For times when guts are in turmoil or you are feeling under the weather
This guide is not for every day, but for when your guts are feeling a little more vulnerable than usual. It might be a useful strategy at the beginning of dietary change, and it is a guideline… you will be able to use these tips to find your own best foods.
Some of these tips are good for every day use, but don’t limit your diet too much when you are feeling well.
- Eat warm food. Food that is very cold or very hot needs more effort to digest. Food at body temperature or just a little hotter will upset the guts less.
- Eat cooked food over raw food – much easier to digest.
- Avoid processed/packaged food – even if it says it’s healthy. Packaged food often contains emulsifiers, preservatives, added fibre, etc such as xantham gum, guar gum, inulin, carrageenan, erythritol (and other sugars ending in ‘ol’). These foods can cause bloating, gas, pain and indigestion which you don’t want to be bothering with when you are feeling ill. Make the food yourself, or check ingredients labels carefully. Many non-dairy milks contain these products, as do supplements and vitamins (such as probiotics).
- Cutting out sugar (all sugars) is probably the easiest because very few products containing sugar are essential for nutrition. Also cut out all white grains – stick to wholegrains at all times. Remember, not everything gluten-free, dairy-free or sugar-free is healthy. Sugars are a bowel stimulant, so can improve constipation (although there are better ways to treat this), but also releases gas and can cause cramping.
- Use nut butters over nuts. This is not an everyday solution because you absorb significantly more fat with a nut butter compared to nuts. (80% vs 30%), but they are much easier for the gut to digest on bad days. Only use a small amount.
- Get your carbs from root vegetables rather than grains. Again, not an every day solution because long term you need some of the nutrients from wholegrains, but on a bad day your gut will digest root vegetables more easily. Try and leave the skins on, esp for carrots, beetroot and potatoes which have thin skins, but occasionally you’ll find peeling gives you fewer symptoms. When you are feeling better, always leave the skins on.
- Prioritise leafy greens such as spinach, silverbeet, Asian greens, lettuce, kale over broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage as they digest more easily. If using older kale and silverbeet, cook them for longer. Go back to the cruciferous veges when you are feeling better.
- Eat seeds over beans and lentils. You can do this longterm (some people are always upset with legumes) but if you choose this, then you MUST eat a wide variety of seeds and eat them every day to get the variety. You want 3-4 tbsp per day.
- Try grain-free flours. Again, while all your flour must be wholegrain, coconut and almond flour will be easier on the gut when you are feeling ill. (Note that coconut flour is not the same as coconut milk powder)
- Fruit – eat fruit when it is really ripe and aim for the easier to digest fruit such as ripe bananas, berries, peaches, cantaloupe melon, pawpaw, pineapple, lemons, limes, oranges. Avoid apples and pears. Consider avoiding dried fruit at this time.
- Good advice is to avoid the things you are craving when tired. These are usually refined carbs, caffeine or other junk food.