If you answered yes to the question above, you are not alone. Some of the most common digestive health disorders that affect people in Vancouver, Canada and all of North America are Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s Disease, and Ulcerative Colitis. Although these conditions have been a problem for many years, we still don’t have a simple answer when it comes to diet. If you ask your doctor, he or she may tell you diet will not help you. If you ask me, a registered dietitian specializing in digestive health, I will tell you there is enough science to show us that nutrition and diet can have a large impact on managing IBS and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) symptoms, as well as improving your overall quality of life.
So many people today are avoiding gluten – for most it is because they believe gluten gives them digestive issues (i.e. gas, bloating, or changes in bowel movements) or makes them feel fatigued. This has created a huge trend in today’s market for gluten-free items, and more and more people are hopping on the gluten-free train. But does gluten-sensitivity exist for people who do not have Celiac disease? Is it worth trying out if you’re experiencing issues yourself?
I see many clients with digestive health disorders. Whether I’m treating someone with IBS,Crohn’s Disease, Ulcertive Colitis, Celiac Disease, GERD, etc… I can always tell at the beginning of a follow-up appointment before my client even says a word if my nutrition plan helped them. If it did, they walk in like a huge weight was just lifted off their shoulders, walk in smiling (or holding back a giant smile!), and generally with a very positive energy. It can change someone’s life completely! I love being able to help make such a change in someone’s life, which is partly why I’m so passionate about helping people with digestive health disorders.
That’s right… I said it. I mentioned the unmentionables. As a dietitian specializing in digestive health issues and sports nutrition, this is merely a common topic that falls under both of my areas of specialty.
What is it? Those of you who experience it, know it well. It’s when runners have diarrhea during or immediately after a run, or feel an urgency to have a bowel movement during exercise. The cause for it is still questionable, but there are a few existing scientific theories. One is that there is ischemia, or limited blood flow and required oxygen, to the arteries that supply the small and large intestines. Symptoms of this include abdominal pain and diarrhea. The other most common theory is mechanical trauma, which is simply the fact that running creates more movement of the GI tract – potentially speeding up the transit time of bowel movements and leading to urgency and diarrhea. Continue reading
No matter what time of day, we do need food to fuel us. Whether your goals are achieving optimal performance, weight loss, muscle building, energizing your life – prioritize food as much as you would your workout, training session, or even competition/race.
Early morning workouts in particular seem to pose an extra challenge. I often hear clients and friends say they don’t eat breakfast before a morning workout. I’ve heard every excuse in the book. Too tired to get up even 15 minutes earlier to eat, not hungry, food makes me nauseous if I eat too early, trying to lose weight so don’t need the extra energy, or simply just unaware that it was important.
First, breakfast is ALWAYS important. It kick starts your metabolism, similar to warming up your car on a cold day. This means you will boost your energy level first thing in the morning rather than waiting an hour or more. A side benefit to this is your body will start burning more calories at rest sooner – which can be beneficial for weight loss or maintenance. Breakfast before a morning workout is especially important as you need fuel for your empty tank (or body!). Yes, you will have some energy without putting any food in you beforehand. However – because you haven’t eaten anything for the past 7-12 hours this energy will come from your body breaking down internal stores of fat and muscle. This in turn will leave you feeling fatigued, and result in a decrease in strength and endurance. Making it much more difficult for you to achieve your goals. Continue reading
The summer months are sadly coming to an end! Soon, the leaves will start changing and fall will be here. The beginning of a new season is often a great time to make a healthy change. Vacations, dinner parties, socializing on a patio or at a barbeque, and drinks in the sun often make up a large part of our summers. Fall is a good opportunity to get back to our healthier ways.
People often think dieting or doing a cleanse are the best ways to kick some unhealthy habits and turn over a new leaf. However, if you take a closer look – is the diet or cleanse you’re interested in something that you think you will be able to sustain for the long term? Often, fad diets and cleanses offer a quick fix instead of a sustainable lifestyle change. Yes, you may be able to shed a few pounds but is it fat that you’re losing or muscle mass? Losing weight too quickly is often times both fat AND muscle mass that you’re losing, in addition to a ton of body water. Not to mention the lack of nutrients in most fad diets and cleanses which would leave you feeling tired, fatigued, and at risk for nutrient deficiencies leading to health problems in the future. Continue reading
On the subject of digestive health, most of my previous blog posts have focused on Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD). However, there’s a multitude of other digestive health issues that do exist that I just haven’t gotten around to mentioning quite yet. One in particular is ulcer disease. Ulcer disease is a condition where open sores develop in the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. They can occur in the small intestine (duodenal ulcer), stomach (gastric ulcer), and esophagus (esophageal ulcer). The most common symptom of ulcers is epigastric pain (pain that is localized in the upper abdomen just below the sternum). However, there are other symptoms as well. Continue reading
Everyone’s doing it – protein shakes, energy bars, sports gels, fat burning supplements, creatine, energy drinks… the list goes on. So why shouldn’t you? If this thought has crossed your mind, or if you’re already consuming any of these supplements, you should know the truth behind supplements before you fully buy into them.
I was recently interviewed very briefly by a student reporter on CBC news who did a story all about “exercise supplements”. Watch the short clip here. I would like to clarify a couple things they misquoted me on: Continue reading
Although I have an earlier post talking about how whole grains, particularly wheat, is not necessarily evil – I have recently discovered myself to be sensitive to wheat. I still stand by that blog post, but do encourage you to eliminate wheat only if you experience symptoms after eating some. I also recently wrote about how I started low FODMAP diet. After weeks of staying off foods that are high in short chain carbohydrates, I begun the reintroduction phase. There are 5 subgoups of FODMAPS: fructans, galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS), lactose, fructose, and polyols. After weeks of being symptom-free on the low FODMAP diet, I immediately noticed symptoms upon my reintroduction to fructans. And the biggest culprit – wheat. One slice of bread and I was okay. Another slice or dish containing wheat the same day or next day, and I instantly experienced stomach cramps and bloating. I couldn’t believe it. So I even re-challenged myself another two times! I definitely have a sensitivity to wheat. Continue reading
I did my first avalanche safety training course this weekend just north of Vancouver so that I can start doing more backcountry snowboarding trips — preferably without ever getting caught in an avalanche. First things first, all you skiers out there are probably mocking the fact that I snowboard right now. You know what? Nothing feels better than riding through fresh powder and feeling like you’re surfing on water. However, I do realize that, especially for backcountry, skiing just might have more advantages (i.e. more efficient ways to hike up without the use of snowshoes)… I still like snowboarding better. Now that we’ve cleared that up… onto more important things! This dietitian is once again talking about nutrition. More precisely, how to properly fuel and hydrate in the backcountry. Continue reading
Happy Belated New Year! After the holiday season of over-indulging passed, it became the perfect time for New Year’s resolutions focusing on healthy eating and exercise. A chance to set out and accomplish goals we’ve always talked about but maybe gave up on doing in 2011. Not this year!!
If you’ve made New Year’s resolutions at the beginning of the month with diet in mind, now is a good time to re-evaluate. Were this year’s resolutions realistic? Achievable? Sustainable? And most importantly, did they focus primarily on good health instead of a desperate attempt to lose/gain weight in the short term while potentially being detrimental on your long-term health? If your New Year’s resolutions involve anything on the “Don’ts” list below, you may want to consider tweaking them so they look more like what I’ve listed on the “Do’s” list. This will help ensure you put your health first, while realistically achieving the goals you set out to accomplish this year. Continue reading
Sound difficult? It can be! I am currently my own client for a low FODMAP diet. This diet was created by Dr. Sue Sheppard (also an RD with celiac disease) and Dr. Peter Gibson, who developed and implemented the first scientific research studies on eating low FODMAP foods and their effects on gastrointestinal health.
You’re probably wondering what this weird word “FODMAP” means. First, it’s an acronym. It stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. Now you’re probably wondering what all these strange, long, hard-to-pronounce words mean. Simply put, they are all short chain carbohydrates or sugars (what the term ‘saccharide’ means). Why a low FODMAP diet? Because people who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and even some with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) can hugely benefit. Continue reading