Thursday, January 23, 2014

Health: When You Can't Even Look At Food

Hey, guys! So, since my last "health" post was such a big hit with all of you, I thought I would do another one. And this one is about the one thing that plagues many young people in their twenties. Can you guess? Stomach problems!

People in their twenties to thirties have a lot of stress placed upon them. Let's face it. College and new careers take a huge toll on us mentally and physically. And one of the symptoms of this stress is stomach problems. I'm not talking the "I ate too much" or "I'm constipated" or "I've got an ulcer" problems. I'm talking about the "I look at food and think I'm going to throw up" problem.

For many of us, we have way more stress than we know what to deal with and having a sick stomach that doesn't want to be nourished doesn't help. Then, when we try to let go of all that anxiety, guess what happens? BAM! Stomach problem sends us on a wild ride again. You may not even have anxiety before this starts to develop, but once you feel nausea that you can't control, that anxiety rushes in with a vengeance.

Having stomach problems at our age is totally normal. I didn't find that out until a much-needed visit to my family doctor. It was kind of embarrassing at first to tell her that I hated the sight, smell, texture, and even thought of an increasing number of my normal foods (it started with hot dogs, by the way). Up until that moment I had been told that I was developing an eating disorder and it was wrong. It was wrong for me to be full after ten bites of soup. It was wrong to smell eggs and not be able to choke them down. But instead of telling me it was all in my head like a lot of people seemed to think it was, the doctor listened intently. And then she said two words that sounded way too simple:

Sugar. Fiber.

And you know what? She was right! I started increasing my Wheaties and my dark chocolate M&M's and felt soooo much better. (To be honest, I knew she was talking about natural sugar and fiber, but the chocolate kicked in faster.) Less than a month later, I was back to eating anything and everything I wanted. There is hope! (Although hot dogs are still gross.)

Recently, I started developing problems again. This time, though, I decided to do some research and discover a healthier alternative. But I wanted something that I could munch on throughout the day and not feel like it was assaulting my stomach. And here's what I came up with:

  • 1 banana (for sweetness)
  • 1 apple (for lots of fiber)
  • 1 carrot (for more fiber)
  • 1/4 cup bran flakes (for a different type of fiber)
  • Splash of milk (to help break down the bran flakes in your stomach)
  • Any other fruit you like to help tame the flavor (optional)
  • Ice cubes (optional)
In the beginning I just did the first five, and I admit that it tasted less than scrumptious. Since then I've been adding strawberries (more fiber) and berries (antioxidants!) and it has helped the flavor tremendously.

Basically, cut the fruit and carrot up and toss everything in a blender.

Blend it until it is just a little bit chunky, but not smoothie consistency. If you prefer to start out with it cold, add ice.

Ta da!! Your very own fiber mix. 

What I do is carry the cup around with me all day (during the winter) and just eat by spoonfuls. You can also keep it in the fridge and go back to it when you start to feel nauseous, or you can eat it all at once (if your stomach is okay with it). After a week or two of munching on this stuff daily, you should begin to feel normal again. Then you can enjoy your new-found food freedom!

Word to the Wiser Than I: Make sure to keep your fiber and natural sugar intake higher than "normal" after you feel better so that you don't have to feel bad again. Also don't forget to keep up your water intake. And eat your yogurt to get the good bugs in your system! (If you want to, you can add it to your mixture, but I prefer to just get a high dosage of it in the morning.) 

Awesome side-effect of this mixture: Decreased snacking and sugar urges! You might find yourself losing a few pounds. Just make sure you don't make this an excuse to make more than one batch and instead "milk it" to make it last.

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