Derail Digestive Culprits Now

Chances are, some of your favorite foods and beverages are fatty, sweet, creamy or “heavy” in some way. Eating too much of anything can certainly do a number on your digestive system, but the ingredients in many beloved foods and drinks may be causing belly aches, discomfort or worse. We asked registered dietitian Lisa Stollman which foods will leave you feeling less than fabulous, and what to eat instead.

1. Avoid fried foods.

Go very easy on full-fat cheeses and fried appetizers. They may taste good, but it’s likely you’ll pay the price that same night or the next day, according to Healthline.com.

Fatty foods cause indigestion in two distinct ways. Fats lower the pressure of the esophageal sphincter, which is at the top of the stomach, allowing stomach acids to come back up into the esophagus, causing heartburn, says Stollman. The second way fats can cause GI distress: They take longer to digest than proteins or carbohydrates. They stay in your stomach longer, which can lead to bloating, gas and either diarrhea or constipation.

Stick with the fresh vegetables, salads and lean protein, such as boiled shrimp and grilled chicken, as often as possible to feel like yourself the next morning.

2. Limit alcohol to weekends (if at all).
Too much alcohol can leave your tummy feeling uncomfortable or just “off” the next day. Before you head to any gathering, decide how much you’re going to drink and stick with it. Two drinks at a party should be enough, says Stollman. Begin the night with a glass of sparkling water, and sip another glass of water or club soda with each alcoholic beverage to stay hydrated and help your body process the alcohol.

3. Don’t forget about fiber.

When rich, special foods call your name, it’s all too easy to forget about leafy salads, healthy vegetables and fresh fruits that you normally eat. But skimping on fiber can actually leave you bloated and gassy.

Fiber is divided into two categories: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber attracts water to form a gel that slows digestion and helps you feel full; it’s present in some fruits, seeds and nuts. Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, is a gut-healthy fiber that adds bulk to your stool and can help with occasional constipation and regularity. 

One of the most concentrated sources of fiber is wheat bran, and a good way to get your fill of fiber is to start your day with a serving of Kellogg’s® All-Bran® cereal with milk. One serving contains 10 grams of fiber -- specifically, wheat bran -- which can help waste products move through your body for regular waste elimination.

4. Beware of excessive desserts.

We all know they taste great, but overdoing it on rich, fatty desserts can wreak havoc on your digestive system. In addition to sugar, desserts are usually made with lots of butter or shortening. Fatty foods slow down the emptying of the stomach and may take longer for you to digest, possibly worsening constipation.

Conversely, an overload of fatty foods -- or even two that don’t mix well together -- may speed up movement and lead to diarrhea, according to the National Institutes of Health.

What to do: Have a small piece of one or two desserts and call it a night. Or avoid them altogether and curb your sweet tooth with a serving of a wholesome cereal (one that might do the trick is Kellogg's® Special K® Oats & Honey -- it’s so sweet and crunchy, milk is optional). Remember, fresh fruit is always a good option too!