Under Pressure

This is a post about constipation. I’m writing this post because, like 8% of Americans, I’ve spent most of my life feeling bloated. I’m guessing many of you can relate to this.

When I was a kid, I thought it was normal to go to the bathroom once a week. That was more or less how my body was right into my 20’s.

But then I got diagnosed with psoriasis. And in my research, I learned that constipation wasn’t just uncomfortable. It was bad for my immune system and overall health.

And so I started experimenting with ways to make myself go. I ate more fiber. I drank lots of water. I exercised. I did a cleanse. I tried all sorts of supplements and foods like flax and chia seeds. I ate alkalizing foods. I meditated. I slept more. I slept less.

A lot of those things worked, but only some of the time. I couldn’t regular. Until I made one final change: I changed the order of my meals.

Specifically, I switched my lunch and dinner. Like most working people in NYC, I frequently ate a salad for lunch and then ate a heavier evening meal. And dinner was usually after work sometime around 8pm. When I started teaching yoga, that meal got even later since I often don’t even get home until 8:30 or 9pm.

But the later I ate, the worse I felt the next morning. Not only was I still uncomfortably full, but I also felt really tired all the time.

Then one day, I remembered something interesting about a meditation retreat I went to a few years ago. At that retreat, they had asked returning meditators to not eat after 5pm. It’s not like they banned people from eating, but the organization claimed that eating light (like an apple and herbal tea) or just having herbal tea at night would yield better meditation results. I remember that, though it was a tough adjustment, it was easier to wake up at the 4am start time.

So I decided to apply that idea to my everyday life. It’s not like I was only going to eat only an apple at night – I’m not a crazy person. And weirdly, when I drink hot beverages like herbal tea at night, I get nightmares (isn’t that so crazy?). So I decided to stick to eating a salad at night, BEFORE my evening classes.

It was tough but I saw results. I started going more regularly.

Turns out there’s a reason for that. At night, the body does a whole bunch of stuff like repair, rest and digest. After changing around my evening meal, I realized that my digestive system is really slow and I was overloading the workload my body could handle each night. So when I woke up, I didn’t feel rested or digested.

Eating earlier and lighter worked. But there was one hang-up. I still needed energy for things like working out and walking everywhere. So I started eating my starch and protein foods for lunch. That way, not only did I have more time to digest those foods, but I also used more of that energy during the day.

And the results are amazing! Of course I’m a social person who likes to meet friends for dinner. And I also get sidetracked sometimes when my husband orders pizza for dinner and gets me a slice because he knows I like it. So it’s not a perfect system, mainly because I’m not perfect. And food should be enjoyed.,.duh!

But every, single time I’m able to eat the light and early dinner (provided I didn’t just eat a terrible carbo-loaded breakfast/lunch/brunch), I feel light on my feet the next day.

To sum up, I’m not going to tell you what to eat or how your diet should look. Everyone is different and needs different things. But if you’re frequently backed up, try eating your lunch for dinner and your dinner for lunch. And let me know if you finally get into a flow.

Toilet Talk No. 2