"May your troubles be as brief as your New Year's resolutions." I love this slogan because of its unabashed honesty. The majority of resolutions people tend to make are short-lived and never get beyond their wish list.
That's because they're usually too lofty and unrealistic. This year, consider making some easy, practical, attainable resolutions to create twelve months of digestive peace.
Explore a low-FODMAP vegan diet. Think it's too hard to be vegan and low-FODMAP at the same time? Think again! Check out Low-FODMAP and Vegan for in-depth information, valuable tips, and fantastic recipes to start the year off right.
Maximize your nutrition and make every bite count. Rather than loading up on refined sweets, enjoy low-FODMAP fruits, veggies, nut, and seeds within recommended amounts. Incorporate a handful of low-FODMAP greens, such as baby spinach, into a low-FODMAP smoothie. Sprinkle raw sunflower seeds or walnuts over a salad. Put a dab of peanut butter or almond butter on that banana. Eat cooked veggies if raw ones are too difficult for you to digest, and enjoy them in small portions throughout the day rather than one huge serving at a sitting.
Chew. Chewing food thoroughly makes it more digestible and can help us feel satiated without overeating. If chewing adequately is difficulty for you, try eating more soft, cooked foods, soups, smoothies, and blended items.
Hydrate. Pure, clean water is the best beverage to keep our bodies hydrated and our digestive systems moving properly. Drink water with every meal and take water with you when you leave the house. Herb tea -- especially peppermint and ginger tea -- is ideal not only for hydration but also for calming irritable tummies and soothing overactive or underactive bowels.
Supplement if needed. If you're not obtaining adequate nutrient intake through your diet, consider taking a multivitamin-mineral supplement. In addition, make sure you're getting sufficient B12 through supplementation and also vitamin D, if needed. Discuss your supplement requirements with your healthcare provider to ensure you're taking the right ones for you and in the right dosages for your needs.
Move more. Exercise not only makes us fit and helps us feel better because of the release of endorphins, but it's also important for gut health. Physical activity exercises and strengthens our muscles, including our internal organs and, in particular, the colon. In addition, it encourages peristalsis, which can help with constipation, and tones the entire digestive tract. As a bonus, it also helps relieve gas and bloating. It doesn't matter what activity you do (or how strenuous it is) -- walk, run, bike, do yoga, dance, practice martial arts, play sports -- as long as it gets your body in gear.
Manage stress. I know, I know -- that's easier said than done. Exercise helps relieve stress, so that's one more excellent reason to start moving more. Creative outlets (writing, drawing, painting, knitting, singing, playing a musical instrument) or productive activities (home repairs, car maintenance, cooking, reading) can be terrific stress relievers. If you enjoy meditating, find a way to work that into your daily schedule. If you're a morning person, get up fifteen or twenty minutes earlier and you can squeeze in your mediation before your day begins. Or just mindfully breathe, or chant or recite a mantra (silently, if others are around) when you're stuck in traffic or waiting in line. Stress can trigger or exacerbate IBS symptoms, so treat yourself to some fun, destressing activities.
Laugh. Sure, life can be challenging and IBS can make it even harder. But laughter has a way of making all that disappear, if only for a little while. And after a hearty laugh, the good feelings linger, stress is minimized, and our outlook is improved, so there are plenty of positive residual affects that come with laughter. Go to a comedy club, rent a performance by a stand-up comic you like, read an amusing story or book, watch a comedy film online, or just hang out with someone who has a great sense of humor. Taking life, and ourselves, less seriously can work wonders in terms of improving our health.
What additional resolutions would you like to implement this year? Share them with us in the comments below!