Vegetables really are the key to weight loss, disease prevention, and health — but there are a few times when it is more than okay to cut back these superfoods. Vegetable consumption is one of the behaviors most associated with long-term weight management, health, and longevity. Still, there are times when you can skip the salad bar. Certain medical conditions affect the way you digest and absorb food.
1. Runner’s Trots
As any endurance athlete knows, prolonged periods of intense exercise can cause more than muscle fatigue. “When you start to exercise, the blood is flowing to the muscles that are working, and less blood going to your stomach that can help digest your food,” explains Alissa Rumsey, RD, of the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell Medical Center. “So if you’ve eaten recently and the food isn’t really digested, it could cause stomach discomfort and diarrhea.” The best fix is to avoid high-fiber roughage such as broccoli in the hours before an endurance event.
2. Sodium In Canned Vegetables
People who watch their sodium intake because of hypertension or heart disease should be wary of filling up on canned vegetables. “Sometimes, canned vegetables can have half of the recommended daily amount of sodium,” which is between 1,500 and 2,300 milligrams daily, Rumsey says. “Choose no-salt-added or low-sodium versions. Certain vegetables, including corn and peas, can also be rinsed to wash away some of the excess salt.
3. A Crohn’s Flare-Up
During a flare-up of Crohn’s — a type of inflammatory bowel disease — should eat foods that are gentle on their stomach and intestines to help their GI tract heal. Although not optimal for total-body health, Crohn’s patients should cut back on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains during an episode. “It’s such a personal thing; I see people that are able to eat everything and never have a problem,” Rumsey says. “But in general, low-fiber diets help.”
4. Excessive Gas And Bloating
You know the old ditty: “Beans, beans are good for your heart. The more you eat them, the more you fart.” Turns out, beans are really an incredible fruit, but many vegetables produce the same gaseous effect. Veggies most known for causing gas and bloating thanks to their fiber content include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and asparagus. “Excessive gas can also happen when someone tries to eat a lot of fiber when they’re not used to it,” Rumsey warns.
5. Pre- Or Post-Surgery
After a gastrointestinal surgery, such as a bowel resection, most patients will have to abstain from vegetables for two to six weeks after surgery, doctor’s orders, to allow the intestines time to heal. “We generally recommend low-fiber foods in order to reduce the roughage that’s going through the intestines,” Rumsey explains. “Then we suggest people add foods back in one at a time to see how they do.”
6. Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Similar to Crohn’s, people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS can benefit from a low-fiber diet to help avoid the bloating, stomach aches, cramps, and diarrhea that can come with the disease. “We don’t know too much about the causes of IBS,” Rumsey explains. “It’s important to learn what you can tolerate in your diet. Trying to avoid high-fiber foods can be a good test to see if it helps your symptoms.”
7. Renal Failure
People with chronic kidney disease or renal failure should avoid vegetables that are high in potassium and phosphorus, Rumsey says, because the kidneys are unable to clear those elements from the bloodstream. The no-go list for most kidney disease patients includes sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, asparagus, mushrooms, and Brussels sprouts.
8. Funny-Colored Urine
Beets are known for changing the color of your urine — into an alarming red. (If you’re cooking beets, they can also stain your fingers and clothes, too.) Called beeturia, the condition comes from the compound betacyanin that gives beets their color. A body’s response to betacyanin is believed to be both genetic and based on the amount of stomach acid in each person, so not all beet-eaters will pee red. The cooked-cabbage aroma some people’s urine gives off after eating asparagus comes from the digestive process and again, doesn’t happen to everyone.
If you suffer from heartburn, you might want to steer clear of acidic tomatoes and tomato products, Rumsey says. When stomach acid meets acidic food, the symptoms of uncomfortable heartburn and reflux disease just get worse, she explains. To identify which other foods trouble your esophagus, Rumsey recommends keeping a food log to track what you eat and how you feel after.
10. Beta-Carotene Overload
That childhood rumor — that if you eat too many carrots you’ll turn orange — is actually true in some extreme cases. The condition — hypercarotenemia — turns some people a jaundiced yellow and is completely harmless, says a study published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition found. However, there could still be a potential dark side to too many carrots. Scientists at Ohio State University discovered that some beta-carotene molecules block the body’s absorption of vitamin A, which is essential for eye, bone, and skin health, as well as normal metabolism and immune function.