Easing a Grumpy Tummy… Who Knew It Could Be So Easy?

I have a love-hate relationship with my stomach. I know I’m not alone. I feel like half of the blogs that I read are written by young women with similar problems. And we’ve all been told we have IBS, the all-encompassing (and oh-so-unhelpful) diagnosis for grumpy tummies that will not cooperate no matter how hard we try. (Aside: my stomach happens to be misbehaving right now, this very minute. Sigh. Will have to try these tummy tips.)

I’m not going to say I have a definitive solution, because I don’t. But I do have a few tricks up my sleeve that help me keep my disobedient stomach in check. I’ll share my top 3, and maybe if I find more I’ll do an Ease-My-Tummy-Tricks Part 2.

  1. Do NOT snack. I find that the more often I eat, the more my stomach bothers me. Forcing myself to eat 3 meals a day (and 3 meals a day only) and possibly an afternoon snack, if desired, definitely offers major improvements to the stomach situation. When I am eating constantly my digestive system never needs a rest. I give myself rest each day, so why not do the same for my stomach? It makes sense.
  2. Do NOT overeat (especially fiber-y foods). Yes, salads are great – but in moderation. If you eat a salad for every meal you will be uncomfortable. You’ll also start to think that over-fullness is normal. I spent years overloading with almost too many veggies, and now I’m still trying to get used to being satisfied when I’m not stuffed. The Japanese have a great expression to summarize these healthy eating habits: “hara hachi bu” – which means precisely, “eat until you’re 80% full”. I look up to both Bobby (who is half Japanese) and his mother for their ability to eat moderately.
  3. Yoga twists. If all else fails, this is what I turn to, because in addition to helping my tum, yoga stretches are soothing for me. One of the best ways to massage and ease the digestive tract is to breathe deeply while in a twist. My favorites are…
    • supine twist: lie on your back. Pull one knee into your chest. Drop the knee to the opposite side (right to left for example) and look away from the knee (if you’ve dropped your right knee to the left, look right). Take 10 deep breaths. Repeat on the opposite side.
    • seated twist: Cross your right knee over your left. Twist to the right. Take 10 deep breaths. Repeat on the opposite side. Make sure your back is elongated and upright; your shoulders should draw down the back. As you breathe out each time, twist a little deeper.

Does your stomach get angry at you? What are your tricks to calm it down?

16 Replies to “Easing a Grumpy Tummy… Who Knew It Could Be So Easy?”

  1. Yes, my stomach gets angry at me, and I really hate it because it affects my appetite. There are days when everything feels great, I’m hungry when I should be, full when I should be, etc, etc. But, I get stomach problems pretty frequently. I think my anxiety goes to my stomach or something. I agree that while fiber is good, eating too much of it creates problems. I actually feel better when I cut back a little bit on the fiber. Those yoga poses are great — twists, in general, are awesome for stomach problems.

  2. I have Celiac Disease – so I definitely feel your pain (literally) I find that tea helps out a lot, and water – tons of water, haha. Simple stretching poses help too – like the one’s you’ve shown 🙂

    Hope you’re feeling okay today!

  3. yoga twists, yes! Great and love them.

    Resting our digestion and not eating all the time. SO true! For some, they find snacking or “little meals” all day are helpful (i.e.this or that food blogger who is writing about her 6th meal that day…)yeah, not me. I am a snake. I eat a fairly big amt at once and then, I am fine. I function better on all levels when my body isnt in digestion mode 24/7.

    I hope you get some relief…I personally think it’s food allergies and you just dont know what’s wrong..yet. And it takes a ton of detective work. Sorry that sounds like unsolicited advice which i totally don’t mean in to. I just know that for 25 yrs, I lived your life til i figured out what was up, for me.

    Good luck Maggie!! and i wished you still lived in CA 🙂

  4. Thank you so much for these tips! I have a sensitive stomach, too (once I ate a piece of greasy Hainanese chicken – a piece! – and then had stomachaches and diarrhea for the rest of the day. Not nice.) I never thought about not snacking! Come to think of it, I do always feel sick after my late night snacks, but that’s probably got something to do with the copious amount of fat (peanut butter, chocolate chips) that I sort of binge on. Not the best thing for my stomach, I admit.

    Thanks for the yoga poses, too! 🙂 I’ll definitely keep these tips in mind. 😀

  5. couldn’t help but comment… i have SOO many stomach issues, like a lot of young women. i really have trouble pinning down what triggers my issues except stress (always a trigger). i get every symptom on the spectrum, but can also go weeks at a time without issue. i actually find that small snacks help – on bad days, my stomach seems to want to eat itself when it’s empty. good note on the fibery-foods and overeating, though – i’m sure i often tend to go the extreme with my snacking sometimes. thanks for the post!

  6. Hi Maggie,

    I hope I’m not being rude, but have you ever been tested for coeliacs disease? The symptoms you mention sound exactly what I used to have. I also have heard that coeliacs is thought to occur in as many as 1/100 people. I do hear you on the salad thing as well – I get my recommended veggie intake easily, and since I’ve cut down on salads (but increasing kale etc) I’ve felt MUCH better!

    Love the blog by the way!

  7. You know what really get’s my stomach all crampy and tied up in knots? Whipped stuff! Especially whipped cream (which I used to enjoy straight from the tub). Now within hours, I am regretting it. Doubled over in pain regret!

  8. Thanks for the tips! I have a lot of stomach discomfort to the extent that sometimes I can only lie and my bed and not move until it goes away. I think I really need to keep tip #1 in mind. Otherwise the yoga twists really help me. Also lying down and rubbing my belly in clockwise circles strangely helps.

  9. WOW I may need to try #1 as well. I’ve heard it from different sources, for different reasons (Jillian Michaels said “I eat three, solid meals a day, and I don’t snack.” in that recent Women’s Health article, I think macrobiotic teachings say the same thing for healthy digestion, etc etc etc)… but if it will help settle my belly I’m all for it.

    I think anytime I eat till I am full or over-full it sets my system off, sometimes for days! Intuitive eating and hunger signals should be the easiest thing in the world but for me it’s the hardest!

  10. I always used to say I have a “stomach of steel,” but lately it has become much more sensitive. I do notice that twist poses help with digestion, as does the walking 🙂 I have wondered for a while if I get too much fiber, as I am almost always in the 30-40grams a day (at least!).
    Thanks for the tips Maggie 🙂

  11. Hi Mags,

    You know I’m in this club girl! Your tips are great. To get my system moving if it is stuck sometimes cat/cow stretches will help, and also moving from child’s pose to kneeling plank with the breath pace, and then adding upward facing dog to elongate the belly will loosen things up before I twist.

    I recently started taking two herbal/flower essence supplements that I hope to blog about soon. They have made a difference in my tummy pain in how it is affected by my emotional state and anxiety.

    Thanks again for your great tips! Love the Japanese saying.

  12. My stomach issues cleared up a ton when I started eating less dairy, but I still get occasional bloating, cramping, and just general discomfort. I was in the same boat as you and just way overdoing the vegetables, so I’ve started cooking smaller portions of veggies in some kind of fat- helps a ton. I think I notice a difference when I supplement with probiotics, too.

  13. Thank you for those helpful yoga poses! I TOTALLY agree with you about having an angry stomach. It can be so frustrating. I used to DREAD eating b/c it my stomach would hurt so bad afterwards.
    I have also been diagnosed with IBS. I have actually found GREAT relief in my new way of eating, which is to avoid insoluble fiber on an empty stomach (beans, cabbage, raw salads, etc.) and eat a lot of soluble fiber (pasta, oatmeal, etc.).
    I am happy to report that I no longer dread eating b/c now that I have learnt which order to eat my food in, I often avoid the dreaded stomach upset.
    I hope these tips help! I know how awful it can feel to have a “flare-up.”

  14. Every time after my meal stomach gets grumpy and makes funny sounds like am hunrgy again and the most emberaresing moment it would makes sounds that everyone who am with would hear that and i just feel so ashemed of myself for that even when i follow a frequently way of eating 3 times a day but still and i do execrise actualy i play sport volley ball and male netball to would anyone please try to help me out here with my grumpy tummy please

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