When my daughter is nervous or feeling stressed, she often experiences digestive upset. Her tummy hurts and her stools get a little loose. The symptoms appear about a week before big events, like a dance performance, leaving for sleepaway camp, or the first day of school. To help calm her nervous tummy and firm up her stools, these are the foods I give her.
First, I start with the “BRAT” diet. I learned of this diet from my pediatrician when my kids were much younger and experiencing diarrhea. It includes bland foods that are binding to help firm loose stools.
“B” for bananas
This easily digestible fruit contains pectin which helps firm stools. It’s also rich in potassium and other vitamins, so it can help your body replace essential nutrients lost from diarrhea.
“R” for rice
Since rice is bland, it won’t put additional stress on your digestive system. It also helps absorb fluids, so your stools get harder. And, the starch of the rice coats your stomach, which helps make your tummy feel better.
“A” for applesauce
Like bananas, apples are also a good source of pectin. When you’re experiencing loose stools, applesauce is preferred over raw apples because the cooked-down applesauce is easier to digest. Also, apple juice is not recommended for loose stools due to its high sugar and liquid content.
“T” for toast
Why toast over a plain piece of bread? The char that you get with toast actually helps absorb toxins in the stomach that can cause discomfort.
For additional tummy support
I give her some mint tea. A cup of warm tea, regardless of the flavor, automatically has a soothing effect. I use mint tea because the active plant compounds in peppermint are known to calm stomach muscles. Interestingly, sugar-free mint gum is not recommended for digestive upset, as some sweeteners may cause digestive issues like gas and bloating.
I also let her drink ginger ale, as the combination of ginger and carbonation has a calming effect on the stomach. When purchasing ginger ale, be sure to check labels. Some popular brands use artificial ginger flavorings instead of real ginger.
Although I have not yet given it to my daughter, fennel is another food that calms a nervous tummy. Fennel seeds contain compounds that soothe the muscles of the stomach and digestive tract.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of digestive distress as a result of stress or anxiousness, try adding incorporating some of these food items in your diet. And, if you have a favorite tummy-calming food that’s not on the list, please share.
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