Finally, I’ve gotten to the most intriguing part: What worked for me in treating my gastritis? I will dive right in.
The main thing is actually quite simple and it blew my mind that it had such an influence:
- Keep blood sugar levels stable: eat enough protein and healthy fats and not too many carbohydrates.
Since with gastritis my stomach hurts when I’m hungry, it really helps to keep my hunger signals under control. For that, it is helpful not to spike my blood sugar. I was extremely surprised to discover how big of a deal this was, but it makes a huge difference!
I used to eat oats with yoghurt and fruit for breakfast, and I’d be in pain 2 hours later. Then I’d have a muesli bar and my stomach would be hurting again 2 hours later. For lunch I’d have a sandwich and a salad, and 3 hours later I’d be in pain again, so I eat some fruit for a snack until I can barely wait for dinner because of the pain. And this happened every day…
Now I eat scrambled eggs with vegetables (usually zucchini, leeks, and portobello mushroom) and a little butter for breakfast and I’m only hungry 4 hours later. The important thing is that I am actually hungry then and not simply in pain. Then I eat lunch which is, again, protein with vegetables and some healthy fats. For instance, chicken with cauliflower and carrots or meatballs with broccoli and usually some olive oil. This keeps me feeling good for another 4-5 hours. I usually have a small snack at that point such as a small avocado with almonds or brazil nuts or canned sardines with a cucumber. Then, for dinner I also have a mixture of protein (chicken, beef, salmon, or catfish), vegetables (e.g., cabbage, pakchoi, spinach, kale, broccoli, cauliflower), healthful fats (e.g., ghee or coconut oil), and if I’ve had a training session I also include starchy vegetables (e.g., sweet potato, pumpkin, beets, carrots, parsnip). With all of these foods I include a variety of spices and herbs.
Basically, my breakfast every day. And I don’t get tired of it.
Image source: I Health U
This eating style keeps my blood sugar levels stable, so I don’t get any peaks and dips. This means that I don’t have fits of stomach pain between meals and I can go for normal periods of time without eating instead of having to eat every 2-3 hours. I still don’t eat huge meals because I don’t feel comfortable when I’m bloated from too much food. I also find that eating until I’m 80% full helps me keep my weight at a level I like. In fact, I’m quite lean now without starving myself, and I get to enjoy my food very much.
The reason this works so well for me (and for many other people) in keeping my blood sugar levels stable is that the macronutrient content is balanced. Protein is very satiating (makes you feel full for a long period of time), so it’s good to include it at every meal in order to avoid sugar dips. Fat is also very satiating, but it’s also high in caloric value, so it’s good not to overdo it. Healthy fats are essential for our health though, so don’t avoid them.
Carbohydrates are a little more questionable. Different types of carbohydrates work differently for different people, so it’s important to figure out what each type of food does for you. But generally simple sugars (sweets, sodas, etc.) spike our blood glucose levels and thus lead to a sugar dip afterwards. This is also true of many fruits (e.g., banana, mango, raisins, any fruit juice). Bread and pasta can also have that effect, although there’s more individual variation there. It’s also important to get good nutritional value out of the carbohydrates we eat, and the best way to do that is to eat starchy vegetables (e.g., sweet potato, pumpkin, parsnip). They contain the carbohydrate that is good for the body especially after intensive physical activity, and they also deliver lots of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Moreover, when combined with protein and healthy fats, starchy vegetables don’t spike our blood sugar so much, so we can enjoy a meal containing some carbohydrates without having to suffer a sugar dip.
The main point here is that when I keep my blood sugar levels stable, I don’t get sugar dips, and I don’t experience the intense hunger which triggers my gastritis. In this way, my stomach doesn’t get irritated, so I’m not in pain.
This doesn’t mean that I never eat sugar. For instance, I eat dessert twice a week, and that works great for me: I don’t suffer from sugar dips and intense, painful hunger often, but I still get to enjoy sweet stuff once in a while. The key is that I usually have it after a main meal, so then it doesn’t trigger a blood sugar spike and a consequent dip, so I’m not in pain. Some people do well having sweets once in a while, but for some people it might be easier to give them up altogether. (See Gretchen Rubin’s distinction between abstainers and moderators.) You can try it and figure out what works best for you.
The kind of food I’ve described here is the first and most important thing that helped me heal my gastritis. In the next blog post, I will describe the other 14 things I discovered!
Source of featured image: Eat Drink Paleo