Food. It might be my favorite noun. I wake up thinking about it and go to bed dreaming about it. I’m not even kidding… my dreams regularly consist of all things food.
BUT, since I was 11-years-old, food has been my belly’s worst enemy. Sometimes after I eat I physically can’t get off the couch because I hurt so bad. I’ve spent years in and out of doctor’s offices, taking test after test, trying to figure out what’s up with my gut. I always get the same thing, “IBS” (irritable bowel syndrome). Which if you’ve been diagnosed with this you know it’s basically a label thrown on anything that doesn’t already have an exact name. Plus – it shows up in tons of different symptoms, meaning treatment is difficult.
So I started attempting to figure out which foods were “triggers.” I’d cut foods out for days or weeks, bring them back in, and see if I felt sick. Not once did I successfully find what was causing my pain. Sometimes I can eat an entire pint of ice cream with 0 discomfort. Other times I look at dairy and I’m in tears (slight exaggeration.) Same goes for gluten.
However, I’m not giving up. Instead of searching for the foods that make my belly sad, I’m focusing on the foods I know make it happy. I’ve realized I was complicating it. There are tons of foods that I can eat without any problems, and they typically keep me fuller longer and performing better.
What are they? Whole foods! Tons of fruits, lean meats, eggs, and veggies. I’m stepping away from highly processed foods and sticking to ingredients I can pronounce. Does that mean I don’t eat sugar? No, I put honey in my tea every morning. Am I low on fat? Heck no, have you tasted a creamy avocado? Am I worried about carbs? If by worried you mean worried I’ll run out – then yes.
There are tons of “diets” out there that promote eating whole foods: PALEO, Whole30, veganism, etc. And if a certain way of eating makes you feel good, keeps you healthy, and supports your lifestyle, I say go for it!
Tossing the junk and switching to this type of lifestyle isn’t always easy. We have favorites (like Captain Crunch Berries) that definitely don’t make the cut. So I’m here to give you a few swaps and make the switch just a bit easier.
- Oatmeal for cereal. No, it isn’t as colorful and exciting as Captain Crunch Berries, but it’s full of fiber and low glycemic carbs to keep you running strong. Plus, it’s basically a bowl of endless possibilities. You can top it with fruit, granola, nuts, honey, or whatever else floats your boat.
- Hummus for yogurt. I know what you’re thinking, “These aren’t even close to the same thing.” Hear me out. Yogurt is creamy and delicious, so is hummus. Yogurt is typically a snack you grab because it’s quick and easy, so is hummus. Seriously, grab some dipping tools, like carrots, pretzels, or peppers, and get snacking!
- Cashew milk for dairy milk. In my humble opinion, cashew milk trumps almond milk both in flavor and consistency. Plus, my belly thanks me for not feeding it dairy. AND, it makes my oats and smoothies very creamy which I love.
- Date-based bars for granola/protein bars. Dates are sent from the Gods. They’re sweet, creamy, and delicious. That’s why they make the perfect base for protein/fruit/nut bars. My favorites are RX bars and Lara Bars.
- Tea for energy drinks/soda. I’m a weirdo and don’t like coffee, but I still need my caffeine-fix somehow. So I’ve invested in a wide variety of caffeinated teas that suit every time of day, and ditched my horrible habit of sucking down energy drinks.
- Potatoes for rice. Rice isn’t bad, but sometimes it makes my belly hurt. So when I’m feeling the typical “rice and chicken” meal, I use shredded potatoes or sweet potato fries instead – they taste better anyway in my opinion.
What food swaps do you swear by? Leave them in the comments.