OA Contributor Beth Buczynski is going paleo for 30 days! This is the fourth installment in a short blog series following the challenges and benefits of clean eating according to the paleo diet. Previous paleo posts linked at the bottom.
I warned ya! Yes, at least for a minute, this week's post will focus on that most taboo of topics--poop! Aren't you glad I still opted for a picture of gorgeous paleo food at the top, though?
Last week I hinted at the fact that while I love the way my body's appearance has changed after nearly a month of paleo eating, I still wasn't happy with the performance of my inner plumbing. As funny or awkward as it might be to talk about what we see in the toilet, feces holds a treasure trove of information about how healthy we really are.
One of my favorite parts of Practical Paleo is the section about digestive/gut health and yes, poop. Author Diane Sanfilipo has a beautifully (and hilariously) illustrated page about the different kinds of stool you might see in the toilet and what they mean. The "personality" of your turd--bulky, runny, full of undigested food--is your body's way of telling you something's out of balance. Practical Paleo includes several 30-day meal plans that are customized to treat different health issues, which is awesome. Unfortunately, it sometimes takes quite a bit of detective work to figure out just what's needed to set things right.
Take me, for instance. Before I started the paleo diet, I was a bit constipated, which is very out of the ordinary. Usually, I have an iron gut and bowels that produce like clockwork. But a month or two ago, everything slowed up without warning. Nothing was really different about my eating or lifestyle at the time, so I was stumped.
Then I started my 30 Days of Paleo, and for a minute, I thought things were sorting themselves out. I wasn't as regular as before, but at least the train was exiting the station. Suddenly, everything became loosey-goosey, and I was seeing undigested food (a big sign that gut bacteria is out of wack). Then, as my body began adapting to the paleo diet, things smoothed out. I thought I was making progress until...nothing. Once again, I'm only having to go about every other day, and when I do, it's not big or dense enough.
So, when no one else was around, I started Googling poop issues. "What does healthy poop look like?" "10 Things Your Poop Can Teach You" "What does it mean when your stool looks like soft serve?" Oh yeah, we're going there.
Here's what I found out: pretty much EVERYTHING we do affects our digestive health. Obviously diet has the biggest impact, but everything from how much sleep we get to medication we're taking can affect bowel performance. I also learned, much to my dismay, that when things aren't vacating properly, anywhere from between five and 25 pounds (!!) of feces can pile up in your intestines, decaying, creating gas, and worst of all, adding unecessary pounds to what we see on the scale.
Like you, I find this unacceptable and horrifying. So, I'm formulating a bathroom battle plan. I found a supplement called FiberSmart that is gluten-free, psyllium-free, and contains organic flax as well as some probiotics. I'm alternating this with a straight up probiotic supplement that contains seven different strains of active bacteria. I've also wondered if, by cutting out grains, fruit (for this month only), and most carbs, I'm depriving my body of the type of fiber it needs to both keep the train moving and maintain the right amount of bulk. So, I'm very carefully trying to eat vegetables that provide a dense source of carbs/starch, like sweet potatoes, carrots, and parsnips. So far, results have been mixed in every sense of the word, but I'm going to keep at it. If you have any better ideas, I'm all ears.
That being said, I'm also trying to take a focused look at the stress in my life. These days, humans are overstimulated and under-exercised, which can lead to stress. For us, it may feel normal, but it's bad news for our bodies. In addition to changing my diet and taking on new professional responsibilities, I've been trying to plan a move and make travel plans for the holidays season. So it's altogether possibly that I'm just stressing myself out to the max. This weekend, I'm going to make a concentrated effort to unplug, read, sit by the pool, and if nothing else, take lots of deep breaths while thinking loving thoughts about my intestines.
OK, phew! We made it through the poop portion of this week's paleo update. Now on to the good stuff.
I've been expanding my recipe arsenal this week and boy-howdy have there been some good ones. At the end of my 30 Days, I'll share a round-up of my favorite recipes and blogs, but for now, you should definitely check out:
Buffalo Chicken "Pasta" from Paleomg.com (she made me LOL by saying she wanted to make sweet love to this recipe, but it's really that good!).
Orange-Chile Pork from 163 Best Paleo Slow Cooker Recipes (pictured at top. I got my hands on a copy early for review, publishes 9/17/2013).
Peach Vanilla Preserves from Meatified.com (we got a case of peaches from a local farm, but it's been a challenge to put them up without using too much sugar/sweetener).
Weight: No new weight loss this week. But no gain either. I'm chalking this up to stress, bowel troubles, and it being the time of the month when bloating gets to the best of us.
Gut: I think we've covered this.
Skin: A few new zits but ONLY around my jawline, which is almost 100 percent a sign of stress. Boo.