Instead of eating as much of my way through New York City as possible within a 24-hour period as I had originally planned for today, I find myself partaking in a quite contrary task: nursing my melancholy tummy back to health from a mild bug. This also explains my absense from the weekly What I Ate Wednesday party, unless of course you’d like to see a bunch of pictures of bananas, oatmeal, tea, and rice—thrilling, I know.
I would, however, like to share the gentle foods that have served as my family’s foolproof remedies for upset stomachs for generations, as well as a couple of my own personal recommendations.
- Rice and oatmeal. At anyone’s first bemoaning of a stomachache, my mother immediately mandates that they eat a bowl of hot rice or oatmeal. Though not completely certain about the truth behind her assertion that the individual grains plump in the stomach to soak up any excess acid, I do know that the blandness and porridge-like cooking process of both rice and oatmeal contribute to their ease of digestibility so as not to further upset the stomach.
- Bananas. Another quite bland food, bananas help restore normal bowel function by acting as binders.
- Ginger. Stimulating digestion by speeding up the movement of food from the stomach into the upper small intestine, ginger often finds its way into my repertoire of tummy-happy-making foods. I usually consume my ginger in the form of tea, though this morning I added dried ginger to a bowl of oatmeal.
- Miso. Rife with powerful digestive agents such as lactic acid bacteria, fermentation molds, and enzymes, miso aids the breakdown of foods in an efficient manner while restoring intestinal flora with beneficial probiotic bacteria. Take care not to overheat miso, however—boiling it destroys any friendly digestive properties.
- Warm lemon water. Even before I became aware of the bountiful health benefits associated with drinking warm lemon water, my mother swore that steeping lemon rinds in hot water would cure any stomachache. Indeed, warm lemon water stimulates the muscle contractions in the gastrointestinal tract while flushing out any toxins.
- Sauerkraut. As if I don’t extol the virtues of fermented foods enough on this blog, I’d love to once again recommend sauerkraut as a magical remedy for any and all health concerns. Okay, perhaps sauerkraut won’t mend a broken leg, but it will, like miso, replenish the stomach with bacteria necessary for a smoothly functioning digestive system. Also, since sauerkraut undergoes fermentation, one could consider it already half-digested, rendering it all the more gentle on a tender tummy.
- Water. The digestive system can absolutely not function without water, so as always it remains imperative to stay hydrated, especially in the midst of stomach problems.
That said, my meals today have consisted of oatmeal cooked in homemade almond milk with a mashed banana, a smidge of miso, and a sprinkle of dried ginger stirred in, as well as a bowl of brown rice (cooked a bit longer than usual and with a dash more water simply to further increase its digestibility) coated in flax oil and miso with a dollop of sauerkraut (pictured below). A quick word on flax oil—a couple sources I discovered today recommended the oil as an effective intestinal lubricant to ease bowel movements. Though I’ve never before heard of flax oil as particularly beneficial for digestion, I consumed it today with no ill effects and intend to continue experimenting with it should any stomachaches occur in my near future.
Comment Provoking Questions: What are your favorite foods for a happy tummy? Are there any stomachache remedies that have been passed down in your family for generations?
Until next time, Ali.