Like so many of us these days, I take my gut health very seriously. I try to eat fermented and fibrous foods, I take turmeric-ginger shots, limit my dairy when possible, and try not to eat too much red meat. I take my Number Two very seriously, and consider it my best friend above all else.
If I miss a day, I implement phase 1 of my plan of attack:
- Green smoothie for breakfast
- Mandatory two to three liters of water
- Salad for dinner
By day two, I’m getting a little anxious so I move onto phase 2:
- No less than a gallon of water (this really sucks when I have to be in meetings all day and am dying to pee)
- Bring in the real gut buster: Kale, in a salad.
- Take fiber pills with every meal
If I’ve gotten to days three to four with no action, I’m pretty much freaking out and about to go to the emergency room. I don’t do that because my husband, who works in the medical field, would be pissed if I wasted health care dollars at the ER when people are really sick. I may take a mild laxative, which usually does the trick.
My absolute adoration for #2 didn’t always exist. As a teen, I thought it was normal not to poop for days and days at a time. I didn’t really think about it, I didn’t really eat veggies, and I didn’t really care. When I finally ditched soda, started cooking regularly, and eating more roughage, I realized that going regularly actually made me feel great! I was significantly less bloated.
I then became really intrigued by this idea of regular bowel movements, back when Dr. Oz was on Auntie Oprah’s show. He talked about gut health a lot and said we should be moving once a day or every other day, which seriously blew my mind. However, I still never really sought out regular movements and was content with getting that coveted “S” shape when I could. If it happened: then great, if not, that was cool too.
The rubber hit the road in 2014, when I was on vacation in Thailand. It was a wonderful trip, with one catch: I could not move my bowels for TEN DAYS out of the two week trip. You read that correctly, TEN. Meanwhile, I kept eating loads of delicious Thai food every day. Mountains of food were going in, but nothing was coming out. Although I wasn’t eating many raw vegetables because I was trying to be careful about food safety, I tried almost everything else: drinking loads of water, taking fiber pills, and exercising – NO DICE. I finally took a laxative and was rewarded with two pebbles on day eleven. I was so bloated by the time we got to the beach portion of the vacation, that I looked to be about 25 months pregnant. I didn’t want to wear anybody’s bikini. The frustration of it all made me shed a few tears, I won’t even lie. Particularly when my travel companion was having no such issues; I was so jealous.
That experience truly transformed my relationship with my gut. To know that all the waste your body is generating is just sitting in your intestines not going anywhere was a humbling experience for me. It taught me never to take my precious gut for granted anymore. It also demonstrated that I have some sort of weird travel pooping anxiety. During ,my last trip to Paris, I wasn’t able to poop for four days. When I got home, it all just slid right on out. I don’t know what it is, I really love my own toilet I guess.
All that to say…..take your poop seriously and make it your BFF. If you don’t do it regularly, get on that! Don’t try to force it out, but arm yourself with handy strategies to stimulate your #2. It will make you feel great and likely make you a nicer person!