Start With a Food Diary
Some people can eat cabbage, broccoli, and other vegetables without side effects like excessive gas and diarrhea — and some can’t, especially those living with ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. Dairy products such as milk and cheese cause diarrhea for some people, while others react badly to wheat and high-fiber foods. A little detective work can help you determine the cause of your diarrhea and identify any food intolerances you may have. Start by keeping a food diary and gradually eliminating triggers. Here are some top suspects that commonly lead to diarrhea.
Wait — isn’t fiber supposed to be good for digestive health? Yes, but if you eat too much fiber you can develop excessive gas and diarrhea. Add fiber to your diet slowly so you don’t cause digestive problems, says Lawrence Schiller, MD, program director of the gastroenterology fellowship at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas. When diarrhea is already a problem, you should eliminate high-fiber foods from your diet for a few weeks and see if that helps. Fruits to skip include pears, apples, most berries, figs, prunes, dates, and raisins. High-fiber vegetables include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, artichokes, and peas. Watch out for nuts and legumes (meaning all types of beans as well as seeds such as sunflower kernels) and keep whole cereals and grains such as barley, bran, brown rice, oatmeal, popcorn, and whole-wheat bread on your radar, too
Gluten and Wheat
Some people have a food intolerance to gluten, a protein that is found in wheat, rye, and barley products. This condition is a common autoimmune disorder known as celiac disease. People with celiac disease must follow a strict gluten-free diet every day. If you have celiac disease, always check food labels because it may not be obvious when a product contains wheat, rye, or barley. With growing awareness of celiac disease and wheat allergies, more gluten-free products are now available on grocery and health food store shelves.