5 Food Fixes for Your Poop Problems

Friday 5Let’s talk about poop. Why not? We’ve already discussed sex and boobs this week. Might as well discuss that other tmi topic while we’re at it.

When I began upping the volume and intensity of my running during the winter, I started spending significantly more time in the bathroom after each run session. Not to get into too much of the dirty details, but I will say that at times blood was involved. And my stomach would act up the rest of the day or into the night.

Awareness about stomach issues, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Celiac Disease, has increased tremendously in the last decade due to better research and education about the human body and nutrition. I didn’t think my symptoms were serious enough to warrant any of these conditions but I thought that if I tried a few of the nutritional recommendations I read about that I could at least rule out the causes of my stomach woes. To my surprise, I haven’t had a stay longer than 5 minutes in the “john”, unless I was reading a good article. More importantly, blood hasn’t made an appearance either.

So, what are these nutritional changes you ask? Well, let’s take a look!

1. Consider almond milk. Most of what I have found when researching stomach issues has centered around milk being a major culprit as many people are lactose intolerant. I was hesitant to switch to soy milk because for one, I don’t like the taste. Secondly, there have been studies done about potential interactions with hormones, specifically if you are on thyroid medicine like myself. Thirdly, many people are also soy intolerant which means soy can aggravate gastrointestinal problems. So, I tried  another alternative and haven’t looked back. The first taste was surprisingly delightful and creamy. I could actually taste the nutty flavor. I consider this switch to be the single most influencing factor in decreasing my stomach irritability.

My favorite brand. Image courtesy of www.online.wsj.com

2. Consider reducing juice intake. I was a sucker for orange juice. I would have a glass in the morning, one at lunch, and if I was feeling lucky, one with dinner. At times I would dilute it with some water because by the 3rd glass, it would be too sour for me. The acidity in orange juice can irritate the digestive tract. I cut out the OJ around the same time as the almond milk switch because I was starting to feel crappy after each cup of OJ. I attribute this to its high sugar count. I replaced my juice with more water and will add a lemon sometimes. I do still drink Gatorade but only every couple of days, diluted, or after a workout. We’ve known for a long time about the negative effects of sugar but it’s everywhere. Making little efforts, such as this one, can go a long way.

Water with lemon hits the spot!

3. Consider sprinkling flaxseed into things. Crushed flaxseed is fun and really good for your digestive health. They lubricate your gut and are a natural anti-inflammatory. Plus they’re high in omega-3, which helps with brain function and heart health. I will sprinkle it in my cereal, oatmeal, yogurt, and in a homemade smoothie. You can get a box at your local grocery store for roughly $4.75 and it lasts for about six weeks (for a single person). Other health food stores carry it by weight as well.

Crushed flax seed. Image courtesy of www.ellies-whole-grains.com.

4. Consider dark chocolate. Even though sugar has a bad rap around town, dark chocolate‘s benefits may outweigh the costs IF it’s consumed in moderation. Dark chocolate is high in antioxidants and is another natural anti-inflammatory. I enjoy an 80% dark chocolate bar from Moser Roth that is sold at Aldi. I will usually eat one individually wrapped bar after dinner and it instantly satisfies my sweet tooth, which is a pretty big tooth! Depriving yourself of sweets will only lead you to eventually eat more sweets than you had intended to eat.

Moser Roth (70%) sold at Aldi. Image courtesy of www.candyblog.net

5. Consider your health AND save some money when on-the-go! Now that I’m working full time, I’m on the road a lot. As a result, I find myself wanting to get cheap and fast food for lunch and dinner. Temptation either leads me down the frozen food aisle or to a restaurant. Taco Bell is not a good idea if you experience poop problems on the run! However, with a little planning, one can find cheap and fast food! My personal on-the-go favorites are peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, bagels, hard-boiled eggs, PowerbarsClif Bars, and fruits. I usually eat these to hold me over until I get home to enjoy a warm meal, which is often prepared at the beginning of the week and can last a few days. If I am in the mood for some genuine fast food, I often opt for Wendy’s and get a baked potato and chili. Beans are good for your gut, but I wouldn’t recommend chili as a pre-run meal!

A personal on-the-go favorite of mine. Image courtesy of thedailygreen.com

 

HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED POOP PROBLEMS ON THE RUN? If so what foods have helped or hurt you?

 

I write about mindfulness, mental health, and the professional sport of running with the occasional poking fun at the sport. When I am not running, I'm either helping people as a counselor or trying to make them laugh as an amateur open mic comedian.

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10 comments

  1. I’ve had that bloody poop disaster happen to me several times. It seems to be worse in the summer and almost always only happens on long runs. I also notice it seems to happen more often the week before my period so I usually take immodium before my long runs those weeks to ensure it doesn’t happen. It just feels like a stress reaction–heavy training, heat dehydration and BAM! No fun! I’m glad you seem to have your poop problems under control!

  2. I have celiacs disease and was diagnosed with it almost ten years ago so I’ve figured out most of my problems by now. I put flaxseed on my daily bowl of cereal or oatmeal. Sometimes I blend it into smoothies. I buy it in bulk from Bob’s Red Mill and keep the extra in the freezer. I’ve been “regular” for years! Except for the last few weeks of pregnancy, when anything goes.

  3. I’m obsessed with flaxseed! I put it in anything I can and I love it! They’re really great if you toast them in with a saute, they give this awesome nutty flavor.

    As for dairy, I’ve been trying yogurt once in a while lately because so many people rave about how good it is for you but other than that I’ve been off milk for a while now. It’s the best thing I ever did for my tummy!

  4. Thanks for the flax ideas! I agree that dehydration also has a lot to do with blood instances after races or hard workouts. Getting rid of milk seemed to seal the deal for me!

  5. I’m hypothyroid and would love to hear more about thyroid meds and soy interaction. I’ve never heard anything about that before, and am wondering if that could be why my protein bars really don’t do anything for me.

    1. Hi April! The studies being done are only preliminary and with lab rats. What they are finding is that soy may possibly block absorption of hormones produced by the thyroid but because it’s still new research, it is not suggested to avoid soy all together. I do love tofu and eat it a few times a month. I think what’s most important is to make sure you get the blood work done at least twice a year to make sure the thyroid is in check, especially when making any major dietary changes.

  6. I haven’t had the guts (no pun intended) to switch to almond milk yet, but I have noticed that some particularly long, hard or hot runs leave me in pain and running to the bathroom for hours afterward. I’ve tried switching up my schedule to see if running in the morning or in the evening is better, but the negative GI response seems to be unpredictable. I would blame dehydration, but I stay pretty hydrated before and during my runs, and supplement runs longer than about an hour with shot blocks or Gatorade; I’m thinking it’s all heat-related. I’m in Texas, and I don’t generally notice the same problems during late fall or winter runs that I do in summer, when even pre-dawn runs can be upwards of 85 degrees. Like Salty, I’ve found that prevention with Immodium or Kaopectate before a potentially disastrous run can really help.