What does an IBS flare up feel like?

What does an IBS flare up feel like?

 For Super Bowl weekend I was looking forward to eating chicken wings with celery, blue cheese dressing, and sweet potato fries. Then I woke up Saturday morning with a pit in my stomach knowing it was going to be “one of those days.” I can often tell when I wake up if I’m going to have and upset tummy that day. Typically, it starts with a lame bowel movement (sorry if that’s TMI) then it’s followed by low-grade discomfort and occasional nausea.

How do I know it’s a flare-up?

For me (Lucy), it’s been years of learning to listen to my body, tune in to my symptoms, and make adjustments. Most people feel awkward talking about their bowel movements (aka poop); however, that can often be a good indicator of how things are going in your digestive system.

Did you ever watch when Oprah would feature Dr. Oz who introduced Americans to what our intestines look? I’ll never forget, I was a sophomore in college and my mom called me geeking out because Dr. Oz was on TV talking about poop. At that time, this had become a regular topic of conversation because part of learning about food and nutrition is also learning about what comes out the other end.

Anyway, after 2012, and the unfortunate stomach virus, my digestive system changed and so did my poo. Also, one of my initial symptoms included sharp stabbing pains in my gut after I ate almost anything (thank goodness for oatmeal). Nowadays, in a flare-up I feel puffy, bloated, and extremely full after eating even a small meal. Sometimes I get a low-grade headache and nausea. Mostly, it’s just plain uncomfortable. It may take away the desire to eat regular meals and snacks.

By the way, IBS cannot be self-diagnosed. It is a functional disorder that primarily effects the bowels and includes various symptoms including irregular bowel movements, bloating, and/or nausea. There are also tests that can eliminate other potential diagnoses, such as celiac disease and Crohn’s disease. 

Every body is different.

The other day while discussing IBS-like symptoms my client, Susan*, talked about the “ickiness” of discussing this problem in public. Susan had decided to do the low FODMAP diet to find out which foods were triggering her symptoms. She recognized most people don’t want to talk about what’s happening at the other end of your digestive system. Susan mostly referenced the pain and discomfort that comes with eating trigger foods. She also talked about her own symptoms, which are different than mine, and included a “gurgle-y stomach,” which was her first indicator that something that did not sit well in her gut.

Start with noticing

If you are suspicious about irregularity or other pain and discomfort in your digestive system we recommend starting to notice when, how often, and what the symptoms are. If you’re so inclined, I always recommend food and symptom journal to start to give you a better idea and understanding of how food and symptoms may be connected.

If you’re tired of feeling crappy and ready to find out ways to get on the path of healing contact us. We’re happy to help 🙂

*Name changed to protect privacy.

A new approach to mindful eating | 4 tips to get started

A new approach to mindful eating | 4 tips to get started

You know that empty feeling after you eat? The times you think, “that was so unsatisfying.” What if there is a different way to get the most nutrition and enjoyment from your food.

A client, who we will call Eric, was recently diagnosed with melanoma stage III. Eric is a young and otherwise healthy guy who typically eats a plant-based diet. He admitted to regularly eating a bowl of sugary cereal and milk at the end of the day for many years but with the diagnosis he a made the decision to cut out those foods. Eric is especially sensitive to sugar and has become choosier about what sweets he will eat. In the beginning, after the diagnosis, Eric was very fearful of food. He questioned what foods prevent a recurrence of cancer and what he should avoid.

It’s not what you’re eating, it’s how you’re eating it

Eric told me he was visiting a retired gentleman who offered him a Hershey kiss. Eric politely accepted this treat with the intention of getting rid of it later, at which point the gentleman said, “while you’re having one, I’ll eat one too.” In order not to offend his friend, he decided to join him in eating the chocolate.

I asked Eric what he’s learned since easing up on his sugar and carbohydrate restriction over the past two months. Eric thought for a moment and said he realized he needs to put less emphasis on what he is eating and more emphasis on how he is eating. This literally stopped me in my tracks. In a previous conversation, I had briefly mentioned mindful eating to Eric, but didn’t go into much detail. That’s why I was so impressed at how he came to this decision. Eric noticed after eating a meal while being distracted with computer work or in a meeting it did not feel as nourishing as those he savored and enjoyed more mindfully. For him, that means taking time to eat without distractions. Slowing down to savor the look, taste, smell, and textures of the foods.

The food and cancer conversation is highly controversial and there is a lot of conflicting science-based evidence out there. At Well-balanced Nutrition, we encourage people to embrace natural food, such as those items that are clearly coming from the farm, orchard or mother nature. I still have not come across an Oreo bush or pizza tree. When reading a food label, I don’t often look at the numbers. I want to know the ingredients. What is in the food?

Eric recognizes when he eats more slowly and enjoys the meal mindfully it feels more satisfying and enjoyable. He decided to take this a step further and plan for future meals. For instance, when thinking about Thanksgiving, he plans to take more time during that meal to savor the smell, taste, and appearance of the special holiday dishes. He plans on taking regular breaks throughout the meal – putting the fork down and enjoy the moment.

Here are 4 ways to start practicing

  1. Spend time considering the foods that are #WorthIt beforehand to make a mindful decision each time you eat
  2. Before shared meals and holidays imagine the event and sitting at the table
  3. Spend time savoring the meal (the look, taste, textures, smell, etc.)
  4. Stop during the meal – perhaps consciously putting the fork down in between bites – to slow the pace of how you eat

Food for thought:

We know making healthy food choices is important for reaching our health and wellness goals. When I’m being mindful and tuning in with what I really need, I tend to avoid the less nourishing options because I know they won’t make me feel better. How can you include a mindful technique to get more from your meals?

Let us know how we can help you on the journey! Contact us to get started today.

Find your own way: Rebecca’s #TransformationTuesday story

Find your own way: Rebecca’s #TransformationTuesday story

I started working with Well-balanced Nutrition because…

I needed guidance on nutrition to help me meet the physical demands of my job and personal goals. As a hybrid athlete, I am constantly training in a variety of formats; from powerlifting to triathlon/marathon training, as well as teaching group fitness classes. I was also seeking help with weight loss and because I have a history of eating disorders and crash dieting and I wanted support to achieve my goals in a healthy, sustainable way. 

I knew I was on track when…

I was seeing a difference in my body composition. My weight fluctuates so even if my weight was down, I didn’t use the scale as the only measure of success. That being said, my body was (and still is!) feeling good and I was happy and comfortable with how I felt in my skin. I liked how my clothes were fitting and how my body was performing. I didn’t feel like I was carrying extra weight anymore and I also felt in control of my eating habits.

I’m still human and learned when I get off track I …

I have resources and support to help get me back on track. I no longer beat myself up for having slip ups but instead, acknowledge them, and move on.

The best strategy/technique I have learned on my well-balanced journey is…

Tracking my intake and using the HALT method when I get “snacky”.  I use an app on my phone and it has been crucial for me. If I do not track my food intake, that is when I turn into a bottomless pit and overeat. It helps keep me accountable and it has taught me a great deal of discipline, in a good way. I feel like I have control. Along with that, the HALT method (Hungry, angry, lonely, tired) has taught me to pay attention to how my body is feeling. If there was a way to throw a “B” in there for BORED, that was certainly a big reason for why I would over eat. Learning to supplement those emotions with something other than food was a big help for me!

I really want the tribe to know…

There is no one RIGHT way to do something. Everybody is going to find something that works for them and that’s what matters. If you want to go paleo and eat clean, more power to you. If you are like me and find that tracking macros fits your lifestyle, then get down with your bad self! I want everyone to know that every BODY has different needs and different approaches to achieving success. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing and find something that works for you. 

Are you ready to make a transformation like Rebecca? Contact us today to set up your own personal wellness adventure.  

Learning to love the journey

Learning to love the journey

Monday, June 26, 2017

Growing up, my mom always called me her “journey girl.” Then I got to college and had to get to class, keep up with the other hyperactive dietetic students, and juggle school work with an active social life (good ol’ University of Dayton memories). For a while, life became less about the journey and more about getting to my next destination. 

Thankfully, in 2014, I got a message from the universe – God – that it was time to get back to my roots. Over the past couple years, Kristen and I have brought you different methods of mindfulness, especially mindful eating techniques. Today I want to share an example of how learning to love the journey will help you be happier and healthier.

The worry effect 

I have a friend, we will call Wendy, who lives life little bit like Rabbit from the cartoon Winnie the Pooh. Wendy is constantly talking about all of the many stressful parts of her life such as being a nanny to her 2 young nieces, keeping up with the projects she has promised to her friends, and worrying about what is going on at the White House. I get it! There is plenty in this world to worry about. However, Wendy wants to be healthier, happier, and lighter. She noticed while traveling and taking a 6-week respite from the nannying job that she did not restrict her eating (and enjoyed some “high test beer”) yet she lost 2 pounds on her vacation. Wendy found when she incorporated joyful movement, such as walking to enjoy the sites and scenery it no longer felt like dreaded exercise. And when she mindfully enjoyed small tastes of the local foods and beverages she did not overindulge. On vacation, Wendy was present, peaceful, and making mindful decisions, which helped her mind and body relax. When we are under stress our bodies secrete cortisol and adrenaline, which we term a fight-or-flight response. At the same time, decreasing the output of human growth hormone, which is responsible for stimulating growth and cell reproduction. If you live in a constant state of worry or stress it is likely your body is perpetually in a fight-or-flight response hormonally. In fight-or-flight, the body responds by increasing blood pressure and glucose (sugar in the blood), while decreasing the immune system.

Food for thought

If you can relate to Wendy’s story, and you are ready to start enjoying your journey, the first step is to take a moment to reflect and identify your own fears, worries, negative thoughts, and stressors. 

Next step, as my wise Uncle Ron recommends we need to ask, what’s in my control to change and what do I need to let go? Aside from talking to your local representatives, there is not much you can do about the situation in Washington DC. If you find your habit is to listen to the news or read the headlines first thing in the morning, only to spend the day worrying about all that bad news, perhaps you can let that go or choose to read those updates less frequently. 

Lastly, let’s make it a priority to include activities in our lives that will make us feel happy and better cope with the circumstances we cannot change.  As we know from all the safety training on the airplanes, it is vital that you put on your own oxygen mask first. What’s one thing you can add to your morning routine or day that will feel good and inspire you to make other choices that feel good? Tell us in the comments below to share a bit of inspiration and happy habit ideas!  

3 steps to flip upside down eating

3 steps to flip upside down eating

Monday, March 20, 2017

It’s Monday morning, you’ve decided this is the week, “I’m going to be healthy and lose weight!”

You start with a fruit and vegetable smoothie, a handful of 7 almonds for a mid-morning, a tossed salad with grilled chicken and light dressing at lunch, and a piece of fruit in the afternoon.

Then you arrive home, it’s 5:30 PM, what’s your first stop? Straight to the pantry… because you’re starving!! 

  • Handful of pretzels, check
  • A bag of snack size Doritos (bought for the kid’s lunches), check
  • Leftover cookie from the weekend, check

Now it’s time to cook dinner. Still trying to eat right, you prepare broiled salmon with asparagus and brown rice. Feeling hungry and unsatisfied at the end of the night you find yourself back in the pantry for couple more handfuls of this and that and you’re finally done. 

You ask yourself, “What happened?? Today was supposed to be different!” This is what I call upside down eating as shown in the inverted pyramid.

When we start the day trying so hard to be good we typically deny our body calories.

What is a calorie? More specifically, what does a calorie give you?


When we deny our bodies the energy they require to do life we end up getting hungry signals from our body to make up for the calorie deficit at the end of the day. 

Flip your pyramid upside down

  1. Eat more energy in the morning. Yes, that means breakfast. Some find benefit by eating breakfast like a king but for people that are not hungry I recommend breakfast 1 and breakfast 2 – these include light options such as yogurt, a handful of nuts, a piece of fruit, whole-grain crackers with peanut butter, or oatmeal.
  2. Eat when you’re hungry. The first step, identify what hunger feels like in your body. If you just ate, it might just be thirst. I recommend having 16 oz of water and reevaluating after 15 minutes. For the mid-afternoon crash, have high protein non-trigger foods such as unsalted nuts, cheese stick, or low-sodium deli meat. Drinking coffee or tea to postpone eating will likely lead to overeating later.
  3. Become more mindful. If you’re standing at the desk, answering emails, taking phone calls, or rushing to a meeting you are likely not in tune with the calories you are consuming. Can you take 30-60 seconds to pause before inhaling the food to thank your body and the creator for providing this nourishment? 

Food for thought: 

As a non-breakfast eater for 3 years I know this can be a challenging concept. For me, it was all about starting small – that’s where breakfast 1 and 2 helped! 

When are you eating the most energy (calories)?

When do you need more energy?

Tell us in the comments below what you’ll do to flip your pyramid this week!