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  • Writer's pictureDr. Corina Kibsey

The big mistake you may be making at restaurants

A few years ago, I noticed a pattern that kept happening over and over again. Every time I ate at a restaurant, I would feel bloated and have stomach pain afterwards.

It didn’t matter if I opted for a salad or went for a big, juicy burger. Like clockwork, within a few minutes after a restaurant meal I was in pain (and looked like I was about nine months pregnant).

You may be thinking to yourself: “Well you were probably eating large portion sizes”. But it didn’t matter if I ate the whole entire meal or just ate a bit and packed up the rest to bring home. Either way, pain and bloating. Every time.

The big mistake I was making

I decided to have a hard look at what I was doing when I ate at restaurants. And then it hit me. I drink water. And lots of it. That was the one thing that I did, no matter what kind of restaurant I was eating at. I’d slurp down glass after glass of water as I waited for my food to come. And as the servers refilled my glass, I’d keep downing more and more water.

What I didn’t realize was that I was diluting my digestive enzymes. And by doing this, my stomach wasn’t able to break down food properly. When food isn’t broken down properly, guess what this leads to? You got it. Abdominal pain and bloating.

So I stopped drinking so much water right before my restaurant meals. And like magic, my problem went away.

How to prevent this from happening

If you want to ensure you don’t dilute your digestive enzymes, don’t drink large quantities of water before a meal. I usually direct my patients to avoid drinking liquids within the hour before a meal and a half hour after. Small sips are fine, though!

But isn’t drinking water important?

Absolutely! It’s important to ensure adequate hydration. So throughout the rest of the day, go for it! Drink as much water as you’d like. But for the hour leading up to a meal and the half hour afterwards, avoid too much liquid intake. But between meals? Drink lots.

But I’ve heard it’s helpful to drink water before a meal!

You may have heard nutritionists or weight loss consultants talk about how drinking water before a meal can help you to feel more full. This is true. Water will fill up your stomach, sending the “I’m full” signal to your brain sooner. This is a great way to help yourself feel full faster. If you’ve tried this and find it works well for you, then keep it up! But if you’re like me and have digestive issues, water right before a meal may not be a good idea for you.

If you experience bloating and abdominal discomfort, take a look at your water intake and the timing of it. It’s possible that you’re drinking too much liquid before your meals, diluting your digestive enzymes. If you continue to have bloating and pain, then click “contact” at the top of this page and book an appointment with Dr. Corina today.

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