Already with the first half of the title I have managed to confuse a good lot of people already. Broccoli? Really?
Yes indeed. Not just now as a ‘grown up’ who’s had to give up the childhood picky-ness that now I get to put up with as a Mom. I loved it as a kid just as much (except if you put cheese on it, EWW YUCKY).
Raw, steamed, seared, grilled, broiled, tossed, chopped, pureed, you name it. It to this day is one of my favorite flavors, textures and sources of fiber. Unfortunately it’s my stupid guts favorite thing to throw a fit over.
Unlike a lot of the foods I avoid for a variety of symptom triggers (migraines, joint inflammation, sleep problems, anxiety) this wonderful cruciferous vegetable ONLY wreaks havoc in my digestive tract. Not only does it cause problems on it’s own, but it also does a lovely job of making other complications worse.
This isn’t specific to broccoli of course. Most of the other Brassicaceae foods also create problems, but not usually as severe (unless I decided to eat a whole raw cabbage as a snack). For many people effected by IBS or other conditions effecting the intestines, colon, stomach etc this isn’t new news. It’s a group of foods that are not only hard to digest but have a unique chemical make up that can be tasking on the alimentary tract while digestion is taking place.
The thing is, that tough to digest fiber and the unique chemical make up of these veggies are really great for your body (other than the nasty side effects for some of us of course). So the idea of actually liking to eat them, for a person with a normal digestive system is AWESOME. It’s also part of the reason I continue to eat them when I can even with the knowledge that my gut isn’t going to be thanking me for it, at least not right away.
While I haven’t found a sure fire way to keep them in my diet without trouble, I am learning to find ways to limit the ‘attack of the colon-killer broccoli’.
Not eating it raw for one. It’s a sacrifice I am willing to make. Without cooking before eating I know I’m in for every single possible intestinal problem that comes with IBS and hard to digest foods. Even in small amounts (like say a little bit of broccoli slaw thrown on a salad for some crunch) it wreaks havoc.
Over all, eating it in smaller amounts. This one really is a no brainier for most people who have any type of food sensitivity (but not a full blown allergic reaction…. or just like to live life on the wild side like me, still consuming foods that are known to cause problems). I don’t have a huge side of steamed broccoli with my salmon, I only have a small serving of brussel sprouts as tradition with my Christmas turkey dinner. Not only is it simply less work for my body to go through to digest but it leaves room for my next tip to work.
Eating starchy food with it. The worst thing I could possibly do would be to have a nice big juicy steak with a healthy (aka giant yummy pile) serving of cruciferous veggies on the side. While the low-carb diet crowd would be proud the lack of easy to digest foods is a recipe for disaster. Lots of protein with a lot of complex carbs/fiber can almost guarantee a trip to the doctors for intestinal distress, a blockage and at the very least a week of constipation, bloat, cramping and hemorrhoids. No thanks, bring on some potatoes.
Lastly, probiotics and digestive enzymes. While everything else is about ACTUALLY eating it, these are used in preparation. I’m not even going to pretend to advocate for one or the other or what of the many strains of each any one person should go for. Our own enzyme and bacteria counts are vastly different and it takes a lot of trial and error and for a lot of people help from a professional to figure out what mix works best. But when you find it, oh my goodness what the difference it can make (I’m talking digestively in general here, not just when eating the little green trees). For me, I have have to change them up relatively often, kind of like hair conditioner. Consistency IS NOT the key. Every time I am having over all more trouble with IBS symptoms or not digesting food well I consider switching it up.
The whole reason this post came to mind today was, well, because I was eating broccoli! Not just for lunch today (leftovers from last nights supper) but because I’ve had it a total of 4 times this last week. Happy to say though that all of these tricks thrown together, especially my newest trial of probiotics has made it much more of a pleasure to eat.
Not that it’s complication free though. I’m still having some bloating, gurgling, gas and my digestion is a little sluggish BUT I’m not having the usual bend over in writhing pain cramps or frustrating constipation/hemorrhoids that automatically appeared after most meals with this family of vegetables. All in all, the benefits are finally actually worth the side effects.
I can be cautiously optimistic that at least for the time being I can enjoy one of my favorite foods, with a little peace of mind and a lot more peace of gut than before.