One of the things that gets overlooked by people trying to heal their diastasis rectis is diet.
In today’s blog I’ll write a little bit about the importance of diet for post-partum recovery, especially when it comes to diastasis recti.
The REAL cause of diastasis recti is NOT pregnancy
A while ago I did a whole episode of the HPNB podcast about the causes, and solutions to, post-natal issues such as diastasis recti/posture/alignment issues etc.
In the episode I went over the real cause of diastasis recti as it is quite often misunderstood by people, including personal trainers.
See, the REAL cause of diastasis recti is not pregnancy but it is internal pressure on the core area.
Of course during the pregnancy it’s the pressure of the baby growing inside you that causes the diastasis but it is perfectly possible to have diastasis recti without ever having been pregnant.
Some other causes are very weak/dysfunctional core muscles, usually due to a sedentary lifestyle. Injuries, usually caused by heavy/incorrect lifting and breathing. Or bloating. But all are because of internal pressure on the core muscles.
How bloating causes diastasis recti
A lot of people, especially in the West, suffer from a “perma-bloat” because of their diet and this can, very easily, lead to diastasis recti.
Think of a bloated stomach as an inflated balloon. When a balloon is inflated, obviously the “skin” is stretched and thinner. Keep that balloon inflated for a prolonged period of time and that will be permanently weaker and stretched.
So, even though there is only air in the balloon it still ends up stretched. Do this to a human stomach and you can end up with diastasis recti. This is one of the reasons men can also get diastasis recti.
Diastasis recti, a bloated stomach and exercise
You probably know that we’re very big on our daily exercise routines here at HPNB. 10 minutes a day of concentrated and focused effort will really help every person improve their diastasis recti. However, as I always point out, the early stages of diastasis recti recovery are all about muscle engagement. And focussing on getting the muscles to contract for 10 or so minutes a day, and doing the core-breath regularly throughout the day, whilst being bloated is very difficult as you’re essentially working against yourself.
Simply put; It’s tricky to get a muscle to tighen if your bloated belly forces it to stretch for 12+ hours a day.
Your post-partum body can react differently to food than your pre-natal body did
A lot of women will be familiar with this. Foods that you were fine with before you were pregnant all of a sudden cause you to bloat.
White bread might have been OK pre-baby but all of a sudden you so much look at a piece of toast and your stomach swells to 3 x it’s usual size!
Lentil soup was always a tasty lunch but now you get gas and look 4 months pregnant as soon as you’ve had a spoonful?!?
A lot of women wake up with a, relatively, flat stomach and go to bed with a swollen and uncomfortable one. And this is, almost, always entirely food related bloating.
Nobody is exactly sure why this happens, though hormonal changes and changes to the gut-biome are most likely to be the main contributors to this, but we do know that it happens.
Note that it can change from pregnancy to pregnancy. I have trained women who had reactions to a particular food after baby 1 but were completely fine with those foods after baby 2. I have even trained someone who had bloating to the original foods again after baby 3!!
Why does this keep getting missed as a reason for diastasis recti and diastasis not healing?
Go online and google diastasis recti and the chances are you will come across pregnancy related diastasis only. And most personal trainers tend to only focus on exercise as a solution to muscle weakness/dysfunction, rather than take a holistic approach, because that’s what they are trained to do. The same goes for most physios. There is a bit of an overreliance on exercise to heal diastasis recti which is why soo many women don’t see the results they would like when doing a standard post-partum exercise routine.
A good one will always take a holistic approach.
So what should you do if you suffer from diastasis recti and bloating
The best thing to do is change your diet. Note how I did not say “go on a diet”, this has nothing to do with weightloss.
Cut out foods that make YOU bloat. There is no “one diet fits all solution”, and anyone who tells you differently is incorrect 🙂
Sure certain foods tend to give everybody a bit of a bloated stomach; Domino’s pizza, hot chocolate with a lot of sugar etc. come to mind but a lot of peoplehave completely different reactions to food.
Some people are fine with white bread where as others are not. Personally I get more of a bloated stomach from brown than from white bread, so for me brown would be off the menu.
What does seem to help for a lot of people is a higher fiber diet, so get those veggies in, and cutting out highly processed foods.
If you’re looking for recipe ideas you can find our 5 recipe booklets here for a FREE download.
It helps if you keep a food log, as it can take a while to figure out exactly which foods you react to.
Remember, this is not forever
As I’ve said before; diastasis rectis should not be a permanent condition. If you do your exercises, eat right, and breathe properly when lifting heavy things there is no reason why you can’t heal your diastasis.
And, if you happen to be looking for an exercise routine that helps with that. You can start your 3 months free trial here.