Food Fight: Digestive Woes
March is Nutrition Month and this year’s theme is “Take the Fight out of Food” and bring joy back to eating. One of the most common food fights Canadians struggle with is managing digestive woes after eating a meal. Nearly 2 in 5 Canadians find it challenging to avoid gas or bloating. Gas, bloating and burping are all common and can be normal. If these symptoms are disruptive to daily living, it is important to figure out why they are occurring. Don’t self-diagnose, seek support from a medical professional as the symptoms could be due to a medical condition such as lactose intolerance, irritable bowel syndrome or celiac disease. Removing certain items from the diet without the help of a doctor or dietitian can hinder a proper diagnosis. Use the 3 step approach to help take the fight our of your digestive woes.
Spot the Problem: Everything you eat seems to give you gas and make you burp. You’re not sure if you need a special diet or should eliminate certain foods. Your friend tells you to cut out gluten and wheat.
Get the Facts: Use facts from credible sources to decide what needs to be done.
You read on a fact sheet from the Dietitians of Canada website that gas is normal. The average person passes gas 12-25 times a day. Swallowed air makes up 90% of the gas in our digestive tract. Some leaves the stomach through burping and the rest passes through the GI tract and out the rectum.
Bacteria in the large intestine make up the other 10%. These bacteria feed on undigested carbohydrates and fibre from the foods we eat and produce the hydrogen and methane gases that are passed.
Foods that cause gas: Any food that contains carbohydrate (fruit, veg, grains, legumes, candy, chips). The ones that produce the most gas include: beans, cabbage, Brussels Sprouts and cauliflower.
Sugar free foods and foods with sugar alcohols sorbitol, mannitol and xylitol cause gas. Sugar alcohols are food for the bacteria in the large intestine.
High fructose corn syrup in pop and sweetened drinks may also cause gas as can fruit juice. Lactose is only a problem for those with lactose intolerance.
Digestive discomfort can also be caused by eating too much, certain medications and swallowing too much air.
You also learn there are also certain conditions that could be causing the problem. You don’t want to self-diagnose so you decide see a health professional like a registered dietitian.
Seek Support: Put the plan into action. You go to www.dietitian.ca/find to find a dietitian in your area.
Your dietitian looks at what you are eating, how you eat and your symptoms and helps you identify a plan of action. You realize it’s not the food you eat but how you are eating. Your dietitian gives you a few tips on how to swallow less air:
- Slow down and relax while eating
- Try not to talk while eating
- Drink from a glass not with a straw or from a can
- Stop chewing gum
- Avoid carbonated beverages
You try these things for a week and it makes a big difference so you decide to make them a habit. You also download a free app recommended by your dietitian called Cookspiration to find recipes that don’t include some of the gassy foods you learned about.