Can You Eat Ham With Colitis? A Helpful Guide

Living with colitis can be challenging, especially when it comes to navigating your diet. Ulcerative colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation and ulcers in the digestive tract. This can make certain foods difficult to digest and lead to unpleasant symptoms like abdominal pain, diarrhea, and fatigue.

So when you’re dealing with colitis flares you may wonder – can I eat ham? Or will it make my symptoms worse?

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about eating ham with colitis, including:

  • An overview of ulcerative colitis and its dietary implications
  • What ham is and how it’s made
  • Whether ham can trigger colitis symptoms
  • Tips for consuming ham safely with colitis
  • Healthy alternatives to ham for colitis-friendly meals

Let’s get started!

Understanding Ulcerative Colitis and Its Dietary Implications

Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a type of inflammatory bowel disease that causes long-lasting inflammation and ulcers in the digestive tract It most commonly affects the large intestine (colon) and rectum Some of the most common symptoms include

  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Urgency to have a bowel movement
  • Fatigue
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss

While the exact causes are unknown, it’s believed to involve an overactive immune response in the digestive tract. Both genetic and environmental factors appear to play a role.

There’s no known cure for ulcerative colitis, but the goals of treatment are to reduce inflammation and achieve long-term remission. Medications, surgery, and lifestyle changes like diet can help manage symptoms.

When it comes to diet, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. However, some people find that avoiding potential trigger foods can help improve their symptoms. This may include limiting high-fiber foods, dairy, fatty foods, and spicy foods.

Paying attention to individual food triggers is crucial, as what aggravates symptoms for one person may not affect someone else. Working with a dietitian knowledgeable about IBD can help determine an optimal diet.

What Is Ham and How Is It Made?

Ham is a type of cured and cooked pork product made from the hind leg of a pig. To make ham, the raw pork legs are trimmed, seasoned, salted, and smoked or cooked. The curing process helps preserve the meat and enhance the flavor.

There are numerous types of ham, which can vary based on the curing method:

  • City ham: Wet-cured with added nitrates/nitrites. May be smoked or unsmoked.

  • Country ham: Dry-cured with salt and sometimes smoked afterward. Aged for weeks or months.

  • Honey ham: Wet-cured and smoked, then coated with honey/brown sugar glaze.

  • Deli ham: Mass-produced wet-cured ham sold pre-sliced. Higher in sodium and preservatives.

The way ham is processed and the ingredients used can make a difference for people with ulcerative colitis.

Can Ham Trigger Colitis Symptoms?

For many people with colitis, the high salt and fat content of ham may stimulate the gut and aggravate symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, and diarrhea. The added sugars and preservatives in processed deli ham are another possible trigger.

However, not all ham is created equal. Less processed types like city ham or country ham may be easier to tolerate, especially in smaller portions. The key is paying attention to your individual symptoms and food triggers.

Some experts suggest meat-based diets are generally not recommended for people with colitis. But others say properly cured ham may have some benefits due to its anti-inflammatory properties.

The best option is to consult your doctor or dietitian about your diet. They can help you determine if you can tolerate ham or if you’re better off avoiding it entirely during flares.

Tips for Consuming Ham Safely with Colitis

If you choose to eat ham with ulcerative colitis, here are some tips to do it more safely:

  • Stick to high quality, less processed ham like city or country ham

  • Avoid added-ingredient deli ham with lots of preservatives

  • Eat ham in moderation – 1-2 small servings per week

  • Look for lower sodium options under 400mg per serving

  • Skip any added glazes or coatings high in sugar

  • Try baked or roasted ham instead of fried

  • Remove visible fat before eating to reduce richness

  • Pair ham with easy to digest sides like white rice or cooked veggies

  • Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated

  • Stop eating ham if you notice it worsens your symptoms

The key is to listen to your unique body cues. You may be able to enjoy ham on occasion with no problems. But be ready to eliminate it if your symptoms flare up.

Healthy Alternatives to Ham for Colitis-Friendly Meals

If ham is off the table, there are plenty of tasty, colitis-friendly alternatives to try.

Lean Proteins

  • Chicken or turkey breast
  • Pork tenderloin or chops
  • Salmon, tuna, halibut
  • Eggs
  • Tofu

Non-Meat Proteins

  • Beans and lentils
  • Nuts and nut butters
  • Tempeh
  • Hummus

Fruits and Vegetables

  • Cooked carrots, spinach, squash
  • Bananas, melons, berries
  • Avocado
  • Applesauce or cooked apples


  • Oatmeal
  • White rice
  • Gluten-free pasta
  • Quinoa

Dairy Alternatives

  • Nut milks like almond, coconut or oat
  • Greek yogurt
  • Kefir
  • Cheese if tolerated

With creative combinations of these nourishing ingredients, you can craft colitis-friendly meals that are just as satisfying.

Tips for Managing Colitis Through Your Diet

Managing ulcerative colitis largely comes down to controlling inflammation. While diet alone can’t cure colitis, making smart food choices can help improve your symptoms. Here are some top tips:

  • Keep a food diary to identify triggers that worsen your symptoms

  • Avoid greasy, fried foods which can stimulate the gut

  • Reduce high-fiber foods like beans, nuts, seeds, popcorn

  • Choose lean proteins like chicken, fish, eggs and tofu

  • Incorporate gut-soothing foods like broths, applesauce, oatmeal

  • Stay hydrated by drinking 8+ glasses of fluids daily

  • Take vitamins if you aren’t absorbing enough nutrients

  • Meet with a dietitian to create a customized eating plan

Be patient with yourself. It may take time to figure out which foods work best for your body. The key is listening to your symptoms and adjusting your diet as needed.

The Bottom Line

Can you eat ham with colitis? It depends. Lean ham may be tolerated by some people in moderation. However, fatty and heavily processed deli ham tends to be higher in salt, sugar and preservatives that can aggravate symptoms. Pay attention to your unique response after eating ham. Avoid any foods that trigger flares or discomfort.

Focus on anti-inflammatory proteins, fruits, vegetables and other gut-friendly foods as the foundation of your diet. With the right nutritional choices tailored to your needs, you can manage colitis successfully through diet.

What to eat and avoid when dealing with ulcerative colitis


What meat can you eat with colitis?

Foods associated with increased risk for inflammation: For example, if you usually eat red meat every day, focus on adding a greater variety of protein into your diet so that you have chicken, turkey, tofu, eggs, tilapia, salmon, and tuna throughout the week.

Can you eat turkey sandwich with colitis?

For those with an inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis, feasting can be associated with stress. New research in mice suggests that certain foods – especially those high in tryptophan, like turkey, pork, nuts and seeds – could reduce the risk of a colitis flare.

Can you eat cheese with colitis?

Skip the dairy aisle. There’s no firm evidence that diet causes ulcerative colitis. But certain foods and beverages can make your symptoms worse, especially during a flare-up. Dairy foods are one possible cause. Try limiting or eliminating milk, yogurt, cheese, ice cream and other dairy products.

What should I eat if I have ulcerative colitis?

During ulcerative colitis remission, speak with your nutritionist about high-fiber foods to reintroduce back into your diet. These foods are not only heart-healthy but also help maintain normal bowel movements. If you have ulcerative colitis, managing your diet can go a long way in reducing symptoms such as abdominal pain, cramping, and diarrhea.

What foods should I avoid if I have ulcerative colitis?

If you have ulcerative colitis, you may want to avoid certain foods during a flare-up until your bowels calm down. High-fiber foods are one type that could be problematic.

Does diet affect ulcerative colitis?

Certain foods can make ulcerative colitis symptoms worse. Your diet is an important component of managing ulcerative colitis. Foods to avoid include sugary, fried, greasy, and high-fiber options.

Can fried food cause ulcerative colitis?

If your digestive tract is inflamed because of a condition like ulcerative colitis, certain kinds of food and drink may worsen your symptoms. For instance, spicy foods or those that are high in fat (like fried foods) may trigger certain symptoms.

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