Monday, August 3, 2015

oh my belly

I feel like most of my adult life has been plagued by belly issues.

In all likelihood that the college cafeteria was the beginning of these troubles. Growing up I don't recall having any belly or bathroom issues. My mom didn't work most of my life and we also didn't have a lot of extra money in our monthly budget. We very rarely ate out and my mom prepared most of our meals at home. Sure we ate our share of Mac&Cheese and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches but my consumption of processed foods and snacks was probably much lower than the average kid today. Truthfully, my own kids eat a lot more junk than I ever did.

But hello dorm life and all the sugary cereal you can eat for ANY meal along with Diet Coke on the way to an 8am class (I was not yet a coffee drinker) and ice cream on demand? While I tried to consume my fair share of salads and vegetables, most of the foods available were prepared quite differently than I was used to.

In my early 20's I started using antacids, proton pump inhibitors and whatever stomach pain medications the doctor prescribed. In retrospect, I suspect my gallbladder was waving warning flags that it was filling with stones--but as a healthy, young and not overweight individual, no one ever considered that. I had a video camera put down my throat into my stomach looking for problems, but everything was deemed normal.

My gallbladder really went crazy after my pregnancy with my first daughter and after months of pain, weight loss and misery we finally found the problem and it was removed. But the stomach problems weren't solved.

Now, almost 20 years later I deal with a myriad of issues. I have discovered I am gluten-intolerant. Gluten gives me migraine headaches and major stomach upset. Recently, grains have caused bloating, digestive discomfort and minor headaches also.

I've eaten gluten-free for 3+ years now and eaten a primarily Paleo diet for about 2 years. Yet the issues continue.

Tonight I wasn't in the mood to eat the food I brought to work. So I ordered hard boiled eggs, 2 pieces of bacon and a hash brown.

Now an hour later I feel my belly bloating over the waistband of my pants and filling out my shirt more than it was earlier tonight. My stomach is crampy and gassy.

Was it the additives in the bacon? Or the grill it was cooked on? Was it the grill or oil used for the hash brown?

I took my enzymes but it just wasn't enough.

This is my life. I love food. But I hate food.

It's time to buckle down and fix this belly. I can't give in and order food because I just never know. The hope is that if I heal my gut, I won't have such strong reactions to contamination.

I recently started seeing a holistic doctor. He's pretty sure I have leaky gut syndrome. There could be a variety of causes. To fix it, I need to get really strict with my diet and take some healing supplements as well. Testing showed I am not digesting fats, I have no beneficial bacteria in my gut and I have some candida as well.

It's nice to know what I'm dealing with and have an action plan.

The discipline is the hardest part.

But as I sit here with a crampy, bloated belly I know I can complain no longer and I just need to remember this feeling. Even when I go with "safe" foods, my gut just can't handle them. Next time, I'll eat my wild canned salmon and greek olives.

I want a happy belly.