March 19th, 2011
Are yinz having a great Saturday?
Dave and I got into Hollidaysburg late last night for Levi’s first birthday party today. That meant that I had to run my long run (18 miles: take 2) this morning…all by my lonesome.
But really, I don’t want to talk about my run. Not in the same way that I didn’t want to talk about it last week. Actually it was a great run, but there’s something else on my mind right now.
I haven’t really talked about it much on the blog (if I ever have, I’m not sure), but for many, many years I suffered from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Ahem—remember when I pooped my pants? I was 12. I was never formally diagnosed, but a number of my family was and since my symptoms were so similar, we assumed that it was the same.
I know this is a very common ailment, especially in women, so I figured talking about how I have managed it would be a good idea.
When I was in college, if got really bad. I would go through week long flare-ups when I could hardly even drink water without having to run to the bathroom 2 minutes later. I would lose a ton of weight and have no idea how to manage my symptoms. It wasn’t until my brother became very sick with colitis that I realized my diet was a huge problem. I stopped eating red meat, most dairy, and generally avoiding greasy food. This is also the time when I started to run regularly. I was amazed at how my symptoms disappeared.
Why am I talking about this now?
Well, because every now and then my symptoms will creep back. And very rarely will they affect my everyday life. This past week, that is exactly what happened.
That’s part of the reason why I was so grumpy all week. I hate it when something like that interrupts my daily life. And right now my daily life includes marathon training, which makes it even more frustrating because running can obviously aggravate the problem.
So what do I do?
Whenever I experience IBS symptoms, I automatically check one thing: my diet. Looking back on what I have been eating, I’m not surprised at the way my body has responded. Candy, candy, more candy. Plus lots of dairy and even too much wheat can cause problems.
This week I really tried my hardest to avoid refined (and excessive) sugar, dairy and most wheat. It took a number of days for my system to adjust, but I think it’s finally on the upswing. I mentioned that I’m working on snacking less because I have noticed that if my body is on a schedule, it handles food much better.
I have to say that the better I watch my diet, the more things I can eat. I know that seems weird because I cut things out, but before there were so many things that I COULD NOT eat. I couldn’t eat anything spicy, no beans, no nuts, only a little bit of fruit. And ANY TIME I ate ice cream or something greasy (which was often), I had to be close to a bathroom.
Now that I CHOOSE not to eat some things, I eat more of the good foods (beans, nuts, fruit), so whenever I have an occasional ice cream cone, I’m ok. My stomach is healthy enough to digest it.
Over the past few weeks I’ve let my eating get out of control and now I’m paying for it. So it’s high time I take back control of my life.
I guess all of this is to say that if you suffer from IBS, you have the power to control it.
You don’t need medication (in general, I don’t know YOUR specific situation), but you do need self control.
Making small changes in your diet and eliminating foods that are hard to digest can help you gain your life back. This week was a reminder to me that diet truly can change your quality of life. I know many of you have it a lot worse than I do and that other foods may be your problem, but please trust me when I say that diet is the main cause. Yea sure, if could be genetics, just looking at my family confirms that suspicion, but genetics don’t have to dictate your life.
Take some time to determine what foods upset you and cut them out one at a time. See how you feel—it’s bound to be better than how you feel during flare-ups.