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Soothe Your Grumpy Intestines

Soothe Your Grumpy Intestines

How can I tell which foods bug me?
Why do I get gas?
What can I do about crampy pain?
What if milk is the problem?

Your body can become irritated by certain foods you eat. Ever notice you get crampy pains, gas, and bloating after a pizza party? Maybe you get *constipated* and don't have a bowel movement for a day or two and then have *diarrhea*. But you don't have to live with the discomfort. What you don't eat can't hurt you. So treat the foods that bug you like an e-mail virus—hit delete! back to top

How can I tell which foods bug me?
Think like a detective. That's what health professionals do! What did you eat before your *symptoms* began? Ice cream? Chicken fingers? If you keep a list of food suspects, you might notice a trend. Some girls can't digest the *lactose* in milk. If you're symptoms are severe, talk to your health professional. back to top

Why do I get gas?
All girls get gas from time to time. Sure, it can be embarrassing. But gas is normal with a healthy, high fiber diet. If you don't have it, you're not eating enough fiber. back to top

What can I do about crampy pain?
If you have crampy pain and constipation or diarrhea all the time, you may want to make some changes in your diet. Start by trying one or two of these tips:
  • Eat smaller meals. *Graze* throughout the day instead of eating three big meals. Large meals can make symptoms worse.
  • Eat more *fiber* to reduce bloating, pain, diarrhea, and constipation. Good sources of fiber are whole-grain breads, brown rice, pears and apples with the skin, kidney and pinto beans, broccoli, carrots, and green peas. Add more fiber to your diet little by little to give your body time to adjust. At first, eating more fiber may cause more bloating and gas. But within a few weeks, this will go away.
  • Drink more water. Fill a bottle with tap water and sip from it throughout the day. Your *digestive system* needs water to function.
  • Avoid high-fat foods, which can trigger symptoms. The more fat you eat, the more severe your symptoms may be. Follow MyPyramid and choose lean meats, skinless poultry, and fish. Use butter, margarine, and oil sparingly. Nonfat milk and dairy products are also smart choices.
  • Check the ingredient list on food labels for sorbitol, a sweetener found in sugar-free treats like candy and gum. Sorbitol can cause diarrhea.
  • Drop the coffee and cola, and switch to herbal teas, fruit juices, and sodas without *caffeine*. Caffeine can make your intestines spasm, causing that crampy pain.
If none of these changes reduces your symptoms, be sure to talk with your health professional. back to top

What if milk is the problem?
If milk and dairy products trigger crampy pain and constipation or diarrhea, your body may not be able to digest a sugar in milk called lactose. Girls who are *lactose intolerant* don't have enough *lactase*, the *enzyme* that breaks down lactose when you eat dairy products. This is a common problem so don't feel weird about it. Next time you're in the market, look for lactose-free milk products or try soy milk. You can also try taking a lactase supplement to help your body handle milk foods better. Or try dairy alternatives that provide the calcium your body needs. back to top

Last Modified Date: 3/27/2001
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