I can’t think of a worse outcome from a doctor’s appointment than simply being told to ‘watch what I eat’ and keep a food diary.
WHERE’S MY MEDS?
Bloody NHS. Bloody useless doctors. Something is seriously WRONG with me but they’re just shrugging me off!!
Actually, they’re not.
Remember mama telling you not to eat dirt off the floor? Okay so we all know that dirt is intrinsically bad for us (or is it?) so we make a mental note: dirt, no. Moldy stuff, no. Things we’re allergic to, no.
If I came to you and said I’ve been having horrendous stomach cramps and constipation, and then mentioned I’d been eating plastic, you’d be like, uh…. Sarah… you might wanna lay off the plastic. I’d stop eating plastic and my stomach would be lovely again.
What I wouldn’t do, is carry on eating plastic while taking a shitload of medications.
No, silly, that’s ridiculous.
It’s also my point!
I feel like I’ve been conditioned to just reach out my arms for prescriptions after prescriptions without making any actual changes. MEDS. GIMMIE MY MEDS. Because if a recycling lorry can gobble up plastic with no issues, why shouldn’t I?
We can agree that a recycling lorry and my stomach work very differently. Take cows, they eat grass all day every day because they have FOUR STOMACHS. If you try to live on grass, you’ll be reaching out for meds again.
I’m starting to understand that each and every stomach is unique and unpredictable.
What my friend can chug on, I might not be able to. I might have drunk milk for my entire life, but only now it makes me feel sick. Last year I ate spicy food in India and felt fabulous, now spices make me break out in rashes. Before I could eat pasta for lunch every day, now even a little bit makes me bloat to fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck.
We HAVE to look at what we put into our mouths. We have to identify foods that don’t agree with us and consciously avoid eating them. I know it sounds pretty obvious, but I couldn’t tell you the number of times I’ve accepted a cuppa from someone KNOWING that the milk is going to cause an issue, or quickly put together a pasta carbonara because it’s easy and yummy only to suffer for hours later on.
And you know what? It’s taken me like, years, to accept that the kinds of foods I put into my mouth can cause problems. Before I’d be like, the whole of bloody ITALY survive on pasta, there’s no WAY it’s the cause of my [insert unfortunate symptom here].
I’m starting to look into Ayurvedic medicine/diets and the complex nature of balancing our doshas. I can’t comment on any of it just yet, but I absolutely recommend some self-study. Here’s a good place to start if you suffer from heartburn/indigestion.
Do you take in enough nutrients each day? Are your meals bright and colourful? On an average plate, what takes up more space, natural ingredients or processed foods? How do you feel 30 minutes after eating a certain food? Study what you eat, be a good patient, write the damn food diary.
Now I turn to how we eat.
I’m terrible at eating. I eat while I cook, I eat while I watch TV. In fact, I eat while I clean, text, read, smoke, write, talk, walk, drink*, think, get ready to go out, bath, swipe on Tinder… I pretty much NEVER just eat. Who does that?!
In India, we were strongly advised to JUST eat.
That means no distractions. Not even the distraction of daydreaming(!!!!)
In focusing all of our attention on eating, not only will the food taste better, but we will be more aware of chewing our food properly and the pace in which we eat. (I’ve been known to finish a roast dinner in a few minutes). We’ll also be more aware of how much we eat, as well as when we start to feel full. (Ever eaten an entire ‘share’ bag of crisps while watching Netflix? Oh the bloating…)
*Most of us drink while we eat, even if it’s just a glass of water, but I was surprised to learn that doing so dilutes the digestive acids, resulting in indigestion, cramps, etc.
Next up, why and when we eat.
Are you actually hungry when you eat? Or are you just bored? I often eat solely to break up the hours. Or to give myself a sugar rush between lessons.
Why do you eat the certain foods you’re eating, even if they cause you discomfort?
During university back in 2012, I was going through a pretty terrible time in my life and found that serving myself TWO dinners filled the void slightly. What I’d do is cook way more than I needed, with the intention of either saving some for lunch the next day, or to have a huge dinner so I’d be too full for an unhealthy dessert.
What actually happened was I ate the massive amounts of food (including dessert), was in agony all night and put on a lot of weight. And you know what? Making my stomach so full it almost burst didn’t really fill any void. It made me even more miserable.
I’m learning to stop making excuses for mistreating my body.
Sure it’s easier to make a sandwich or buy a burger, or it’s cheaper, quicker, whatever, but if bread or meat or cheese or WHATEVER doesn’t agree with me, there’s simply no excuse. Besides, I’ve actually found that swapping processed foods for fresh vegetables has saved me a lot of money.
Lastly, when do you eat? As soon as you wake up? Right before exercising or going to sleep? In India, when we ate was basically as important as what we ate.
We were advised to eat a good few hours after getting up. Completely different to trudging down the stairs with Mum’s full English there waiting. The reason was because there was far too much else to do first thing after waking, including cleansing procedures (think putting things up your nose), yoga, meditation, light walks and taking a shower*. All of this action would rev up our digestive system making it ready to accept food.
*NB- I distinctively remember being told never to shower after eating, always before. I suppose it’s the same rule that applies to swimming.
Again, I’m practising to STOP making excuses. “Oh but I live in Spain and they eat really late here”, “I wasn’t hungry this morning so I just had coffee”, etc.
This doesn’t only concern those with stomach problems, almost all symptoms such as skin rashes, headaches, chronic fatigue, anxiety, depression, etc, can all be eased by being CONSCIOUS about what we put into our mouths and how, why and when we do so.
Remember, just because your body doesn’t agree with a certain food type doesn’t mean it’s failing in some way. I think a lot of us continue to eat foods we know we shouldn’t just because we want to feel normal. No two digestive systems are the same. We’re far too advanced, far too unique.
Listen to YOUR individual body and go from there.
Don’t simply treat the symptoms with meds and continue eating plastic.
*This is part of my 2017 project to recall the lessons life throws at me so that 23 won’t just be another year like the others, but one of contemplation and growth. What have you learnt so far this year? Do you consciously observe what you eat? Do you set aside time to JUST eat? Know anything about doshas?!- please get in touch!