Meet Wellness Collective, our new, immersive curriculum with Athleta that hooks you up with actionable advice from the smartest experts and brand founders in wellness right now. Get the goods at our monthly event series in New York City plus our online one-month wellness plans. Here, holistic wellness coach Mia Ridgen answers your most-pressing questions about plant-rich diets.
Let’s be real: When you boost your intake of brightly colored fruits and hydrating veggies, you expect all good things—like radiant skin, day-to-night energy, and general good vibes.
The one thing you don’t expect? GI issues. But when we asked you for your questions about eating more plants, it became clear that some of you feel bloated and uncomfortable after that kale caesar.
To find out the truth around the issue—can plants actually stress out your gut?—we asked holistic health coach and RASA founder Mia Ridgen for her thoughts and advice for avoiding blah feelings.
Scroll down for the holistic health coach’s tips to avoid gut issues when upping your veggie intake.
1. Keep a food journal
Filling your fridge with the full color spectrum of produce deserves all the grown-up points—but if you’re experiencing gassiness or bloating you may want to show some restraint at the farmers’ market.
While Ridgen works with her clients to make their way to eat 20 different vegetables weekly (“herbs and different lettuces count too”), trying new-to-you produce along the way, she urges them to experiment. “It’s a process, take the time to get to know your body and figure out what works for you,” she says.
A simple way to keep track of how you feel after mealtime is writing in a physical food journal—in case you can’t even recall what you ate for breakfast (same). “It’s an excellent way to better understand your body, what foods make you feel good and figure out what is causing bloat and gas,” Ridgen says. “I make a food journal, The Well Journal, which I prefer to apps that count calories/macros/points, as I find those take the joy out of eating.”
2. Limit the number of cruciferous vegetables (if they bother you)
You’re more likely to feel vibrant than crumby when you’re noshing on more nutrient-dense, from-the-earth food, according to Ridgen. In her experience, though, if you’re experiencing bloat it’s likely due to cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage. If you can relate, Ridgen suggests skipping them altogether.
“Luckily, there are innumerable vegetables available to us, so if one doesn’t work for you (even if you just don’t like the taste), try another,” she says. Fill your harvest bowl with non-cruciferous leafy greens like lettuce, endives, spinach, and Swiss chard. Sky’s the limit.
3. Cook vegetables well and chew well
After your lunchtime Sweetgreen or midday snack of carrot sticks, do you spend the rest of the day feeling gassy, bloated, or generally uncomfortable? “Some people do better when the vegetables are cooked, rather than raw,” explains Ridgen.
But your belly fix might be even simpler than that—it could be changing how much you chew each bite. “Chewing is also totally underrated,” explains Rigden. “We should be chewing each bite 20 to 30 times to increase absorption of nutrients and help digestion.”
4. Pressure cook your beans
Beans are a pantry all-star. They taste great in breakfast burritos, with rice, and in dips. But your favorite salad topper can cause embarrassing gas and bloating.
Instead of avoiding beans on workdays and before date nights, Rigden has a foolproof way to prep beans to lessen the side effects (thank goodness).
“Beans are hard for many people to digest,” she says. “Some people find it easier to digest beans when they are pressure cooked.” And if you’re in a time crunch, there’s a store bought variety: “Eden Foods actually pressure cooks all their legumes before canning them.” Cool beans.
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Photo: Stocksy/ Harald Walker
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