Home Q&A Wednesday Q&A Wednesday: Clean Eating For Tummy Troubles?

Q&A Wednesday: Clean Eating For Tummy Troubles?

by Erika Nicole Kendall

credit: imallergic, flickr

Q: What clean eating/whole foods can you eat when you are having digestive issues? Every time you have some stomach issues, it’s recommended that you eat refined foods such as white rice, soda crackers, white bread, and to drink apple juice or other clear juices and electrolyte drinks like Gatorade. Now, those foods aren’t exactly clean eating and I find that even when I am barely eating these foods (because, well, I am sick and I can’t keep them down), I feel really bloated! What simple, whole foods can you suggest to eat and drink whenever someone is feeling sick?

A: I think we’ve all heard these – though, I’ve got to wonder about the white rice/white bread thing – and it feels like a challenge to move away from what we’ve always known to be “feel better” agents in the name of clean eating. In the same token, though, embracing clean eating takes a lot of “moving away from what we’ve always known.”

That being said, a cup of ginger tea and a grapefruit or an orange can work wonders for digestive issues, though I must admit that after embracing clean eating in its entirety, I don’t encounter digestive troubles. Everything goes where it’s supposed to go and does what it’s supposed to do now, so to speak. However, I do drink ginger tea when I have cramps – my cramps rival child birth, and I’ve actually birthed a child – and the relief is almost immediate. In fact, you can actually put a

Making ginger tea is pretty simple. If you don’t have fresh ginger around you, there’s nothing wrong with purchasing some pre-made tea bags at the store. If you can get your hands on a fresh piece of ginger, here are a few quick steps to help you make your own:

Clean your ginger, and slice it into very thin slices. Boil some water in a small pot, and drop in your slices. The more slices you add, the stronger the tea. I’d make it strong at first, then add water to dilute it as necessary. Cover your pot and give it about 15 minutes. Strain your tea and get all the slices out, and add your honey or fruit as necessary. Bada boom, bada bing.

Ginger is a big deal – from nausea to cramps to indigestion, it’s got you covered. It’s also really easy to work with, too. It might be hard to find in the stores – I had never seen actual ginger before I moved to South Florida – but you can always find the pre-made tea bags online.

What do you do for digestive issues, clean eaters? What did I leave out?

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Nikita June 22, 2011 - 10:33 AM

Ginger is great for a lot of things including breaking up phlegm. If you are talking about an upset stomach due to gas drink a hot cup of chamomille tea. If your stomach is generally upset, you are not sure why, try drinking a cup of lavender tea or peppermint. Half a teaspoon of baking soda in a fourth of a cup of water helps as well to relieve gas and to calm your stomach. Lavender tea will also calm your nerves. Green tea is good for the immune system and will help things to ummm “move”. Make sure that when you drink any of these teas you follow it up with barely above room temp (a few cubes of ice) water. For me, the water just seems to get it running through my system faster.

Serenity June 22, 2011 - 10:39 AM

When my stomach is out of whack, I eat fruit with the skin on it. The skin will make me poop and that always makes me feel better.

Kay June 22, 2011 - 12:32 PM

peppermint tea is always good, especially if you use fresh mint leaves.
Also, just a simple glass of warm water can really help with bloating, I always try that first 🙂

Gloria June 22, 2011 - 1:20 PM

I always try water first, then green tea, and then ginger tea (I’m not a huge fan of the taste of ginger tea, lol). I don’t usually have any digestive problems, but if I do, those help.

Does anyone know where the whole white bread/white rice thing comes from? Someone I know recently had a colonoscopy, and four days before the procedure, the doctor put her on a diet of all white breads, pastas, white rices, only cooked fruits without the skins, no veggies, and super soft meat (like ground beef). I was very confused, because there was, like, ZERO fiber in this diet. After the first three days of eating this way, she was supposed to drink a ton of laxatives and only drink clear liquids for the 36 hours leading up to the surgery. She told me that it stopped her up for those first three days, and then the laxatives still didn’t clean her out enough for the procedure to be effective. I was just wondering why the doctor would prescribe something like this for a person who regularly eats lots of fruits, veggies, nuts, and other clean foods. The doctor said it was super important though…thoughts?

Drea June 23, 2011 - 11:31 AM

Hey Gloria,

I’m a bit confused as to why this doc would prescribe a low fiber diet before a colonoscopy, but i do know its importance in regards to the colon and healing after surgery.
I had a colon resection done a little over a year agao where I had a little over a foot of my large intestine removed. Once i was able to eat i as put on a low fiber diet of exactly what you stated…..clear liquids, white bread, white crackers etc for close to a month. I was not allowed any fruits or veggies with skins or any at all in fact except for bananas. If I recall correctly I wasn’t allowed red meat either…but I’m not too sure about that. I’m positive about the white bread and no fruits and veggies though.
The science behind it is that foods without fiber are easily digested, therefore giving the colon a chance to rest and heal after surgery. Seemed counterproductive to me as well but I did understand the need for my colon to rest after an 8 1/2 hour surgery.
Really confuses me that a doc would prescribe that diet for someone who as having such a simple procedure done. For all of my colonscopies I just had to take the oral cleanse two days before and just stick to clear liquids and broth the day before the procedure. Weird….

Hope this helped =)


Laura December 16, 2011 - 12:22 PM

Hi Gloria,

I’m with Drea. No idea why a doctor would prescribe that for a colonoscopy. Unless there was more to the procedure (colonic surgery, for example), it seems like the exact opposite of what you should do.

There’s really only a very narrow set of digestive issues for which white rice/white bread is the answer, and that’s when the digestive tract is damaged. I have Crohn’s disease, and for quite a while, my colon was so inflamed that I couldn’t handle anything that wasn’t refined carbs. It worked for precisely the reasons it’s unhealthy – refined carbs are easier to break down. When your colon is raw and inflamed, it’s incredibly painful to have indigestible matter like fiber scraping its way through you. It was like trying to digest razor blades.

That’s very different from the usual upset tummy, though! Granted, I’ve never had a properly functioning digestive system, but I imagine Erika’s right – most digestive problems are caused by eating the wrong foods, so clean eating should prevent tummy troubles.

MzBacon February 20, 2012 - 5:33 PM

I dont understand this type of diet either because white refined foods only leave you with constipation and I am a nurse and have never heard of this eating, being those foods are reluctant to weight loss..

Sarah June 22, 2011 - 2:19 PM

One thing that helps me is oatmeal–just the dry oats. I’ll eat that if I need something that’s a light and a little starchy, but nothing that will upset my stomach.

kay June 22, 2011 - 6:43 PM

Instead of Gatorade, try coconut water. It is full of natural electrolytes, and has only sixty calories per serving.

Starry October 21, 2011 - 4:51 AM

This post came at the right time for me – sort of! I have been wondering about sore throat pastilles and cough syrups because I recently came down with, yup, a sore throat and cold, and everything in the pharmacy had sorbitol/E numbers etc etc in them – hardly healthy and in the opposite direction to clean eating. I went with them on this occasion because I genuinely had no idea what else to have to ease my symptoms – apart from honey/lemon/cinnamon/clove in hot water – and I wondered if anyone else has any suggestions about natural remedies for coughs/colds etc?

I want to be better prepared next time! 🙂

Kelekona October 23, 2011 - 1:22 PM

If I have a case of the belches and acidity, I’ll drink a small cup of cold milk. It has to be fresh enough to taste sweet to actually help. This only works because I’m good at digesting dairy.

If it’s bad enough where I think that puking is the only thing that’ll make me feel better, I’ll chug as much cool water as I can and then try to stop suppressing it.

For a sore throat, the best relief is a large amount of honey and lemon in hot water. (You want to be able to taste the honey and the lemon, but use whatever mixture is most palatable.)

Freda November 24, 2011 - 3:19 AM

Whenever I have an upset tummy I drink fizzy water, like Perrier, Calistoga, etc. Something about the fizzy (cold) water just settles my stomach right down. If I don’t have fizzy water, I suck on ice cubes and that does the trick too. Ginger works for me too — I have capsules that I take with one of my prescriptions which is a little tough on the stomach.

Aleisha December 6, 2011 - 1:55 AM

the honey and lemon tea can be stepped up another notch if you add just a drop of eucalyptus oil.

its a miracle worker 😀

Starry December 17, 2011 - 5:02 AM

There is an Indian ayurvedic remedy that we sometimes use for an upset stomach called ‘fakhee’. It is a powder and tastes really bitter but works a treat! It is made of various herbs and is completely natural. I can’t actually remember what goes in it and you can buy it from most Indian grocery stores here in the UK. I appreciate that doesn’t really help those in the USA – although you guys may have Indian grocery stores in some places… ??

MzBacon February 20, 2012 - 5:29 PM

THis type of tea is also good for colds that are resistant to going a way eating oranges which is your vitamin c and drinking ginger tea is a great regimen when sick!!!!!!!!

Kamea August 15, 2012 - 5:56 PM

Drink lemon water that is warm first thing in the morning. Then follow up with cucumber, lemon ginger and a pinch of apple cider vinegar for bloating. For colds you should try cayenne pepper, honey. lemon and hot water for colds. Then calming tea or stomach ease tea. The best thing for tummy troubles is eating fruits that make you go to the bathroon such as mangoes. The best fruit for inflmmation, gas and bloating for me is my favorite is whole pineapple with pure coconut water not the cream. Please do not be tempted to turn it into pina colada lol.

Janine January 2, 2013 - 9:51 AM

Eating anything with a ton of fiber (whole oat oatmeal, raspberries, kale) and no oil or dairy will usually do the trick for me. I might have different digestive issues than you guys though.

Marion September 12, 2013 - 10:05 AM

Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar has always worked great for me when I have stomach issues. I’m so used to it now I tend to just drink a tbsp of it straight when the need arises. But you can also mix it with water. If you have a really bad case, like I used to with acid reflux, I would mix ACV, water and ginger and make a tea out of it.

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