I think it’s safe to say that we know that sitting on your bum and playing video games and eating junk food aren’t the healthiest of habits, but I’m going to trust that you already knew that. Those things are easy to even out with a balanced diet and daily physical activity, Again, we already know that. But what about other, more specific health issues? Today I’d like to share with you my story and what I’m doing to cope with my own various health issues. More specifically, substance addiction, and acid reflux disease.
When you’re young, it’s easy to get into a mindset that your body will always be healthy, that you’ll always have energy, and that you’ll always look as youthful as you feel. Of course when you’re of a younger age, that’s all you know so you don’t really know better. You eat junk, you take risks, and you get yourself in loads of trouble. That’s part of the learning process that is growing up. While they do teach basic nutrition in schools, or at least they did when I was a kid, there’s no one really putting those things into practice, not really. Today we live in a society where a cheeseburger only costs $1 and you’ll have to pay $5 for a healthier option such as a salad. It makes it seem ‘normal’, but it’s not. You need balance because when you get older, you might regret the crap you’ve been putting into your body the last decade or so.
Here’s where my story begins. This last weekend I had the worst heartburn I’ve ever had in my entire life. I was awaken in the middle of the night with pain in my chest, pain in my back, extreme nausea and a sense of dread. Antacids didn’t work, just drinking water didn’t work. The only thing that managed to get rid of the pain was getting sick and hydrating by drinking more water after the fact. Because I was in such pain I was kept up until about 6am and wasn’t able to get back to sleep until then. The next day, which was a Saturday unfortunately, was mostly wasted as I had to sleep in to make up for lost sleep. Throughout the day I ate smaller portions for meals and was able to get to sleep the next night. For a little while anyways. Again I was woken up with the same indigestion that had plagued me the night before. This time it wasn’t as bad, but still it was super painful. The next day I didn’t eat much of anything at all for fear that it would come back. Now, my partner suffers from GERD, or Gastroesophageal reflux disease, so he understood the pain I was in and started with some questions.
What had I been eating? Same thing I eat most weekends, pizza and soda. Maybe some cookies. I usually eat pretty balanced during the week and reserve the junk for the weekends. It had never bothered me before, so what was the issue? Well, maybe it was the other foods I was eating too, during the week I mean. I like red meat, I enjoy pasta with red sauce, I enjoy rich foods with lots of spice and flavor and I still eat dairy even though I know my body rejects it. There, it was the combination of a seemingly okay diet. And that type of diet might be okay for some people, but not me. I had to have a complete diet overhaul. In my case it has nothing to do with calorie intake and fat content, now it’s just a matter of finding foods that won’t make me sick.
If you have chronic heartburn, Gerd, or any related stomach issues, there are certainly some foods that you need to avoid. Red meats, dairy, spicy foods, anything with high acidity such as citrus and other fruits. Some of the things that you can, and I would encourage you to eat are more raw foods. Nuts, fruit (melons, apples, and bananas are a nice place to start), certain types of vegetables, starches, and grains. This doesn’t mean give up all the other types of foods completely, it just means that you need to be more consciously aware of what you’re putting in your body and how your body reacts to it. If you are still having problems, you should probably consult a doctor as it might be something more serious. As it stands I’m still not sure if my stomach issue was really bad heartburn or a recurring stomach ulcer from my days of too much stress and excessive drinking.
Speaking of substances, who can tell me from experience what withdrawals feel like? A few years ago I gave up drinking alcohol in excess and had little to no withdrawal symptoms at all, and no relapse. Go me! But I do have two other substances that I’ve been trying to quit and I have been getting withdrawal symptoms for; Caffeine and Nicotine. I have been drinking caffeine since I was a kid, starting with coffee and then energy drinks and even supplements. I’ve been smoking for 7 years. I’m trying to quite both, at the same time, and it’s hell. Because I fancy myself a bad ass I tried to quit cold turkey. Bad idea. When withdrawals first start after not having your substance of choice for a period of time, your body gets tense. It’s not like the same tense as with an anxiety attack, although that may be related, but it’s more like a squeezing sensation. Like you’re under pressure. For me, that feeling went away after a couple of days. The next symptom, and it came after was headaches, followed later by nausea. In my case, they weren’t as extreme as I’ve heard other stories make out to be, but it still wasn’t a very pleasant experience. After this I decided that quitting straight up was just not going to happen. I’ve cut back on both, only going through about 1 pack of smokes a week and switching over to decaf coffee to ween myself off of the other stuff while trying to drink little to no energy drinks and instead substituting them for other tasty beverages such as tea and fruit juice. I can’t say enough good things about fruit juice. I just wish it wasn’t so damn expensive.
So now you might be asking, why quit any substances at all? Well, by themselves they may not seem so bad, but in my case over consumption of caffeine and nicotine, in addition to the junky foods, might have been a contributing factor to my illness. Turns out that both of those things are also leading causes of heartburn and acid reflux disease and should be avoided if at all possible if you know that you have a condition. So how might you avoid these issues? Prevention might be one way, but I prefer the power of knowledge myself. Just be more conscious about what you’re consuming. Everything in moderation is fine, but if it starts messing up other things, you might need to rethink your entire diet all together. It’s better to start on a healthy diet and healthy habits now, because whether you like it or not, you’re not getting any younger. Take care of yourself so you can avoid painful situations and you’ll be able to thank yourself later.