What can I eat then?

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Copyright Jen Evans

Whether you have mild IBS, a chronic digestive disorder, fatigue symptoms or just want a healthier diet, there are some foods that have major health benefits, and some foods that are likely to be damaging or irritating. Here is a very quick guide to the yays and nays of the food world. If you are trying to help your digestive health, this is a good place to start – cut out the ‘bad’ foods and replace with the ones suggested below.

NB I am not a medical practitioner, and this list is not suggested as a definitive resource for a diet. It is a list of suggestions of foods that I have found to be really helpful in getting my digestive health in order. There is a lot of nutritional advice on the below foods available from expert websites and books – please refer to these for further information.

Food NAYS

As a starting point, it’s best to cut out the following foods, which are common irritants and some have little nutritional value.

  • Refined sugar and anything that contains it – read the ingredient listings on everything in your cupboard, and fridge freezer – you’ll be amazed how many contain added sugar
  • White wheat flour
  • Refined carbohydrates – white bread, pasta, white rice, cakes, biscuits, batter, chips, crisps
  • Artificial sweeteners – especially Aspartame (has been linked to depression). Stevia is acceptable
  • Gluten containing grains – rye, wheat, spelt, cous cous, bulgar wheat
  • Lactose – a common allergen
  • Alcohol – WHAT?! Yep. Sorry. Dry white or red wine or gin can be used in emergencies!
  • Starchy vegetables, like potatoes, parsnips and yams
  • Beans and pulses – very hard to digest. If you must eat them, sprout them first to make them easier to digest
  • Caffeine – can be an irritant
  • Fruit, nuts and yeast can also be a problem for people with Candida overgrowth

Food YAYS

If you want to give your digestive system a break, focus on the least irritating foods available.

  • Cleaner grains – If you are not cutting our carbohydrates completely (as the SCD and GAPS diets suggest), the best grain-based carbs are oats, buckwheat, brown rice, millet and quinoa. Bread and pancake recipes can be found in the Recipes section
  • Low-starach bright-coloured vegetables and leafy greens – spinach, chard, kale, cauliflower, brocolli, cabbage, green beans, celery, carrots, squash, pumpkin, fennel, onions, leeks, avocado – highly nutritious and helps to move food through the digestive tract, removing toxins from the gut lining
  • Clean meats – organic fresh meats, homemade meatballs and burgers, nitrate/ nitrite free bacon
  • Fish – a source of omega 3’s, which are really anti-inflammatory
  • Garlic – lots and raw where possible. It acts as a natural antibiotic against nasty bacteria in the gut
  • Ginger – an anti-inflammatory. Drink fresh ginger tea and chop into stir fries and curries
  • Probiotic foods – will help to get rid of bad bacteria and help gut function. Concentrate on yogurt, kefir, fermented vegetables and kvass
  • Sauerkraut – a superfood in fighting Candida, stimulating acid production and introducing probiotics into the gut. Make your own, shop-bought has been pasteurized and therefore neutered.
  • Coconut – oil, milk, flesh, desiccated, flour. Good source of fibre and an anti-fungal to kill candida.
  • Eggs – fantastic nutrition, easy to digest, and versatile
  • Nuts – avoid peanuts and pistachios. Soak for 8 hrs to make them easier to digest. Nut flour is fantastic for carb-free baking
  • Herbs and spices – many herbs and spices have fantastic health benefits including being powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, especially turmeric, ginger, cayenne and chilli power, fennel seeds, cinnamon, basil, black pepper, oregano, rosemary, thyme, paprika
  • Good oils – cold pressed organic oils have great benefits. Go for olive, coconut, flax, hemp, avocado, rapeseed, or seasame
  • Teas – rooibios, peppermint, fennel, ginger, cinnamon, licorice, marshmallow leaf or root, chamomile, chilli, or chicory or dandelion coffee. I lived on Pukka’s After Dinner tea for a year – yummers!
  • Juice – vegetable juice is an amazing detoxifier. Add a bit of fruit to make it more palatable, but be careful of the sugars in fruit juice. Always juice your own veg and fruit – shop bought has been pasteurized and filled with preservatives, and sometimes sugars and other additives.

Add some of these into your diet and see what a difference a little can make! Find a balance, listen to your body, and try new things. The healthiest diet is a varied one. Check out the Recipes page for some inspiration on healthy meals and treats.

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