Monday, 29 October 2012

Food Gone Wild: The Gaslight Edition

After introducing you to the idea that sometimes the unhealthiest foods are the easiest to digest for some IBS sufferers, I would like to talk a little about a specific symptom - gas.  I have already covered fibre here and here and I have touched on my love-hate relationship with corn and rhubarb, but let's talk about some gas-inducing foods.

The first obvious one would be cabbage.  Can anyone honestly say that they have ever come out of a meal involving cabbage (especially raw) completely unscathed?  This is on my Do Not Eat List, and if you have trouble with gas as an IBS symptom, I would recommend adding this to your list as well.

Another obvious one is turnip, and I know I am not alone here.  I know a couple of moms who do not give their baby turnip because of the flatulence that ensues.

Broccoli.  A lot of people hate this vegetable, personally, I love it.  Unfortunately, as is often the case with IBS, it does not always love me.  But, if you steam the heck out of it, broccoli can be quite digestible and you should avoid any serious side effects.  I keep bags and bags of it in the freezer as a quick side to a meal.

Next vegetable... peppers.  These vegetables are tied with cabbage at the very top of my Do Not Eat List.  The colour does not matter and it can be a regular or hot pepper, there is absolutely no difference.  I can honestly say I have not willingly eaten one of these in roughly a decade.

The general rule with fruits and vegetables is - if it has a peel, peel it.  I do realize that a lot of the nutrients and fibre are contained in the peel, but, unless you want to fart your way through life and feel like a hot air balloon, I would strongly suggest that you follow this key step.  When I began to do this it was absolutely life changing.  This one small change has allowed me to eat zucchini, cucumber (small amounts) and apples again - and to eat them raw!

Other gas-inducing foods in the not-so healthy category are:

  • Frozen pizza/regular pizza
  • Cheese
  • Rice cakes (especially the flavoured kind)
  • Kraft Dinner
  • Munchies Mix
  • Ice cream

The final category worth mentioning are beans and lentils, which are problematic for most people, I believe.  They are so notorious, in fact, that they have been made digestively famous by many a rhyme ... beans, beans, make you... and every family has a story about the after-effects of chili night at their house!

So, to recap a few of the golden rules for a blissfully gas-free (or reduced) existence:

  • Peel it if you can
  • Steam your veggies
  • Try to avoid eating raw fruits and veggies 

For an excellent example of what you can do to relieve your gas, check out this post - but be warned, try this at home if you are having a bad IBS day!  In addition, if anyone else has recommendations of what to avoid or how to prepare, please, share your experiences so that we can learn from each other!

Monday, 15 October 2012

Cookies baby!

Tonight was an absolutely beyond amazing night for a run.  I did my regular pre-injury route, just at a  reduced distance.  It was slightly warm tonight but with a lovely breeze, a cusp-of-fall kind of night.  While I was away on vacation I did one run on the treadmill where I tweaked my knee a little bit, but aside from that it felt pretty good.  As I said in last night's post, we did some serious hiking on Thursday and my knees were complete jelly after we finally found our way out of the woods.  As I ran tonight I was very mindful and a little nervous of what might happen to my wimpy knees.  They are a little sore and I will certainly be icing both of them before I go to bed, but, I was able to climb the stairs in our building, so I took that as a good omen.

About a month ago I went running with a friend of mine who also happens to be my chiropractor. She is amazing and I am not quite sure what my body would do without her.  She was gracious enough to go running with me one day and critique my running form.  It was the one avenue we had not yet explored as to what might be contributing to my slew of injuries.  It was a fabulous experience.  We ran just short of 5km, with 5/1 run/walk intervals (including several hills), which we were both amazed by considering I had not done any serious running in many, many months.  I thought I might just drop dead or face-plant at the beginning due to sheer exhaustion, but my pride would not allow me to give in.  Pride - what a wonderful motivator!  The big take-away from that (aside from the post-run laser treatment due to ignoring my body) was that I am a ... heel striker! Gasp!  She explained to me that there is a higher impact on my knees when I heel strike and that could be contributing to my injuries.  Luckily, she did not notice any other issues with my form, my posture was good.  She showed me how to strike with my forefoot instead, so I have been diligently working on that ever since.

So tonight, I spent a lot of my time looking down, which I acknowledge is likely not advisable, but I am pretty much obsessed with trying to fix this.  Given my out-of-shape legs and the new (or attempt at) stride, I had bad shin splints and ended it one interval early.  I have been doing 3/1 and I was hoping to do five sets instead of four, but, I am comfortable with the results.  Another take-away lesson from my injuries is the virtue of patience, not one of my current virtues, but one I am working on, along with the heel strike!

What really got me through the run tonight were a few "power" songs, which I am throwing out there because I love to see what other people are listening to.  I kicked off the run with Carly Rae Jepsen and Call Me Maybe - I seriously adore this song and am not ashamed to say it, it is beyond catchy, as is the Sesame Street version - I am still deciding which one I like better!

The key song of the night was W.T.P by Eminem (W.T.P. = White Trash Party).  Does this make me WT for loving this song?  I hope not, but if it does, I embrace it.  This song is so wonderful that I played it twice and had a six-minute interval in there because - how can you not run while listening to this song?!  I also have to wonder if Eminem is talking to me when he says ... you got more junk in your trunk than I do in my car.

On a final note, I had a great laugh when I saw this spray-painted on the sidewalk ... did they know I was wearing my Lulus to go running?

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Food Gone Wild

WARNING:  This is an IBS-specific post, and may contain TMI - Too Much Information.

We have all been lead to assume that fruits, vegetables, lentils and whole grains are healthy and should represent a large portion of our diet.  I would also like to believe this is true, but, unfortunately, for some of us, this can run horribly awry in practice.

For the last few months I have had the sneaking suspicion that I have been heading toward a full-blown IBS episode. Firstly, as my episodes are normally about every two years or so, I am clearly due.  What tipped me off though were the minimum of seven to eight visits to the ladies room each day (double what I think of as normal) for the past eight weeks. I have had gas so badly that I have been unable to sit up straight at work and have been forced to drop everything, call a cab and head home to my magic bag on more than one occasion.  It has begun to affect my routines, my corn starch usage has gone through the roof and I cannot decide whether sitting or standing is preferable.

In an attempt to combat this I have tried a few things.  I had my first abdominal massage, I am now seeing a naturopath (the third in my lifetime).  I find myself agreeing to consume tinctures and Chinese herbs with names like bu zhong yi qi tang.  I have yet to try a rice water remedy that is supposed to help regulate me.

The likely question here is - is it something I'm eating?  I tried that experiment - I did the clean eating thing - I peeled and steamed my veg and fruit.  I ate lots of sugar-free applesauce and fruit cocktail (fresh fruit can be tricky for IBSers to digest).  I ate more fibre, I drank more water (more than my 3+ litres a day), I drank digestive teas, I did the digestive-friendly yoga poses and lots of yoga breathing.  The results?  It gave me the shits, like, have-the-flu kind of shits.

Upon realizing that this was not going according to plan I bought a lot of Boost and Gatorade (to help replace electrolytes).  On particularly high-pain days I have been drinking 1-3 Boost.  Some days I have a completely liquid day so it does not hurt quite so much by the time I hit number 8. On better days I have 1-2 Boost, applesauce, white bread with peanut butter and either more white bread, applesauce and an egg or grilled chicken with steamed broccoli.

However, a funny thing happened.  I went on vacation.  In the land of Olive Garden salad and bread sticks, pizza, fried food, dessert and alcohol.
Amazing milkshake at Duckfat in Portland, Maine
Aside from a little gas, I was at 1-2 washroom trips a day - without the big D and minimal amounts of pain!  I even hiked up several mountains at Acadia National Park without crapping my pants or popping a squat!  The only real side effects are my clogged arteries and the extra padding around my tush.

View from Acadia Mountain

Another beautiful view 
What does this mean?  It certainly goes to show that stress is the leading factor contributing to this IBS episode.  It also shows that when in an episode food can have little bearing on your symptoms.  So does this mean I plan to continue along this road to chunky town?  Definitely not.  Come hell or high water I am putting my fat pants away.  But, it does mean that as I go back on "real" food, life will be pretty awful, for quite awhile as my body gets used to trying to process fruits and vegetables.

As an IBS sufferer it is often difficult to choose the right foods because my reaction to the good food goes against everything I have been taught - from the food guide to my specialist, to all the health, fitness and wellness bloggers out there.  The healthy choice certainly feels pretty unhealthy to me as I have to go every hour, on the hour from the time I wake up.  It certainly feels unhealthy canceling appointments and making up excuses as to why I have to miss that meeting or have my colleagues believe that I really cannot shake that flu.  It is also really awkward dealing with the corn starch in a public restroom - all signs point to addiction.

So today, my first full day back from vacation I started off with my morning shake (Shakeology, cocoa powder, cinnamon, skim milk, peanut butter and banana baby food) and stuck to real food aside from my one ultra dark chocolate truffle and some butter on my white bread.  My body certainly cannot take whole wheat bread and vegetables all at once - one step at a time.  As I slowly, but surely trade in my fat pants for my skinny jeans, think of me, perpetually on the throne, in a cloud of corn starch.  Think of this as installment one in Food Gone Wild - an IBSer's tale of strange food choices, all in the name of the colon!

For those of you with digestive issues, I would love to hear if you have any recommendations!

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Point of View

As part of my group blogging experience (GBE2) I had to write a post this week based on the prompt Point of View.  The goal was to write two short narratives, one in the first person and one in the third person.  I thought that I would take my first ever crack at a short story of sorts.  I struggled with this one on several levels.  One - the petrified level.  I have only ever written "commentary" type blog posts or full-blown research papers or boring work reports.  The idea of creating a piece of fiction and a narrative left me feeling a little bit vulnerable.  For those of you who know me well will likely recognize that this is more than a little inspired by real life events.  Hope you enjoy!

Oh. My. Goodness.  What the hell is that?!  Frig.  Is that what I think it is?  Could it really be?  I don't know if I am equipped to handle this.  It looks like a mouse dropping, but it looks too big.  Oh my gosh, it is even worse than I thought ... a ... rat turd?  Oh good lord, in MY cubicle.  I will have to Lysol everything.  And I am wearing open-toed shoes.  Dammit, I knew I should have worn my hooker boots!  Crap, what about the shoes on the floor?  What if there is a flipping rodent hiding in one.  Okay, I must remain calm.  Deep, cleansing breaths.  Happy thoughts: puppies, puppies, puppies, puppies.  In through the nose, out through the mouth.  Happy, happy, happy, happy.

"Lola?  Is everything okay?  You look a little pale."
"I am so glad you are here, I am freaking out.  Can you look over there in the corner and tell me what you see?"
Megan stooped down to take a closer look, "do we have mice on this floor?"
"I know they are likely around, but I like to believe that they don't exist... so you think it is a rodent dropping," Lola squeaked, gripping the edge of the cubicle wall.  
"Well, either that or a raisin," Megan chuckled.
"Hey, George!  Can you come here a sec, we need your opinion," Lola shouted.
George turned on his heel and came to stand in the cubicle.  "Do you have enough shoes in here?  I would go with the green ones."
"Ha, ha," Lola rolled her eyes and pointed, "no, in the corner, what do you think that is?"
George stepped closer and squinted down at the small, brown pellet.  "Ewww, I hate to tell you, but that has to be a rat turd, it is too big to be from a mouse.  Don't worry, they won't hurt you."
Lola started backing out of the cubicle and down the hall.
"Lola, are you okay?  Are you really upset about this?"
"George, of course I am upset.  They are the scum of the earth.  Do you know how many germs they carry?  How am I going to be able to come to work knowing that there are..." she paused, swallowing hard "you know, those things around here?!"
Suddenly Sam, one of the building managers, came into the cubicle, which seemed to be getting smaller by the minute.  "Ladies, George.  What's all the commotion about?"
Lola's lip began to quiver as her eyes welled up with tears.  "Ummmm," she hesitated, "we seem to have a rodent situation, see, over there in the corner."
"Are you sure," Sam sighed.  
"Pretty sure, the three of us think it is either a mouse or a rat dropping.  Maybe you could set some traps," Megan suggested.
"Okay, well, I'll get rid of this first," replied Sam.
"Here you go," Lola offered him a tissue.  "The germs.  I have hand sanitizer as well."
Sam took the tissue as the three of them watched apprehensively.  He picked it up with the tissue and began to examine it.  He stood there for a few seconds with a puzzled expression as he turned it around, and around, and around.  Finally, he turned to them and said "helluva fuss over a raisin."