Can Your New Healthy Diet Upset Your Stomach?

There’s no question that a healthy diet is better for you than an unhealthy diet, and the beginning of a new year is the perfect time to make changes in your life that will improve your health. Unfortunately, it’s not always quite as easy as waking up one morning and saying, “I’m going to be healthy now.” Change can be challenging, even when that change is good. Not only is it be difficult to break bad eating habits and stick to good ones, but your body might not be willing to immediately cooperate.

As amazing as our bodies are, they sometimes need to time to adjust to sudden and drastic changes — even good ones.

Are you eating more fiber? Good for you! Whole grains have more nutritional value than refined grains, and those salads and steamed veggies are filled with vitamins and minerals. If you’re making a big change, though — say, going from fast food burgers and fries for lunch to salads — it can take your digestive system a little while to get up to speed. Gas and bloating are common side effects.

That doesn’t mean you should go back to pillowy white bread and potato chips. Just increase fiber gradually over a week or so, and your digestive system will love you for getting more roughage into your meals.

Are you adding yogurt and other dairy foods? First, keep in mind that sweetened yogurt can have as much sugar as ice cream and sodas, so check nutrition labels to be sure you’re really making a healthy choice.

Some dairy products contain lactose, a sugar that many people can’t digest easily. If you’re lactose intolerant, drinking milk can lead to stomach cramps and diarrhea. If you want to increase your calcium intake and avoid lactose, choose hard cheeses, dark green leafy vegetables, or canned salmon.

Don’t get duped by “healthy food” labels. There are a lot of foods that are marketed as being good for you because they are low in calories or low in fat. Many of these foods use artificial ingredients and additives in order to get rid of the “bad stuff” (which is a bit ironic). Some of these additives can cause a whole slew of problems for some people including nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting.

If you’re worried about your new diet upsetting your stomach, meet with your primary care physician or a GI specialist.