For those of you who read my previous blog you might already know that I struggle a lot with stomach bloating and cramps. Even now, over a year after figuring it out, I find it hard to keep them under control. Part of the problem stems from travelling so much and not being as disciplined as I should with my diet. The biggest problem for me? Our amazing bodies are programmed to forget pain and discomfort! However bad it's been one evening, a few days later I'll be out at a restaurant and see something I really want....completely forgetting the repercussions and how bad they will/could be. Recently however, I have turned a bit of a new leaf, which I will come onto in the next few blogs...for now though...
Like so many people, I have seen countless doctors and specialists with no real answer to what my problem is! I wholeheartedly believe it’s all down to diet. Here are 5 things to try if, like me, you are struggling to keep your symptoms under control; 6 is something I’ve yet to try...
1. Cut out dairy – usually just lactose is the problem. You need to cut it out fully for at least a week to see if your symptoms improve.
2. Cut out gluten – similarly this needs to be at least a week, you can cut both dairy and gluten out together and then re-introduce one if your symptoms reduce. Here is a great article from Jamie Oliver about a gluten free diet - there are actually no benefits health wise being gluten free unless you are coeliac, intolerant, allergic or have dermatitis herpetiformis (an uncommon skin condition). http://www.jamieoliver.com/news-and-features/features/voluntarily-going-gluten-free/ so unless you have one of these it's potentially not worth paying the premium on gluten free products.
3. Try and eat less, but more often – no big meals! I find this helps a lot. Eating little and often means your digestive system doesn’t have to work so hard after a big meal.
4. Try and finish eating before 8pm – ideally 7.30pm, but realistically, I find this hard!! This gives your digestive system longer to process your food before lying down in bed where it can really struggle. Apparently you need 3 hours for your food to digest before lying down. Giving your gut a big rest between an early dinner and a late breakfast, through the night, really helps too!
5. Cut out processed foods. Anything that isn’t natural or has been modified is a big no no. Good foods to eat are nuts, seeds, fruit, vegetables, meat - but not ham, salami, bacon etc.. Basically anything that you can get your hands on that hasn’t been changed by humans. I realize this is pretty tricky in today’s world, but I am convinced by what I’ve read that the more we can cut back on processed foods the better our insides will feel.
6. Try a Mediterranean diet, outlined in ‘The Clever Guts Diet’(link at the bottom). I am yet to try this, however I will keep you updated when I do! I have read quite a lot of things recently that have claimed this to be one of the best diets for stomach problems. Let me know the in comments below if you have already tried it, how it went and did it help?
I think giving these a try is a good idea for a lot of us. You need to give each one at least a week though to see if it's having a positive effect.
Too many of us head to the doctor expecting answers, however I am a firm believer that if we can solve the problem through diet and lifestyle (rather than relying on medication) then that HAS to be good doesn't it? However, if you feel you should get a check up with the doctor then definitely do! For most people though, there won't be an underlying medical problem for their discomfort. Which in itself can be a little frustrating, so trying some or all of the above might be a way to start to figure out which foods cause you the most issues. In my next blog I will be looking at using a food diary to keep track of what you're putting in your body and the link between the pain you are getting. Make sure you subscribe to my blog so you get access to my unique food diary, discount codes and more coming in the next few weeks :)
I really hope these suggestions will help you out like they have for me and please share any thoughts you have or tips that you have found worked for you in the comments section below.
Here's a link to information on "The Clever Guts Diet" https://cleverguts.com - a really enlightening read if you are interested in the gut and digestion, and how it all works! Books on these subjects can often be a little dense, and peppered with technical terms, but I found this quite easy to read, as well as super educational.