, place your steamer basket inside the pot with vegetables, then cover the pot, bring it to a boil, and simmer until the desired texture is reached.
Oxo Good Grips Stainless Steel Steamer With Extendable Handle, $20.99;?Oxo.com
3. Vegetable Peeler
The skins of fruits and vegetables contain insoluble fiber, a type of fiber that is particularly irritating and difficult to digest during periods of active intestinal inflammation. This fiber speeds up GI transit time, meaning it causes food to move through the GI tract more quickly — usually the last thing you want during a flare.
Peeling away the skins of fruits and vegetables helps decrease their insoluble fiber content, meaning you don’t have to give them up entirely during a flare.
To start, try peeling the skins off of fruits and vegetables that you cook, such as peeling the skin off of zucchini before steaming, potatoes before roasting, or an apple before baking with cinnamon for a sweet snack or dessert. As you begin to feel better and the inflammation subsides, try adding raw peeled fruits and vegetables like apples, peaches, pears, and seedless cucumbers back into your diet.
Oxo Good Grips Swivel Peeler, $10.99;?Oxo.com
Mashing fruits and vegetables is another way to modify the texture so that they’re better tolerated. While you could use a regular fork for this, mashers are more effective, and they are fairly inexpensive.
Some of my favorite flare-friendly foods include mashed butternut squash and sweet potato with a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg. I also like to mash steamed cauliflower and add a pinch of salt, garlic powder, and some plain Greek yogurt for creaminess. It tastes like a mashed potato variant, and it is an easy way to add more vegetable diversity to a temporarily limited diet.
Zyliss Stainless Steel Potato Masher, $16.99;?BedBathAndBeyond.com
5. Tea Kettle
Tea kettles won’t modify food textures, but they can play a different useful role in managing IBD symptoms. A hot cup of tea isn’t just comforting when you aren’t feeling well — many herbal teas have beneficial properties that can aid in symptom management. For example, peppermint tea has antispasmodic properties, which may help ease abdominal cramping, and ginger tea is thought to help alleviate nausea. A?research review published in January 2020 in the Annals of Gastroenterology suggested that turmeric tea may even help reduce inflammation levels in UC patients. Additionally, drinking tea regularly can help you stay hydrated.
Chantal Vintage Steel Enamel Tea Kettle, $49.95;?CrateAndBarrel.com
Investing in Kitchen Appliances Pays Off in the Long Run
Preparing your own meals allows you to control what goes into them, and it lets you modify textures so that you can tolerate a wider variety of nutrient-dense foods during IBD flares. By investing in a few key kitchen appliances and gadgets, meal preparation will become easier, you’ll be more likely to experiment in the kitchen and expand your dietary horizons, and as a result, you will be able to obtain all of the nutrients your body needs to heal and promote remission.
Important: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not Everyday Health.