If you’re someone who experiences chronic bloating/stomach problems, you know how annoying and frustrating it can be. I’ve definitely become much more empathetic to this topic as I’ve gotten older, since my gut is no longer an iron fortress. I’ve noticed that my stomach is a lot more sensitive than it was when I was in high school, which has forced me to become much more conscious of the foods I choose to eat each day.
If this sounds like you, one of the first things I would recommend is to implement an elimination diet. This is simply when you eliminate certain foods that could potentially be causing digestion or other issues such as skin flare-ups or rashes. It’s a process of trial and error, but can be a little more cost effective than going the route of getting a Pinnertest. (For those interested, a Pinnertest is essentially a small blood sample that you can send in to labs to test what foods you may have intolerances to. Once ordered, a kit is mailed out to you with instructions on how to draw the blood. You simply prick your finger, mail the sample back, and results are emailed to you within 7-10 business days. The test is roughly $300-400, but may be a good option if you’re someone who is really struggling with digestion issues and skin flare-ups.)
If you’re wanting to give the elimination diet a try, here’s some tips & things to know before you get started:
1) I usually recommend people eliminate one food at a time for at least a month. This will allow enough time for the antibodies causing the negative reaction in your system to dissipate. If issues persist after that, remove another food. Like I mentioned before, there’s a potential for this to be a bit of a time consuming process. I’d recommend starting with the most common intolerances, and working your way down the list. You can also begin by eliminating ALL common intolerances, then reintroducing them one by one after symptoms begin to clear up.
2) Understand that the reactions you’re having could be coming from literally ANY food. Although things like gluten, dairy, peanuts, etc.. are common culprits, it IS possible to develop intolerances to even seemingly healthy foods. Your gut wall is meant to be a barrier between the food & nutrients you’re consuming, and the rest of your body. When your gut becomes inflamed, the gut lining becomes hyper permeable, meaning it’s much easier for things to come in and out. While in this state, foods escaping from your gut may be treated as foreign invaders, causing your body to initiate an immune response in order to fight it off. This is why it’s very possible to develop reactions and intolerances to even the healthiest of foods! While implementing the elimination diet, it’s important you take all foods into account, even the seemingly harmless ones.
3) Understand it’s very possible that the issues you’re having could be coming from foods that you’ve been eating your whole life! Don’t count a specific food out just because you’ve been eating it every day since you were five. Actually, the more regularly you eat a specific food, the more susceptible you are to developing an immune response against that food later down the road. This all comes back to the inflammation in the gut. The more common a food is in your diet, the more likely it is to be the one that escapes the gut lining & attacked by your body’s immune system. Finding out that your body doesn’t like your favorite food anymore is a hard pill to swallow. Personally however, I would way rather cut out pizza from my diet than to live each day miserable and bloated.
4) Don’t think that once you find the culprit you have to banish it from your diet forever. Give your gut time to heal & allow symptoms to go down. If you do things to take care of your gut, it’s very possible that you’ll be able to reintroduce that food later down the road with zero issues. This may take six months, a year, or even more, however if you’re conscious about doing things to keep inflammation down and stay healthy, you more than likely will be able to have that food at some point in the future.
You don’t have to live with chronic bloating and stomach cramps. Listen to your body & become aware of the signals it’s trying to send you. The elimination diet may be a long process, but if this is a constant issue for you then it’s definitely worth going through. It’s also a great way to become more connected with the way certain food groups make you feel! Who knows, you may learn something that completely changes the quality of your life forever.