Why do certain foods go down one day, but not the next?
Generally, there are a few reasons this can happen.
Cooking methods. If you tolerated a saucy chicken pot-pie, it doesn’t mean roast chicken will go down just as comfortably. Dryer methods of cooking (like broiling, roasting, grilling, and pan-frying) tend to be more difficult to tolerate. Moist cooking methods on the other hand (like steaming, braising, stewing, simmering, poaching) that involve liquids or a sauce are typically better tolerated. Also, be careful when microwaving, as the process of reheating foods can dry them out. A good way to keep the moisture in is by resting the lid on the container (not sealed) and stir after each minute until ready. If you’re reheating dry foods remember to sprinkle in some water, broth, tomato juice, milk, or low-fat gravy to add additional moisture.
Mechanical reasons like not chewing well enough and taking large bites. You should always be sure to cut your food into small pieces—as small as your pinky fingernail to start—and chew your food until it’s puree in your mouth before swallowing. Remember that digestion starts in the mouth!
Emotional stress and anxiety can tighten the upper digestive system which makes food more difficult to tolerate. Do you find you eat more comfortably at home or on the weekends compared to at work? If so, your tolerance issues could be related to stress or anxiety. Always be sure to eat in a calm environment and start your meals by taking a few deep breaths to relax and decompress. Some patients feel more comfortable eating alone at first (i.e. in their office instead of in the cafeteria).
Eating while multitasking! When you are eating, you should only be eating. We know that this is a tough one to practice, but eating while driving, watching TV, cleaning, working through lunch, etc. can distract you from taking small bites and chewing well. Do your best to put away distractions during meal times. If you choose to eat lunch in your office, mute the volume on your computer and turn off the monitor so you’re not tempted to check your email in between bites.
Posture. It sounds silly to discuss, but it’s true, poor posture can negatively affect digestion. If you are eating while slouched or reclined on the couch or awkwardly propped up on pillows in bed, chances are that you will experience some tolerance issues. When you are eating, you should ideally be sitting in a chair pulled close to the table with your bum as far back as possible and with your back nice and straight. Eating at the table in your kitchen or dining room will also give your meals and snacks more structure. Generally speaking, it’s a good habit to limit food and eating to only the kitchen and dining room.
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