Friday, March 9, 2012

Time for a Life Style Change

The last few months have been very difficult.  My mother died in November, my father was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease the same week of her funeral and we've been going crazy trying to get him into a proper retirement home while he's dealing with all this and rapidly declining.  On top of all that I started a new job in December which was a big promotion but means I'm learning new things and taking on more responsibility.  In other words life has been crazy.  As such, my irritable bowel syndrome has been going crazy.  We've been eating out so much that I'm gaining weight like crazy and last night after I stepped on the scale and suffered an attack I made a definitive decision - it's time for a life style change.  I have to stop using food as a crutch when I'm suffering emotionally with a stressful life.  So early this morning I did some research.

Here's what I found:

Millions of people suffer with this disorder and, although it is the source of major discomfort and its symptoms do affect quality of life it's not fatal and does not damage the colon and doesn't lead to other health problems.  It's basically a malfunctioning of the bowel.  The physical contractions, which are key symptoms of Irritable bowel syndrome often occur when a person eats too much or eats certain types of foods.  It is also found that the muscles in the bowel are more sensitive than normal, which is what triggers the contractions after a meal or when the bowel begins to stretch.  Stress does not cause it but it is triggered by stressful situations.  Lately I've had plenty of those.  Some people eat as a response to stress and are more prone to eat foods that should be stricken from the diet when under emotional stress and that would be lately.

Dietary changes are a must for anyone wishing to be relieved of Irritable bowel symptoms.  So since it helps to know which foods to avoid and know which foods in include, I'm listing some of them here.

Foods to avoid:
Carbonated drinks, Caffeinated drinks and chocolate, fried foods, foods high in fat, foods high in acid, foods high in sulphur, red meat, dairy products and alcohol.

Eating smaller meals throughout the day helps avoid overeating, which can cause symptoms.  Trying to each five or six times a day in smaller portions is best.  It helps with digestion, but also keeps you from becoming too hungry and overeating at mealtimes.

In my case high fiber foods only worsen the symptoms.  The reason for this involves the fact that soluble fibers actually soothe the digestive tract and relieve symptoms of both constipation and diarrhea. 

Foods distinctly high in soluble fiber include:
Pasta, Rice or rice cereals, Oatmeal, White breads, Soy products, Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Peas, Peaches, Carrots, Papayas, and Mangoes.

Exercise  helps as well.  When I have time for yoga or participate in regular exercise I find that I sleep better and feel better all around.  However, I can't always control this and apparently drinking peppermint tea for several days surrounds an attack relaxes the muscles in the gastrointestinal tract and helps relieve pain. 

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