May 20, 2024


Free For All Food

Best Food Deliveries for People With UC

Thanks to a growing demand for convenience, the number of services that offer online meal delivery kits has exploded in recent years. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of people using meal kits grew by 36 percent from 2017 to 2018, according to Nielsen data, with another 23 percent of households saying they were open to purchasing a meal kit within six months.

“Meal delivery kits can be great for people who lack time to shop for food and cook,” says Kelly Kennedy, a registered dietitian nutritionist with Everyday Health. And because many of them are full of fresh fruits and vegetables, they’re often a better choice than other types of fast food, she says.

But for the approximately 3 million people in the U.S. who have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), — ulcerative colitis (UC) or Crohn’s disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — it can be hard to find a meal delivery service that offers easy-to-make foods that won’t trigger a flare.

Finding the right service can require a lot of trial and error, says Kennedy. “One thing that’s tricky is that no one diet works for everyone with UC,” she says. “It’s very individualized. So it’s impossible to say that one meal delivery kit works for every person.”

How to Find a Meal Kit That Won’t Trigger a Flare

Kennedy tells people with ulcerative colitis to keep a daily food journal to track which foods trigger a flare-up. By narrowing down the foods you can and can’t eat, you’ll have an easier time finding meals that will fit your diet.

Kennedy also recommends checking the nutrition labels for fat content, because too much fat can trigger a flare. “You never want one meal to account for 75 percent of your daily fat, for example,” she says.

Plus, not all fats are created equal, she says. Meals that “contain a lot of fat from cheese or red meat can be difficult to digest for people with UC,” she says. For example, fat that comes from salmon, as opposed to steak or butter, is less likely to cause GI issues for people with colitis, she says.

What to Look for in a Meal Kit

While food triggers vary by person, Kennedy recommends looking for meals with soluble sources of fiber, which tend to be easier to digest and cause less inflammation in the digestive tract.

“Things like white rice [that] are minimally processed but still a great source of soluble fiber are great to look for, as are fruits and vegetables that either have the skin removed or can be removed during the prep process,” she says.

But the general rule of thumb, says Kennedy, is that whatever meal delivery kit you choose, always opt for foods in their purest, most whole forms. “The key is to find meals that use minimally processed foods, and preferably whole foods all together.”

Here’s a peek at the best meal delivery options for people with ulcerative colitis.

Daily Harvest

Daily Harvest’s meals — everything from kabocha and sage flatbreads to mulberry and dragon fruit oat bowls — are packed with a variety of fruits and vegetables, as well as lean, plant-based proteins, which are often easier for people with ulcerative colitis to digest than meat proteins. “I also love that Daily Harvest uses organic, dairy- and gluten-free ingredients,” says Kennedy.

Better yet, she adds, these ingredients are frozen at peak ripeness to preserve much of the food’s nutrients, which people with ulcerative colitis can already have trouble consuming enough of.


One of the most popular meal delivery kits, HelloFresh serves up high-quality, fresh, whole foods for all of its meals. Kennedy loves that there are options for meat lovers (yogurt-marinated chicken), vegetarians (chickpea tabbouleh bowls), and pescatarians (sizzling hoisin shrimp) alike.

“The meals have a variety of lean protein sources to choose from, which is great,” she says. But she does warn that the meals are short on fresh veggies. “I’d love to see the HelloFresh meals come with about a half plate’s worth of vegetables. Since they don’t, I’d recommend adding more veggies on your own or having fruit for a dessert after dinner.”

Purple Carrot

In 2018, NFL great Tom Brady partnered with Purple Carrot. It prides itself on being entirely plant based, which research shows can be a good thing for people with ulcerative colitis. For example a study published in the journal Digestive and Liver Disease found that eating red, processed meat may increase the risk of an ulcerative colitis relapse.

Kennedy loves the fruit-and-vegetable-packed meals at Purple Carrot, which also offers an array of “lean, plant-based proteins.” (Hello, black bean and broccoli tacos!) “The meal options for each week are great as well,” says Kennedy. You can choose from plans that feature high-protein or gluten-free ingredients or meals labeled “Quick and Easy” or “Chef’s Choice.”

One caveat: Many of Purple Carrot’s meals are lacking in healthy fats, says Kennedy, so it’s a good idea to add some extra virgin olive oil to the recipes.

Sun Basket

Sun Basket uses 100 percent organic produce in its meals and also provides a variety of low-carb, pescatarian, Paleo, and Mediterranean meals.

Kennedy highly recommends their Mediterranean-style meals (for example, chicken with orzo salad or Moroccan-spiced salmon), as the majority of them contain 10 grams (g) of protein, 5 g of fiber, and a serving of healthy fats. “I love that Sun Basket focuses heavily on vegetables in their meals,” she says.


Hungryroot isn’t exactly a meal delivery service. It doesn’t offer specific meal kits, but it does offer its customers a personalized grocery list, complete with recipe suggestions using those foods. That type of flexibility can be great, says Kennedy, especially because no one diet — or meal — will work for everyone with ulcerative colitis.

“I also love that you can opt specifically for whole grains, lean proteins, and lots of fruits and vegetables,” she says.