Sometimes, the food we love to eat can end up hurting us the most. How often have you finished a delicious meal, only to be plagued by uncomfortable bloating or an upset stomach later on? If you’ve been gut-feeling your way through nutrition all this while, perhaps using a more scientific approach for a change might help identify the root cause of your gastrointestinal woes.
Step 1: Ask a question
After eating, ask yourself “Which food did I consume that might have resulted me to feel like this? What is it that I’m actually feeling?” It sets the groundwork to identify the problem that we are trying to solve.
Step 2: Perform background research
We often begin to create hypotheses based on our personal experiences instead of looking at it objectively. This can lead to skewed judgement which more often than not leads to faulty conclusions. We need to develop a solid understanding of the subject matter first before moving forward. For example, most adults know that lactose intolerance requires sufferers to avoid dairy products. Therefore, if we eat a meal containing dairy and feel discomfort afterwards, a sound hypothesis might point to lactose intolerance or sensitivity being the culprit.
Sometimes, some issues require more thought. For example, excessive consumption of many sugar alcohols can cause some of the same symptoms as dairy consumption does in those who are lactose-intolerant. Therefore, it's possible that our own preconceived knowledge about can result in the creation of a bias, making it essential to research and uncover all pertinent information surrounding potential causes before formulating your hypothesis.
Step 3: Create a hypothesis
Upon the conclusion of the research phase, we are now sufficiently informed to make a predictive statement about the potential outcome of our experiment.
Step 4: Test hypothesis via experimentation
An essential step to ensuring the accuracy of your hypothesis is the ability to draw accurate conclusions of causality. In order to do so, you have to manipulate only one variable at a time. If you eliminated both dairy and sugar alcohols from your diet at the same time and began to feel better after your meals, then you wouldn’t be able to accurately say which variable (dairy or sugar alcohols) was causing the problem. Just like how an elimination diet functions, your test is only valid when you take things one (and we do mean ONE) step at a time.
Step 5: Determine if the experiment is working
You need a litmus test of some sort to know if your experiment is working. Are you on the right path to achieving the results you desire? If you aren’t getting the results you wanted or expected, then perhaps you should revisit your experiment and perform a retest. It could also mean that you failed to take something else into account, so stepping back and reassessing your environment might also prove to be beneficial. However, you must relook at your hypothesis every time you retest your experiment in order to ensure that you’re not running the same experiment twice (unless your testing method was faulty).
Step 6: Draw conclusions
A successful experiment is ripe with data you can mine to form conclusions about your nutrition. Incorporating that information into your diet should prove pivotal in relieving your food-related distress.
While it’s always intriguing and exciting to play “mad scientist” with how food interacts with your body, you should always be open to seeking a second (and professional) opinion. Consulting your doctor or dietician about any potential food allergies or sensitivities you might possess can save you plenty of time and effort, while also providing you with near-instant relief!