Eat Your Way to a Calmer Belly
Photo Credit: Lianne Phillipson-Webb
Ever had a grumble in your belly that sounds like a monster has taken up residence? Mine sometimes sound like a door creaking open and shut. It’s embarrassing to broadcast involuntary stomach rumblings in public, and although sometimes it’s your body signifying hunger, other times it points to painful digestive issues.
The run-of-the-mill gurgle belly can be more than just gas. Difficulty digesting your last meal, food sensitivities, constipation, infection or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) could play a part. Most of the population at one time or another is victim to a significant digestive issue in their lives. To those with chronic conditions like IBS (symptoms include gassiness, feeling bloated and diarrhea alternating with constipation), the symptoms can make everyday life difficult to navigate.
Altering your diet is the most successful way to quell the abdominal storm. Below are some typical symptoms I’ve seen to help you make some changes:
Bloat and gassy: If your clothes feel like they’ve shrunk a size by dinner time, you need to look at what you had for breakfast. I often see sugar, wheat or gluten the culprit here.
Constipation and gassiness: Similar to the above, not voiding waste on a daily basis allows bacteria to proliferate in the intestines causing gas. Fibre and water are essential here. Also look at sugar, wheat and gluten consumption as above.
Diarrhea and loose, foul smelling stool or gas: Often caused by a virus, bacteria or parasite, diarrhea is a fast excavation of undigested food. I often see avoiding dairy consumption alleviates these symptoms in the short term. Functional stool tests are sensitive enough to pick up on any foreign bad guys. Re-hydrate after diarrhea episodes with coconut water.
Cramps or shooting pains: The intestines are one large muscle. Peristalsis is intestinal contraction that moves waste through until it’s excreted. Cramps likely arise from gas or trapped wind moving through the digestive tract and should pass with a bowel movement or passing gas. Suspect the foods above.
Try these dietary changes to see if your symptoms are from food:
1. Eliminate wheat and even gluten from your diet. Your bowl of cereal, piece of toast, bagel, muffin or croissant for breakfast is full of wheat, so ditch it for a month and see how you feel.
2. Switch to dairy-free. Alternative options include soy, rice, almond or goat’s milk and their products. There is even an almond milk yogurt on the market now, so give it a try for at least two weeks.
3. Shelve the sugar. Avoid added sugar found on the ingredient list, or what you add to drinks or baking. If there’s a history of antibiotics, the sugar feeds Candida albicans encourages proliferation. Substitute with honey or maple syrup.
4. Drink peppermint or ginger tea. Both soothing herbs, I’ve even given clients peppermint capsules to take in the case of IBS. It soothes the digestive system and may alleviate the gas pain.
4. Take probiotics. In any case of gas, I suggest probiotics. They crowd out any bad bacteria and fight against viruses. Look for a human strain that’s kept in the fridge. Always take probiotics after any course of antibiotics.
6. Keep a food diary and note down when you experience any symptoms. Go back a meal or two to see what may be causing your tummy troubles.
Stuck for ideas for a belly-calming breakfast? Try these gluten and dairy free pancakes. Serve with fruit spread and an egg.
1 cup brown rice flour 250 mL
¼ cup potato starch 50 mL
¼ cup tapioca starch 50 mL
2 tsp baking powder 10 mL
1 tbsp chia powder (Salba) 15 mL
1 egg yolk*
1 cup (approx.) vanilla rice milk or unsweetened almond milk 250 mL
2½ tbsp agave syrup 37 mL
3 tbsp sunflower oil 45 mL
1. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together brown rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, baking powder, and chia powder.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, milk, and agave; slowly whisk in the oil. Pour over dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
3. Heat a frying pan or griddle over medium-high heat and lightly coat with oil or butter. Pour 1 tablespoon (15 mL) batter per pancake into the frying pan. Cook each side until golden brown. Makes about 24 mini pancakes. Great for freezing!
* For eggless or vegan option, replace the egg with 3 tbsp/45 mL water mixed with 1 tbsp/15 mL ground flax. Let sit for a few minutes and add to wet ingredients. (Note: The vegan option produces a gummier texture.) Can also use whole egg once baby turns one year.
Option: Sprinkle cinnamon in the batter and serve with fruit purée. I also like to add grated carrot to the batter for some extra vegetable power.
Chia powder is one of nature’s superfoods. It’s a complex protein offering all eight amino acids, and it’s high in fibre, omega-3 and omega-6, calcium, iron, folate, potassium, magnesium, and antioxidants. Agave syrup is a natural sweetener with trace amounts of calcium, potassium, magnesium, and iron. It has a low glycemic index, meaning that it doesn’t affect blood sugar and insulin levels as sugar does.
Recipe excerpt from Sprout Right Nutrition from Tummy to Toddler by Lianne Phillipson-Webb. Reproduced with permission by the author.
NOTE: In any case of pain or prolonged digestive upset, consult your doctor or visit a hospital. The information above does not take the place of medical care and is my opinion based on what I see in my nutrition practice.
When I have trapped gas and cramps, I honestly wish I could put a pin in and let the air out my belly button. What do you do that helps you?
Read More by Lianne Phillipson-Webb:
Eat More Probiotics to Avoid Stomach Bugs
Miraculous Chicken Soup and Other Ways to Protect Your Family From the 'Flu
Honey, Lemon, Garlic and Ginger: Natural Ways to Ease Cold Symptoms
Cutting Back on Sugar for a Healthier Family
Avoiding Artificial Flavour and Colour For a Healthier Family