You know that feeling – when you are so stuffed and your stomach says “No way! Don’t do it!” , but your mouth says, “C’mon! It tastes SO good! Certainly one more piece won’t hurt!” And then later you stretch out on the couch and have to unbutton your pants to allow room for your bloated belly. While chugging chalky pink antacids, you think, “Why did I do that – again?” You vow never to do it again, but at the next office party, you grab a second piece of cake – and end up being uncomfortable. Again.
It has taken me a long time to fully address this problem. It has taken many, many times of feeling awful to motivate me to change my eating habits. I loved the foods that made me feel uncomfortable. It just came with the territory of eating the foods I liked. But I eventually got tired of feeling awful and knew I needed to actually listen to what my body was saying and make some changes.
I tried varieties of different diets, but I still had problems. I went gluten-free, but still had problems. Then I went dairy-free, but I still had problems. I experienced belching and flatulence, bloating and pain. I cut out fake sugar, carbonated beverages, and even vowed to not drink anything through a straw. I quit taking ibuprofen for my chronic pain. I had read that all of these things could cause digestive issues. But I would still have times of being uncomfortable.
I realized that I was not having regular bowel movements – and wondered if that was the problem. I had problems with constipation before – and had not noticed that it was getting worse. So I used some over-the-counter laxatives and it helped – and I actually felt better – for awhile. It wasn’t until I went to the doctor and she asked me how often I had bowel movements, that I realized that this really could be the key. Apparently not having a bowel movement for five days at a time is not good for you.
I had a colonoscopy coming up (sucks being old) so the doctor recommended I start using a gentle stool softener to get a head start on the “cleansing” process that would occur before the medical procedure. If you have had the pleasure of having a colonoscopy, you understand that the procedure is nothing compared to the prep you have to do the day before. Cleaning out your colon is terrible. You have to drink 4 liters of a terrible tasting liquid (think salty soapy water with a hint of lemon). Drinking said concoction causes you to have explosive diarrhea – over and over and over again – until you have nothing left in your colon. You go in for your colonoscopy, they give you some great drugs that put you out in 15 seconds flat, and then wake up with no memory of them sticking a camera up your butt. The doctor said everything was good and I didn’t have to have another one for TEN YEARS! Thank God.
The surprising result of cleaning out my colon was that I felt better. My stomach was not bloated – there was no pain or discomfort. The doctor said that it would probably be 2 days before I had another bowel movement. When it got to 4th day I decided it was time to really get serious about the constipation issue. I bought some Metamucil and began using it as my breakfast beverage. I took a stool softener and thankfully, the next day I had success. I plan on adding more fiber to my diet as well. I am finally taking charge of the issue so that I do not end up guzzling antacids again.
There are a LOT of different kinds of diets out there. You need to find one that works for you. Some of the diets have the unfortunate consequence of making you constipated – or having more gas than is normal – or just making you feel unwell. If your diet is making you uncomfortable, you need to listen to your body – and find out what the problem is. It could be a particular type of food – or that you are not getting enough fiber – or not drinking enough water – or a combination of all of it.
I am currently on a gluten-free, dairy-free diet. I am making an effort to get 8 glasses of liquid in me a day. Using Metamucil as a fiber therapy helps me stay regular – as well as adding more fiber-rich foods to my diet. I am also eating smaller meals more often throughout the day. Have I lost weight? Yes – but it was not intentional – instead the consequence of being afraid to eat much of anything. After cleansing my colon, I feel like I have the chance to start fresh – to be more aware of my eating habits and to listen to what my body says about the the foods I do eat and to find the right balance to keep me feeling good overall.
Now when I am presented with the foods that I used to eat regularly, I ask myself if eating it is worth the pain that will come later – and that helps me stick to the diet that I know keeps me healthy. Feeling good is more important to me than eating a glazed donut. Is it easy? No – but it is most definitely worth it!