Another #TBT! I decided to mull over the delight I had on my crazy raw(ish) til 4 day: baked rice hummus stacks. These veggie-stuffed, nom fest stacks were what got me through that ridiculous day. Filling, amazing, flavourful, and full of protein and awesomness. Hyberbole? I think not.Also, since I don’t just want to link and dash, I figured I could indulge in sharing 4 tips for better digestion. This isn’t because I’m dying to get all TMI, but because digestive distress is one of those things that really bugs newly minted vegans and sends them packing for the hills. Even veteran vegans sometimes have cause for complaint, and you should all know how I love bullet points and numbered lists by now!
Digestion is an incredibly personal topic for some, and a platform for long discussions for others. I’m usually reluctant to dabble in semi-medical affairs, but these are just some general ideas following lots and lots of research to discover solutions for my own issues, as well as from personal experience and discussions with others. People with different conditions that impact gastro-intestinal health may have to consider their own circumstances, but I figure these are some basic tips that can positively impact anyone.
Issues with digestion is also why I was quick to jump on Man-thing’s suggestion for 29 days of rice – brown rice is a low-gi, low-impact food that doesn’t easily upset most stomachs and aids in digestion. I figured that for a whole month of eats the primary ingredient had to be as non-reactive as possible to suit a wide variety of people and their diets. It also happens to be gluten-free!
4 tips for better digestion
1. Eat your food
Smoothies are amazing, no doubt. Shiny, happy, and super speedy to whip up! Problem is, unless you have the self-control of a jedi or all the time in the world, you may end up slurping down your smoothie so quickly that your gut gets disgruntled. Drinking through a straw is apparently a sure-fire way to get excessive air into your gut and to cause distress.
If you have trouble being mindful about your food when you drink it try changing it up so that you can “eat” it instead! A smoothie bowl has all the perks of the tall cool drink but with the added benefits of actually being consumed at a slower pace, so that your body can process the bulk of it over a period of time, and not in a few gulps. It also helps you to feel fuller and thus gives you less reason to over-eat and regret it later on once your body has caught up with the quantity.
Smoothie bowls have completely changed my life! I can actually be stuffed and survive for hours on end, whereas before they would leave me bloated and starving; a very odd combination!
Recipes to try:
Enlighten smoothie bowl – Simple Veganista
What’s the deal with smoothie bowls? – Oh My Veggies
9 smoothie bowl recipes – Daily Burn
ETA: I knew I forgot something! How to make delicious acai bowls – Lunchbox Bunch/Kathy
2. Eat your vegetables…but not all
When I went vegan I had this feeling that my chest would burst from happiness at the thought of an endless and unrestricted supply of vegetables. Too bad my chest wanted to burst from heartburn and my stomach from bloating. Not all veggies agree with all bodies! People with IBS or candida, for example, should take care to limit foods that cause negative reactions, no matter how tasty. Mushrooms may be magical fairy food but I don’t feel too magical once I’ve had a mushroom pie. Similarly, brussel sprouts and I are now star-crossed lovers. If you are determined to indulge in foods you should be avoiding, just make sure you don’t have to be anywhere fancy in a slinky dress, because you will most likely balloon like a frog.
Recipes to try:
Low-FODMAP Pumpkin muffins – Delicious As It Looks
Going low-FODMAP on a vegan diet – Kate Scarlata
Potato bruschetta – Rick Heller
3. Eat real food
This point probably makes me the most sad, but makes the most sense. Chewing gum, eating hard sweets…all these things can allow excess air to be trapped inside the gut and them compounded – hardly an awesome situation for digestive comfort! If you’re nibbly and want something to do to sate your oral fixation or tide you over to the next meal rather focus on eating small portions of real food instead. Easier said than done (I’m still guilty of gum when I’m super bored or get UBER munchies at work), but being mindful is the key to long-term changes in habits.
Recipes to try:
15 more ways to flavour roasted chickpeas – The Kitchn
Pistachio Guacamole – Chipolte Potato
If you’re still feeling naughty:
4. Eat fresh food
Ok, so you were probably wondering why I didn’t recommend dried fruit for snackage, because that seems to be the natural solution to overcoming nibbles on candies and other gut-busting treats. Alas, dried fruit is rather foul for some stomachs, and can easily lead to poor digestion. Keep dried fruit portions minimal and use sparingly! Because they come in small pieces one may be tempted to eat more, and that’s how you end up eating six apples worth of food, or a crate of grapes. Even though the quantity may seem less it still takes just as much work, and even more, for your body to digest those shrivelled goodies because your body requires moisture to digest.
Some people recommend soaking or re-hydrating dried food before consumption to aid digestion, or only enjoying them as a treat, say in a raw dessert. This may seem like torture to many (myself included!), but once you start to see dried fruit in their equivalent in terms of hydrated quantity, you won’t be reaching for them in bulk anyway, and certainly not consider them a mindless snack. If I eat dried fruits I see them as a mini-meal, just as I would a whole, fresh fruit.
Recipes to try:
Fruit kebabs with chocolate – This Rawsome Life
Fall holiday fruit salad – Lunchbox Bunch/Kathy
Breakfast blini fruit kebabs – Including Cake
Bonus round topic of doom: coffee
I didn’t include this in my official 4 points, because it’s the one that depresses me the most. I used to count coffee as part of my daily 8 glasses of water a day, because durr, there was water in there, and why waste precious internal space with something unflavoured? Well.
For those of us with IBS, for example it’s a clear-cut no-go because it causes a chain reaction that irritates the stomach lining and can cause discomfort and pain. Ulcers, exacerbated IBS symptoms, and diarrhea are all possibilities, even if you’re not abusing the java.
Coffee can have a laxative effect, which is sometimes desperately needed, and other times can cause untold misery. Our guts determine our happiness to a degree – if our guts are in pain then chances of being able to concentrate, relax, or enjoy food or company are severely diminished. Stressing because you’re out in public and can’t locate the nearest restroom after a social cup or three of coffee is not only for when you’re ill, but can be a daily reality for some with sensitive stomachs.
It sucks. Really. Some days you just have to decide whether it’s worth it or not. Most of the time I’m pigheaded and will do everything I can to fit in my delicious black coffee, including eating super low-impact foods, so that I don’t compound stress upon stress. Other days I realize there’s trouble brewing and instead stock up on other liquid treats: peppermint and ginger tea. These two ingredients are proven combatants against digestive distress, and can soothe your stomach considerably. When I’m especially in pain I add fresh ginger to my smoothie bowls or chew on some dried bits when I’m not glugging down the tea. Luckily it’s incredibly tasty, so there’s no harm done 🙂