Over the years I have done my fair share of research into the best ways to fuel my body, meet my health goals, and keep my stomach happy.
Although the endless amount of information out there can be overwhelming, I have come to a few conclusions in my journey that have helped me navigate the piles of good, bad, and outright ridiculous advice that is out there in the online world.
My hope is that these tips will help you feel more confident sifting through the nutritional content out there and help you feel more comfortable with knowing what information pertains to you or at least where to go if you still have questions.
Accepting this concept as a fact has truly helped me the most when it comes to reading, listening, and scrolling through nutritional advice.
I used to read so much on the internet or social media that told me I couldn’t eat that, I should be eating this, or to "take this supplement and your stomach issues will be cured!"
Early on in my 'research ventures' I often took a lot of the advice as truth. And for someone out there, I am sure the advice was true! But what you have to realize is that our gut, our microbiome, our metabolism, and our bodies are extremely individual, and a trick that works for one person, might end up being a trigger for another.
So if you find something that works for you, whether it is kombucha helps relieve your stomach bloating even though it is considered high-FODMAPs or you love to eat sweet potatoes and your stomach tolerates them well, then girl, keep going. You do NOT need to take all of the advice you read verbatim.
And if you find something that is 'supposed' to work for you but it just doesn’t fit your routine, straight up makes you feel worse, or you generally just dislike, then don’t use it! Intermittent fasting works wonders for some people, where they feel they can maintain their goal weight and still feel energized throughout the day. But if I skip breakfast people, I am an unhappy camper!
Another example is that eating lots of fiber is often recommended to improve your gut health and bowel regularity. But for those who have IBS, increasing your fiber or having major fluctuations in your fiber intake can actually increase your bloating.
The moral of the story here is, listen to your body. It knows best.
And remember that we are all unique, so don’t get too hung up on every piece of advice you read.
Once you understand that everything you read isn't black and white, and that it might have different results depending on the person, you are ready to start exploring!
Doing your own research is so important. When it comes to your health, you have to advocate for yourself in order to see change. Especially when it comes to IBS. It is one of the many conditions that are sluffed off as “not serious” and we are therefore left to figure out things on our own. Doing the research to see what your options are for treatment is a great start!
However, I know, what you are thinking.
"But Melissa that still doesn't help me sift through the piles of information out there!"
And I hear you! Starting out can be just as overwhelming as reading through it all.
BUT ! One benefit to there being so much information out there is that people are starting to present the information in smaller bite-size pieces, especially on social media.
Some of the best accounts on Insta will share infographics to explain concepts, give you simple lists of nutritional tricks and tips, or even build out free guidebooks for gut health or nutritional info to help you get started. Although there is still a lot of conflicting info out there, these can make it a little easier to digest ( haha get it!?) the information you are reading.
Just keep in mind you want to make sure your sources are reliable and up-to-date. Some ways to do that are:
Which leads me to my next point!
So we have established that there is a boat-load of information out there about nutrition. And as you use the guidelines suggested above you can now start to calmly sift through the information that comes your way.
But regardless of how good your critical analysis skills are, you are bound to hit walls or conflicting information that leaves you feeling confused about what is right for you.
So once you start to have questions, ask for help from an expert!
Dieticians, nutritionists, pelvic physiotherapists, naturopaths, your family doctor, gastroenterologists, and functional medicine doctors are just some of the people that may be able to help guide you to the right information or help you better understand the information you are coming across.
My dietician has been super helpful in clearing up my questions and she has allowed me to better understand how the advice out there can relate to me.
Allied health professionals, like dieticians, physiotherapists, and natropaths, are great people to have on your team! As their expertise can help you advocate for yourself in the larger health care system. Often doctors (especially family doctors) don't have the time to go through the lengthy subjective history about yourself that an allied health professional will have the time for.
Not only that, but family doctors do not specialize in gut health or nutrition, and honestly, that really isn't our expectation of them! But doctors do have access to resources that your allied health team may not. So your allied health team can also teach you what tests and treatment to ask for from your doctors if ever needed.
Friends! There is never any harm in reaching out. And having a team behind you to improve your health and nutrition ( or even just your understanding of it) can seriously be so powerful.
The one thing that does seem to stay consistent across all reliable sources when it comes to food and nutrition is to keep it simple.
Keeping these key nutrition facts in mind is a great place to start when trying to build a healthier plate. Trying to keep it as simple as possible can decrease some of the overwhelming feelings and still direct you in the right direction when starting out.
Keep in mind that these strategies that I have developed over the years have worked well for me. But as stated above, we are all individuals and you will find that not all strategies, tricks, and tips will work for you. When it comes to nutrition, things can get confusing and it really is an endless journey of learning. My hope is just that I can make it a little bit less bumpy for you! And I hope some of these strategies help you navigate the big world wide web a little bit easier.
if you have any specific medical issues or questions please reach out to a local health professional for help. It is best not to use "Dr. Google" to find a diagnosis. And as always, what I share here at Making Lemonade is for information only, and should not be considered a substitute for medical advice.
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