Food 2 – health

The last post focused mainly on my weight loss attempts. But I also spend a lot of time feeling anxious (but not doing much about it) about the effects of my dietary choices on my health more generally.

I’ve had IBS since I was in my teens and at times it makes ordinary life, especially social life, very difficult, with the sudden need to find a loo and resulting panic attacks if I feel I’m in an “unsafe” situation where I couldn’t respond to that need. The causes are, I think, a complex mix of a body and mind that both tend to run a bit too fast, anxiety and panic (both cause and result of other causes!), and some dietary triggers. I’ve made half-hearted efforts to work out what these are, but it’s difficult, as some foods seem to be fine sometimes and to set things off at others. Dairy is definitely a culprit, though even there it’s not straightforward, with liquid milk and yogurt being a problem but cheese sometimes OK. Pulses and legumes sometimes cause disaster, sometimes seem to help. Ditto bread – on the whole, eating quite a bit of good quality, traditionally-made wholemeal bread seems to be helpful, but occasionally it aggravates. Tomatoes can cause problems – or not.

I also have some aches and pains and I wonder if those are sometimes aggravated by food choices – I’ve noticed that my hands can be more painful if I’ve been eating a lot of sugar, for example.

I mentioned that my normal setting is overdrive – I think my body and mind both tend to work too fast, causing the tendencies to anxiety, IBS, sleeplessness. Stimulants definitely make it worse – sugar or alcohol in the evening can keep me awake for some or all of the night. I love strong black coffee and have one cup each morning without ill-effects – but definitely no more than that or I feel very ill. Tea is OK – because I drink it black, I have it pretty weak. But I don’t have any caffeine after 4pm.

I’m very conscious that there’s a lot of cancer in my family, usually appearing in the 60s and 70s, and that makes me quite afraid when I look at how badly I sometimes eat. That too nags away at me, and maybe there’d be more peace of mind if I knew I was making choices that reduce or minimise the risk.

I may have to experiment with excluding foodstuffs. I’ve been very reluctant to do that, as I subscribe to (even if I don’t always follow) the philosophy of eating a wide variety of proper food in moderation. Also because I’m lazy and don’t want to make the effort to find substitutes and because   I don’t want to give up foods that I like. But I know from the past that something that seems impossible, eg giving up milk, can very quickly become normal and something I rarely think about.

So – a food diary, recording all I eat and drink and also noting symptoms, sleep quality, exercise taken, general mental and physical well-being, and seeing if I can find any links.

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