Saturday, April 24, 2010
*Warning...this is a blog about poop. There I said it. Read on if you want - or run screaming*
Until I started seeing my nutritionist a few months back, I never really fully understood the title of this blog. I mean - I understood it - sh*t happens - to ALL of us. But I never really understood that I could actively CHANGE what came out of me and how.
She was quick to diagnose me with IBS. "Irritable Bowel Syndrome" - which is really a "catch all" diagnosis for anyone having any kind of gastro-intestinal ailment. Something crazy like a third of the population now suffers from IBS, but the growth in this disease and the growth of the population (by weight) seems to be very closely linked.
I have had food digestion issues since I was born. As a baby, I was allergic to milk, so I was nursed on soy and formula. Add to that my lightning-quick digestive tract and you have my mother, lovingly wishing upon me someday, as much poop as I gave her to clean up in those first few years of my life. Gradually my mom worked milk back into my diet, starting with powdered skim milk which we drank as kids until I was about 10. By the time I gained control of my own eating habits, the binging and food secrecy had already started. At home, we always ate as a family and since my mother was always on a diet, we were always eating very rounded, healthy meals. But add to that the copious amounts of other calories and junk that I was consuming during the day, and the low intestinal rumblings were never far behind.
Until 28 years of age, I lived my life thinking that constant bouts of diarrhea mixed intermittently with constipation were normal. I had persistent "dumping syndrome" where I would have to find a bathroom, urgently, about 10-30 minutes after a meal almost every single time I ate anything. It was horrible.
Enter my nutritionist like a ray of light through all the crap...literally. She first started me on a regimen of soluble fiber to get the dumping under control. Once things started to "firm up" a bit, we started making adjustments in my diet to find out if I had any other sensitivities to be wary of. One thing I have discovered is that I am allergic to MSG. That disgusting preservative that they put in a lot of Chinese food, but that is also in many canned and frozen items, right down to Campbell's soup. My childhood of tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches flashed before my eyes. All those problems, all the way along, most likely had something to do with this! And I know I'm not alone in this sensitivity - after all, we are the first generation to be raised on a majority of pre-packaged food. I am also sensitive to sugar alcohols - malitol, sorbitol, basically any ingredient ending in "ol" means that it is the alcohol that is refined from the simple sugar and the quick and dirty effect is that it goes STRAIGHT through your digestive tract and out the other end. You can find this is juices, flavoured waters, and again - processed food. Now we're getting somewhere!
I became a little obsessed with my poop (I know - it's gross!). Some things worked, other things didn't. I was on the quest for the perfect bowl movement. In the middle of all of this, I saw an episode of Oprah with Dr. Oz and he was talking about poop too. I was so relieved!...other people DO talk about it and were wondering the same things I was. Bowel movements should be brown in colour, shaped like an "S" to mimic the intestinal tract. If they float - there's too much fat in your diet. If they're unusually smelly - there is something else wrong. Some people go once a week, other people can go 6 times a day. It all depends on the person and their own digestive health, speed, diet and metabolism. Wow! I discovered that your poop really is like a newspaper of your body's daily events. By keeping my intestines functioning happily - I had higher energy, and a much better sense of all-over well being.
I am still living with IBS. But the best thing about IBS is that it's manageable. You don't have to suffer with it as long as you're careful. There's lots of great info about it on SparkPeople. You can also find lists of what and what not to eat online. It does suck that I have to stay away from things like honey and fruit juices (you don't even want to know about my episode with apple cider...oy vey!), but overall, things are coming out right in the end ;)
I am now off the fiber supplements - I am getting enough daily fiber on my own to manage my digestive health. I still pay a lot of attention to what's in the toilet, because it can tell me when I'm getting off track with the rest of my diet. And like my cats, who run around the house like crazy after using their litter box, I also want to jump for joy when I have a really good movement. I guess it's not so much excitement for some people - but trust me - when you've lived your whole life with constant pain and abnormality, this is a big deal.
Hopefully with more weight loss, I'm looking forward to a decrease in frequency at this point. It may come, it may not - my body just tends to be quick anyway. But I am actually curious if anyone else has paid attention to this and can speak to what happens when you lose a significant amount of weight. Reply to me in a private message if you don't want to post - I totally get the embarrassment of the whole issue.
But for now - I'm just happy being REGULAR!!!