Some foods taste so good on the way in, but you know that you’ll be paying for it later. It isn’t uncommon for people to feel bloated, gassy, or have heartburn after a large meal. But often, it isn’t the size of the meal that matters, but what the meal consists of.
Approximately 70 million people in the United States suffer from a digestive disorder, including Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), acid reflux, diarrhea, constipation and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. For these people, eating the wrong food has some serious consequences.
But what foods can really mess with your GI tract? The list of foods below may give you trouble if you have a digestive disorder.
Artificial sweeteners: Many people try to cut calories when drinking coffee by substituting their sugar with artificial sweetener. But these sweeteners can lead to bloating, gas, and diarrhea since artificial sweeteners change how the stomach metabolizes energy. If you still need something sweet in your coffee, stevia is a great natural alternative to artificial sweeteners and sugar.
Soda: The sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners in most sodas can lead to digestive problems. They can set off an inflammatory response and hurt the bacteria living in the digestive tract. One great alternative to soda is seltzer or club soda. You get the carbonation and refreshment without all the adverse health effects.
Coffee: While coffee does have many health benefits, such as the delivering a load of antioxidants, coffee also stimulates acid production in the stomach which may cause heartburn and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. And since caffeine is a diuretic, it will dehydrate some people and cause constipation. Drinking coffee on an empty stomach can cause indigestion as well. So while you may need that morning burst of energy, be prepared to pay for it later. If you can limit your coffee intake to one cup a day, or at least one every few hours, that should combat the negative effects of the drink and allow the body enough time to process the caffeine.
Spicy foods: It is no secret that the 5-alarm chili will come back to haunt you later in the night. But many people can’t resist anyway. Expect heartburn if you indulge in spicy food. Try to avoid eating them close to bed time to reduce the negative effects. Eating cooling foods such as Greek yogurt soon after the spice can help give your body a reprieve as well.
Chocolate: Much like coffee, the caffeine in chocolate is a diuretic, so it can cause loose stool and diarrhea. The caffeine may also aggravate a person’s IBS or give them heartburn. A great alternative is dark chocolate, since it contains more fiber than milk chocolate, and is very beneficial to digestion.
If you have a digestive disorder, it is crucial to keep a close eye on your diet. Luckily there are alternatives to the foods that may cause pain. So you can still go out to dinner and feel fine afterward.