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The Mouth is a Voluntary Muscle!

Friday, September 10, 2010

As most of you know I am an "incontinence nurse". I work with all kinds of patients that have urinary issues including urgency, frequency, and urge related incontinence. This is am immensely frustrating problem for patients because they feel overwhelmed with a sense that they have NO control over their bladder when urgency strikes. Day in and day out I remind them that our bodies have primarily two kinds of muscles -- voluntary and involuntary. Your heart, for instance is an involuntary muscle. It will beat whether you tell it to or not. You can hold your breath until you pass out, but then the good old involuntary lungs will start breathing without your specific assistance. The bladder is mostly voluntary. The cortical area of our brain needs to develop enough before we can assume voluntary control over it -- the dreaded potty training that frets parents so.
I instruct them that when that fierce sense of urgency strikes, resist the urge to take off and run to the bathroom. That jerky, impulsive movement only incites the bladder to contract harder. Instead, if you are standing, sit down. Calmly practice some voluntary contractions of the pelvic floor, distract yourself. Count backwards from 100. Walk calmly to the bathroom.

But the point of this blog isn't really about the bladder. It's about the MOUTH. Another entirely voluntary muscle...

Today I ate a light lunch. I was so busy, I had just enough time to eat a little tuna and some veggies and a few bites of cantaloupe. Usually I have a mid afternoon snack but I was even too busy for that.
Normally when I get off work I head right down to the Y to exercise, but my husband was leaving after work to drive to my daughter's house in Omaha so he could babysit for our grand kids. I had half debated going with him so I didn't take my gym bag to work with me. I ultimately decided that I was too tired to go with him, so sans gym bag, I headed home after work planning to have supper alone and get into bed early with a book.

All of a sudden while driving on the way home it hit me -- HUNGER!
Hunger with an urgency that took me by surprise. I usually eat about six times a day with three meals and three light snacks, so I rarely get truly hungry, but as I said, I was running on "E", having missed my afternoon snack.
My mind started whirring with possibilities. I could get off the interstate one exit before my usual one. That way I could drive up Delaware -- several solid miles rife with every fast food joint you could name. Maybe a burger? Nooo. Taco? Nope.
What I'm really craving is PIZZA! Mmmm. Yeasty, meaty, Italian spiced pizza loaded with ooey, gooey, cheese! Yes!
Ok next plan -- order in? No. Takes too long. Stop by the grocery store that has a pizza bar and grab a couple of slices! Yes!

No! At that moment it hit me. I was feeling out of control. My brain, mouth, and tastebuds were all conspiring via my visualization of melting mozzarella to undermine my resolve to stick to my food plan.
What do I tell my patients to do when that overwhelming sense of needing pizza - err - to use the bathroom -- strikes?


So I took my usual exit and came home.
First thing I did was eat my banana -- the afternoon's leftover snack. Then I logged onto Spark People and into my nutrition tracker. After entering my breakfast, lunch and the banana, I looked at just how many calories I had eaten for the day and how many that I had left. I looked at the break down. Did I need more protein? Had I had enough carbs? How much fat was left. That helped me consider my options.
I had a California Kitchens thin crust pizza in the freezer. 350 calories for one serving of two slices. Let's see, I also had turkey meatballs in the freezer. 190 calories for three. Put on a light hotdog bun with some marinara sauce and some 2% milkfat mozzarella cheese, it could be ooey, gooey good. What about making some spaghetti and meatballs? No, not just for me. By this time, the banana was kicking in and the hunger calming waaaay down.
I opted for the frozen pizza. I even had enough calories for a third slice AND a slice of light garlic toast.
Even enough for an O'Douls -- my little secret for all you folks who like the taste of a nice cold beer but like me find that alcohol can totally undo my willpower. It's non-alcohol and only 90 fat free calories!

Ok. Although it was frozen pizza, it was good frozen pizza, but not the kind of pizza that inspires a what the heck attitude about portion size and calories. It fit the bill and I was left feeling satisfied and so pleased with myself for not caving into my cravings leaving me stuffed while wallowing in self-pittious guilt for the rest of the evening!

So next time you get that immense, shaky, starving, out of control feeling, don't let it overwhelm and over power you. Slow down, take the edge off with a healthy snack even if it's not what you crave at the moment. Distract yourself and check your tracker if you can. Calmly weigh your options.

Just remember:
YOU are the boss of your mouth because it IS a voluntary muscle!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • JESSA2
    Joanne! I just love ya! I had the same kind of thing happen this morning and made it through! Was so happy when I saw this blog! Tee hee! Hope all is well!
    2806 days ago
    Great post!

    Oh, I know that out-of-control feeling well. Since I tend to low-blood sugar I have to be sure to get my snacks in or I don't just get hungry, I start feeling faint. Not great, especially when you're out on a long run or hike!

    Bananas to the rescue! Gotta love 'em!
    emoticon emoticon emoticon

    Edited to add banana emoticon - :)
    2808 days ago

    Comment edited on: 9/12/2010 7:56:33 AM
    ...as is the "brain", if we choose to USE IT! :-)

    Great reminder, Joanne!

    2808 days ago
    Fantastic blog. I am going to keep this voluntary muscle closed during the soccer game
    2809 days ago
    Awesome! You are so right. We can control our food intake if we try. I always like to track my food before I eat if I can. It saves me from disaster many times.

    I get these frozen pizzas that are gluten free. They're called Pizza by George and there is only 400 calories in a whole little pizza. Really they're pretty good and I have automatic portion control.
    2810 days ago
    So tickled your training kicked in and helped you control your appetite!..

    Way to stop and breathe and count to 100.. LOL

    Sounds like you were very satisfied after your meal....

    PS I think it is so cool your DH babysits the Grandkiddos without you... not many men would do that!
    2810 days ago
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