Sunday, April 27, 2014

How Do You Poop?

I might be alone in this and slightly weird, but the quality and frequency of people's poop really concerns me.

" 'Eeeww, why do you think of other people's poop?? Ewwww....' " I know what you are thinking, but hear me out.

Pooping is clearly an issue, watch any chunk of commercials on TV and you will see multiple for digestive and elimination aids, probiotic boosted yogurts, premium toilet paper - "so nothing gets left behind", poop perfume (really!) and then prescriptions for chronic digestive issues, which can mostly be fixed by diet alone.

I am amazed and perplexed by public restrooms and seeing residual poop in the toilet bowl. Most people think eww and flee to the next stall. I however, think about the person. I wonder about their quality of life, their eating habits and obvious lack of a properly balanced diet.

Your poop should not be an indication of what you didn't eat. If you leave smear behind, all I think is how sore your bum must be and/or how squishy you must feel, because clearly there was some leftover even though you were "done".

Your poop also shouldn't smell, at least not like run from the room eyes and nostrils burning foul smell. Obviously there will be a subtle aura of poo, but really it should be barely noticeable. Nothing that requires air fresheners, Poo-Pourri, scented toilet paper, a match or even a simple open window (seriously, it is totally possible).

And you shouldn't be straining or in the bathroom long enough to read a magazine cover to cover. Your poop should be firm, but easily passable, easy to clean up, should float to a certain extent and should not leave behind artifacts in the way of smell and smear. See my post Your Poops and Farts are Talking to You for more about how your poop should be.

Which brings me to my thought process whenever I see poop artifacts in a public restroom, or see the irregular elimination schedule of my coworkers or even the habitual eating patterns devoid of any really substance; I always think to myself, when I encounter these people, "How do you poop?"

I know I shouldn't wonder how you poop, but I do. Not because I have a weird fascination with poop (well maybe slightly), but because I know the difference of a good poop and a bad poop. And furthermore, I know the effect of how food choices completely alter the state of the quality and regularity of poop. I also know what it is like to have bad poops for years due to an undiagnosed gluten and lactose allergy. The constipation, the constant wiping, the hemorrhoids, the the uncontrollable diarrhea. I have had a long experience with bad pooping.

I know for me, when I don't poop well, all is not right in the world. So I can only know what it is like for you if you don't poop well. You can't function, your intestines are angry, sore and gurgle-y, your anus is raw, you get tired of always feeling like you need to go to the bathroom, you don't sleep well, you are fatigued, you are irritable, and you dread going to the bathroom yet again hoping the last bit will come out. And just think of the ramifications of waste not getting properly eliminated, but instead sitting stagnant in your colon and lower intestine decaying more. We are allowing toxicity to sit and leech in our bodies because of our bad food choices and not listen to our bodies.

So when I see poop artifacts in a public restroom or see body signs of poor pooping, I empathize with you. I think of what it is like to be there, when I was there, and then I think of all the things I wish I could tell you to help. But I don't want to be that person to say you should do this, eat this, not that, drink more water, etc., because each person has to find their own path and want to fix their own discomfort.

All I wish to tell you is, it doesn't have to be this way. Pooping should be effortless and actually somewhat enjoyable, trust me, when you know the difference and have been on both sides, you too will ask to yourself when you see others suffering, "How do you poop?"

Sunday, April 20, 2014

An Ode to He Who Can Eat it All

The ire of loving someone who can eat it all and in very large amounts:

Most mornings I wake and have my usual cup of green tea, he has coffee with enough cream to turn it a milky tan. He consumes the entire pot of coffee as I enjoy my one cup of tea.

I make my typical morning smoothie, but slightly more indulgent today (hey it's the weekend) dates, almonds, raw sunflower seeds, lecithin, bee pollen, homegrown wheat grass, spirulina, flax seeds, psyllium husk, liquid minerals, cinnamon and organic almond milk. He eats leftovers from dinner out the night before of a half a steak, pepper jack cheese, mushroom, peppers and onions sandwich (mind you the half is the size of his face, you should have seen the whole!) and left over, crisped in the oven fries, 2 large glasses of local organic (at least something is!) 2% milk, as a slowly sip my health-nut smoothie.

Photo courtesy of

I can not tell you how many times we go out to eat and he orders all to his heart's content, greasy, meaty, cheese oozy-yumminess and I get a salad. Yay salad (sarcastic font here). Oh the glory of choices, I think to myself. The joy of eating that which sounds good (and looks good), not what is good for you or really only what is available to you due to allergies.

Oh, and did I mention he never gains weight! (Yes, I do love him)

Of course, he knows, and I remind him that he should watch what he eats, but right now, at this point in his life he doesn't and decides to not worry. Although I certainly have rubbed off on him. He graciously and enthusiastically eats my vegetarian and often vegan weeknight dinners, sure he might add cheese, but at least he is getting a more balanced diet. Plus he takes his vitamins and drinks green juice when I make it for him, but I always have to laugh at our eating differences.

One of the more prominent moments from our recent travels just makes me smile: he sits in a overstuffed chair reading the morning newspaper, drinking a full-fat, double latte, eating a bacon, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich on a fresh made New York bagel, the buttery-greasy-bacony-yummness runs down his arm and permeates the room as I transition into a crescent lunge. I did my full morning yoga practice in a bacon, gluten-y, cheese smelling room and gladly went and made my morning smoothie after. Talk about strong will (namaste, mf-ing bacon!).

Our consumption choices are different, but so is our physical makeup. He has no obvious food allergies. He burns an obscene amount of calories a day being a construction worker. And subsequently can eat that which he chooses, which is meat, fat, cheese, dairy and gluten galore. And yes there are days I am gloriously envious. But hey, I get to live vicariously through him. I can smell it, whatever it might be in all it's oozy, gluten-y, dairy goodness, enjoy watching him eat it (of which he makes looks very enjoyable), but my strong will always kicks in. I can't and choose to not consume like that. I choose health, wellness and feeling good as more important that oozy cheesy gluten, well that and I am a little partial to breathing....

He knows better and is including a more balanced consumption into his daily life (perhaps thanks to me) and maybe one day he will come fully over to my "crunchy" "rabbit food" side, but for now I will continue to practice self-control as I watch him take a bite of cheesy, meaty, gluten-y goodness, while I casually slip good, wellness food practices into his daily life.

Choice vs. Necessity

Being gluten free is trendy. The gluten free food products industry is a $4.2 billion industry. This is exciting for those of us who are gluten free, the options available to us these days are endless. Just when you think you have come across yet another thing you have to cut out of your diet because you found there is gluten hidden deep in the ingredient list, you can turn down the next aisle and find the gluten free alternative. Yay food science, yay food industry, yay being trendy!

I remember when my Mom went gluten free, before it was even called gluten free, over 12 years ago. She had health issues and discomfort for years: difficulty breathing, unidentified and sudden weight gain, even as a lean health-nut vegetarian, she was all around puffy. We know now, thanks to all the time and research done on the body's physical reactions to gluten, that it was inflammation. Mom was shooting in the dark for years. She sought health and medical advice in Western and Eastern medicine, and one of the last few practitioners was a small, Eastern medicine man who said she had bad hormones and bad gut. Eventually removing gluten entirely from her diet, she began to feel some sort of semblance of her old self. To this day she is still gluten free and leads a pain free, puffy free life.

As to whether her body changed or how the production of wheat is handled in our glutenous products is unclear and I will discuss in a future post (as I continue to gather more info).

But this brings me to a point, for those of us who are truly gluten intolerant, or celiac or even just gluten sensitive, there is a huge difference to us and those who choose to be gluten free, for whatever reasons: being more healthy, to lose weight, etc.

I would love to have a choice. Choice is a luxury that those of us allergic do not get. It is all or nothing and those that choose can toy with that depending on your moods. More power to you for choosing to be "healthy," but you truly will never know the discomfort of an allergy. The burrito-stuck-in-your-throat, the explosive diarrhea, or days long constipation, the dark under eye circles, the irritability, the all over body and joint aches, the scare of waking up in the middle of the night gasping for air feelings, that really only a celiac or gluten intolerant person can truly be empathic to.

I think that is phenomenal when people conciously choose better health. I believe we all should be in tune with our bodies and aim for better health, be that eating more greens, taking your vitamins, buying local, growing your own food, trying a new workout or even going gluten free. But let me tell you a little secret, going gluten free is not necessarily more healthy. Case in point, a slice of gluten free bread, typically the size of the palm of your hand is about the same calories as in a regular glutenous piece of bread, the size of your whole hand, give or take 5-10 calories. You are getting about the same calories in a much smaller piece of bread. And on top of the smaller size you get a much longer list of ingredients. Sugar is often added to gluten free products for taste and also as a leavening agent. You have to be very particular about the products you choose when purchasing gluten free, just because it is gluten free does not mean it is healthier or lower in fat/calories, often times there is so much added to make it taste somewhat like glutenous bread, that you really are just eating a lot of sugars and chemicals, with very little fiber. So be wary.

How gluten free people are "more healthy" is not because they have lost weight per say, they have lost retained lymph and inflammation fluid, due to prolonged aggravated and defense-mode of their internal organs. Just because you switch to gluten free does not mean you will lose weight, you can just as likely gain weight eating gluten free products, especially if the products you switch to come in plastic or in a box.

Those who go gluten free and lose weight, due to inflammation loss, and don't gain back, are those who make lifestyle changes, and those lifestyle changes are by nature more healthy. There comes a point where you are tired of feeling like shit so you take the steps towards feeling better, and slowly your lifestyle choices make you feel better and all you want to do is feel even better, so it is perpetuates good choices. Truly being gluten free, does not just mean replacing the gluten product with a gluten free product, although the occasional treat is nice to have, the requirement of needing to go gluten free should be the catalyst to clean eating. Eating real, whole foods, placing value on a home cooked meal with a balance of carbohydrates, fats and protein and implementation of knowing what your body needs and where your food is coming from.

So the misconception that going gluten free innately leads to being healthier is just wrong, the two do not go hand in hand. You can be equally as healthy eating gluten (assuming you are not allergic) if consumption is done in moderation and with thought. So many of us consume willy-nilly, with no thought, it is only when vanity kicks do we think drastically,"oh, I will go gluten free, it is more healthy." Research first if you really have a gluten allergy or if you are just making poor   lifestyle and eating choices, sometimes when consideration is applied you can identity the culprit without choosing the trendy diet.

Monday, April 7, 2014

For the Love and Hate of Travel

I have a love/hate relationship when it comes to traveling. On one side I feel like traveling is a significant part of life: the cultural expansion, new scenery, different perspectives of other lives, etc. On the flip side the side is the physical part of traveling and that means airports. Meh! Airplanes with uncomfortably close seating, a plethora of germ-y airspace shared with hundreds of people (and you know they never wipe anything down) and crappy non-real food.

Don't get me wrong I will take any excuse to go on a vacay, but there is so much prep before and after a trip so that my guts don't got into super-mad-mode, which means erratic pooping, dark circles under my eyes and subsequent irritability. Typically the three days before I leave for a trip I will do a juice cleanse and then the first three days home I will do a juice cleanse. It is so hard to control how, what and when you eat when you travel that, although I try to be nice to my body, it is inevitable that my system is knocked off kilter. I figure by giving it a break before and after the unusual consumptions of a trip, I can help ease the stress travel puts on my body, just a bit.

If you are a whole-food-eating, vegetarian, gluten and lactose free, as clean as possible eating person, airports are the death star and they expect you to die. The best you can hope for is a paltry salad of iceberg lettuce and some very sad looking, machine cut veggie-ish looking vegetables, that probably have no nutritional value left; with some creamy, dairy-based dressing and some croutons (again with the f-ing croutons!). In recent years, some airports have made attempts. There is the occasional Freshie Fresh or other fresh-sounding stands that sell rock hard unripe fruits (non-organic mind you), trail mix (non-gf mind you), nuts, and some pre-cut veg or fruit cups. On the rare occasion in larger hubs you are lucky to find some accommodating places. I think last time I was in San Diego, there was a venue that sold fresh food, like unique chopped salads not in creamy dressings, with nuts and seeds, a kale salad (yay, trendy veggies), but then again I was in CA. CA is always progressive in their food options.

Airport food, I get it, is about convenience, and convenience often comes in the form of meat between two slabs of gluten. Options for those of us who eat "alternative" are sad at best.

A little aside: Since when did eating whole, real, unprocessed foods become the alternative way of eating? Didn't we evolve from hunter-gatherers, eating berries and greens foraged in nature. Eating something mass produced, packaged, filled with chemicals to make it shelf stable for eons and processed is the alternative way of eating. Since when did a Neanderthal pick a Twinkie off a bush?

Moving on.....

On the rare occasion you find something reasonable in an airport, you are most likely looking at, some sad fruit, overly sugared yogurt, overly salted nuts and a sad salad that basically is water and pesticides. Oh an don't even get me started on drink options. Water is ungodly expensive at $3 for a small plastic bottle of water, that takes two sips to finish. People have no idea how much water I drink! And airplanes are always so drying. (And yes, I am totally that person asking to get by to pee multiple times on a flight. P.S. you don't want to sit next to me).

Knowing options are limited in airports, I pack all my food with me, along with an empty BPA-free water bottle to fill up once I'm through security. My most recent trip I noticed some airports encouraging bringing your own water bottles. Some airports now have water bottle filling apparatus as part of the drinking fountains. Nice. (Although I do wonder how filtered it is...) My philosophy with air travel is eat less, be hungry. Another joyful side effect of flying for me is gas. I think it is the stagnation and constant sitting for long periods of times. My guts don't like the forced stillness and with that comes gas, so the less I eat the less gas I have. I typically pack cut fruits and veggies, raw organic almonds, carob chunks, hard boiled eggs, gf raisin bread with organic nut butter, things that are easy to pack and easy to eat. I would give anything to take some plain yogurt with me, but unfortunately that is too liquid-y for TSA, but couldn't airport food stands offer plain, organic yogurt cups alongside the other sugar, dye laden goo.

I wish there were options for people of like mind and lifestyle to me. Traveling is stressful for everyone, there are a lot of people in very tight quarters so having and feeding a healthy immune system is crucial. Wouldn't it be great if all airports had organic juice bars with fresh pressed juices, wheatgrass, real smoothies, not just sugar, with flax, spirulina, sunflower seeds, Omegas, liquid minerals, etc. as ingredients; where salads were made of real, bitter, immune boosting chlorophyll-filled greens with seeds and nuts, ie real "health food"? Oh how I wish.

I don't even bother looking anymore because there is never a choice for me. I understand they try with Jamba Juice smoothie-ish type smoothies and salads stations, but really the only thing I look forward to when I'm in an airport is my rarely-only-consumed-when-traveling soy latte from Starbucks, but even then, why can't they offer almond milk?

So while I am always really excited to travel and experience the world, I am always reminded oh right I have to go through the death star of starvation, dehydration, germs and excessive gas to get to the other side.

Yay, bon voyage!