When you have a stomach ache… no, I’m not talking about sore abs from working out. I’m talking about the misery that keeps you from being able to relax because no matter what position you are in, your stomach is turning and you feel like you are going to vomit. Not pleasant to think about, but we’ve all been there. And unfortunately, we’ve likely not seen our last bout with tummy troubles. As often is the case with me, my focus is food. So, while we are not in the midst of an episode, let’s make sure we know how to eat the next time so we can get through it as quickly as possible with minimal suffering.
Ironically, some of the things that you eat when healthy to make and keep you strong, will further complicate your condition and make you weaker.
When you are at the stage where you can’t keep anything solid down, you need to do your best to stay hydrated. In addition to water; make sure to drink liquids that contain minerals such as potassium, calcium and sodium. Your body needs these minerals and some good options are clear broth, sports drinks and coconut water.
If you are like me, I want solid food the moment I am no longer nauseated. Make good choices that are not going to set you back. My grandma would start making rice porridge as soon as anyone uttered of stomach discomfort. Important to note here, that while brown rice and other whole grains are normally healthier, they are more difficult to digest as they are higher in fiber, so be sure to keep it to plain white rice to go easy on your stomach. For the same reasons, if you eat toast, you should opt for simple white bread, versus your normally healthy whole grain breads. If you crave more flavor, bananas are easy to digest and are a great source of potassium. Another option is natural unsweetened applesauce, which is full of nutrients and a good source of pectin which is a form of fiber that dissolves in water. Though other forms of fiber are to be avoided to minimize stomach irritation, pectin can help get you on the road to recovery.
If you are able to tolerate these foods and have not had other symptoms for 24 to 48 hours, then slowly try other foods, but stay away from fats and spices. So the obvious would mean no fried food or spicy cuisine, but even more than that, go simple at first. There is a reason that hospital food is bland. Less obvious, but because of high fat content, you should avoid dairy. Just like with whole grains and fiber, the focus isn’t about what is typically the healthier option. So even though many dairy items are good fat, ANY fat is harder for your body to digest. Let your stomach recover. The same goes for raw fruits and veggies. Hold off until you are in the clear. As, though these are normally fabulous healthy options, the fiber will put your stomach to work and you need to let it rest.
At the start, I mentioned staying hydrated and drinking clear liquids. Just as when you are healthy, soda is never an ideal choice. Often we are offered soda when we are feeling nauseous, but if you have a stomach ache, the carbonation will add gas into your stomach. Not what you want when your stomach is already irritated. Additionally the sugar can lead to or exacerbate diarrhea and drinking a sugar loaded liquid is the quickest way to get sugar into your bloodstream.
So now we know how to introduce food back into our lives after dealing with stomach aches, but better if we do what we can to avoid the predicament to begin with. Stay hydrated and eat a balanced diet with lots of fresh fruits and veggies to keep your digestive system healthy and your immune system strong. Keep active and do your best to minimize stress. Not just your tummy, but your entire body will thank you!