Friday, March 28, 2014

A blog with a new focus

Nearly four years ago I started this blog called A Passion for Flavor. I imagined it would be fun to do - that I would tinker with for a while but eventually grow tired of it - but here I am, still typing away! 

Obviously, it's been a lot more fun than I had originally realized. Finding things to write about has been at times difficult, yet at other times the ideas just rolled out of me. The inspiration for subject matter was usually just about whatever I fancied at the moment or had talked about with a friend or family member, or an idea I had seen on a cooking show.

But now I'm going to switch things up a bit and take this blog in a new direction, mostly because I can no longer put off addressing an issue that urgently needs my attention. 

It's not an easy thing to talk about, but for nearly the past decade, if not longer, I've had digestive trouble. And unfortunately, things haven't improved much over the years. In fact, they have worsened. Years ago a gastroenterologist took me through the usual battery of tests and found nothing visibly wrong. I heard "you have a "functional" problem." This basically left me without any explanation for my suffering. I left his office thinking perhaps it was all in my head.

But my problems remained and over time I tried all sorts of things on my own: eating this or that thing that was recommended, omitting other things that could aggravate problems but never entirely, drinking peppermint tea (good for an upset stomach), then not drinking peppermint tea (bad for heartburn), drinking fennel tea and ginger tea for digestion, and black tea instead of coffee, cutting carbohydrates, taking apple cider vinegar, probiotics, drinking kefir and eating plain yogurt, drinking bone broth for more minerals, taking hydrochloric acid, pepsin, bromelain, papaya enzymes, digestive enzymes, digestive bitters, homeopathic remedies prescribed by a naturopath, and eventually just taking Pepto-Bismol and Alka Seltzer Gold when flare-ups reared their ugly head and I was frustrated and in a lot of pain. My medicine cabinet is chock full of bottles. And yet, despite all the reading, consulting, pill-popping and witches brews concocted, I suffer more now than ever before.

I had always tried to just ignore my symptoms in the hope that they would just one day go away on their own. This hasn't worked very well for me and clearly a different approach was becoming necessary. We've all heard the saying about the definition of insanity: "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result." 

I started tackling the issue again. Reading, reading and doing ever more reading. And one day I found something that spoke to me. When a doctor tells you it's "functional", more often than not you have IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). As I read about this, the symptoms totally described me. The gas, the bloating, the distention, the worrying about making it to the bathroom in time, the stomach cramping. Sometimes I feel ok, but I have no idea why. What did I leave out to create a friendlier digestive environment?

While not as debilitating as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis or IBD (Irritable Bowel Disease) that all can cause lasting and permanent damage to the digestive system, IBS can still negatively impact your day-to-day life and cause a lot of discomfort.

So, how will this affect the Blog, you ask? I am adopting a new eating plan, one developed for people suffering from IBS. I'll go into more of that next week, but for now, know that while there will still be fruits and vegetables and meats and fish and nuts discussed here, some of all of those things will not appear in my recipes.

The reason why is because this eating plan eliminates the foods that have been shown to cause IBS symptoms. After a period of time in which the digestive system is allowed time to calm down (about 6-8 weeks), one reintroduces one of the eliminated foods per week and logs the results. It makes sense to me that only in this way can I begin to learn what's causing the problem. Unfortunately, no doctor knows what my system can handle and what it can't. No one, despite their best intentions, can tell me what to do to save me the time and effort required. It is really a matter of self-experimentation.

So, will you want to stick around and go with me in this new direction? I'm not sure. But I certainly hope so because I will still be eating, and cooking, and making recipes and wanting to share them with you. And if you suffer from any digestive discomfort, either occasionally, or daily like me, I hope you'll possibly get something out of what I write about. Perhaps you'll learn something new, or reconsider something you're doing that might not be ideal for your digestive health. 

Not much really will change, except that the focus won't just be having a passion for flavor, but having a passion for digestive wellness. Maybe this is what I'm meant to do with this blog: to share my experience. 

So, my hope is you'll hang out with me a little longer. Or maybe because of this, discover me for the first time, or perhaps share me with someone you know who is also suffering from unexplained digestive trouble.

Thanks for reading.

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