Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Let's Talk About Bloat Baby, Let's Talk About You And Me...

All the good things and the bad things that may be, let's talk about BLOAT!

Please, tell me it isn't just me, I keep hearing that repeat in my head to the tune of Salt N Peppas' 'Let's Talk About Sex'.

Just as in the beginning of the song where they say, 'Yo, I don't think we should talk about this. People might misunderstand what we're trying to say', discussions about bloat, intestinal issues and bowel movements land in that same zone.

Now, I'm not talking about those excess rolls of skin and fat cells that you can grab handfuls of, but the real hard, makes it difficult to breathe, I only had a couple bites, appears out of nowhere, extra 5-10 inches around your waistline that is not natural or normal for you.

Where did all this extra ME come from?!

A couple decades and some change ago, I began to notice this was a problem for me and I was very slender, so a five inch instant increase in my waistline was very noticeable visibly, as well as internally noticeable to me.

One day at work, a couple of girlfriends and I decided to go out to eat for lunch. I had been trying to explain what kept happening to my stomach, but they weren't really getting it. I told them at lunch to watch and feel my stomach before and after I ate. I had part of a small salad and a diet cola. Instantly, my stomach began to harden and I felt full and miserable. They noticed it visibly and came unhinged when they felt how hard my stomach became. They thought for sure I was doing it on purpose, it was so large and hard. I wouldn't even begin to know how to do that. They truly did believe me and were as stumped as I had been.

But I'm Not Pregnant...Compliment at the drive through

That same year, I was at a drive through window ordering some fast food and hadn't even eaten yet. When I drove around after ordering my lunch, there was a tall young man at the window with a big smile on  his face. He was looking at me and chatting kindly and socially, then after taking my money and before getting my meal, he said, "Congratulations!" I looked at him and was dumbfounded. He apparently didn't think I had heard him as he repeated himself, "Congratulations!" he smiled. He grabbed my bag of goodies and handed them to me and I asked, "For what?" He looked at me, "On your baby", then did a circular motion around his midsection area. He was so kind, had such a big grin on his face and was so excited, I didn't have the heart to tell him I wasn't  pregnant, I was just bloated. Instead I mustered up all the enthusiasm I could, considering the circumstances and popped off a semi-cheery 'Thank you' with a forced smile.

Umm...Thank you?

Fast forward to now and I am still having the same problems, but am now over 200 pounds. It is hard enough supporting that kind of gravity let alone dealing with an expanding stomach while you are simply sitting and reading. I have since given up carbonated drinks and caffeinated sodas. I do still have the morning cup (or half cup) of coffee, eat small meals, stay physically active, but continue to have the hard bloating.

There are any number of illnesses for which bloating might be a symptom. Some of them quite serious, others simply a nuisance. I didn't appear to fall under any of the medical diagnoses over the years, so I began doing my own research on the subject. Having been vegan for several years, I didn't believe the fiber would be an issue, but perhaps it was? I drink loads of water which should have made up for it. What else? I do have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), maybe look into the irritable bowel issues. I consume plenty of probiotics, I thought?

A clinician had  suggested digestive enzymes to me when I first started noticing the problem years ago and I had long since gotten away from them. I decided to look into them again and found a vegan option for the chewable papaya digestive enzymes. Then I decided to fill my fridge with pre- and probiotic loaded vegan yogurts and drinks (Kombucha), as well as ordering a vegan probiotic supplement.

While I waited for my supplements to arrive, I ate and drank my probiotic enriched foods, but the thing that I had found even  prior to this that gave me almost instantaneous relief was an inexpensive and simple fix. Apple Cider Vinegar. After researching at length, I found this simple recipe to ease bloating: 1 Tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar in the bottom of the glass, top off with ice cold filtered water (12-16 ounces). That's it. The first time I drank it, my hard stomach  appeared to disappear right before my eyes. Not only that, but I have also found that drinking it with my meals instead of after, it dissipates attacks of GERD as they are starting to happen.

Continuing my research, I found particular foods were more notorious for causing bloat than others and I also found recommendations for foods that had natural enzymes that would be better to eat. I have been slowly transitioning some food items in and others out of my vegan meal plan.
And my day now routinely includes the following regimen and I feel so much better:
  • 2 Vegan Probiotic Capsules in the morning
  • 3 Chewable Vegan Digestive Enzyme Tablets after each meal (these are like a little treat)
  • 16 ounces of water with 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with every meal or after
This is by no means a cure all for everyone. It is what I have found so far that works best for me and for my specific issues. Please, make sure if you are having problems with bloating that you get to your Physician first for a complete check-up and be sure to tell them what you are seeing and when you notice it most.

Visit your Doctor to rule out anything serious

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