With Valentine’s Day around the corner, many couples will have plans this week for a romantic date. While the ambience and taste of the food top the list of priorities when settling on a dinner location and menu, you might also want to consider the type of foods you’ll be having.
Uncomfortable situations like bloated stomachs, diarrhoea, excessive burping or flatulence are the last things you want ruining your after-dinner plans. But the fact is, you might not realise that certain foods you’ve eaten were the cause of the irritation. So, to avoid such a situation from occurring, keep a lookout for these foods you should avoid for the evening!
Foods to avoid on a date
- Beans: Beans are notorious for causing bloated tummies and flatulence. Our digestive system is unable to digest oligosaccharides (a type of sugar) in beans. Thus the compound is only broken down in the large intestine, causing fermentation and gas production.
- Coffee: Your favourite morning pick-me-up is a known irritant to the digestive system due to its acidic nature. Bloating and diarrhea are some possible side effects of having coffee, and this is made worse if you add milk and sugar.
- Dairy products: Lactose intolerance needs no introduction, but dairy also contains other components like casein and whey that many people don’t know they are actually sensitive to. To be safe from the frequent toilet runs, opt for alternatives like almond or soy milk instead.
- Garlic/onions:Like beans, garlic and onions are also flatulence-inducers, in addition to giving the eater pungent-smelling breath. While they are nutritious, having too much during a date may not be the best idea.
- Fried foods: Fried chicken or fish and chips may sound like a tempting choice, but their high fat content means the digestive system is likely to be overloaded, resulting in discomfort like bloating or nausea.
- Overly salty foods: High amounts of sodium in foods such as processed foods, canned foods, and cured meats causes water retention and bloating, which can make one look puffy or feel uncomfortable.
- Carbonated drinks: The urge to burp after downing a can of coke is probably familiar to everyone. Not to mention, the high sugar content in sodas adds to the bloat and unhealthy nature of these drinks. For a safer, healthier choice, go for still water or tea instead.
- Overly spicy food: *Resist the urge to show off your spice tolerance, because an overload on spice can cause stomach pain and diarrhoea. Existing reflux and stomach ulcers can also be aggravated by the acidity and capsaicin in hot spices.
What to eat instead
With so many foods to avoid, you might be wondering what’s left to eat on your dinner date! Generally, you will want to stick to a meal that is lower on carbs, sugar, and sodium – as these are the main culprits of bloat and flatulence.
Here are two suggestions for a meal that is suitable for the occasion:
- Chicken: *Choose a lean cut of chicken for a good source of protein that is less heavy than red meats. Just make sure to stay away from fried permutations, and go easy on the sauce if there’s any. You can pair this with a side of salad and baked potatoes for a balanced diet.
- Salmon: Salmon is a good source of protein and healthy fats, making it beneficial to heart health. It is tasty to boot, and wonderful paired with some cooked veggies and fragrant brown rice.
The above food guide is applicable for any meal wherein you need to make a good impression – meaning it is great advice for that high-stakes business meeting or a meal before a stage performance. It doesn’t mean you need to swear off garlic, onion, diary, coffee, or beans forever, as these foods also have their health benefits.
By avoiding these foods for the evening, you’re more likely to enjoy an embarrassment-free dinner date this Valentine’s! However, if you experience uncomfortable symptoms like bloating, stomach pain, persistent diarrhoea or constipation even without eating any of these common trigger foods, it may be a sign that something is wrong. It might be a case of food contamination, or other gastrointestinal problems like colon cancer. Do consult your doctor for a thorough examination, which may include diagnostic tests like a colonoscopy or CT scan.