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Food & Diet

Food & Diet

Tips to improve your digestive health and bring your life back in rhythm.

What you eat and how you eat are important to maintaining good digestive health. Everyone’s digestive system is different and unique, which means that diarrhea can be triggered by a range of foods. Recent research has found that rich and spicy food like Indian and Chinese topped people’s lists of what they believed to have caused diarrhea. This doesn’t mean that those with a sensitive gut have to miss out. There are a few things you can do with your diet to help manage diarrhea, from keeping a food diary and making sure you eat enough fibre, to avoiding problem foods or tweaking your favourite recipes to minimize the impact on your tummy.

How fibre can help

You might not know it, but there are two types of fibre: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibre is found in most citrus fruits, vegetables such as potatoes and beans. It can help with both diarrhea and constipation. Insoluble fibre is found in bran, whole grain, rice, and the skins of some fruits and vegetables. It can be helpful with constipation, but can make frequent diarrhea symptoms worse. This doesn’t mean you should avoid insoluble fibre if you have diarrhea. Just try to keep an eye on what you eat and learn what works for you.

Keep a food diary

Everyone is different. What might be a diarrhea trigger for one person could be fine for another. Working out what your trigger foods are can help you manage your digestive health and avoid diarrhea symptoms. Get a notebook where you can write a page for each day and keep track of everything you eat, including the smallest snacks, to help you pinpoint what might be causing your symptoms.

Here are some tips for keeping a food diary:

  • Write down everything including condiments, seasoning, and drinks if possible.
  • Write down your stress level on the day. You’d be surprised how it can be a factor.
  • Look out for patterns in ingredients. Pasta, pizza, and certain sandwiches are different meals but all contain wheat.
  • Start broad and then focus on ingredients. The first step is to try to identify your problem foods. Then the next step is to try to work out which individual ingredients in these problem foods are causing you issues.
  • Think long term. You may not notice a pattern immediately, but over time, patterns will emerge and you can raise them with your healthcare professional.

Breaking down problem meals

Eating pasta with tomato sauce might cause a bout of diarrhea, but you still won’t know for sure which ingredient is causing you problems. To find out, try eating pasta without tomato sauce and vice versa. That way you will know for sure which is the problem ingredient.

It’s not just what you eat, but how you eat it

When eating a meal, try to slow down - it takes 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that it’s full, so eating more slowly means you’re likely to end up eating less. When you gulp down food, you often end up swallowing air too which can lead to trapped air or gas and uncomfortable indigestion.