When I first started experiencing IBS symptoms, the first question doctors would always ask me was: “are you eating a lot of vegetables and getting enough fiber in your diet?” I always rolled my eyes and answered the obvious question of yes. I eat so many vegetables to the point where my family calls me a bunny rabbit, so when doctors would press me with this obvious question in hopes to solve my digestive issues, it would drive me crazy. And the irony of it is that a lot of vegetables actually made my symptoms worse. When I went on the low FODMAP diet (which I’ve talked about in an earlier post) and started eliminating a lot of the vegetables they recommended, I realized that all of my favorite veggies were cruciferous vegetables ie: broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, etc. Cruciferous vegetables contain a sugar called raffinose, which ferments in your stomach resulting in gas and bloating. This was clearly the reason for a lot of my discomfort and I was devastated. I could eat endless amounts of brussels sprouts and broccoli and I dreaded the breakup with them.
Which leads me to the topic of this post: it’s not always what vegetables you eat, but rather how you prepare them. Through my own experience reintroducing vegetables back into my diet, I discovered that I can eat almost all veggies (except cabbage and onions) as long as they’re cooked: “Cooking any vegetable softens the fiber and shrinks the portion as some of the water cooks out, so it takes up less space in the GI tract,” “It won’t eliminate or prevent bloating altogether, but it may make your veggies easier to digest.” (Petitjean, Charlene K.) Cooking or steaming them also breaks down the raffinose, eliminating most bloating and gas. After I learned this, the breakup blues went away and I was a new woman! It was so amazing to know that I could still eat the foods I loved, I just had to change the way I prepared them. Like I mentioned earlier, I still cannot eat cabbage or onions even if they are cooked, so you may have to do some trial and error because everyone’s body is different, but it’s a great start to understand why you may experience bloating and discomfort and hopefully give you a solution to manage it!
Here’s a really great article that talks about cruciferous vegetables, fruits, and other foods that may be triggers for gas and bloating if you want to geek out more like me!
There are so many essential vitamins and nutrients in cruciferous vegetables, so ditch eating them raw and get cooking to reduce your bloat and check out my favorite cooked veggies recipe below!
Easy Carrot Sheet Pan Recipe
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Place carrots on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper, drizzle with garlic infused olive oil, sprinkle with dill and salt+pepper, and cook in the oven for 15-20 min.
Petitjean, Charlene K. “The Best and Worst Foods for Bloating.” Time, 02 May 2014, https://time.com/85889/the-best-and-worst-foods-for-bloating/. Accessed 29 Augist 2021.