I can’t remember the last time I had tasted such good food!
Recently I attended my cousin’s 21st birthday party. It was held in a trendy, down-with-the-kids, Indian restaurant where milkshakes were served in milk bottles and tea was served in glass beer mugs. I was excited to be there. Dinner was a spectacular three course buffet consisting of cuisine which originated from various Indian states with both modern and traditional dishes. Being a big fan of fusion food, I opted to fill my plate with chilli paneer (yes, it did set my tongue on fire) and Manchurian vegetable dumplings. Dessert was a combination of gulab jamun (a deep fried spongy pudding soaked in syrup), home-made ice cream and, of course, cake. I can’t remember the last time I had tasted such good food! The mango lassi flowed, much fun was had and, as the day progressed, waistlines expanded.
Suffering the ‘food hangover’
The next morning I woke up with some rather familiar symptoms - pain in various areas of my abdomen, supplemented by an ache all over. I was experiencing what was essentially the food version of a hangover. As a long time Crohnie and ostomate, I know my body and digestive system very well. So when I was faced with this situation, I knew just what to do.
The post-indulgence remedy
Here’s how it goes:
1. Down it!
Obvious but important is the need to stay hydrated so I simply continuously sip on mugs of hot water, with the odd cup of peppermint tea thrown in just for fun.
2. Count on Kichri
I’ve spoken about kichri before in my blog titled “Tips for an Ostomy-Friendly South Asian Diet” but because it is such an important part of my care and maintenance routine for my digestive health, I am going to mention it again. Kichri is a dish which consists of short-grain rice and split lentils or mong beans and flavoured with turmeric (a known antiinflammatory). It is cooked with an excess of water so the rice and lentils become mushy. This allows for smooth and easy passage of the food through the gastrointestinal tract. I add a spoonful of ghee to my bowl which, according to Ayurveda, helps sustain healthy microbes in the gut. It also makes the meal taste yum.
3. Fruit and Vegetables
I have always been told by my gastroenterology team to stay away from high fibre foods such as fruit and veg when experiencing a flare-up of symptoms. Since having my colon removed though, I have found that eating fruit such as bananas and apples actually helps me feel better in this kind of situation (of course, this may vary from person to person). Not only do these fruits thicken my stoma output, I’ve also discovered that they increase the speed of my recovery. I’m still careful to avoid berries. With regards to vegetables, I will usually choose to eat them in the form of soup or steamed thoroughly.
I’m going to sound like a bit of a wierdo here but meditation really works for me. When symptoms flare up, it’s very easy to fall into a state of panic and worry. Meditating on the pain helps me remove any mental/emotional resistance I am creating in response to the discomfort I’m feeling.
5. ...and Vegetate
Although I don’t stop all activity, I will avoid pushing on with anything unnecessarily. I have been known on occasion to get into bed as soon as I get home from work, simply because that’s what my body needs.
So why do I put myself through the pain of eating food my body doesn’t agree with?
The question I keep asking myself though is: why do I choose to eat foods at all that I know my system doesn’t agree with? Part of the reason is, just like people who on occasion drink an excess of alcohol, I am willing to accept the consequences now and again. However, I do think I need to start asking deeper questions about why, after years of experiencing such severe pain and ill health, I continue to put my body through such things. It deserves better. I deserve better.
Is there anyone else out there who over-indulges from time to time? What is it that you do to get yourself back to full health and have you worked out how to convince yourself to make healthier choices?