Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Being an Accidental Health Freak

Over this past year, I have joked with friends and family that I have become an accidental heath freak. "How does one become an accidental health freak", you ask?
Well, story time!!
Soon after moving to Omaha last summer to start my new job at a nursing home, I started being sick. Not like "stay home from work/ school" sick, but instead "all I want to do is go to bed and curl up in a ball I feel so horrible" sick. At first I deduced that I became lactose intolerant, and my breakfasts of cereal and milk with a side of milk would have to go. That worked for a little bit, maybe a month or two.
Then school started, and the symptoms came back. But this time I wasn't eating any dairy.
Found here

My mornings would go like this:
Wake up
Roll over
Roll back over because my stomach hurt too much to lay on my back
Lay in bed for another 15 minutes
Give myself a pep talk to get up so I wouldn't be late for class
Peel myself out of bed
Take a few bites of breakfast, but then decide that it wasn't worth the stomach cramps
Hurry out the door so I wouldn't be late for class

That is how most of my mornings went for several months. That is until Fall Break in mid-October when I finally decided that this was bad enough to go to the doctor about.

Long story short, I was loosely diagnosed with IBS, aka Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Fun fact, older adults are not the only ones that can have IBS. Women in their late teens / early 20s are the next common age group.

SO, due to that *lovely* diagnosis, I started investigating what in the world would help me feel better. I learned that going gluten and lactose free was going to be one of the only ways that I could feel great again. From what I have learned, it is very common to become lactose and gluten intolerant when you have IBS.

Starting the Gluten-Free Lifestyle... check it out here: https://blogs.hope.edu/students/uncategorized/gluten-free-because-its-good-for-me/:
Me saying goodbye to all the wheat

Now you may be asking yourself, "Why is she telling me all this stuff??"
Well, since being lactose free for a year and being completely gluten free since April 1, I have heard some, let's call them, "interesting" comments and questions about my diet.

Let me pause here and tell you that none of these comments are directed at any one person. If I have heard it once, I have heard it 20 times. I'm writing this because I feel like sometimes people forget that there are people who do not eat gluten or dairy, not because they are trying to lose weight or think it is healthier, but because they know how their body will react adversely if they do.

Let's start with the most commonly asked question: "What in the world do you eat if you can't have gluten or lactose???" (This one is always asked in some sort of panicked way!)

phenergan photos - INK361:
Just kidding!
Now, lets have a look at the good old-fashioned food pyramid:
 You will notice that I have marked in red what I do not eat and circled in blue what I do!
Grains is an obvious one. I do not eat anything in that category except rice. I love rice. I eat lots of fruits and vegetables along with protein. With dairy, not all dairy has lactose in it. So, I can eat certain yogurts and cheeses (absolutely no mozzarella, though), small amounts of butter, along with sour cream. For the last category, I've mostly crossed out because, except for dark, I cannot eat chocolate. Also, 99.9% of baked goods contain wheat flour so those are an automatic no for me!
So do not worry, I am not starving. I have lots I can eat!
For example, on of my favorite go-to meals right now is my own concoction of sorts. Its scrambled eggs with chopped green onions on buttered gluten free toast, with lots of sour cream on top! Yum!!
Other meals include gluten free (corn) pasta with sauce, chicken fajita mix with rice, and PB&J sandwiches on gluten free bread!
I also get pretty creative when I'm craving dessert:

These would be lemon bars that I scraped the filling out of oh so carefully

Next question: "Is this just a fad that you've started?"
Technically this is a valid question. However, it comes across extremely rude. Whether or not it is a "fad" does not change the importance of it. If you need to know, ask it how I've been asked by waiters, "Is it for medical or personal reasons?" It's a little less demeaning that way.

And the question that normally follows the last one, "Why can't you just eat a little bit?"
Let me reiterate, my choosing to be gluten and lactose free is not a fad. I eat this way because I  know what will happen when I don't. Here are a few examples:
The last time I ate pizza, I could barely walk due to how much my stomach hurt.
The last time I ate a hamburger (with the bun) I nearly ended up in the hospital with dehydration and a heart rate of 120, spiking at 150 at rest. (For non-medically inclined people, a resting heart rate should be between 60 and 90 or so.)
Granted, these are my extreme reactions, but I'll let you answer this question, "why would I want to risk it?" When I had that hamburger, I knew I was risking it, but I thought to myself, 'it's only a bun. There's other stuff on it! Its not like it's cake or anything......' 5 1/5 hours later I was eating my words.

Trigger foods / Crohns. Spoonie:
Found here

This is not a question, but a comment that normally squeezes itself into the conversation. "Well that sounds like it sucks....."
I know.
But really, it sucks a lot, and you telling me that it stinks while eating or talking about  something that I can't have makes it stink even worse. I cannot tell you the last time I had a slice of real cake. I'm going to guess my High School grad party, May, 25 2015.  I can tell you the last time I had a donut- March 20, 2016 around 10:30 am. That didn't really go over very well, but it was delicious!! I know you don't mean to be mean, but reminding me how long its been since I have had those delicious things, kinda rubs me the wrong way. I am still trying to get used to my new normal and it reminds me of what I'm missing out on.

And finally, one of my favorite questions, "So all this stuff just happened over night??"
I have a simple answer to that -- Yes. I remember the mornings I started having problems with dairy. It was literally an over night occurrence. I also remember the mornings soon after school started, waking up feeling sooooo crappy and wreaking my brain trying to think of what I could have eaten that might have had dairy in it; when in reality it wasn't diary, that was from the wheat.

As I come to an end, I want to give you some quick advice and reminders when it comes to meeting people like me who have some pretty outlandish diets:
- People do not normally have crazy diets just to make things difficult for friends and family.
- Please do not take offense if I, or anyone else, tell you "I can't eat that....." It is so hard to have to tell people that, especially if it looks delicious, but it's necessary.
- If you are having a meal, plan it in advance and let the other person know. This way, lets say, if you want to have spaghetti and meat sauce, they can volunteer to bring their pasta for everyone (it's delicious, just so you know!).

Well folks, we have reached the end of the post. Thank you so much for bearing with me and reading all the way to the end! If anyone has any questions about anything, ask away! I'm a nursing student, nothing is TMI!