Constipation (frequency of less than once per day)
Diarrhea (soft stool and/or urgency to go)
Alternating Constipation with Diarrhea
All of these symptoms seem common. They are common, so common that there is a corresponding aisle for stomach upset in every grocery store, pharmacy, convenience store, or natural health store. Many of us live with these nagging symptoms day in and day out because we do not know how to find relief or know that there can be relief from these symptoms. How awful? To live every day, after every meal, which could include at least three meals per day, with pain and bloating, gas, heartburn or diarrhea. Miserable. Some people must feel miserable.
Have you correlated your symptoms to what you are eating? Perhaps. Maybe not. Think about it; the very organ system that is aching and out-of-whack is the system that digests your food. Digestion of food occurs in the gastrointestinal tract and in the gastrointestinal tract is where your problems are occurring. Now does it seem obvious? It must be what you are eating. How do you know what food is causing the problem? It is a tricky situation because it entails tuning into your body, paying attention to signals that it is sending you, but most importantly, it entails making a change to diet. This is very difficult to do, which is why many people live with diarrhea and heartburn rather than change their lifestyle to accommodate for a less painful or annoying existence. Change is HARD. However, taking it in small and manageable steps makes change less daunting and is the key to making it last. Living in comfort is possible.
What is the first step in creating a diet that minimizes discomfort within the gut? First ask yourself: what foods do I crave? What foods do I eat every day? This will probably give you the answer.
For most people the answer is cereal, toast, pancakes, pastries, sandwiches, pizza, pasta, beer, crackers, cookies, brownies, or cake. In case you did not know the buzzword, gluten, the tricky “food” that many people are trying to avoid these days, the above foods contain gluten.
If those foods are not what you crave or care for, another likely food known to create havoc in the digestive tract is dairy. Do you eat one or any of these foods every day: yogurt, kefir, milk, cream, ice cream, cheese, or milk chocolate? Perhaps your nemesis is dairy having a love-hate relationship with the creaming, luscious, sweet and rich ice cream every evening as a treat to compensate for a long, hard day at the office. This simple indulgence could be causing more damage than you want yourself to believe.
Which food do you eat every day and crave, the best way to test if it is the culprit for causing digestive complaints is to eliminate it from your diet. How do you eliminate the food that you rely on heavily for sustenance?
Clear out your cupboards and refrigerator of the obvious culprits. Throw them away.
Find replacement foods. Now that your favorite food is off the table, what can you eat?
When eating out, ask your server for suggestions.
Work with a nutritionist who can help coach you along the way.
Once the offending food is eliminated from your diet for three weeks, you should notice an improvement in symptoms. If there is no improvement in symptoms, are you being honest with yourself about the outcome? Try testing the eliminated food to see if it brings back any symptoms. To do this, eat the offending food at the next three meals and observe for any reactions over the next three days. Did indigestion come back? Did constipation start or diarrhea occur? Do you have a headache, achy joints, acne or rash? All of these symptoms are an indicator that the tested food is causing a reaction and thus should be removed from diet completely.
These recommendations are for educational purposes only. They are not intended as treatment or prescription for any disease, or as a substitute for regular medical care.