Directly after you finish consuming a very large quantity food challenge, you may be very excited and extremely proud of your hard-earned victory. Once the energy calms down and the intense “food coma” begins to set in though, you will be thinking about nothing but how you are going to get all that food out of you and feel better. If you have not already, read Recovery From Quantity Food Challenges so you know all the different things you can do to feel better much faster after consuming a big challenge meal. If you are a fan of spicy challenges, read our Recovery From Spicy Food Challenges to find out what you can do to feel better faster after spicy food challenges. There are numerous things you can do to speed up the process of eliminating that meal out of  your body. You can consume plenty of water to help your digestive system function at full strength, and you can also take a stool softener or laxative supplement to help push all that food through faster. The most effective long term thing you can do though is increase the amount of dietary fiber in the next few meals after the challenge.

Dietary fiber is the indigestible portion of food derived from plants that can be either soluble or insoluble. Soluble fiber, which dissolves in water, attracts water and forms a gel that slows down digestion. Soluble fiber delays the emptying of your stomach and makes you feel full, which helps control your weight. Slower stomach emptying may also affect blood sugar levels and have a beneficial effect on insulin sensitivity, which may help control diabetes. Soluble fiber can also help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol by interfering with the absorption of dietary cholesterol. Please keep in mind that soluble fiber slows down digestion while in your stomach, and not throughout your entire body. Consuming soluble fiber during meals after your challenge will not slow down the elimination of your challenge meal. What it will do though is keep you feeling full longer so that you can monitor your meals more easily during the few days after your challenge that you are eating less. Soluble fiber will not only allow you to lose the excess fat that you gained through taking the challenge, but it will also help your body counteract all the bad cholesterol that you consumed via your very “meaty” food challenge. As you can see, soluble fiber is definitely a beneficial nutrient  to consume after an unhealthy challenge meal. For your reference, here are good sources of soluble fiber that you can consume during the days after your challenge:

Sources Of Soluble Dietary Fiber

Fruits = Apples, oranges, pears, strawberries, blueberries, passion fruit, avocado, mango, & grapefruit

Vegetables = Carrots, celery, cucumbers, peas, edamame, eggplant, sprouts, collard greens, & asparagus

Nuts / Seeds / Legumes = Hazelnuts, soy nuts, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, psyllium, and most beans

Oats = Oatmeal, oat cereal, oat bran, and oat flakes

Insoluble fiber is considered gut-healthy fiber because these fibers add bulk to your diet and have a laxative effect, helping to prevent constipation. Unlike soluble fibers, these do not dissolve in water so they pass through your gastrointestinal tract relatively intact. Because of that, they speed up the passage of food and waste through your entire digestive system. Insoluble fiber is the main fiber nutrient that you need to consume during the days after your challenge. Fiber comes from plants, and there typically is very few vegetables and fruits served as part of most food challenges. There may be a side salad served next to your 72 ounce steak, or their may be a few slices of tomato, lettuce, pickles, and onions served with your three pound burger patty, but those small amounts of vegetables don’t provide enough fiber to move all that fiberless meat. Red meats such as beef and pork are one of the toughest foods for your body to process, so digesting four pounds of red meat will be no easy task for your digestive system. Moving it through your intestines and out your body will be even more difficult. Therefore, you need to consume extra insoluble fiber during your next few meals after your food challenge so that the newly digested meals can help push the challenge meal through your body to make room for it all to pass through too. You allow your body to eliminate your challenge meal and return back to normal.

Consuming extra dietary fiber is obviously important after large quantity food challenges and other big meals, but it is also important for recovering from spicy challenges too. Even though spicy challenge meals are much smaller, that food still needs help moving through your body. Eat that extra fiber so that your body can push the spicy food through and out your body. End those capsaicin cramps and let your body return to the happy life it was living before you attempted that extra spicy challenge. These are some great sources of insoluble fiber:

Sources Of Insoluble Dietary Fiber

Wheat / Grains = 100% whole wheat, 100% whole grains, wheat bran, corn bran, barley, and bulgur

Vegetables = Zucchini, broccoli, cabbage, onions, carrots, cucumbers, green beans, & dark leafy greens

Fruits = Apples, bananas, raspberries, strawberries, grapes, prunes, raisins, tomatoes, & most other fruits

Rice / Legumes = Brown rice, quinoa, couscous, split peas, black beans, lentils, navy beans, & other beans

Nuts / Seeds = Pecans, almonds, pistachio nuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, & sunflower seeds

Consuming extra soluble and insoluble fiber during the next few meals after your challenge will definitely help you eliminate a lot of that temporary weight we mention in our Expect Your Weight To Fluctuate Significantly article. The soluble fiber will even help you burn the excess fat you gained from attempting your challenge. Combined with drinking plenty of water, the extra insoluble fiber will clean your body within a few days so you no longer feel bloated and your weight will be back closer to normal. If you are trying to recover from a spicy food challenge, the fiber will push that spicy food out so that you no longer suffer from capsaicin cramps and other negative side effects stemming from spicy food challenges. If you really want to speed up the digestion process though, there is something else you can do in addition to consuming extra fiber. You can supplement stool softeners and laxatives which will expedite the elimination process even faster. For more information about those and what your options are, please read our Optional Medicinal Drugs That Help Recovery article.

Note: Consuming dietary fiber by eating real food is always recommended and much more effective, but you may also choose to add dietary fiber into your diet through supplementation too. These supplements are not mentioned in the medical drug article linked directly above. Fiber supplements can be found in powder, capsule, and gummy (gummy bears) form. BenefiberMetamucil, and Fiber Choice are common dietary fiber supplement brands. You are welcome to use off-brand products as well. These all provide both soluble and insoluble fiber.

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