"My stomach has been hurting after everything I eat. I'm at a place where everything feels potentially harmful. What should I do?"
My condolences. I've been there, and it's rough. The good news is that I've recovered and that you can too.
For three years I suffered terribly after every meal. What changed? I started to learn the specific causes of the problems. It seemed like everything was causing me pain. However, most of my meals involved ten or more ingredients. If I ate ravioli and got acid reflux, burning sensations in my stomach, etc, what caused the pain? The cheese? The sauce? The seasonings? The pasta?
You don't need to suffer any more. Stick with me through this page and you'll have the information you need to heal and feel good again.
Digestion: How to eat to lessen the load on your digestive system.
Stomach and intestines should be empty as much as possible between meals. In order to do this, digestion times must be considered:
(These times are accurate for the item eaten alone. Combining foods makes the time increase dramatically. Also, the less healthy the digestive system, the slower it is. These are times for a healthy digestive system.)
Raw melon: 20 minutes
Raw high-water fruits: 30 minutes
Dense fruits (bananas): 40 minutes
Leafy high-water greens: 1 hour
Dense greens (carrots, beets): 1.5 hours
Cooked greens and starchy vegetables (cooked yams, cooked carrots): 2 hours
Cooked grains (pasta, bread, wheat crackers): 2-4 hours
Fatty raw foods (raw seeds, raw nuts, avocado): 3-5 hours
Medium-protein high-fat cooked foods (dairy, meat, eggs): 4-5 hours
High-protein cooked foods (beans, lentils, buckwheat): 6 hours
Using the above list, you want to emphasize meals from the beginning of the list. Melon for breakfast is excellent (if your condition won't tolerate melons or other sweet fruits, go for berries instead). Then, if you eat one hour after the melon, you're giving (in theory) forty minutes of stomach-clean time before eating again. (The reason why this is "in theory" is because digestion times vary for every human, and every condition.)
For brunch, you could eat berries and an apple. If you eat again two hours later you get an-hour-and-a-half of stomach-clean time. If for lunch you eat a salad and some cooked starchy greens (like boiled yams and carrots), it'd take around two hours to digest, so you'd want to wait four hours before eating again.
If your stomach hurts after apples, citrus fruits, melons, or other fruits, you can eat more leafy greens. I know that finding recipes to enjoy leafy greens can be challenging (it took me years!). The good news is that it is possible. In fact, you can start enjoying a safe nutritionally complete raw foods diet within a few days by following one of my meal plans.
Meal Timing: The surprising importance of when you eat
Try to finish digesting before you go to sleep. This is important because digesting food causes you to release insulin. Releasing insulin interferes with releasing growth hormone, which is the normal restoritive hormone that burns fat, repairs damage and builds muscle while you sleep. So you don't want to release insulin while you sleep. You want to have an empty stomach by the time you're asleep.
If you're going to bed at 10:00pm, and the last meal you eat is going to be a cooked grain, such as quinoa or t'eff, which will take three to four hours to digest, you'd want to eat that at 5:30pm, and then not eat anything else for the rest of the evening. If the last thing you eat that day is a big raw salad (using only lemon juice, fresh herbs, and spices for flavor) without any seeds, oil, nuts or avocado, then you could eat it at 8:30pm and have an empty stomach by bed time.
I don't recommend eating fruits in the evening because they give you a burst of energy, and thereby a burst of insulin, which can cause mood instability, hormonal imbalance, and difficulty sleeping. I never recommend any refined sugars. Fruit in the late evening is a very small small annoyance the body in comparison to the toxic crisis that white sugar is to the body. (For the record: agave nectar is a refined sugar and should be completely avoided.)
Relevant Facts: Foods That Aggravate Your Stressed Stomach & Why
- Cooking destroys much of the antioxidant content, 90%+ of enzymes, and 80% of vitamins and minerals (including 80%+ of the vitamin C content). Raw vegetables and fruits are a 1000% more beneficial than cooked ones.
This means that most cooked food put stress on your stomach, especially meals high in protein or fat. (In particular, cooked polyunsaturated fats, such as canola oil, are denatured (go rancid) easily from heat, light and oxygen exposure.)
Foods like steamed sweet potatoes are less likely to be a problem, for example, because they are mostly starch (not fat or protein).
- Cooking without water (toasting, baking, frying) creates acrylamide: a very dangerous toxin. Anything that is "browned" such as bread, fried chicken, french fries or toast, has a very high level of acrylamide. This toxin is addictive because it slows you down. Toxins can repress emotions and thoughts because it is so taxing for your body to deal with. The book Raw Emotions by Angela Stokes goes into this in detail. That book and a number of other excellent books that have helped me heal are on book recommendations page.
When you eat foods with acrylamide in them, you're adding a carcinogenic toxin to the chemical vat called your stomach. Not a good plan if you want to heal! This doesn't mean that you can't have delicious desserts, it just means you should opt for no-bake pies like the ones found in my books.
- Animals are given antibiotics, which kill off all the good flora and allow bad bacteria (like ecoli) to proliferate. Bacteria, even when cooked, is still very harmful, because 'bad bacteria' gives off 'waste'. Essentially, bacteria "poo" which is very toxic for us. Dairy, meat, eggs and peanuts all have very high levels of bacteria waste. One such waste is called "aflatoxin," which is found in high amounts in peanuts in particular.
You may not be ready to give up all animal products right away, or ever, and that's fine. You don't need to give them up entirely forever. However, these foods are some the hardest to digest, and the hardest on your stomach. Back when I used to have stomach pains after every meal, I noticed that meat in particular gave me the hardest time, with beans coming as a close second.
- High-water content foods are more hydrating that water alone. The more juicy and watery a food is, by nature, the more oxygen it provides, the more hydration your cells receive, and the more easily-assimilated the minerals within the food. High water content foods are: melons, berries, celery, leafy greens, apples, mangoes, citrus fruits, papaya, tomatoes, bell peppers and cucumber.
I mention this because I've never had a client with a stomach problem who wasn't also severely dehydrated. This doesn't necessarily mean that your particular condition can tolerate all of the foods I just listed as having high water content. In fact, some digestive conditions will react particularly negatively to melons, citrus fruits. However, if you want to heal, one of the foods on that list is a must: leafy greens. I know you probably didn't want to hear that (believe me, neither did I!), yet it is the truth.
Leafy greens are the most healing food on the Earth. Think about how many leaves an Elephant eats in a day to power its massive body. Greens are the bulk of the diet for most large mammals. What are humans? A large mammal. Leafy greens are where you want to get your protein from. This is key to healing. Other high-protein foods – such as beans – will be especially harmful to you due to the enzymes required to pull apart the dense globular proteins found in such foods.
I've given three-hour lectures on the subject of protein. Here is the short of it: Vegetables offer protein in a form that is easy to digest and utilize. Beans, seeds, nuts, grains, meats, eggs, etc, offer protein in a globular form that will stress your already stressed stomach. You don't have to worry about not getting enough protein from vegetables. Athletes such as Tim Van Orden get all their protein from just fruits and vegetables with no seeds, nuts, meats or protein powders.
When Eating Cooked Foods
In terms of cooked foods: aim for boiled foods. Avoid frying, baking, deep-frying, toasting, etc. Also, avoid wheat and barley. Gluten has been shown to be a problem in all cases for over 30,000 patients who had stomach discomfort.
Rice noodles, millet, brown rice, t'eff, quinoa, amaranth, etc, can easily take the place of wheat products.
If you're reading this and you experience irritable bowel syndrome, here are some other possibilities:
- You eat too many beans. Click here to learn why beans are a bad idea if you have IBS or gastritis.
- You eat too much globular protein. Click here if you're unfamiliar with what globular proteins are.
- You eat too many nuts. Click here to learn why nuts can be aggravating to a weakened digestion.
- You eat genetically modified foods. Click here to read about the impact of genetically modified foods on the body, including the nine main genetically modified crops. This article also includes other information related to calming a disturbed digestive system.
Try It For Two Weeks
If you can follow the tips I've outlined here for two weeks, I promise huge improvements. If you think this will be too much to remember or too hard to implement by yourself, consider getting a meal plan to walk you through the steps.
For now, start to become aware of digestion times. Start taking note of the digestion time of a meal, and avoid combining fruits with other foods. Eating steak and potatoes at 12:00pm and then fruit at 1:00pm still counts as food-combining with fruit because the steak and potatoes will still be in the digestive system.
For additional support, information, and recipes, sign up for my e-course on the bottom right. You'll receive an e-mail once or twice a week giving you critical information to improving your health and life to support your dreams. If you're not interested in the course, but do want to hear from me occasionally, sign up for my monthly newsletter on the left and you'll get an e-mail once or twice a month.
Curious about how I got into all this stuff in the first place? You can read a little bit of my story and also see before and after photos here.