What is EEN?

EEN stands for exclusive enteral nutrition. It involves drinking nutrition shakes every day for six to eight weeks (up to 12 weeks) to help improve symptoms of Crohn’s disease. During this therapy, no other food or beverage is allowed except formula and water. It has been shown to be effective for many people. EEN is a low risk and safe therapy.

What conditions is the diet used for?

Someone with Crohn’s disease who:

  • Is newly diagnosed.
  • Is having a flare.
  • Is struggling to eat and losing weight due to Crohn’s symptoms.
  • Has an enterocutaneous fistula (an abnormal tunnel that forms between two parts of the body).
  • Has inflammatory strictures (narrowing in the small intestine).
  • May need surgery (EEN may help to lessen the disease before surgery and may even help avoid surgery).

Why is it being recommended?

To help control your symptoms. When Crohn’s disease flares, symptoms may include:

  • Belly pain.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Diarrhea (loose stool).
  • Blood in stool.
  • Bloating.
  • Difficult swallowing.
  • Weight loss.

How does the diet work?

EEN is thought to help decrease inflammation and heal the intestine through the nutrients provided in the liquid formula.

EEN involves 3 parts:

  • Liquids only

    For six to eight weeks and up to 12 weeks (with formula chosen by patient and dietitian that will provide enough calories, proteins, vitamins and minerals).

  • Adding foods

    Add foods slowly back into diet by decreasing the amount of formula consumed in the day.

  • Resume diet

    Get back to eating your personal healthy diet.

Getting started on the diet

Once you, your health care provider and dietitian decide EEN may help:

  • Ask your dietitian and health care provider for formula samples to help find the best one for you.
  • Choose a type of formula(s) to drink during the six to 12 weeks (list of common formulas listed below).
  • Come up with a plan on how to get the formula (may need prescription or discount options if insurance will not cover).
  • Decide on a plan with your dietitian (how many bottles per day, how much water to drink on top of it to stay hydrated).
  • Pick the date to start and the date to end the therapy.
  • Keep in touch with your dietitian throughout the six to 12 weeks for support — he/she can help keep track of your progress and help with a plan to add back food.
Types of formulas Options Useful nutrition information
Boost (Nestle)
Boost; Boost Plus; Boost Glucose Control
Diabetic options available; source of protein — milk protein
Ensure (Abbott)
Ensure, Ensure Plus; Glucerna
Source of protein — milk protein Ensure Clear and Boost Breeze are fat free and should not be used alone for EEN, they should only be used as extra drinks to provide variety. Also has diabetic options.
Kate Farms Organic
Kate Farms Standard and Kate Farms Komplete
Dairy free, sources of protein — pea
Liquid Hope Organic
Blended organic nutrition — real food ingredients
Dairy free, sources of protein — beans, brown rice protein, almond butter, peas, quinoa
Modulen (Nestle)
Powdered — needs mixing with water
Modulen is made for dietary management of Crohn’s disease — newly available in U.S. since May 2020. Source of protein — casein.
Orgain Organic Shake
Orgain All in One Nutritional Shake or Vegan All in One Nutrition Shake
Orgain does not meet all vitamin/mineral needs and if chosen for EEN, daily multivitamin/mineral with iron should be taken. Source of protein — milk. Vegan source of protein — pea and chia seeds.
Now it is time to meet with a GI-expert dietitian. To get more information about this topic, find a dietitian in your area using our Find a Health Care Provider tool.

Written by

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Courtney Schuchmann, MS, RD, LDN
Reviewed by the DIGID Inflammatory Bowel Diseases workgroup ©2021