Food for Flares


Each month the ICA gets many questions about what foods are OK to eat during an IC flare.  This month Julie addresses this issue with an overview of IC "Food for Flares".

An interstitial cystitis (IC) flare is the intense return of IC symptoms in a patient who has been relatively pain free. Flares can be caused by a variety of things including certain foods, unmanaged stress, physical activity, restrictive clothing, and sexual intercourse. Symptoms of a flare can include urinary frequency, urgency, and pain. Patients in a flare may also experience extreme fatigue, anxiety, and depression as they struggle to cope with the recurrence of symptoms they thought were under control. In fact, I often get calls from patients who are in a flare saying, “Just tell me what to eat. I am too sick to think about it.”

Since flares are unpredictable, I suggest that you keep a list of things you can eat as well as things you can do to help get yourself through a flare. Keep a stock of bladder friendly food on hand. Keep chicken, green beans, and bread in the freezer. Canned green beans and pears can be stored in your pantry. Rice can be instant or long grain.

In addition to keeping these staples on hand, you may also want to have a sample menu handy. This can make mealtime more manageable, especially if someone else prepares your meals. Your sample menu for flares might look something like this:

    • Breakfast:
      Scrambled eggs and toast with butter
    • Lunch:
      Chicken sandwich with white bread
    • Snack (Choose one):
      Bagel, toast, hard-boiled egg, carrots, pears, milk
    • Dinner:

          Green beans

In addition to planning the food you might eat during a flare, you might want to create a list of other things including your urologist’s phone number and a list of medicines to take. Other strategies that can help in relieving a flare include getting plenty of rest, practicing stress reduction strategies, taking warm baths with Epsom salts or baking soda, writing in your journal, and talking to other IC or OAB patients. Heating pads can fool the body into thinking that you are not feeling any pelvic pain. You will be more comfortable if you wear loose clothing when you have a flare. Medical scrubs, pajama pants, and sweat pants with adjustable waistbands are good choices. Women may also be more comfortable in jumpers or loose sundresses. Flat shoes or slippers are easier on your back than shoes with heels. Finally, if you do not experience relief after a few days, be sure to consult your doctor.

Adapted from Confident Choices: Customizing the Interstitial Cystitis Diet Julie Beyer, MA, RD

Julie Beyer, MA, RD


Revised Wednesday, December 16, 2009