To begin…I want to flashback to high school…for those of you who did not know “high school Evan.” My diet consisted primarily of bean & cheese burritos, flamin’ hot cheetos, slurpees, sour patch kids, cinnamon sugar bagels, and coffee. I was 5’9 and approximately 125 pounds (see pic above), all because of my insane metabolism I inherited from both parents, so counting caloric, sugar, and carb intake was never something that crossed my mind. Because of this, I consumed anything and everything I wanted whenever I wanted and life was pretty easy (I am not in any way bragging about this, it all came back to haunt me). I never thought twice about what I ate, and I brushed off my parents when they told me, “you are what you eat.” Additionally, throughout high school, I would get migraines that would last for about two days, but they were bad enough to keep me from sporting events and school. We never really found a solution to this problem, medicine never really worked, so we ended up assuming I had to suck it up because it was likely just stress related.
*Because I know my mom is going to read this, I would like to give her credit…she prepared my entire family a home cooked dinner every night…without fail. So to say my diet was completely garbage would be a lie, but…it was pretty awful.*
Summer between senior year of high school and freshman year of college was really when my intestines began hating me in all the worst ways. Every time I ate i would experience excruciating stomach pains, to the point where I thought I was going to vomit or pass out. My mom, in typical mother-fashion, immediately calls the doctor (ily mom). We went into a pediatrician, who sent me to a gastroenterologist, who rushed me into a endoscopy. Nothing quite like having a camera shoved down your throat. We discovered that my stomach was completely filled with green bile (super attractive). My doctor attributed this to IBS. I left the doctor nodding my head while he told me ( I was still slightly drugged)that I had “IBS.” The catch was, I was literally half-conscious, and had zero idea what IBS was. I remember thinking “Honestly….what even is a bowel?,” I was never a biology person. Prior to this, I was rarely in the doctor’s office, and my inexperience lead me to ask literally zero questions. Nice Evan.
So at this point I felt like S.O.L. I had some weird, unattractive stomach condition, and I was leaving for college in less than a month. Not only am I beginning college…but I am also beginning Division One athletics…SOOOO far from ideal. My doctor prescribed me to take three medicines. My mom is going to kill me after this post, but I am just going to say it, I had NO idea what any of these pills did, and of course I did not ask. Also, I had to take them at the weirdest times….like “thirty minutes before each meal.” That might be practical for an elementary school student who has both a school nurse and two parents monitoring the medicine intake. However, a college freshman and D1 athlete who wakes up at 5AM for lifting, then goes to tutoring, attends (most) classes, returns for practice, then heads back for more tutoring, and finally returns home at 8 PM every weeknight WILL NOT remember to take a pill in the morning, before each meal, followed by another pill twice each day.
Safe to say I did not solve many (any) of my intestinal troubles freshman year. I returned home for the summer, and immediately saw a new doctor. She took me off of every pill I was on *PTL*, advised me to take a fiber supplement, and suggested that I try the FODMAP diet. (if you’re interested I love this blog about low FODMAPS: http://www.katescarlata.com/ )
This is longer than I expected….but to cut to the chase…I have finally gotten a better grasp on my life. I eliminated gluten, dairy, most processed foods, and some high FODMAP foods from my diet completely. I did not change my diet for the purposes of losing weight, a common misconception, but because it was time to make a lifestyle change so that I could live without a bloated, cramping, painfully annoying digestive system.
Turns out that changing my diet actually was a blessing in disguise. I have developed a passion for food and healthy cooking, something I probably would not have ever gotten into (peep at the blog). I probably suffer a minor migraine every two months, a SIGNIFICANT decrease from high school *bless up*. I enjoy reading about IBS and watching Netflix documentaries about our messed up food industry, nerdyAF but whatever.
*if you care: there’s some relatively new research explaining how consumption of processed foods can wear down your stomach lining and lead to IBS…regretting all those flamin’ hot cheetos.*
At the end of the day, I really, truly, honestly do not miss anything I gave up. I have developed new favorite treats and snacks, trust me, life went on for me. It can be socially uncomfortable to explain to a large, confused crowd why you cannot eat pizza with them (there are judgers), and being so active has definitely added struggles to developing a balanced diet for myself. Also, since going gluten-free has become so trendy, people assume I do not eat it to lose weight or something (false)…I just have been constantly learning to not care what people think they know about what I eat. But in the long run, for me, it is all worth it…and as this is the basis for the entire blog…I thought I would share 🙂
I hope this wasn’t too weird….
If only it was as easy to write a paper for Global Ethics as it was to write this rant….