One look at my phone’s photo gallery, and you’ll know how much I love food. Some are close-up shots of chicken biryani or colourful ones with fruity drinks and dishes like kimbap and japchae. Month after month, my bank statements also remind me to spend less on food. But isn’t it tough? After all, you just have to enter a food delivery app, select your choice of dishes, pay and wait for your food to arrive. Once it’s on your table, you know what happens next. I dig in and savour the moment. The happiness is temporary because soon after satiating my tastebuds, my tummy revolts. Yes, I am a foodie with a sensitive stomach.
The term sensitive stomach or sensitive gut isn’t an official medical diagnosis, but it is often used to describe stomach-related issues. It can be debilitating for a 35-year-old to deal with tummy troubles, especially when the sight of food is always tantalizing.
Stomach problems one can have after having unhealthy food
Well, you don’t really need an expert to tell you that fried food or dishes from restaurants, irrespective of the stars they have or how popular they are, don’t make it to the healthy list.
But at Health Shots, we reached out to Dr Sanjay Gogia, Director, Internal Medicine, Fortis Hospital Shalimar Bagh and Dr Mahesh Gupta, Senior Consultant, Gastroenterology, Dharamshila Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, to know more about sensitive stomach and how to manage it.
Dr Gogia says eating unhealthy food might result in excessive intestinal gas, bloating, abdominal pains, abdominal cramps, vomiting and diarrhoea. In fact, gastroesophageal reflux disease, irritable bowel syndrome, appendicitis, celiac disease, chronic constipation and gallstones are also among the list of different stomach problems that one can have after having unhealthy food.
Well, diarrhoea and I have known each for years now. But it was just a weeks ago when I realised the importance of healthy eating. One night I had a sharp pain in the abdomen area. Some thought it was appendicitis and others assumed it to be just a “gas problem.” It was only in the emergency room of a busy hospital that I got to know that a had a small stone in my kidney. Luckily, it was just 4 millimeters in size, so I was given a medicine and asked to drink loads of water. It didn’t take even a week to be stone-free. But the experience made me pick healthier food choices.
Life post-stone diagnosis
Now, I drink more water and reach out for coconut water or fruit juices. Yes, it’s still not three liters of water every day, but I am getting there. Some of my favourites like tomatoes, cauliflower, cabbage and nuts have been cut out from my diet. I eat less from eating joints, though I have not completely killed the foodie in me.
Sensitive stomach can successfully be managed at home
Most people with a sensitive stomach can successfully manage it at home through some dietary and lifestyle adjustments. But Dr Gupta points out that sometimes, sensitive stomach discomfort can indicate a more serious condition like celiac disease (immune reaction to eating gluten), Crohn’s disease (chronic inflammatory bowel disease) or ulcerative colitis (an inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation in the digestive tract). He suggested to consult your doctor directly in such cases.
How to manage a sensitive stomach?
• Eat food in smaller portions.
• Eat more slowly.
• Avoid foods that can irritate a sensitive stomach. Dairy, spicy, processed, oily or fried foods, alcohol and gluten are all part of this list, said Gupta.
• Drink more water on a regular basis.
• Reduce your caffeine intake.
• Reduce your stress.
You might believe in YOLO and indulge in meals that can upset your stomach. After my experience, I can share that you can do it sometimes, but not everyday!