Is Clean Eating Causing Your Digestive Issues?
Let me start this conversation by saying: I have the best clients.
They teach and help me grow as a practitioner in ways I never knew was possible. And even better, they give me blog post and podcast ideas!
Recently, I was meeting with one of my amazing clients who suggested I write a blog post on what she was currently experiencing: digestive issues caused from disordered eating and an obsession with ‘clean eating’.
We will be detailing soon on the podcast with Kelsey why disordered eating can cause digestive issues, so stay tuned for that! Today, we are going to discuss why clean eating may be causing your digestive issues.
To begin, let’s consider the emotional aspects at play. If you listen to the Nourishing Women Podcast, you’ll know what I am referring to when I say the gut-brain axis. But for those of you who don’t think of it like this: your gut and brain are constantly talking! The more stressed your gut perceives your brain to be, the more they are going to talk. The more this occurs, the more your second brain, i.e. your gut, is going to take into account with your brain is saying and react accordingly.
If your thoughts are conflicting or worrisome around what you are eating, its going to directly link to your digestion and what you are experiencing. Thoughts such as “I shouldn’t eat that” to “I don’t think this is healthy enough for me to be eating” to “Is this food causing my digestive issues?’ can be connecting the dots for your gut and brain to react as it thinks it should. In short, emotional distress around food can absolutely perpetuate digestive issues.
In our practice, we work with clients that have IBS and SIBO as well, so I am not discrediting the effect this has and that are bacteria imbalances play a large role in our digestive issues. But since we know that the gut brain axis is really the gut-brain-microbiome axis (learn more here, here and here), maybe the bacteria are listening, too!
From a food perspective, its important to consider that the foods in your ‘clean eating’ regimen alone, or coupled with other issues, could be the cause of your digestion issues. Think about it: are all the foods you eat raw or rough? All high in fiber or protein (both take quite a bit of work to break down)? Could you be eating too many vegetables? Too many carbonated drinks to feel less hungry such as multiple kombuchas or la croix a day? Could you be consuming too much fermented foods on a daily basis (I’ve seen people consume 5+ servings a day, easily)? Too many foods that are whipped with air such as bulletproof coffee and smoothies? Too little easy to digest foods such as carbohydrates?
This isn’t a complete list, but just some of the examples of situations I’ve seen with clients where their food intake became too obsessive, too rigid about eating ‘all the right things’. Too many foods that when added altogether, was too much on the digestive system. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had a client with digestive issues and when we explored things further, they were eating 10-15 servings of vegetables a day. Could this be you, too?
If you are recovering from disordered eating, your body is already in a sensitive state from a digestive stand point. An underfed, overstressed body is likely not producing enough digestive enzymes and other bodily mechanisms to support a well functioning digestion. And on top of that that many of enter into a psuedo recovery realm of clean eating after having disordered eating, its truly a recipe for digestive disaster.
I know, because I’ve been there before. When I first entered out of disordered eating (for me this was years of a restrict and binge cycle), I became obsessed with eating all the right things. If I wasn’t going to diet or constantly try to lose weight, I would find another way to gain control over my eating habits: eat perfectly and exercise obsessively, too. As many of us do, my first attempt to become an intuitive eater led to a psuedo recovery of orthorexic tendencies. And what came along with it was a slew of digestive and hormonal issues, too.
While my personal situation involved both embracing intuitive eating and healing my decade long battle with IBS and SIBO and post birth control syndrome, its different for everyone. I’ve had clients fit into all the categories: some just needing to fully learn to become an intuitive eater, some needing to focus on healing bacterial imbalances at play, and many needing a combination of both. Its challenging to decipher this complex situation on your own or just reading blog posts and listening to podcasts, so I highly encourage reaching out for help to work with someone one on one.
Lastly, the beauty of intuitive eating is that it is eating in a way that’s best for your digestion. Its finding balance among all the health and wellness trends out there while also embracing the gray area of delicious eats and soul nourishing foods. Its listening to your body above all, and knowing that your body holds all the answers it needs. You are your own guru. And while intuitive eating takes time, patience and can be challenging in the beginning, I am a firm believer its the answer to all health issues out there, including digestive issues.
Tell me: Have you experienced digestive issues from clean eating before?