Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Back to Basics

I know that everyone's IBS is different. However, it might be helpful to some people if I give a list of what I can and cannot eat. So here goes:


~Meat fat
~rare-medium well meat
~dark meat poultry
~fresh fruits
~fresh vegetables
~whole grains
~high fiber
~spicy foods
~egg yolks
~aspartame, stevia, etc

There are some exceptions to the above, and with that in mind, I CAN EAT:

~lean meats (ex - I have to cut every piece of fat off of chicken breasts, pork, etc, and I have to drain my 93% lean ground beef with paper towels at least twice)
~well-done burgers and steaks
~soy meat substitutes (bacos,etc)
~white meat turkey dogs
~white fish (tilapia, cod, etc)
~fruits and vegetables without skins or seeds that have been cooked (ex - applesauce, peeled broccoli stems, seedless jam)
~white rice
~most white flour products (pasta, angel food cake, etc)
~potatoes (or any kind of starch)
~egg whites
~sugar (ex - maple candy)
~the only artificial sweetener I seem to be able to take is Splenda
~dairy products (many people with IBS cannot have these - I'm very lucky)


~I use applesauce and egg whites instead of oil and eggs when I bake
~An alternative is to pour a can of pop into a boxed cake mix - it takes the place of everything the box says to put in
~frosting is made by pouring a packet of instant pudding mix into a tub of fat free cool-whip. Put it in the fridge and let it sit for an hour or two, and it will coalesce into a nice, fluffy frosting
~for mashed potatoes, heat a cup of milk and dissolve a tsp of chicken bouillon granules into it. Stir into potatoes to give flavor without butter.
~Chicken bouillon can be used in place of oil and butter in a lot of other ways too.
~Days when I think I can't eat anything, the one thing I can take is white rice cooked in chicken bouillon and ginger. I make huge batches of this when I'm feeling well so that I have it when I'm not.

Everyone is different, but hopefully this will be helpful to someone who's just found out what they have and need some guidance.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Venting frustrations is good for stress...

...and if I don't get some of the stress from my morning and evening drives out, I might scream. I travel on I-90W to get to school in the mornings and, of course, I-90E in the evenings to get home. Freeway driving can be incredibly stressful. Right now I'll count down my three biggest annoyances in an effort to get them out.

1) Riding my bumper

Here's a handy tip - being 6" or even a foot closer to my car is not going to get you where you're going any sooner. All it's going to do is possibly cause an accident when you rear end my car.

But maybe I'm just not going fast enough for your liking. Here's what I have to say to that - if 10-15 mph over the speed limit isn't enough for you, GO AROUND ME IF YOU WANT TO GO 80! It may be a tad vindictive, but I hope you get pulled over. You're an unsafe driver.

2) Waiting until the last second to get out of a lane that's ending

This one is actually a bigger problem once I get OFF the freeway. You can see the sign up ahead showing that the lane is ending. So do you calmly, in a timely manner, merge into the left lane? No. You scooch up past the line where you were supposed to stop at the light, and when it turns green you screech around the cars who actually complied with the sign and merge over - cutting someone off, no less - when there's slightly less than one car width in the "lane" you're in. Unless you're having a baby/someone is dying/the world is ending/you're about to have an awful IBS episode, there's no need to be that rude, dangerous, and act like a huge jerk. Side note - even when I'm crying because my stomach hurts so bad and I'm about to be sick, I will still, if necessary, turn right and loop back around rather than act that selfishly.


You are already turning the wheel. It's not difficult to stick out your finger and FLICK A LEVER. I can't count the number of times I've been cut off on the freeway, but they all have one thing in common - the people nearly causing accidents didn't use a turn signal. If you have your signal on, I will let you over. I will slow down so you can get into the lane you need. Not to mention the fact that if I see someone trying to get over, I won't speed up. I also can't count the number of times I've sped up and the person next to me, panicking, screeches into the tiny slot in front of me without a signal, causing me to slam on my brakes on the freeway. This one doesn't even have to do with how much of a hurry you're in. You can do it WHILE you merge, or turn, or whatever it is you're doing that BY LAW requires a turn signal. I'm sorry, but I hope you get pulled over too, before someone gets seriously hurt.

And that's all. I'm sure a lot of you have the same frustrations. Here's hoping people will wise up and drive safely before more people get seriously hurt.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

I Rest My Case

This is not my bed:

Part of me wishes it was, although according to the site (dominomag.typepad.com) it's a few thousand dollars. Which got me thinking - how much is sleep really worth?

If you have IBS, it's worth just about anything. Lately, in an effort to make myself healthier (Here I feel the need to update - I lost 7 pounds in a week using sparkpeople.com!), I have been attempting to sleep more. Normally, I am a habitual insomniac. And even on nights when I certainly could sleep, I find myself unable to just go to bed. It feels like I have more to accomplish - how could I possibly go to bed?

And then I started forcing myself to go to bed early and get 8-10 hours of sleep, and I found out something so common sense I had to restrain myself from shouting out, "Well, duh!" My insight? Getting more sleep makes my IBS better. I had noticed that my IBS got better once I moved 30 miles closer to school and cut my driving time down to less than half. But I thought it was just the idea of not having to drive on the freeway (that's a whole other blog - coming after this one).

I now know that a great deal of that is that I can sleep later in the mornings. When you don't sleep, you're much more prone to stress. That stress then makes it more difficult for you to sleep. Patterns, anyone?

I know it can be difficult to modify your day to include that much sleep, especially if you have a particularly demanding boss, or children, or a million other things to deal with. But a few extra hours can make the difference between a symptom-free day and a toilet-hopping experience. Try these small modifications to get started:

1) Turn off the TV an hour earlier than normal. This may mean you miss the news, but you can look up the weather or read the paper in the morning. Is it really worth it to hear someone else read it to you?

2) Hands off that snooze button! Going to sleep for a few more minutes can actually make you groggier. Instead, set it for the time you will actually get up. This way, you won't wake up until you have to, giving you 9-18 more minutes (or more, if you're a habitual snoozer) of sleep in the morning.

3) Buy yourself a bottle of lavender-scented lotion, and rub it on before bed. The smell will help soothe you and get you to sleep faster.

4) Get rid of those 8 million racing thoughts! The women I know (myself included) are especially prone to this aggravating trend. Try this simple visualization tactic: picture each thing you're worried about as a sheet of paper with the worry written on it. Mentally crumple it up, and throw it in a bin. The ones that are really important, you can "take out of the bin" the next day, and the ones that aren't can be thrown out for good.

5) If you have half an hour in the middle of your day and are by a bed, couch, or comfy chair, lay down and close your eyes. Just the act of relaxing and shutting out light and noise for a little while will leave you feeling at least a little more refreshed. Careful though - too much more than that and you'll get groggy.

Bottom line - Those three little letters - IBS, can be helped by three others: Zzz

Thursday, February 19, 2009

What am I Really Missing?

A lot of people stare at me, aghast, when I tell them I can't eat fat. They can't fathom it. The especially wonder how I get through the day without fast food. So today I'd like to show you what they think I'm missing, and what I'm really "missing," courtesy of http://thewvsr.com/adsvsreality.htm This is what the ads show, versus what you're actually given.

McDonald's McSkillet burrito

Wendy's Chicken Club

McDonald's Sausage Breakfast Burrito

Burger King Enormous Omelet Sandwich

Arby's Beef 'n' Cheddar

KFC Famous Bowl

Wendy's Southwest Taco Salad

Burger King sausage, egg, and cheese croissant

McDonald's Big Mac

Taco Bell Nachos Bell Grande

McDonald's Filet O Fish Sandwich

Burger King Whopper

McDonald's Sausage McMuffin

Still hungry? I'm making a Subway run if you want in...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Healthier living = less stress = less symptoms!

I am not fat. Just getting that out of the way quickly to preempt anyone yelling at me for the following information: I am dieting. Keep in mind, dieting just entails having a certain eating pattern and/or certain foods that you adhere to.

My big problem that requires a diet (aside from just eliminating fiber & fats) is that I don't have good eating habits. I forget to eat, or blow it off because I'm busy. Then, when I get a minute to sit and realize how hungry I am, I eat everything. I also eat when I'm bored and when I'm watching TV. Worst yet, I have clean plate syndrome and will eat everything someone else puts on my plate unless it's outside of my medical ability to consume.

Because of the above, I have put on 15-20 pounds in the last few months. Clearly I'm not eating fats, so portion control and spacing out meals are my big problems. Before the IBS, I would have eaten a lot of fruits, veggies, and fiber. That, in fact, is my overwhelming instinct right now. That, of course, is impossible. I would lose weight if I did, but in a very unhealthy way. I have, however, found a solution:

On this website (which, dear readers, is FREE to join), you can put in your goals, whether that's just to be healthier or to lose a certain number of pounds by a certain date. There is then a page where you can track your calories by meal and get a total (as well as total fats, carbs, and protein:

A section where you can track your water consumption (this also shows the button to add foods to your calorie count):

And a section where you can track exercise and calories burned:

And yes, the above are screenshots from my personal profile. The workout is for today, which is why there's nothing in it yet. On my break I'll be doing 20 minutes on the elliptical machine in my apartment's workout room.

I think my favorite part of the site is that it gives you a range of calories to eat per day. I'm sure I was around 2,000 before (although I never counted), and going straight down to 1,200 calories would be too great a drop. But I can handle 1,550. In fact, as you can see, yesterday I managed with 1,495.

One of the biggest bonuses of eating proper portions and eating less is that it also encourages me to go to bed earlier (the later I stay up, the more I'm going to eat). And getting 8-9 hours of sleep for the last two nights has been amazing.

In short, I think this is going to be a great thing for me, and I'll be a lot happier with myself. And now that you all know I'm doing this, I have even more incentive to stick with it. I highly recommend this site to anyone who wants to embrace a healthier lifestyle.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Product placement

On days when I have class, I'm at school for 11 hours. Usually that's Monday and Wednesday, but they rescheduled classes to today because we missed yesterday (President's Day). Because I'm not going to have time to cook today, I'm going to cheat a bit and just tell you about a product I've come to absolutely LOVE.

My drink of choice is usually green tea, or some sort of flavored water. However, these have a lot of sugar. With my IBS, I'm not allowed any artificial sweeteners, so I can't just switch to the sugar free kinds. With that in mind, I've found my liquid soulmate in SoBe 0 calorie Life Water. No sugar, no calories, and the sweetener is derived from the stevia plant: No aspartame here! My pick: Fuji Apple Pear. Refreshing, with just a hint of tartness.

Alright, class is about to begin (again), so that's all for today. I'll shoot for an actual recipe next time!

***Addendum - I realized after I posted this that I'm not cheating. I never said this would just be recipes***

Monday, February 16, 2009

"That makes my bowels explode" and other things you can't say at dinner parties

Every time I go to someone else's home for a meal, I begin with the same worry: what is the proper way to politely turn down food? For many people, it's as simple as saying, "no, thanks - I'm not hungry." But my family is Italian. That never works. So here is a list of phrases I've honed over the last two years.

"I had a late lunch"

"That doesn't agree with me" (this one can backfire when someone asks me "which part? I can take something out" and I have to respond with "all of it.")

"I didn't realize you'd have so much food - I ate before I left"

I've found though, that there is one sure fire way to make sure I don't have to deal with all that rigmarole. Bring a dish! You know what you can eat, and I'm sure that no matter how simple it is, you can make something your stomach will be happy with. One of my favorites puts an ethnic spin on a mix that's easy for everyone to follow.

Tastefully Simple Italian Beer Bread with marinara dipping sauce


1 pkg Bountiful Beer Bread

12 oz pale ale
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
pinch of basil
pinch of oregano

Preheat oven to 375. Pour beer into a large mixing bowl and add herbs & spices. Pour in bread mix and stir for 30 seconds (batter will become lumpy if stirred too long). Pour into greased bread pan and bake for 50-55 minutes.

Dipping sauce:

1 sm can plain tomato sauce
pinch baking soda (neutralizes acid)
1 Tbsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
2 Tbsp oregano
2 Tbsp basil
pinch of chives
1 Tbsp brown sugar

Combine ingredients on low in small sauce pan. Cover and simmer until warmed throughout. Dip bread, and enjoy! I guarantee you can bring this to any party and it will be a hit!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Butter, butter everywhere, and not a bite to eat

I know this isn't the case with everyone's IBS, but with mine I'm not allowed to have fat. No oil, no butter, no fatty meat. Woe unto my intestines if I forget to cut off a piece of fat from a chicken breast. This makes dining rather difficult. Even "steamed potatoes" come with butter on them at Applebees. So today I thought I'd explore a favorite recipe of mine that generally uses butter, and give a couple of alternatives.

Fat-free Garlic Mashed Potatoes

2-3 medium sized red or yellow potatoes per person (or per serving, if they're all for you - yum!)
1 small-medium bulb of garlic

These really are just that simple. You can use good ol' Russet potatoes or any other variety you like - I just like the taste and texture of the red & yellow potatoes better.

Peel potatoes and cut into small chunks. Place chunks in a pot with enough water to cover them. Bring water to a boil and reduce heat (though still bubbling a bit) and cook until potatoes are tender enough to begin breaking apart with a fork. While you're doing this, place the bulb of garlic on a baking pan and put in the oven on 350 for about half an hour.

Peel garlic and put through food processor. (Alternative, if you don't have a food processor - use a garlic press or a very sharp blade to chop the bulbs into tiny pieces.) Mash potatoes, and slowly add in the garlic, continuing to mash. If you'd like, you can add a splash of milk to give them a smoother consistency. I like mine a bit chunkier, so I generally don't.

Flavorful Fat Free Mashed Potatoes

2-3 medium sized red or yellow potatoes per person/serving
1/4 c. milk*
1/4 c. prepared chicken bouillon or fat free chicken broth*, whichever you prefer (the bouillon is a bit saltier)

Prepare the potatoes the same as you would for Garlic Mashed. Mix together the bouillon and milk and add to the potatoes a little at a time until they reach the consistency you like.

And there you have them - delicious, moist, fluffy, fat-free potatoes that never touch butter. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've made myself hungry. Time to get out the potato peeler!

*I have so much trouble measuring when I cook. I've been cooking since I was 8, and measuring cups have never figured into it. Try these, and then settle on whatever amounts work for you. Everyone likes their potatoes different.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Love your guts - the beginning

Hey everyone, my name is Stephane, and I'm a 23 year old law school student with IBS. I just found out I had it a couple years ago, and it's been a huge learning experience. Throughout the course of this blog, I'll share with you stories, tips, and recipes that I've come across (or made up) that have helped me through it. Hopefully you'll find it useful!