Most people don’t eat enough vegetables. So, why would anyone recommend avoiding them? The thing is with some people, when they increase their veggie intake, they start feeling worse. How is that possible? And what can you do about it?
Increased vegetable intake can lead to gas, bloating, pain and changes in stool frequency and consistency, especially for people with digestive issues, like IBS, constipation, diarrhoea, or acid reflux. If you’ve had this experience don’t get discouraged, trying to eat healthy and adding vegetables is the right thing to do. You just need to take a different route there.
For some people the problem is raw veggies. Either they are genetically not that well equipped for digesting large amounts of raw veggies or their digestive system simply isn’t used to a big load of plant matter after a long period of a standard fibre-lacking diet. Cooking or steaming your veggies makes them much easier to digest and even allows your body to extract more nutrients like beta-carotene.
Avoid insoluble fibre
Certain vegetables are high in insoluble fibre and those could be a problem. This type of fibre helps things get moving in your gut but doesn’t dissolve in water and that means it can be a bit rough on your intestinal walls. This is not a problem with a healthy gut but for people struggling with inflammation, the mechanical brushing can exacerbate the problem.
These are examples of popular veggies high in insoluble fibre. Try to limit these.
• Greens like romaine lettuce, spinach, kale, or arugula
• Peas and green beans
• Bell peppers
• Onions, shallots, leeks, scallions, and garlic
• Cabbage, bok choy, Brussels sprouts
• Broccoli and cauliflower
These are examples of popular veggies high in soluble and low in insoluble fibre. Add more of these instead.
Try fermented vegetables
If the reason you’re doing worse when adding veggies is gut issues, then you might do very well with fermented vegetables like sauerkraut, Kim-chi, pickled cucumbers, etc. The fermentation process pre-digests the vegetables and makes them easier to absorb and they also contain probiotics that help heal your gut.
So, yes, there are times when you should avoid veggies, or at least limit their amount. And that time is when they are making you feel worse. Veggies are not magically healthy at all times. You have to listen to your body and adjust your intake gradually, based on the feedback it’s giving you.