A Learning Experience

I know that it has been a very long time since I have posted anything, but I warned you all that I needed to focus my energy elsewhere. Through this entire time, I have kept my Paleo lifestyle intact. Well, for the most part. I can say that I have not knowingly or willingly eaten something that has not met my exacting specifications, and I have done a super-stellar job of planning through the holidays. Whenever you are in the process of changing or even keeping up a lifestyle change (especially one that goes so heavily against popular culture) it is vitally important to plan.

So the “knowingly or willingly” part of the above statement is crucially important for the learning experience that I have been through this past week, because I apparently ingested some sort of wheat substance at some point about a week ago. I suppose that, since I don’t eat wheat products at all (and am very careful about reading labels) it really took its toll on me. I had definite carb flu symptoms all last weekend, but nothing compared to what I went through this week.

On Monday I was still going through the carb flu. I think it was the last day of it. Tuesday I felt absolutely great, and I thought that I was on the downhill slope. But on Wednesday, my stomach started feeling a little weird. It didn’t last too long on Wednesday, but when I got to work on Thursday and I was in excruciating pain I asked my boss if I could go home early to go to the doctor. By the time I got to the doctor, the pain was gone and I was given some antibiotics for a bladder infection that the doctor couldn’t find. I ate a huge dinner on Thursday night – and promptly spent the entire night in an excruciating pain that I can only compare to child birth.

By that time I’d had enough, and I started doing some research into this pain. I had noticed a pattern – it seemed to show up about two hours after I had eaten a meal. With my trusty internet in hand, I started Googling. And what I found out was amazing.

IBS. Irritable Bowel Syndrome

I had heard of it before, but I’d never known anyone who’d had it or what causes it. But apparently, known catalysts are caffeine; just about any food that is listed on the Paleo “Do Not Eat” list – including wheat, dairy, and legumes; and stress. I had been concerned that stress was a factor in whatever it was going on because I am currently involved in a couple of events that are causing considerable stress. The caffeine made some sense because I had been staying away from coffee since last Saturday because of how I felt – and began to feel better – and began drinking it again on Tuesday. And I already suspected that I had ingested some sort of wheat product at the end of the week because of how I felt during the weekend.

Yesterday I spent the entire day at home recovering from the long, painful night. I made a huge pot of beef bone broth (find out more about this stuff here) and spent all day drinking it and hanging out on the couch. I’ve already had two cups of it this morning and I’m still hanging out on the couch, although I’m not in pain any more.

One thing that I can’t believe about IBS is that there are people who go through this all the time! Doctors don’t have a “cure” for it, so it can just pop up at any time if one of the catalysts is present and the person is sensitive to it. I can’t imagine going through that type of pain all the time. I missed over a day of work because of it. It really reinforces my already strong belief that “cheating” on this “diet” isn’t worth it in the long haul. I have found replacements for just about everything, including candy (roasted sweet potatoes are making a fine substitute for that). And if I can do that, it shouldn’t be hard for others to do it, too.

It also reinforced my belief that, as I go through day after day without coming in contact with wheat, dairy, soy, legumes, and additives, I have created a situation where I am much more sensitive to those things when I do come in contact with them. Usually I can pinpoint the culprit and make a mental note to stay away from it. In this case I can’t. I had gotten some ham steaks from the grocery store that Thursday – even though I read the ingredient list three times in the store, I didn’t catch that they had dextrose until I got home, and I still ate them. By the way, if a meat has an ingredient list, it is probably best to stay away from it. Friday we went to a burger place that I’ve never had a bad reaction to. They made my burger with a bun and I sent it back. I made play dough with wheat flour twice in two weeks, and I usually have a mild reaction to it each time I do it. I try not to make it more than once a month, but I found some really cool play dough activities that I wanted to try for the holidays. It really could have come from any one of those things, so I really have no idea what brought on the IBS symptoms. But I know that I have learned a lot from the experience.