I. Love. FOOD. And in case you didn’t get that: I LOVE FOOD! In fact, I would consider myself a food snob. If I have to pay for a meal at a restaurant that I think I could make a lot better, then I am sincerely upset. I’m not saying I am a chef or anything, or that others like my food, but rather that I like what I make. And these days, it’s a lot easier to cook for myself than to go out and ask: “What type of oil is this cooked in?” or ” Can I substitute the rice for more veggies?” or “Does this soup have gluten in it??” You just feel like a PITA to the waitress or waiter and then you hope they don’t do something to your food in the back!
I didn’t start out this way. I have always had a great relationship with food. I wasn’t picky (except for the occasional tough meat I was told to eat-and swallow-as a child) and in fact, I was ALWAYS up for seconds. And like I said, I would have the random stomach distress we all now know to be IBS, but I never would associate it with all the yummy things I was eating. (Nor would I want to.) As I got older I would have the occasional bout of IBS but still never did anything about but treat the symptoms.
Then in my twenties I trained as a bodybuilder. Whoa, this changed everything and now I HAD to be picky. Back then (and maybe still now, I am so far removed from that realm) I was told to eat protein, veggies, eggs 6 times a day. That meant I was eating every couple hours. The school of thought was to keep your metabolism spiked so you burned more fat. But, knowing what I know now, I never gave my body a chance to “rest” in between meal (4-5 hours as I said in my last post) and allow the full digestive process to occur. This, I believe, complicated my issues and is perhaps why a lot of bodybuilders come up with digestive issues.
Today, having been diagnosed with IBS and SIBO, I have had to become even MORE picky! But not because I really want to, but because I have learned the foods that help my body to function properly. Here is some of the things I have learned along the way:
- Digestion begins in the mouth. Your saliva begins to break down foods within seconds that they enter your mouth. In fact some foods like rice and white potatoes turn into sugar within seconds by the enzymes in your saliva. Why does this matter? If it is breaking down into sugar that quickly in the mouth, what’s it doing in the gut? And as we are learning: sugar ferments in the gut and causes an overgrowth of bacteria and yeast which translates into inflammation of your organs. So make sure you SLOW DOWN when you eat. Because digestion occurs first in the mouth-allow that process to occur. Chew those foods up to 30 times per bite to get all the sugars out of it before it reaches the gut. Put your fork down between each bite and enjoy the food. I know it is easier said than done in our busy lifestyles but it will pay off!
- Stick to one ingredients foods as much as possible OR eat how our ancestors ate. (AKA-Nonprocessed) The war on processed food is just beginning. Have you ever read a food label on a processed food? What the heck is all that stuff in there and is it completely necessary?? And sometimes you THINK you’re buying a health food when in fact it’s loaded with a lot of unnecessary ingredients. Once my lovely mother-in-law had a some pre-portioned bags of almonds. You’re thinking almonds and maybe some salt, right? Wrong. It was almonds, salt, partially hydrogenated oils and maltodextrin (glucose usually from corn or wheat) among other weird ingredients. What?? And we wonder why no one can loose weight in this country, let alone recover from digestive issues. My advice? STICK TO THE OUTER AREAS OF THE STORE and READ LABELS! If you can’t read the words on the label or if the label is a paragraph long, put it down and MOVE ON!
- Lay low on sugar, grains and anything that’s not a monosaccaride. Ok, Jill, that’s just NO FUN! Hey, I used to be a cereal addict. Put a little of this in there, a little of that, make my own granola, stick a little of that in there, till I had a heaping bowl, and a collasal stomach ache. Those things all fermented in the gut and caused this over growth of bacteria. And the monosaccarides? That just means sugars with only one molecule (see Specific Carbohydrate Diet by Elaine Gottschall) including fructose (fruit) and honey. The body doesn’t have to work as hard to break down one molecule as compared to several molecules bound together (ie, glucose). But what about high fructose corn syrup? That is fructose, right? (As my husband querried me to prove me wrong.) Yes and no. It is acutally several fructose molecules mechanically bound together so it takes A LOT of breaking down to process in the body which can translates into a lot of unnatural things going on internally.
- Cook your veggies and fruits down. As I said before, the more fibrous the food, or sugar laden the fruit, the more bacteria it takes to break down the food our own enzymes can’t, simply because there aren’t enough of them. Sometimes it helps to take a digestive enzyme before eating these foods to aid in their digestion. Apples, for example, would cause me a lot of stomach upset. Apples have polyphenols in them which are great for fighting cancer (“an apple a day, keeps the doctor away”) BUT it can be hard to digest. If I really want an apple I will take an enzyme or cook them down with cinnamon for a yummy dessert (maybe with some organic, plain grass fed yogurt!)
- If you have been diagnosed with SIBO: Follow the FODMAP diet. It will tell you which foods are LEGAL or ILLEGAL based on their fermentation properties. Or you can go to SIBOinfo.com and scroll over to the LEGAL/ILLEGAL list of foods based on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet by Elaine Gotschall. It basically tells you to stop eating grains, white potatoes, sugar, and other specific legumes, nuts, etc.
- Don’t be INTIMIDATED! These lists can be overwhelming. Especially for someone who has never cut anything out of their diet. It was a gradual process for me. First, gluten, then dairy (except lactose free), then all the foods it told me not to eat according to the Blood-Type Diet, then finally grains-the nail in the coffin so to speak. You will feel very limited and confused at first, not knowing what to eat. My advice is to write up a menu. Prepare your fruits and veggies ahead of time. And find recipies that allow you fun foods once in a while like banana bread, pancakes, and cookies. (I will be posting yummy recipies soon!) And get used to eating veggies for breakfast-they are NOT just for dinner anymore, my friends. So, all in all, know that these foods are meant to HEAL you and get you back on track to feeling GREAT!
I think Hippocrates said it best:
“Let food be they medicine and medicine be thy food.”
Have a Happy and Healthy day!