Going out to restaurant, visiting a friend, or even a walk through the park is a challenge millions of Americans face daily, for reasons you might not think. As a culture, we avoid sharing bathroom habits with friends, family, and even healthcare professionals, as it is often seen as private and embarrassing. The reality is, at least 40 million Americans are living with debilitating Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and may be receiving no help or counsel to combat the condition. What makes matters worse is that 326,474,013 Americans poop (that’s all of us, as of 2017).
We have to start talking about what happens in the bathroom, and stop acting like it is a big secret. Often, help is just around the corner. A reasonable healthcare professional should be able to evaluate each individual situation, and make recommendations accordingly.
For half my life, stomach pains and hospital visits were my “normal” routine. At the age of 14, I was diagnosed as having food sensitivities and was medically told to stay away from “white” foods, like white pasta, breads, etc. Unfortunately, that lasted for a few weeks as my family was unable to afford special dietary foods on top of an already tight budget. This meant the pains never went away, they just became inevitable daily moments.
Through the years, my abdominal pains would gain intensity and started becoming associated with new issues, such as a change in bowel habits, mood changes, and social anxiety problems. I was on a high processed foods intake, and felt like there was no hope. I was in and out of doctors’ offices and specialist’s offices getting tested for a range of issues from ulcers and obstructions, to more severe cases like Chron’s and Ulcerative Colitis. I even went as far as to undergo a Colonoscopy to find out once and for all just what was causing my stomach issues. All tests came back negative, and I remained with a diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS for short.
Over time, the pain and inconsistent bowel habits, created an anxiety so great in me, that my symptoms overtook my life, literally. I began skipping meals before I would have to be somewhere like going to school, out with a friend, or to an appointment. I would not eat on long car rides in fear my stomach would get messed up. I refused to stay the night at sleep over’s. It did not matter what it was, I always put my stomach before anything else in my life. My fear and anxiety controlled me.
As I reached a point in life where I could afford to buy my own groceries and started learning how to cook for myself, I noticed a difference. It was minimal at first, but that was because I had to adjust my taste buds. Although I knew the processed foods were bad, I had been eating them for so long, that those were the foods my body craved. I started making small swaps, reducing the amount of processed foods and increasing my intake of vegetables and fruits. I also cut back on the amount of red meat I was eating, and replaced it with salmon and grilled chicken. My body began feeling energized, less bloated, and able to reduce the amount of abdominal pain.
My chiropractor suggested keeping a food diary, which helped me to learn what foods would irritate my stomach and what foods my body could tolerate. She was also able to make suggestions about foods I should be eating, and how to decipher labels. Reading nutritional labels on groceries helped me to make a better-informed decision on the products I was buying, especially meats. I have noticed that switching to organic and antibiotic free foods have helped alleviate my stomach issues almost completely.
Going out to eat used to be a complete headache. There were very few restaurants I could sit down in and eat an entire meal without immediate pain. It was then that I realized it wasn’t just food you had to track, it was how it was prepared. Oils played a huge role in my food sensitivities. So, if you’re like me, ask a restaurant what they use to cook their foods in. Nowadays, many places are accommodating to dietary restrictions/sensitivities.
Since I have gained a knowledge and understanding of what causes my stomach issues, I can control my diet and my pain is no longer a daily routine. Now, I just need to let my mind catch up to my body and understand that I no longer need to make an excuse or worry about having an embarrassing moment. I have control again, and can enjoy all life has to offer, without limitations holding me back.
The Standard American Diet (S.A.D) is suspected to be one of the leading causes of inflammatory diseases in this country. The consumer is all too often mislead, and even lied to by companies selling food-like-products on the shelves of grocery stores. The amount of chemicals and preservatives in most packaged goods is astounding, and it is robbing American’s of their health and their lives.
Here are 2 of the BIGGEST and simplest things you can start doing now, to improve your health, spend less time in the bathroom, and get your life back!
1) Did it come from the earth or have a mother?
This is an easy question you can ask yourself, to help weed out foods that might not be the best choice for you.
Example: A box of Cheez-It crackers. Imagine how these crackers looked right before they were placed in a box. Can you imagine a field of golden crackers, blowing in the wind, while farmers pluck the delicate salted squares. No. Cheez-It crackers did not come from the earth, even if one of their many ingredients did.
Example: Fresh guacamole. It typically comes in a package, with more than one ingredient, so this one you might have to think about. What is in it? Avocado: grew on a tree. Cilantro: yep, that’s a plant. Lime: citrus is good. Maybe some chunks of onion or tomato: yes, those came from the earth.
Example: Dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets. In order for this to come out shaped like a fried dinosaur, it had to be pulverized, pumped with preservatives, coated in breading, and dipped into a vat of hot oil. This did not have a mother before it landed on your plate.
Example: Free-range chicken breast. This had a mother.
2) Drink more water.
Seriously, water is essential, and sodas, tea, and coffee don’t count. Water accounts for a majority of how your body functions, how your joints feel, how your brain works, and whether you live or die. Infuse it with fruit, down it before a meal, drink it hot on cold days. However you get it in is fine, just drink it.