Meals too rich, taken too quickly, industrial food … when the impression of having a weight on the stomach persists, this is time to react!
Many Americans suffer from functional disorders of digestion with its attendant symptoms: bloating, stomach pains, abdominal cramps, or even transit problems. A lot of patients consult their doctor because they have gastric problems and do not know what to eat anymore. Many have abandoned grains because of the gluten, dairy to avoid lactose and by excluding many food groups they risk deficiencies, even undernutrition. But the problem would come less from gluten and food intolerance than part of the mixture of many chemicals and additives in our modern processed diet.
Here are simple tips you can implement to start feeling better with a lighter stomach,
Review meals content. Feeling heavy and bloated is often the consequence of eating in excess and too fat. Bulky meals, especially paired with alcohol, delay the gastric emptying thus causing difficult digestion. This disorder, called functional dyspepsia, causes a feeling of overflow in the stomach and bloating with a feeling of discomfort above the umbilicus.
Choosing healthier meals as well as practicing mindful eating- eat quietly without being distracted, chew well and spend at least twenty minutes at the table- will provide relief.
Plan for lighter dinners. If you experience afternoon cravings because of a light lunch-a salad or sandwich on the go- or always feel ravenous around 6 pm, the best strategy in order to eat a reasonably portioned dinner is to prepare for an afternoon snack. Think about ready to go options that make sense for you; a nut portion with fruit, some crackers or cut veggies with hummus, a protein shake or Greek yogurt.
Limit soft drinks. Beware of sodas and fruit juices consumption. They bring an excess of fructose, which is a poorly metabolized sugar engulfing the liver and responsible for flatulence. Many artificial sweeteners can also be responsible for similar symptoms, go easy on sugar-free foods, especially the ones containing sugar alcohols (like sorbitol in gums).
Select quality foods. Both high-fat and fried food can overwhelm the stomach, resulting in acid reflux and heartburn. Some people may be sensitive to spicy foods as well as highly acidic foods (tomatoes, citrus fruits, vinegar…), and also mint, pepper, and chocolate. Drinks can cause bloating and irritation too. Staying away from excess caffeine and carbonation, as well as excess alcohol may help as well.
Finally, some of us may have to limit hard-to-digest foods that are generally considered healthy. Studies have shown strong links between some fermentable carbohydrates found in certain foods (called FODMAPs), and digestive symptoms like gas, bloating, stomach pain, diarrhea, and constipation. Although not everyone is sensitive to these specific foods, including legumes, some fruits like apples, some veggies like broccoli or some grains, this is very common among people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Better to seek the help of a qualified health professional to pinpoint possible individual’s food sensitivities and prevent unnecessary dietary restrictions.
In general, for a happy stomach and easy digestion it is recommended to limit processed and refined foods, favor fibers by eating fresh and frozen produce, and to bet on fermented foods that will help the beneficial colon bacteria to thrive. We are omnivores which means we can eat ‘everything’ as long as our body supports it, that’s why a personalized diet makes sense.
We’re all different. If you have a stomach ache or are feeling heavy, it is because your body is talking to you. Listen to him! Use self-medication with caution, don’t rely on anti-acid medication or laxatives for a too long time. Book an appointment with your physician if your discomfort persists.