Eating to Support Digestive Issues
We've all experienced digestive upset after meals - bloating, gas, heartburn, etc. It is never fun, and quite honestly, it really sucks! However, there are certain foods and ways of eating that can help support those of us who struggle with digestive issues after meals, no matter how severe the symptoms.
How do you know if you the foods you are eating or the manner in which you are eating causes digestive issues? Here's a checklist of symptoms to get you started:
Undigested food in stool
Feeling uncomfortably full
IBS or IBD diagnosis
If you have any of these symptoms, you know how debilitating they can be! However, there is hope, and it starts with the foods you are eating and the manner in which you are eating as well.
1. Eat Real, Whole Food
You knew this one was coming, didn't you? Eating real food in a PFC balanced manner is the single best way to start the road to healing digestive upset. Often, foods that contain gluten, sugar, corn, artificial sweeteners, vegetable oils, soy, and dairy are really troublesome with digestion. Eliminating the biggest offender gluten helps heal the gut lining, which is usually the reason why you are having digestive issues in the first place! Plus, eating real food allows your body to get the nutrients it needs to support digestion.
2. Eat Well Cooked Foods
If you struggle at all with digestion, eating well cooked foods will be a game-changer for you. Foods that are well cooked like stews, soups, and slow cooked meats are pre-digested and broken down a bit more than regular or raw food, making your digestive system's job a lot easy, especially if it struggles from the start!
3. Avoid Raw Foods
Along the lines of my last tip, avoid raw foods (mainly vegetables) while working to support your digestion. It takes a TON of chewing to break down raw vegetables, and most of the time, we don't do a very good job. Cooking your vegetables and avoiding raw foods in general will definitely help ease digestive upset.
4. Chew Your Food Really, Really, Really Well
You have to chew your food really well. It's that simple. Digestion starts with your brain and in your mouth, so when you shove food down your face and eat too quickly, you aren't supporting your digestive system in the least bit. Most of us have underactive digestive systems anyway from stress and lack of stomach acid, so not chewing our food just adds fuel to the fire.
5. Take 5+ Deep Breaths Before Each Meal
Along with chewing, getting your body into the "rest and digest," parasympathetic state is crucial when beginning any meal. Taking a couple of deep, slow belly breaths is so helpful in priming your body for digestion, especially if you tend to be the type of person who is always running around crazy and never slows down (see #6 also).
6. Calm the Heck Down and Don't Rush
You have to calm the heck down before you eat. If you are running around, in a hurry, or distracted in any way, you are going to pay for it. How many times have you scarfed down a meal in a hurry, only to find yourself dealing with heartburn or bloating a few minutes later? Slow down, chew, and breath. They are FREE steps that you can do anywhere!
7. Support Digestion Naturally
If you find yourself dealing with extreme versions of the symptoms outlined above, you might consider supporting your digestion with the following:
Apple Cider Vinegar and/or Fresh Lemon Juice - helps boost stomach acid levels (which are low in 99% of people, NOT too high!!!) and helps break down foods properly; take 1-2 Tbsp of each daily or with meals
Betaine HCl - stomach acid in pill form that helps boost stomach acid levels and break down foods (do not take if you are on beta blockers or take NSAIDs regularly), take 1-2 before each meal that contains protein
Digestive Enzymes - these pills help break down protein, fat, and carbs and support your own natural digestive enzymes
Dealing with digestive issues isn't fun, but there are so many things that you can do to help support your digestion! Eat real food that is well cooked and not raw in a slow, calm state and you will definitely see a difference!