Lesson Learned: Listen to your Gut

I have a confession:  I have not been taking care of myself lately and now I am paying the ultimate price. As I sit here and write this, I am in a lot of discomfort and some pain that could probably have been avoided.  Here’s why:

Several months ago, I visited my naturopathic doctor who gave me a nutrition plan to help heal my ulcerative colitis.  The plan is very Paleo-like and was developed after I had food sensitivity and blood work done.  Basically, according to her instructions, I am supposed to eliminate all eggs, dairy, wheat, gluten, peanuts, corn, white potatoes, legumes, and sugar from my diet.  This, along with some supplements she’s prescribed, are supposed to help repair the damage done to my intestinal wall, decrease the amount of bad bacteria in my gut while increasing the amount of good bacteria, and get rid of the inflammation that causes the terrible symptoms of ulcerative colitis.

I followed the plan for a few weeks (with a few minor cheats and treats here and there).  But over the course of the last month, I’ve pretty much gone completely off my nutrition plan.  I’ve been eating whatever I want and if you know me, that’s nothing healthy.  There’s been ice cream (and lots of it), bread (and lots of it), fast food, chips, crackers, diet pop…. the list goes on.  And because, up until this point, it didn’t seem to be having too much negative effect on me, I kept it up.

Over the last couple of days in particular, I have eaten very poorly.  We got some upsetting news the other day and I’ve been using that as my excuse to eat junk.  And now I am paying for it…

Last night when I went to bed, I felt the old familiar pains of indigestion (a tight, painful squeezing feeling in my upper abdomen) and was also a tad bit nauseous.  I prayed that these pains would not send me into a full-out stomach attack like they’ve done in the past, where I am crying on the floor in cold sweats and excruciating pain caused by severe indigestion.  Fortunately, I was able to fall asleep and slept pretty well throughout the night.

This morning when I woke up though, I could still feel tiny hints of the indigestion although it wasn’t nearly as bad as last night.  I went about getting my day started.  Then all of a sudden, I got terrible stomach pains and a bit of nausea and had to hurry to the bathroom.  Without going into too many gruesome details, let’s just say it was not a fun experience.  It was very painful and when finished, the toilet bowl was full of blood (sorry).  This has not happened in a quite some time and I was devastated. Now the bottom end of my digestive tract is very sore and irritated, not a pleasant feeling.

As much as I hate to admit this, I had this coming.  I was foolish and had myself convinced that since I wasn’t really experiencing any of my typical UC symptoms, I could eat whatever I wanted.  Having a “treat” here and there led to a full-out free-for-all.  And now, my UC symptoms seems to be back (at least for now) in full vegeance and I am paying the price.

I am writing this for a couple of reasons.  First, I want to be able to look back on it to give myself that much-needed reminder about why it is so important for me to stick to a healthy eating plan.  I know I will get too comfortable again, but hopefully by coming back to this, I can more clearly remember the awful physical pain that it puts my body through and prevent myself from going too far off track.  It is so important for me to track my foods (something I have stopped doing recently) and to pay better attention to the physical and mental reactions to the foods I eat.  This isn’t just about trying to lose weight to look good anymore, this is my health, and I don’t know why I keep playing with fire….

Secondly, I want to spread the message to others that what we put in our bodies really does affect us in so many ways!  Sometimes, we may not see or feel the physical results of feeding our body unhealthy foods, but they are there!  Don’t be like me and wait until your body is unhealthy and you are in pain to make the change.  We need to start getting people everywhere to nourish their bodies.  Too many of us (myself very much included) eat for pleasure or to comfort ourselves.  We only choose our foods based on how they taste and not on how they are going to affect our body and our overall health.

As painful as it was, I think this is the wakeup call I needed this morning.  Unfortunately, I need to remember this feeling so that I can have a constant reminder of how important it is to follow the food plan that is going to help heal my body.  I need to be patient enough and to trust that when I make these changes, I will feel a positive effect (more energy, clearer skin, healthy bowel movements, slimmer waistline, etc.) It’s hard to be patient when you’re making these changes, but if we don’t do it, we end up back where we started, which in my case, is painful and unhealthy.

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