Dealing with stomach pain: Elimination method, FODMAP & tips to cope

Many people in todays society deal with stomach pain and discomfort, to certain degrees. Some people just get a little pain from time to time after overeating or maybe eating certain foods, while others can barely live a normal life due to their stomach issues.

In the past, I was the latter. I struggled with a lot of stomach issues and pain.

In this post I am giving you some tips on what you can do to figure out what causes your stomach issues via an elimination method. Though I do advise you to seek help from both a doctor and dietitian so that you don’t end up restricting your intake far too much and far too long so that you end up unhealthy or with nutrient deficiencies.

I have written a post about FODMAP and IBS, which you can read here.

Also a post about dealing with bloating HERE

As well as a post about eating a high fiber diet, which can often lead to cramps and digestive issues, HERE

When you are dealing with stomach pain or digestive issues it can easily lead to a very restrictive diet, either because you don’t want to eat something that triggers the pain, but you don’t know what causes the pain and therefore restrict everything you think might cause pain. Or you infact become scared of certain food because you don’t want the stomach pain and therefore cut it out and get scared to eat those foods.

FODMAP

When someone has IBS they are often recommended to try doing FODMAP with the help of a professional. FODMAP is not a longterm diet or way of eating, it is a way of eating for a (short) period of time to help figure out which foods that cause flareups and stomach issues and which foods you can tolerate.

What is FODMAP?

FODMAP stands for “fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols”

Common FODMAPs include:

  • Fructose: A simple sugar found in many fruits and vegetables that also makes up the structure of table sugar and most added sugars.
  • Lactose: A carbohydrate found in dairy products like milk.
  • Fructans: Found in many foods, including grains like wheat, spelt, rye and barley.
  • Galactans: Found in large amounts in legumes.
  • Polyols: Sugar alcohols like xylitol, sorbitol, maltitol and mannitol. They are found in some fruits and vegetables and often used as sweeteners.

These carbohydrates/fibers don’t fully digest and some become nutrition for gut bacteria while others don’t digest at all and can therefore cause bloating, gas, cramps.

In some individuals, FODMAPs are poorly digested, so they end up reaching the colon. They draw water into the intestine and get fermented by hydrogen-producing gut bacteria.” (Healthline.com)

A low FODMAP diet means you eat very little or no foods which contain those carbohydrates/fibers. I.e limiting the amount of foods which can cause symptoms.

When following the FODMAP diet for a period of time you are very restricted in what you can eat, and even more so if you are vegan. (I had to try the FODMAP diet for 3 days during one of my university courses and I didn’t eat much those three days as I was so restricted in food choices.) But overtime you begin to reintroduce foods and eventually have a much more varied diet and will hopefully have figured out which foods you can tolerate and you may even figure out which foods you tolerate in smaller doses and which you can consume in larger doses. However along with FODMAP you also have to look over your lifestyle and the way you eat.

Sometimes the problem may not actually be the food, but it may be that you are very stressed, that you are anxious around food, that you don’t actually sit down to eat or you eat your food within 5 minutes while standing or on the go. All of these can cause stomach issues, but also foods such as gum, carbonated drinks, alcohol, certain sweeteners and caffeine can lead to gas, stomach issues and caffeine can heighten anxiety which can lead to stomach discomfort or pain.

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HOW YOU EAT:

So along with looking at what you eat, you also have to look at how you eat. Changing how you eat and even where you eat can make a big impact on your stomach issues. If you are eating in very stressful environments or you don’t have time to eat, then you can easily feel anxious and stressed or you don’t really enjoy or chew your food and all of that can lead to stomach discomfort. So making time to eat while resting and preferably sitting and in quiet environments can make a big difference.

As mentioned above, a FODMAP diet should be done with the help of a professional, otherwise it is easy that your diet becomes far too restrictive and that you don’t actually begin implementing certain foods again, instead you just stick to the “green” foods. It is also important to note, that everyone is different. Some people with IBS may be able to consume foods that are listed as red, while they get stomach pain while consuming certain foods that are green. So you do have to try

different foods and see what works for you.

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WRITE A FOOD DIARY

If you don’t have IBS, just stomach issues, the first thing you can do is to write a food diary for 2-3 weeks.

Write down what you eat, what time you eat, the environment/situation when you ate and even how you felt before/during/after, along with any symptoms you felt during or after the meal.

This will help you get a better overview of what and how you eat as well as tracking symptoms.

After 2-3 weeks it will give you better understanding and overview, compared to just a few days or one week of tracking. The important thing is to eat just as normal… don’t begin cutting out food or changing your diet. Write down everything, even the handful of nuts, the latte on the go or the piece of chocolate you eat standing in the kitchen waiting for dinner to cook.

The diary may just be for you to analyse and get a better understanding of how/what you eat, but may even be useful if you do go to a doctor or dietitian for help.

Once you have written the food diary, begin to look over it. Are there certain meals with certain ingredients that cause symptoms or flareups? Are there certain situations that cause pain and discomfort… such as the rushed lunch during school/work, or maybe the dinner straight after training or the lunch you ate while super stressed?

Once you have found out which meals or situations cause the most flare ups it can be easier to make adjustments.

However, now is when the long process begins. The important thing is to not cut out everything at once…. Instead, you do it one by one. If you think that maybe garlic, onion, chickpeas and gluten cause stomach pain… then begin by just omitting garlic from your meals and diet for a week… see what happens and how you feel. Then the next week omit onion and add in garlic (depending on how you felt the previous week i.e symptoms or no symptoms). It is a long process of finding out what works.

You could of course group certain foods together such as all beans, all sweeteners, all foods with gluten, onion and garlic, all dairy products etc and then one week remove all the foods in one certain group, and slowly reintroduce them one by one. Because it may be that you are sensitive to chickpeas but not to blackbeans, or it may be that you can’t tolerate aspartame but you are fine with stevia.

I would also recommend that you do infact limit your caffeine intake (coffee, black tea, energy drinks) as well as not chewing gum or sugar free pastilles, as they can all cause stomach discomfort.

I do also want to note that many believe they are gluten intolerant and cut out all products with gluten, however many products that include gluten also include certain fibers that are hard to break down. So it may not be the gluten you are sensitive too, but the fibers.

Which is an important thing to note, fibers can cause stomach discomfort and pain. There are certain fibers that are hard to break down and cause gas and bloating. So limiting fiber intake and drinking plenty of water can be one step if you don’t want to do the whole elimination process. Though then you won’t be able to tell which foods cause pain or symptoms if you eliminate them all at once.

I also recommend that you keep your meals very simple, just 2-4 different ingredients. The more ingredients and foods you eat in a meal the harder it can be to digest as well as figure out what causes your pain or discomfort.

FOODS THAT CAN CAUSE STOMACH PAIN

There are certain foods that are more likely to give stomach discomfort and they are:

Beans and peas – this is due to their fiber content and that the fibers are hard to break down

Sweeteners – Many sweeteners aren’t broken down or absorbed in the body and therefore lead to gas and bloating

Carbonated beverages, sugarfree pastilles, gum – the bubbles in carbonated drinsk along with both caffeine and sweeteners, basically a triple whammy. With gum, when you chew you are swallowing air which can lead to gas and bloating, as well as gum usually having sweeteners (even if it’s only very small doses)

High fat meals – including creamy and/or, oily dishes. Typically fast food, dairy full fat (specifically cream) or certain takeout meals such as Chinese. Fat leads to feeling full quicker and is also harder to break down compared to carbohydrates. It can also often lead to heartburn. Many find that eating fat sources from avocado, nuts, nut butters and seeds don’t cause the same stomach issues.

Food with lactose or gluten – many cut out lactose and gluten thinking they are intolerant to them. Some may be, but as already mentioned. Many foods with gluten also include hard to break down fibers which may be the issue and not the gluten. With lactose, many can’t handle a lot of lactose or they don’t have enough lactase enzyme which breaks down the dairy. Though this isn’t so strange considering that dairy is actually for baby cows, and not for humans… or well, not in the huge amounts that many consume dairy products now a days.

Too much fruit – Fruit has a lot of fiber but also fruit sugar which can cause certain individuals discomfort if they eat too much of it. And by that I mean eating maybe 4-6 fruits in one go.

Note, just because i mention these foods doesn’t mean that YOU are sensitive to them. Everyone is individual and everyone reacts differently to different foods. You may be able to digest those in small amounts, ,aybe not at all or maybe they don’t trigger you at all.

When you are dealing with stomach pain, it is easy to get scared of food because oyu don’t want to deal with the stomach pain. But you can not completely restrict yourself, the best is to get proffessional care, but if you can’t because of reasons- Then remember to not completely cut out food and if you do cut out food youshould try to reintroduce it. Otherwise your diet can become very restrictive. Also be reintroducing it into your diet after not eating the food(s) for a while you can better understand what is causing stomach pain.

Also remember, if you do think you are sensitive to gluten and want to get it checked. Youahve to eat gluten to do the tests… so don’t cut out gluten and then get checked because the results won’t show any intolerance/allergies then.

Stomach issues and pain is complex. Many get the diagnosis IBS because doctors can’t find any other diagnosis that causes the pain. But IBS is about more than just food, as previously mentioned. Stomach issues aren’t always due to food, but due to other factors which also makes it hard to treat. It often requires changes in diet, lifestyle and way of eating.

It is incredibly debilitating to live with stomach pain, I did for several years. Many plans that were cancelled, many evenings I lay curled in a ball on my bed with extreme pain, many tears due to the discomfort and a lot of constant bloating. What helped me was to go vegan and start eating plantbased, but of course that also meant letting my body adapt to a higher fiber diet. I can still get stomach pain from certain foods, but I have learnt to figure out which foods cause me pain and also know that too much of certain food will give me discomfort… and then it is up to me to make the decision whether I want to eat the food and deal with the discomfort afterwards or to just skip the food or choose something else.

For stomach pain and nausea ginger or peppermint tea can help, as well as having something warm on your stomach.

If you are dealing with a lot of stomach pain, I highly recommend you go to both a doctor and a dietitian. Be persistent with your doctor so that you get all tests done, just to rule out any serious conditions. However, I do also recommend that you keep a food diary for 2-3 weeks, get an overview of your symptoms, how and what you eat and see if your symptoms may just be due to anxiety and stress and certain foods such as caffeine, sweeteners and high fiber.

(From personal experience I can also add that when I am very stressed and anxious, then I can get stomach pain and bloating even if I am eating the same as usual. So it is important to look at your stress and anxiety levels).

Red lentil and carrot soup with naan bread

Cheap vegan eats…. that is going to be my new hashtag and theme of eating.

Or maybe…. quick student eats.

There are so many food blogs out there, so many recipe creators and so many amazing vegan youtubers sharing amazing meals.

And where do i fit in among all these creators….? Well, i fall in the category of “student”, “nutritious food”, “cheap food”, “20 minute cooking”.

I want my food to be quick and easy to make. I want it to be relativly cheap… even if i also know that my food buget is higher than other students out there, because i run a food blog and isntagram, and treat myself to vegan soya products and vegan cheese/creme fraiche etc

I also want my food to be nutritious. Even if not all my food has to be 100% nutritious, i want it to be based on wholefoods and lots of vegetables.

This is my niche and focus among all the other food creators. And i also think that is why many follow me and recreate my recipes… because they are simple. And that is what i will stick to…. even if i will also try making more fancy meals time to time, because i do also enjoy that!

I also want to show how easy it can be to eat plantbased and to also eat healthy. Because you can eat plantbased and just noodles and ketchup, that is vegan and cheap… but maybe not so nutritious. Many think eating plantbased is complicated or takes alot of time, but it doesn’t have to. You can veganize pretty much any meal.

Of course, seasoning is key. Learn how to season – and i am still learning. I am the type of person who relies alot on garlic and onion as well as salt and pepper to season my food. But also pepper, ginger, lime, soya, brown sugar, parsley, basil…. and even cacao and red wine can be used to season certain foods!

Also, don’t be scared to buy premade seasoning mixes if you don’t feel like seasoning or mixing together spices yourself.

Adaptions to this recipe:
You can use sweet potato instead of regular potato

You can skip the chickpeas

You can skip the crushed tomatoes, or use coconut milk instead, or just use water

Recipe:

This recipe makes about 5-6 portions. Time: 30 minutes

450ml red lentils

4 carrots, peeled and diced

5 potatoes

750ml water

1 can of chickpeas (240g)

2-3 cloves garlic

1 red onion

optional, 1 vegetabl stock

Chili powder, paprika powder

Salt and pepper

400ml crushed tomatoes (optional) you can choose to just use vegetable stock or use coconut cream instead

Top with some cilantro or parsley

How to:

In a pot, add diced carrots and potatoes. Add a little salt and bring to a boil. Allow to boil for about 10 minutes so that the carrots have softened before adding the red lentils. Add 1 vegetable stock to the water.

While the carrots and potatoes are boiling you can chop and dice the red onion and garlic and fry in a little oil to bring out more flavour. However you can skip this and just add these directly to the stew along with the red lentils.

When you have added the red lentils, allow to simmer/boil for about 10-15 minutes until the red lentils are soft. Add the garlic and red onion, as well as your spices of choice. Example, chilli, paprika powder, salt and black pepper.

Pour away a little of the water if it is too much, and if you are using the crushed tomatoes add them now.

Add the chickpieas (save the aquafaba for another recipe).

With a handmixer, mix until desired consistency. Whether you want it super smooth or still want a little texture from the carrots and lentils.

The best cheap meal which tastes just as good cold as it does warm!

Recipe for the naan bread:

Original recipe from Lovingitvegan.

The naan bread is very simple to make, all you need to do is mix together the ingredients, allow to yeast and rise for 30 minutes and then you form into naan bread and fry in some oil for about 3-4 minutes on each side. The result is fluffy, warm bread.

My adaption to her recipe is to add some garlic, sea salt and parsley to the mix so that the bread tastes even more. Also, you can make some garlic butter and spread a little on each side of the naan bread before frying so that it tastes extra of garlic!

If you are craving bread and have these ingredients at home, as well as can wait about 60 minutes… then give this bread a go. Also works great to freeze, hahaha.

If you try either of these recipes or get inspired by the meals i eat, don’t forget to tag me and let me know!!

PB and jam quesadillas | Recipe

In the past, i have only ever made savoury quesadillas:

Vegan Quesadilla with sweet potato and black beans | Recipe

But i thought…. why wouldn’t sweet quesadillas work? Well… in all honesty i was craving bread with peanut butter and jam and the only bread i had at home was tortilla bread. And just adding peanut butter and jam on top of tortilla bread isn’t so exciting.. so i thought, why not fry them and see how it turns out!

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And the result was actually very tasty… though maybe a little on the dry side if i am honest. Also, because i used homemade jam (RECIPE) which contained sweetener, the jam didn’t really stay in the quesadillas as much as i had hoped. I think if you use jam which is thicker it might stay in the bread when frying.

I would still choose savoury quesadillas over sweet… but maybe i need to try this again but with vegan nutella and banana or some other sweet filling!

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No real recipe for this… but i promised i would still post the non-recipe-recipes! Just as a source of inspiration, and maybe others will google this recipe idea and then find my recipe!

Ingredients:

Tortilla bread

1-2 bananas

Peanut butter

Jam (i used my home made – here)

A little oil or margarine for frying

How to:

Begin by adding peanut butter and jam to one half of the tortilla, then adding some banana slices. Fold the tortilla in half, and either fry like that or cut the tortilla so you have to pieces. I.e small triangles. Repeat with as many tortillas you want to make/eat.

Then add some margarine or oil to a frying pan and in medium heat, fry the quesadillas until golden brown on each side. Around 1-2 minutes on each side.

Remove from the pan, eat and enjoy!

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Aware but not obsessed? | Organic, plastic free, locally produced food?

The previous day i shared on my Instagram story wondering how people thought about

  1. buying local or knowing where the food they buy from actually comes from
  2. and also about organic vs. nonorganic, considering that organic food is often wrapped in plastic.

So recently i have begun thinking about these two topics. I was shocked when i began to read where some of the food i buy – mostly fresh produce – comes from. I.e i have never really thought about the fact that certain root vegetables which can be grown in Sweden, are still imported from other countries. This may of course be obvious for others.

Foods grown in sweden.

And of course i am aware that certain foods and fresh produce can’t be grown or produced in Sweden and so they are imported. If each country were to only sell locally produced food then there would only be like 1 or 2% of the food left in the stores and it would most likely not economically go together. Considering that important and export of food/produce creates alot of money.

Not to mention that you would never really get to try any new or different foods if you were to only buy and eat local foods.

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I also asked about peoples opinions on organic vs. non-organic produce. I buy organic when i can, but it is not my main priority when i go food shopping. I am not so worried about the pesticides on the inorganic produce. Now a days the toxicity/danger of consuming them is very little and has less environmental impact as they once did when they contained more dangerous substances. However, of course the organic pesticides or biorational pesticides have a lot less impact on the environment and less substances that may be unhealthy for humans.

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Of course it is all about dosage... the more fresh vegetables and fresh produce which have been sprayed with pesticides which you eat, the higher the dose. So if you eat alot of fresh produce then choosing organic may  be better. Example if you eat alot of raw food. But if you eat fruits and vegetables in a rather “average” way, then there doesn’t seem to be a risk or problem.

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However certain items such as bananas, coffee and chocolate, it is good to choose fair trade and organic for the sake of the workers, as the chemicals used on the inorganic are very dangerous and the working situations not good at all. So i try to buy fairtrade of these items when i can. And if organic food is just a little bit higher in price – but nothing extreme – then i will choose it when i can.

I do want to start becoming more aware of where the fresh produce i buy comes from. Especially when it comes to foods that can be grown in Sweden. I know that example avocados, bananas as well as beans and lentils can’t be grown or produced in Sweden, but i still want to eat them on a weekly basis.

Basically… i want to become more aware, but not obsessed.

Which brings me to the main point of this post.

For someone who has had a past with a restrictive eating disorder, it could be easy for me to become “too aware” or “too obsessed” and want to suddenly only eat local and organic vegan food. To begin cutting out food because i have become too aware. This of course is not the case.

I wrote about these topics because they were on my mind and something i never really considered before, and well it is something i want to think about and make more active choices when i can. But i won’t let it completely control my food choices or how i eat either.

In the end, eating imported lentils and beans has alot less environmental impact than eating meat or dairy, and that is what matter for me. I may not be able to eat the most environmentally friendly diet, but just eating plantbased/living vegan is enough for me. And the extra things like local and organic is when i can.

My aim is to not give anyone anxiety or put pressure on people to “be perfect” or always make the “best” choice. But instead to raise awareness, and from that awareness you can make your own choices. Just like with knowledge… if you don’t have the knowledge or awareness to make certain choices, then you won’t know. But if you have the knowledge and awareness then you can atleast make a choice.

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And like i said… you shouldn’t let these things control your life, especially not if you are/Have struggled with an eating disorder, then just eating is good enough. (Which is also one of the reasons i don’t recommend eating fully plant based if you are in recovery from an eating disorder, because the main thing is to just be able to eat without guilt or restrictions, and in the future when you are mentally and physically healthy you can begin to eat more plant absed if you still want to!).

This was just my thoughts on the topic, and if you have any thoughts regarding these topis comment down below!

Carrot, sweet potato and lentil soup with ginger and chilli | Vegan

Soup has to be one of the most comforting meals during winter. And the truth is, pretty much all I have wanted is to eat soup the past while! My sweet potato and lentil soup with beans is my favourite go to, as I just throw everything into a pot and allow to cook until done.

I have some other soup recipes you can check out HERE.

This soup is on my top 5 list, it is sooo good. And adding the ginger and chilli adds that extra touch. Also the red lentils add both creaminess and protein. You can skip the red lentils if you want to, but I think they add an extra touch to this soup!

Ingredients:

c.a 5 big carrots

1 medium sweet potato

1,5dl (150ml) red lentils (dry)

1 can coconut milk

Ginger, c.a 1sp grated ginger

Chilli – according to taste

Water

Vegetable stock – optional

Salt and pepper

How to:
Peel and chop the sweet potato and carrots into small pieces. Add to a large pot along with red lentils. Cover with water until everything is coated. You can add more water later if necessary.

Allow to cook for 15 minutes until the vegetables are almost soft. Don’t forget to stir every now and then so that he red lentils don’t burn to the pot.

Add the chilli and ginger along with the coconut milk. Allow to simmer for a few minutes until the vegetables are soft. Add some salt and pepper and more seasoning according to preference.

Then with a hand mixer, mix until smooth. Add more water or coconut milk if necessary!

Roast some bread in the oven and optional, roast some nuts or seeds in the oven for 5- 10 minutes, to top your soup with!

Do you have a favourite soup? Let me know in the comments down below!