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.
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.
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.
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.
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, Powerbars, Clif 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!
HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED POOP PROBLEMS ON THE RUN? If so what foods have helped or hurt you?