When I first started embarking on a healthier lifestyle, I went full-force into it. I basically took the “all or nothing” route, as I tend to do with many things. That’s just my personality – I usually feel that if I’m not giving 150%, there’s no point. However, I have to disagree with myself on this one.
You see, I immediately started eating completely “clean”, whatever that means. Basically nothing processed, nothing artificial, nothing packaged, etc. which was a huge change from my normal diet. Yes, I started losing weight, and yes I did feel healthy and great at first.
Remember what I said about my personality being full-force? Well yeah, I got SO strict with myself and only ate a select few foods. Not only that, but I basically ate the same things every.single.day.
Something like: oatmeal and egg whites for breakfast, sweet potatoes chicken and veggies for lunch, turkey muffins and almonds for a snack, a huge ass salad for dinner, and cottage cheese with peanut butter for dinner.
I kid you not, I ate this way for probably like TWO YEARS. Maybe even longer, I don’t even know.
The weird thing? My stomach got worse and worse.
I started having IBS issues at this time, I was super constipated (yeah.), stomach pain, gas, bloating, etc. Yes I was running a lot which could have had an impact (read: added stress), but I was literally eating the same freaking thing day in and day out. Not only that, but my fiber count was off the charts. Everything I ate was whole grain, so I was eating upwards of 50+ grams of fiber per day.
“BUT I WAS EATING SO “CLEAN” AND HEALTHY.” “CONSTIPATED? MORE FIBER.” “Maybe I need to cut out gluten? I’m totally intolerant. I need to cut out dairy too, because gluten and dairy together are the devil.”
“I can’t go out to eat, my stomach is always a mess.” “Maybe I need to cut out grains? Or meat? Which one?”
Wrong. All so wrong.
I saw so many doctors, and nothing helped. They would say to either a) eat healthier. b) increase fiber. c) increase exercise. or d) take medicine.
Well, too bad I was doing all of the above so I went the medicine route. None of that worked, and made all of my issues worse.
No one realized that I was being too strict with my diet. Yes, that’s a thing. I was running a LOT of miles as well, so the stress from dieting and the stress from too much exercise = stress overload.
I’m sure you all know the negative effects of stress, so not only was it causing a lot of other problems, it was directly correlated to my gut issues. It took a LOT of trial and error to figure out what was causing my issues. And honestly, it’s always a work in progress. I can tell you now that my body does NOT LIKE A LOT OF FIBER. Every single time I have too much, I am in pain the next day. And guess what? I’m pretty sure I can’t tolerate oatmeal anymore. Maybe eating it every single day for like 5 years had something to do with it, but it leaves my stomach a mess after I eat it.
Every single person is different and has different things that works for them. However, there is one thing that everyone can take away from this:
The more flexible I got with my diet, the better I felt. That’s right. Once I stopped being so rigid and strict, started introducing more foods into my diet, things got a million times better.
I re-introduced so many foods I restricted myself from for so long such as: gluten, dairy, bread, processed foods, cereal, sodium, butter, restaurant foods, and so much more.
I ate less vegetables and less fiber and felt SO MUCH BETTER.
Now? I can basically eat whatever I want and I’m fine. The only things I have trouble with is oatmeal, dairy in large amounts (I can handle cheese everyday and small portions), and brown rice/foods with a lot of fiber, and too much alcohol.
So moral of the story, don’t be afraid to step outside the box. If I kept listening to eat healthier, exercise more, and increase fiber, things would’ve gotten even uglier.
Listen to your body, it’s smarter than you.
Have you dealt with something similar?
What did you do to figure out what works for you?