Published: 18/03/2022 Tags: The Ehlers-Danlos Society News

Nutrition Hacks with Lorna Ryan

We are joined this week by Lorna Ryan, Registered Clinical Nutritionist/Nutritional Therapy, and Lifestyle Medicine Practitioner, for Nutrition and Hydration week, and the topic is ‘Nutrition Hacks.’

The following information should not constitute medical advice, dietary advice, or treatment. Individuals should consult a healthcare professional before making changes to their nutritional plan. 

“There are some supportive aids and nutritional hacks I work through with clients that they find beneficial. Some of these hacks are very well known by every nutritionist or dietician. 

Consuming a protein source with every meal is a very good one for a few factors:

  • Having protein with your meal will help slow down any sharp rise in blood sugar. This helps blood sugar balance. 
  • Consuming protein sources with every meal will help you feel fuller for longer, as in it will sustain your energy. But if you do feel full quickly we’d want to prioritize eating your protein at that mealtime to make sure that you have sustained energy. 

A good second hack is to plan your daily or weekly meals. This is two-fold. 

  • Firstly, it helps you look at what you’re eating over the course of the week but also helps you plan what you know you’re going to be having at lunch and dinner, to stop you may be running out of time and then not eating or being too tired at the end of the day and again, skipping the meal or going for a takeaway or processed meal or just reaching for a bag of crisps to fill you up. 
  • We want to keep a regular meal time pattern. This is because the body likes regular timings and the digestive system likes regular meals. Dependent on you and what your lifestyle is, you may want to have breakfast, lunch, and dinner at a set time. You may find that eating smaller meals five times a day works better for you but keep to a regular pattern. 

The next three are little things that I call hacks that I use clinically. 

If you are someone that is able to eat beans but you do feel bloated, we can look at how well you digest them. Using tinned beans, for example, black beans or kidney beans, because they’ve been sat in the tin and that tins full of water, they’ve started to break down slightly before you then cook them. It helps that the beans have started an enzyme process of being broken down before you even put them into your mouth, chew them really well, and then it will help your body digest them better. And with beans, a smaller portion is always wiser than a huge big bowl because they can be quite fermenting and cause flatulence. 

If you are someone that struggles with constipation, we know within evidence that two kiwi fruits in the morning may help your constipation. This is only if you are under a gastroenterologist and they have not found any other cause mechanically that they are addressing for your constipation. If it’s purely slow motility, or maybe you’re not eating enough fiber to support your body making a good bowel motion, then two kiwi fruits can be quite stimulating. If you have loose stools more on the diarrhea side, we would not want you to be having two kiwi fruits in the morning. 

Pineapple and papaya naturally contain enzymes that are used as digestive aids. So if you were to be given a digestive aid supplement, that’s likely going to contain some enzymes from pineapple or papaya-like leaves. If you chop up some pineapple and papaya or even juice the skin of an organic pineapple into a little shot glass and you have it before your meal it may help as a digestive aid for you. 

Next, you have herbs. Herbs often get left off of nutritional intake but they are really nutritious and have quite a lot of minerals in and some vitamins. Basil, rosemary, oregano: if you add those to your dishes and even into hot tea, the oils will come out and be quite nourishing for you. It’s a good add into if you want to increase any more nutrient density. 

If you have a small appetite, think about your smaller mighty foods. Think in terms of the portion size. We want it to be small, but we want to have it very hard-hitting amount of nutrients. For example, you could have a small brown rice cracker with a quail egg, some capers, and broccoli sprouts and that’s quite a satisfying nourishing little lunch. 

If you suspect any foods are an issue for you, you can use a food and symptom diary. This is helpful for both you and a clinician if you were to speak to one. For you, it helps you track looking back what types of foods have you eaten? Have you been having that rainbow of colors? Have you been having good sources of protein and a variety? Have you been having your oily fish? And also it helps you to track whether a food has caused you a symptom and therefore you can write it down and you look back. 

When you hand it over to a clinician like one of your doctors or dieticians, they can look and see a pattern. This is the pattern that we’ll be looking for clinically in terms of Monday through to Friday. What foods have you eaten? What symptoms have you experienced? Then we can discuss with you. It’s a very good tool to help get to the bottom of any potential food issues.” 

Tomorrow we will cover some tips to optimize hydration! Watch Lorna’s talk on nutrition and hydration now, in full, here.

Lorna Ryan is a Clinical Nutritionist/Nutritional Therapy, and Lifestyle Medicine Practitioner who has a clinical practice based in London, UK, and online internationally. Lorna is the Chair of the Diet and Nutrition Working Group of the International Consortium on the Ehlers-Danlos Syndromes (EDS) and Hypermobility Spectrum Disorders. 

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