In the past, whenever I got extremely stressed, my Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) would flare up, causing me to feel so nauseous and bloated, I could barely eat. Over the years I’ve slowly learnt to control my condition. Here are some tips I have learnt. Hope they are helpful for those either with or looking to prevent digestion or bloating issues.
1. Choose your food combinations wisely.
I wish I’d known this earlier. Different types of foods get digested at different parts of the digestive tract at different rates. When foods are not combined properly, fermentation takes place in the digestive tract and digestive distress is the likely outcome. The best way to avoid fermentation is to avoid mixing high protein foods with high carbohydrate foods. While almost every food contains some amount of protein, those with high concentration of protein remain in the stomach for several hours while the gastric juices and enzymes do their work. Depending on the complexity of the protein eaten, this time can be up to six hours.
Here’s a quick summary on food pairing:
|Food type||Paired with||Example||Digestive outcome|
|Proteins||Carbohydrates||Meat and Potatoes||Fermentation|
|Proteins||Acidic Fruits||Bacon and Eggs with Orange Juice||Fermentation|
|Acidic Fruits||Carbohydrates||Pasta in Tomato sauce||Fermentation|
|Carbohydrates||Sugar||Sweet desserts like Bubor Hitam||Fermentation|
|Melons||Any food type||Should be eaten on its own||Fermentation|
|Proteins||Proteins||Nuts, meat, eggs, cheese||Possible Indigestion|
|Vegetables||Fruits||Vegetable salad with mandarins||ok!|
|Vegetables||Carbohydrates||Rice with Vegetables||ok!|
2. Drink water 30 -60 minutes before your meal. Refrain from drinking while eating.
This helps reduce any thirst, which might be mistaken as hunger. According to Ayurvedic and yogic philosophy, one should avoid drinking water during meals to avoid overloading the stomach. Half of the stomach should be filled with food, one quarter with water, and the remaining quarter should be empty.
I have heard that water drunk during a meal dilutes digestive enzymes in the stomach, which lengthens the digestive process, but many doctors have debunked this theory. For me, I try to drink water 30-60 minutes before eating, but I may have a drink during the meal to help cleanse my palette or to help me wash the food down, especially if I have eaten something salty or spicy.
3. Take time to enjoy your food. Chew more. Eat more slowly.
This does not really apply to me because I am a slow eater but people who have the tendency to shovel food down their throats end up swallowing a lot of air. They also tend to end up eating too much food too quickly. The stomach does not have the chance to even signal that it is full before more food is swallowed
4. Eat Less.
We’re all guilty of eating too much, given our largely sedentary lifestyle. Instead of having 2 – 3 big meals per day, have smaller but more frequent meals. This gives digestion time to process more efficiently. If your eyes are bigger than your stomach and you pile food onto your plate, try using smaller plates. Maybe even smaller forks and spoons. If you want to go further, use dark blue plates. The colour blue helps curb appetite. Pasta Carbonara looks more inviting served on a white plate than blue one.
5. Keep a food diary
If you want to keep track of your food habits, or if you have digestive issues but are not sure of the causes, you may want to try keeping a log of what you eat and how it co-relates to how you feel. For me, I found out that my stomach does not handle evaporated milk and extremely spicy food very well, so I try to shy away from such foods.
Lastly, here are some asanas you might like to try to aid digestion and reduce or prevent bloating:
1. Any twisting sitting or stand asanas, example Pavritta Parsvokonasana. Always start off on the right side to compress the ascending colon first before switching to the left side to compress the descending colon to stimulate digestion and move blockage.
2. Squats, example Malasana. Squats help in elimination. Studies have shown that squatting in the toilet is the most efficient method of elimination of solid waste. This asana allows the puborectalis muscle to relax and unkinks the colon so elimination is easy and smooth.
3. Pawanmuktasana (aptly named Wind-relieving Pose in English) is a gentle, relaxing pose which helps release gastrointestinal gas. It is also improves other gastrointestinal problems like upset stomachs and constipation by stimulating the abdominal region.
200Hr YTTC Weekday September 2015