I’ve had a few questions about ‘how can food and eating pattern help manage tummy troubles’ so here’s my advice.
Tummy troubles like bloating, pain, reflux and nausea are quite common in dancers and athletes. This is possibly due to mechanical forces, altered blood flow in the gastrointestinal tract, and neuroendocrine changes through intense movement and training.
If you are experiencing chronic tummy troubles as such, seek your doctor’s advice to investigate the possibility of Coeliac Disease, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, or other medical conditions. If you suspect it’s food-related, you can then see a dietitian to determine for example food intolerances.
To help you out right now, here are some tips to tame those symptoms:
1/ Practice deep breathing
Just five deep breaths before, during, and after eating has been shown to reduce stress and gastrointestinal symptoms. A great mindfulness strategy to put in place!
2/ Spread your eating throughout the day
Instead of having two or three large meals, spread those out to five or six smaller meals (or ‘snacks’) throughout the day.
3/ Choose lower-fibre and lower-fat foods if you’re eating within an hour of class or a show
It is important to understand that this isn’t to do with calories, rather it is to help facilitate quicker digestion. Therefore, when you start moving, your body isn’t under stress to keep digesting the meal at the same time.
4/ If you suspect it’s related to wheat or gluten, see your doctor immediately to rule out other medical issues such as Coeliac Disease
It’s best to rule out if Coeliac Disease is the cause, before anything else. If possible, keep a journal of your food and symptoms. The purpose of a journal isn’t to focus on what you eat, rather look at the relationship between different food and symptoms, as this will help in clarifying the issue further when you come and see a dietitian.