Trust Your Gut: Everything You Need to Know About Easing Occasional Digestive Discomfort Without Adhering to Diet Culture

 

Written by: Claudia Thompson, PhD, RD

Occasional digestive upset can be frustrating — especially when these less-than-fun occurrences happen after eating your favorite foods (cue bloating, discomfort, and potentially uncomfortable trips to the bathroom). We've all been there; for me, dairy has been a problem food as I get older.

As a non-diet dietitian and food freedom coach, I teach my clients how to listen to their bodies intuitively to overcome occasional digestive issues. My mission is to empower my clients to live with full food freedom. I don't deem specific foods to have moral value or believe in restrictive dieting, so my goal is always to come up with solutions to keep those delicious foods in rotation while making sure your body can handle them.

When specific foods occasionally cause uncomfortable reactions, I evaluate if the food needs to be eliminated or if there's a potential solution to make the food easier for your body to break down. You'd be surprised by how a simple adjustment can help your gut health and relieve occasional discomfort in the process.

WHAT'S THE BREAK DOWN?

Glad you asked. Healthy living through diet is so much more complicated than always choosing the more "nutritious" choice. For starters, understanding which foods help promote good health and longevity gives us the power to affect our gut health at least three times a day. That's a minimum of 1,095 opportunities to use nutrition knowledge every year! Removing the guilt, shame and morality with food allows you to tune into body cues and make decisions based on your needs instead of false external food rules.

One recommendation I give to my clients looking to improve their gut health is using a digestive enzyme to help break down the meals they love. When I recommend products that are good for our gut, the next question that comes up is, "What is the difference between digestive enzymes and probiotics?"

While they both aid the digestive process, there are key differences. Digestive enzymes work to break down food into simpler compounds - so the body can absorb the nutrients, including vitamins and minerals, it needs. On the other hand, probiotics live in our gut and positively affect our body and physiological processes. The two-work hand-in-hand to help provide ultimate gut health. If foods you love are causing you to feel not-so-great, adding a digestive enzyme to your pre-meal routine can help ease those unpleasant reactions. This may have a positive effect on how your body uses the nutrients in food to fuel your activities, rebuild and maintain all your body systems. After all, food is our fuel!

HOW DO I KNOW IF THIS IS FOR ME?

Understanding how our bodies use food is important for EVERYONE! The short answer is easy: everyone over the age of 20 should evaluate their need for digestive enzymes by testing to see if they provide digestive improvement. Even if you're not experiencing daily digestive upset, your gut can be affected by a change in diet or even stress and have consequences as a result. Taking a proactive approach to gut health can put you on a more regular schedule and provide additional support to convert the foods you eat into the nutrients you need.

 

Written by: Claudia Thompson, PhD, RD

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