Sunday, October 19, 2014

10-Day Plan Part 2: Psyllium Husk Survivor

I prefer not to view this as a failure.

So I never made it through the entirety of Dr. Robynne Chutkan’s 10-Day Plan for Gutbliss.  The idea was to follow a strict diet that would help “ban bloat, flush toxins, and dump [my] digestive baggage.”  I shut it down after six days.  For those of you keeping score at home, that’s the third straight “___-day plan” that I’ve abandoned since starting this blog.  I recognize that this speaks rather poorly of my track record.

Visual representation of my track record.

However, I do want to clarify that I didn’t give up because I had a moment of weakness, or because the diet was too strict, or because I missed gluten and soy like old friends.  All of those things are true, but they weren’t what made me quit.

I quit the 10-Day Plan because that plan is wack.

My eating habits in general are fairly healthy.  The thing that trips me up is my deep-seated and all-encompassing love for sugar.  Despite my daily intentions to the contrary, sugar always manages to find its way into my mouth.  And never a single bite of sugar, either--more like ten bites (or more).  That’s enough to seriously muck up my BMI, and it certainly bloats my stomach.  So stripping all the SAD GAS (soy, artificial sweeteners, dairy, gluten, alcohol, and sugar) from my diet didn’t leave me starving.  I’m all about leafy greens and free-range chicken, and I expected that cutting sugar would make me feel like a million bucks.  Instead I felt like a nickel that got run over by a train.

I blame the psyllium husk.

Visual representation of my relationship to psyllium husk.

I still have nothing nice to say about psyllium husk.  It tastes like garbage and it made my stomach swell up until even my sweatpants were tight.  It was a really bleak six days that I spent waddling around, clutching my abdomen, and making evil eyes at my leafy greens.  Finally I couldn’t take it anymore.

The scene: It was a gray October afternoon.  I was at my niece’s Disney princess birthday party dressed like Cinderella (before the ball), with my stomach playing the role of the pumpkin.  There was a chill in the air and a gaggle of shrieking children jumping in a bounce house.  I shivered and sipped my water and searched the premises for a nut or a leaf or a whole grain.  Then my sister handed me a Samuel Adams Octoberfest.

And I drank it.

Visual representation of my experience at childrens parties.

It tasted like relief.  After six days of feeling terrible, it was so refreshing to just admit that the plan wasn’t working for me, and simply abandon it.  It was refreshing to eat a handful of popcorn without feeling guilty about it.  And it was particularly refreshing to screw the cap tight on the jar of psyllium husk and lock it away forever.  

I did not feel immediately better; I had a pretty bad stomachache that night.  But eventually my body readjusted to digesting sugar and gluten, and I started to feel more like myself.  After a few days, I could even wear my skinny jeans again.

If I had stuck with the plan, maybe I would have made it to gutbliss, just like Dr. Chutkan promised.  But ultimately the draw of a seasonal beer, whose benefits were proven and immediate, was more compelling than an eventual state of digestive nirvana that I didn’t really believe in anymore.  I did re-learn the importance of listening to my body, and I was reminded that I don’t need to aim quite so high when making healthy changes in my life.  And that’s the purpose of this blog, to learn from my mistakes and to make gentle adjustments toward a goal of overall wellness.

Thankfully, that’s a concept I can commit to for longer than ten days.

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