Running has taught me that I do not have a rock solid stomach. It wasn't until I had my first DNF (Did Not Finish) almost two years ago that I became aware that I had any digestion issues. In hindsight, I think I've had them all along, but was completely naive to it.
And up until last year, I thought my GI distress only occurred when I ran.
Last Spring I noticed feeling discomfort even when I wasn't running so I started eating a gluten-free diet. Its helped a lot so I still continue it today.
But over the past two months the GI distress has become more frequent and painful. In addition to not eating gluten, for the most part I also avoid dairy, having some degree of lactose intolerance. I used to be able to tolerate dairy occasionally but these days my reaction to it has become more "violent" (for lack of a better word).
I mentioned in my Giant Race 10K race report that I had to take two bathroom breaks during the short 6.2 mile race. This was just one of many frequent episodes, that almost always occur after dining out (at many different types of restaurants).
I've been keeping a food journal to pinpoint what could be causing these issues. I've been eating lots of natural foods, and trying to avoid processed foods, as this is what almost every resource on healthy eating I've read instructs. But I haven't been able to dial in on a source and the pain and discomfort continues to become more frequent and intense.
Last week I finally went in to see my doctor. I had a lot of data to present to her and she diagnosed me with having Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). From what she told me, it's a common and pretty general diagnosis. It occurs more frequently with women and often manifests itself as one grows older.
She ordered a series of blood tests (still waiting for the results), referred me to a Gastroenterologist, and instructed me to begin taking probiotics and begin an Elimination Diet. An Elimination Diet is where I eliminate one foods per week from a list of foods gas-producing foods that she gave me. When I saw the list of foods I flipped out because its basically everything that I eat on a regular basis. She reminded me that I'm only to eliminate ONE per week, not ALL at once.
To give you an idea, here is a list of the foods:
Artichokes Apricots Asparagus Bananas Beans of all kinds Broccoli Brussels Sprouts Cabbage Cauliflower Cucumbers Eggs Green Peppers Lentils Melons Onions Peaches Pears Peas Prunes Radishes Raw Apples Raw Potatoes
Wheat Wheat Bran
Beer Carbonated Drinks Fruit Drinks Red Wine
Fried, fatty foods Sugar Sugar substitutes
Milk and Dairy products
Packaged foods that contain lactose such as breads, cereals and salad dressing
The items that are
crossed out are foods that I already don't eat or try to avoid. The items that are bolded are foods that I eat almost, if not, daily.
I was told to schedule my appointment with the GI doctor in one month so that I would have some data from the Elimination diet to share.
I decided to start my Elimination Diet with eggs because I have a veggie scramble every morning for breakfast (with green peppers and onions) and snack on hard-boiled eggs throughout the day. So I guess while I'm at it, I'll also be eliminating green peppers and onions too.
It's all very confusing and disheartening. For the past nine and a half years I've made an effort to eat healthy yet now I'm learning that there are healthy foods that can be harmful to my body.
To make things a little more complicated I am also in the midst of marathon training and am trying to find the right balance of what works and doesn't work for my body, not just on an every day basis but for training as well. It's all trial and error and can be very stressful in anticipation of the "error" part (especially on long runs).
I've read several blogs by women who live with similar challenges (not necessarily runners) but what I've learned (also through running) is that no two people are the same. What works for one may not work for another and I need to figure out what works for me.
I've always been one who loves to see what happens when trying something new. "What if I did this, how will my body respond? What will the outcome be?" I guess this is another challenge to explore.