I’ve struggled with stomach issues the last couple of months since returning from Asia, and the past couple of weeks were particularly bad. Turning to the Internet, of course, I became fearful of all of the possible causes for my stomach problems. Had I developed IBS like my sisters? Did I have leaky gut syndrome? Did I have a stomach ulcer?
I overall eat very healthy. I’ve learned to reduce/eliminate dairy from my diet since I am lactose sensitive. I eat plenty of fiber from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. I also drink about two gallons of water a day. Then, I saw a post that said how so many healthy foods can cause stomach issues. I turned to my dietetic friends and asked, “WHAT THE FUCK ELSE AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?!”
Then, I saw another less extreme post suggesting that I chew my food more slowly and more carefully. Revolutionary idea, right? I reflected that I do scarf down my food often, either because I’m starving with a crazy metabolism, or because I’m in a hurry. Or both. For a week, I focused on eating slowly, chewing every bite more than usual and not literally inhaling my food.
My stomach issues improved drastically.
Even though I was eating all of the right foods, I was basically a human garbage disposal that wasn’t digesting my food enough before swallowing. Huh. That’s fucking gross.
Like any good Jesuit alum, I reflected on what this means for the rest of my life. Was I filling my life with everything I had imagined but not fully processing it as I lived it? Was I not being fully mindful, causing other issues in my life?
“If there’s nothing missing in my life, then why do these tears come at night?”
(I hope you all know I’m laughing as I write this.)
I had started the Five Minute Journal in the fall, but I had really gotten off my game since traveling. Upon this realization, I downloaded the Five Minute Journal app to help me be more present and grateful. I took more time to do yoga, and I called my parents more often. Sure enough, I experienced less anxiety and stress throughout the week. All I needed to do was slow down.
Whatever stress you’re currently experiencing, whether it’s work-related, academic, personal, or really personal, before Googling, try slowing down. Breathe deeply, eat slowly, feel fully, love wholly, and be happy. And try to laugh every once in awhile — life’s too short to take so seriously 🙂
++ Mary K