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The Trick to Eating Summer Treats

National Ice Cream Day (July 16) is just around the corner, followed by National Hot Dog (July 19). Summertime favorites taste all the better because of the memories we create when we’re eating them, but GI issues may make it difficult to indulge as much as you’d like to. Here’s how to enjoy what you love, on-the-go or at home.

Understand your cravings

As we explained in a previous post, Kick The Soda Habit, your body may be trying to compensate for a vitamin or mineral deficiency. First, see your doctor and make sure your diet meets your nutritional needs.

Busy people sometimes sacrifice sleep to increase productivity. If you’re not well-rested, you may be tempted to use caffeine or sugar for a quick energy boost. Energy drinks and even some sports bars can pack a one-two punch of caffeine and sugar that may trigger tummy trouble for some gas sufferers.

Mount Sinai published a handy chart for those living with IBS. The organization advises those who experience diarrhea, gas, bloating, abdominal pain, and/or constipation to avoid ingredients commonly found in summer treats: sugar, artificial sweeteners, caffeine, and fat.

The importance of sugar-free hydration

The good news is that most American adults are getting enough water on a daily basis, but not all of it comes from a tap. One expert noted there are potential downsides to taking in water via juices or sodas, however. CNN reported a CDC study on the subject. “Juice and soda can count as fluid, however they also add extra calories and over time may lead to weight gain,” said Antonella Apicella, a nutritionist at Lenox Hill Hospital, in New York City. “Water is the most hydrating fluid there is.”

Sensitivities to common ingredients

Dr. Linda Lee, a gastroenterologist and director of the Johns Hopkins Integrative Medicine and Digestive Center, says there are certain foods and medications that can make [IBS] symptoms worse.”


Dr. Lee continues: “Milk and other foods that contain lactose, like cheese and ice cream, can cause gas and bloating in people who are lactose intolerant.”

Ice cream and frozen yogurt

Those of you who tolerate yogurt might think that frozen yogurt is a safe alternative to ice cream, but not all ‘fro-yo’ brands are created equal. Read the ingredient label or ask your server if your double dip contains triggers such as corn syrup. The DailyMeal.com has the scoop on America’s 13 Best Frozen Yogurt Chains. Click here for the overview on regional presence, top-selling flavors, and frequently used ingredients.


She also advises patients that “Caffeine can increase diarrhea, another major symptom of IBS. High sources of caffeine include coffee, tea, cola drinks, chocolate and over the counter headache pills such as Excedrin.” It’s tempting to worry less about the caffeine content of your frappucino, iced coffee, or iced tea than that of your pumpkin spiced latte, but it all adds up.

Sugar Substitutes

Some people use sugar alternatives because they contain fewer calories than the genuine article, but artificial sweeteners may exacerbate the GI issues common to those with IBS and other digestive conditions. Watch for ingredients with the suffix -ol; such as xylitol and sorbitol.

Stay on track

According to Mark Levy, a senior scientist at USANA Health Sciences, dairy protein is a complete protein, which provides all of the essential amino acids necessary for good health, a protein source or sources must be utilized in order to ensure adequate protein nutrition in nondairy consumers,” he continues. “In this regard, soy protein is an excellent protein source, as it too contains all of the essential amino acids. Rice protein often is used as a protein source for nondairy consumers.”

Among MyFitnessPal.com’s many features are a diet and physical activity tracking app for Android and iOS users. Download the software to your smartphone to access nutritional info on thousands of foods.

The Caffeine Informer recently published a great resource for Starbucks customers.

Healthy substitutes

Dairy substitutes

Dr. Linda Lee has reassuring information for those who experience excessive intestinal gas: “Even though dairy products are the major culprits of discomfort for some IBS sufferers, yogurt proves to be an exception.”

Sugar substitutes

Try stevia, a natural sweetener that is 48 times sweeter than sugar (one teaspoon of pure stevia equals 48 teaspoons of sugar).


Even decaffeinated beverages, black tea, and chocolate contain some caffeine. The Mayo Clinic recommends a 400 mg. daily caffeine maximum “for most healthy adults. That’s roughly the amount of caffeine in four cups of brewed coffee, 10 cans of cola or two “energy shot” drinks. Keep in mind that the actual caffeine content in beverages varies widely, especially among energy drinks.”

Beverage recipes

Try one of these refreshing summer drinks; you’ll save on carbs and cash.

Here’s how to make iced coffee or mochas – no machine required!

Dessert recipes

You can make your own, additive-free frozen yogurt in minutes. Some recipes call for special equipment, some don’t. If you have an ice cream maker, try this sweet treat. If you don’t, try this instead. Gluten-free yogurt fans should give this recipe a whirl.

Cook’s Illustrated’s tagline is “We make mistakes so you don’t have to.” Read these tips before proceeding.

CharcoCaps® dietary supplement relieves gas and bloating FAST!*

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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