10 Ways to love your gut…NOW!
After filling our tummies with “no so” good food over the holidays, our gut may be groaning at us a little more often than normally. Why does your gut take such a hit during this time? Because we take in far too many sweets, fatty foods, drink too much alcohol, high FODMAP foods and leave the table barely able to walk most times! As a result, individuals with IBS or irritable bowel have a harder time and it takes longer to get your “gut in gear” when you have this condition. Enjoyment is a necessity of life:stuffing ourselves is not!
How to show more compassion to ourselves and our gut!
1) Balance is key – Overly restricting yourself from a long list of foods typically will backfire. You want to win at this. So, learning what FODMAP foods are really important to you, and how to include them into your diet, so that feeling good is an everyday event, is paramount. Just because a food is “healthy”, doesn’t mean it is “healthy” for you. Therefore, choose wisely.
So, you want that piece of dark chocolate? Balance it out with a variety of Low FODMAP veggies and fruits. You need to know your limits with high FODMAP foods. Challenging foods at the re-introduction of high FODMAP foods will let you know what your body can handle. And because re-introduction is a complex procedure, be sure to work with a FODMAP trained Dietitian to simplify matters for you.
2) Physical Activity – Exercise (as approved by your physician) is extremely important part of health for so many reasons. And you need to find time for movement in your day. Because movement can do wonders for an unhappy gut!
Research shows that exercise improves the number of beneficial bacteria in our gut. It also increases the types of bacteria in our gut which leads to better tolerance of FODMAP foods. Exercise also increases some of our “happy” neurotransmitters: serotonin and dopamine. Guess where these neurotransmitters are made – our gut!
What will your movement medicine be?: Dancing, Yoga, running, jogging, swimming, rowing, aerobics; the field is wide. Choose 1 or more!
3) Drink (not alcohol) – Drinking non-caffeinated liquids are essential to health, and for those who have irritable bowel (especially diarrhea) or other gut issues, are even more necessary. And in general, for every body! Need to know how much water your body needs? Here is how to do it: take your weight, divide it in half, and that is how many ounces of non-caffeinated liquids one should drink per day.
4) Mind Your Minutes – Practice mindful eating. Slow down, chew your food well. Take longer than usual to eat. Choosing your food wisely and taking the time to focus on the smell, taste and texture of each bite, will help you slow things down. Appreciate where your food came from, who farmed it, and the transportation that brought it too you. Eat without distraction when possible (no TV, cell phone), and you will digest better as well.
5) Meal Plan and Meal Prep –Getting ahead of the week, by planning out your meals and shopping for them, is a time and stress saver. And we all need that!
· Get out your list of low-FODMAP foods and start by planning out your weekly meals
· Whenever you cook, make a double batch for a lunch meal, or to freeze for later meals. Because it will make life easier later in the week.
· Stock up on frozen brown rice, quinoa, zoodles, and pre-cut veggies. And as a money saver, you can make your own large batches of rice and quinoa and freeze it.
· Buy quick cooking foods, like shrimp, scallops, or fish. And use thinner cuts of meat for meals. Instead of chicken breasts, buy chicken tenders which take less time to cook.
· Add bulk items to your list, such as nuts, seeds, dried quinoa, and low FODMAP dried fruit and save money.
6) Shop your heart out!
· When you return from the grocery store, prep your foods by peeling/cutting up veggies and fruits.
· Try batch cooking and roast a large tray of low-FODMAP vegetables, tofu, or chicken at the start of the week to use for salads, stir-fries, scrambles, or grain bowls.
· If you have never used a slow cooker as a time saver, now is a great time to do that. There are even versions of the instant pot that also serve as a slow cooker, as well.
7) Breath – A little “me” time daily can do a body good! There are so many ways to relax. Find what’s right for you. It could be yoga, deep breathing, meditating, dimming the lights and listening to soothing music, soaking in an epsom salt bath with a few drops of lavender, resting outside in nature, leaning against a tree. If your worried about staying overtime, set an alarm to remind you it’s time to get back into the world again. Remember to B R E A T H!
8) Beyond Food – Sometimes a little help from some nutritional friends can bring peace to a gnarly tummy: Ginger or peppermint tea, peppermint pills (make sure they are enteric coated), digestive enzymes, to name a few. They can help to manage IBS (irritable bowel) symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, or gas.
9) Fiber me up – Make sure to get enough fiber every day from low-FODMAP sources. Some examples include quinoa, potatoes with skin, carrots with skin, oatmeal, rice bran, brown rice, bananas, raspberries, rhubarb, kiwifruit, mandarin, strawberries, passionfruit and oranges, edamame, canned lentils (1/2 cup) and canned chickpeas (1/2 cup), and 10 almonds. Also, if you think you’re either not getting enough fiber or are getting too much fiber, be sure to consult with a GI Nutritionist/Dietitian trained in the low-FODMAP diet. (I am one!)
10) Sleep – Keep to a steady sleep schedule. In the USA, sleep is overlooked, and considered near the bottom of the priority list. We are a sleep deprived country. Recent research indicates, that lack of sleep relates to depression, obesity, decreased immunity, gut disorders, and cognitive decline, among other conditions. And consistency in a sleep routine is key! Get the beauty sleep you deserve!
Thank you to Colleen Francioli. Some information was adapted from her newsletter on 2/3/20 .