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Screw your New Year diet

In 2015, I decided to stop dieting. I’d been on a diet for 10 years. 10 YEARS!!!! And it was the shittest diet ever because year on year, I started January heavier than the year before.

I went through cycles of starving and binging, salad obsessions and chocolate gorging.  I’d lose weight, lose interest and gain the weight back along with a few more pounds.

Well last year, I decided my poor old body had had just about enough. I’d had 3 surgeries in 18 months, a Stoma, a Jpouch, 2 hernias and a lot of meds and treatment. I decided that it was pretty wonderful that I was even still standing and so I should give it a break from messing with food.

Diets don’t work. You follow the rules and lose weight, but any short term food deprivation only leads to temporary weight loss.  If you loosen the reins and return back to your former ways, you will gain it all back.

I started thinking about why I was dieting. Did I want to be thinner, or was it just what is expected of me as a woman?  The more I thought about it, the more I realised that I’m actually very happy in my skin.  I like my big body, I think I’m soft and beautiful and hella sexy.


But we aren’t meant to say that are we? Especially not if we are ‘plus size’. We’re meant to be ashamed and apologetic. We’re meant to strive to be ‘better’. But what if ‘better’ has fuck all to do with the number in the back of your dress?  What if ‘better’ isn’t about being a size 6?

Humans are all different sizes and shapes, yet we strive to be like a very narrow, Western ideal of beauty that comes from fashion and media. It comes from air brushing, the use of very young models, the use of extremely thin models.  The pressure on women to conform is HUGE.  To look more like a tiny percentage of women. Isn’t that silly?

The funny thing is that my lack of dieting last year, means I start this year lighter than I was at the start of 2015.  It’s the first year that my weight hasn’t gone up and I truly believe this is because I took the pressure off myself, I refused to diet but that doesn’t mean that I decided to eat everything in sight!

When I diet, I am constantly thinking about food. I think about calories and my next meal, I dream of food and look longingly at cheese boards.  This year my focus was on other things, I don’t want to waste time thinking about food when there is a whole world of awesome to be thinking about!  My lack of dieting made me more in touch with my body, eating when I’m hungry and stopping when I’m full. Never denying myself of food but enjoying it and savouring it.

sam cleasby the poo lady

I’m learning all the time to love my body. It’s not easy, I do cave in sometimes and see photos of myself where I’m surprised by my size. But that’s usually because I’m viewing myself through someone else’s eyes. My confidence is dented when I think that someone else is looking at me and thinking about my shape.  In my head, I am Beyoncé. And Zooey Dechanelle. And Thandie Newton. And Superwoman. And Marilyn Monroe.

I’m a bad ass version of all those women blended into one shit hot mega babe.

And so it surprises me sometimes when I see a fat, 34 year old mum in gardening gear.

But you know, I do love my body. Are there things I would change? Yes. Do I want to be healthier? Yes. Will I diet ever again? No fucking way!

Healthy eating and exercise are wonderful, I think we should all eat delicious, unprocessed, bright, colourful, mouth watering food.  I think we should all move our bodies and take part in exercise that is fun and makes us happy.

We only have this one body and so it is really important that we take care of it by giving it the fuel it needs and working our muscles to keep us mobile.  Our physical health is vital.

But so is our emotional health, so take a moment and think about making your mind and spirit healthy too.  Acceptance and self love.  Celebrating not demonising. Give yourself the affirmation that you are beautiful.  Because beauty isn’t about looking the same as a 14 year old size 0 fashion model, it’s about your unique and bloody brilliant self. It’s about kindness and humour and confidence and love whether you’re a size 0 or a size 32+!!

This new year, you will be bombarded by adverts telling you that you aren’t enough. That you need to buy their products to change yourself to fit in.

Fuck fitting in.

sam cleasby the poo lady plus size eff your beauty standards

If you want to make a healthy change to your lifestyle, then go for it! But think about the long term lifestyle changes you might want to make, be aware that short term diets DONT WORK LONGTERM.  Find a physical activity that you want to do, do it with friends, make it fun, enjoy it!

If you don’t want to diet, don’t be led to believe that you must.  Enjoy your body, celebrate your brilliance and love yourself.

Sam X

Dehydration and ileostomies

I was warned when I was in hospital that dehydration is a massive problem for folk with ostomies and pouches, this is because your large intestine absorbs water from your food and a lot of the salt your body needs so if you don’t have a large intestine, you are in for a bit of trouble.

This means that I am always thirsty and drink litres and litres of fruit squash a day, I find water goes through my system too quickly and was advised by a doctor to try adding dilute squash to it as the body has to digest it and so hangs on to the fluids for that little bit longer.  I keep a store of squash in my ensuite bathroom as I drink two or three pints just through the night and so it stops me having to go downstairs at 2am.

Ostomy Lifestyle recommend this…

“People with ileostomies, particularly if the stoma is formed higher up in the bowel, can have more difficulties with their fluid intake. This is because it is the role of the large bowel to absorb water (and salt) and for people with ileostomies this is no longer being used. The small bowel will, with time, adapt to absorb more water and more salt, however careful attention should be paid to ensure that you are drinking an adequate, varied fluid intake (e.g. water, juice, cordial, herbal/fruit teas, etc) to maintain kidney health. Remember, you are aiming for light straw coloured urine.

For those who are more active it is even more important to pay attention to your fluid intake. Fluids lost through sweating contain electrolytes, so it is important to replace those with specialist sports drinks. 

Everyone should bear in mind that alcohol is a dehydrating fluid in the most part and caffeinated drinks such as tea and coffee cause you to lose more fluid in your urine. The majority of your fluid intake should therefore be from fluids such as water and fruit cordials.”

The other issue is salt.  As you don’t absorb salt well it is recommended to increase your salt intake at least for a while after surgery.  I find I crave salt and add it to pretty much everything since having my bowel removed.  I am a big believer that if you are craving something, it tends to be because your body needs it.

“Salt is important for nerve and muscle function and is found naturally in most food and drink. There are risks associated with both having too much and too little salt in our diets. Too much salt can lead to high blood pressure, which can make you more likely to develop heart disease, or have a stroke, while too little salt can cause headaches, cramps and fatigue. While there is some evidence that people with ileostomies can lose between 35-90mmol of sodium per day (equivalent to up to a teaspoon of table salt) because this would normally be absorbed in the large intestine, each person with an ileostomy will differ in terms of the amount they lose. There is also evidence that the small bowel of someone who has an ileostomy adapts over time to compensate for absorption issues. But, in the first few weeks after surgery you may need to add salt to your food and have additional salty snacks. There is conflicting information about long-term addition of salt to diet but evidence shows that most people have adequate salt in their diet to make up for what is lost through their ileostomy and there is no need to add more.”

Stomawise says…

“It is important to know the signs and symptoms of dehydration as well as preventative measures.  These symptoms can include thirst, dry tenting skin, abdominal cramps, rapid heart rate, confusion and low blood pressure.

Dehydration can occur after ileostomy surgery as the purpose of the large intestine is to absorb water from the indigestible waste and then expel the waste material from the body through bowel movements.

During ileostomy surgery, a part or all of the large intestines is removed, which prevents the body from absorbing water from the waste before it is excreted from the body. Dehydration can occur when the person does not drink enough fluids to replace the fluids lost as the waste moves through the stoma and into the attached bag.

Your Daily intake of fluids should be 8-10 (8 oz.) glasses per day and can be of any liquid containing water (soda, milk, juice, etc.) to help meet your daily requirement.

Dehydration can also upset your electrolyte balance (especially potassium and sodium) When the colon (large intestine) is removed, there is a  greater risk for electrolyte imbalance, Diarrhoea, excessive perspiration and vomiting can also increase this risk.

You should be aware of the signs and symptoms of dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Dehydration and electrolyte imbalance is more common with an ileostomy as opposed to a colostomy.

Dehydration
Increased thirst, dry mouth, dry skin, decreased urine output, fatigue, shortness of breath, stomach cramps.

Sodium Loss
Loss of appetite, drowsiness and leg cramping may indicate sodium depletion.

Potassium Loss
Fatigue, muscle weakness, shortness of breath, decreased sensation in arms and legs, and a gassy bloated feeling may indicate potassium depletion.”

I am researching Himalayan Pink Salt at the minute for a future blog post, I’m not sure what I think yet but will write about it asap!

These are issues that most people don’t even think about, I thought I would bring it up as I recently spoke to two different people who highlighted to me that there are so many other issues and side effects to having Inflammatory Bowel Disease, a stoma or a pouch that people just do not know about and so thought I would share.

So next time you see an IBDer downing a pint in one or having an extra shake of the salt, you may just understand a little more.  And if you have a stoma or jpouch, take note and keep an eye on your hydration as the effects can be grim and we don’t need any other reason to feel crap!

 

Love Sam xx

Human Salt Lick…

I came across what looks like the most hipster item I have ever seen… A human salt lick.

Now I know this looks mental, the site says “Himalayan pink salt releases negative ions, balancing cellular metabolism to increase immune system health.” I have to say that seems a little bit pseudoscience to me yet I’m still quite interested.

You see, without a large intestine, my body doesn’t absorb salt very well. I’m recommended to increase my salt intake quite a lot. The following advice comes from Ostomy Lifestyle.

“Salt is important for nerve and muscle function and is found naturally in most food and drink. There are risks associated with both having too much and too little salt in our diets. Too much salt can lead to high blood pressure, which can make you more likely to develop heart disease, or have a stroke, while too little salt can cause headaches, cramps and fatigue. While there is some evidence that people with ileostomies can lose between 35-90mmol of sodium per day (equivalent to up to a teaspoon of table salt) because this would normally be absorbed in the large intestine, each person with an ileostomy will differ in terms of the amount they lose.”

They do also say that there is conflicting evidence over the long term need for additional salt as some people believe that the body learns to compensate.

20140816-065110-24670244.jpg

I do wonder whether I need to increase my salt intake because sometimes I definitely struggle with headaches and fatigue. As with all health matters you should always check things out with your doctor but I think I may consider getting myself a salt lick!

What do you think?

Love Sam x

All photos courtesy of http://www.humansaltlick.com

IBD and junk food – a big rant!

I had another post planned today but I am so incensed by the news report I have head today that I had to write this.  The report said that IBD is caused by junk food and is on BBC’s newsbeat, you can read it here.

“Dr Sally Mitton says she and her colleagues at St George’s Hospital in Tooting, south-west London, have seen a rise in the number of young people with Crohn’s.  “We know that there are many genes that predispose someone to get Crohn’s disease.  But we also know that lifestyle factors like eating a lot of junk food or taking many courses of antibiotics may make it more likely to happen.”

 

junk food and ibd

This quote has led to news reports leading with ‘news’ that junk food causes Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

I am seething, the NHS say:

The exact cause of ulcerative colitis is unknown, although it is thought to be the result of a problem with the immune system.

Autoimmune condition

The immune system is the body’s defence against infection. Many experts believe that ulcerative colitis is an autoimmune condition (when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue).

The immune system normally fights off infections by releasing white blood cells into the blood to destroy the cause of the infection. This results in inflammation (swelling and redness) of body tissue in the infected area.

In ulcerative colitis, a leading theory is that the immune system mistakes “friendly bacteria” in the colon – which aid digestion – as a harmful infection, leading to the colon and rectum becoming inflamed.

Alternatively, some researchers believe a viral or bacterial infection triggers the immune system, but for some reason it doesn’t “turn off” once the infection has passed and continues to cause inflammation.

It has also been suggested that no infection is involved, and the immune system may just malfunction by itself.

Genetics

It also seems inherited genes are a factor in the development of ulcerative colitis. Studies have found that more than one in four people with ulcerative colitis has a family history of the condition.

Levels of ulcerative colitis are also a lot higher in certain ethnic groups, further suggesting that genetics are a factor.

Researchers have identified several genes that seem to make people more likely to develop ulcerative colitis, and it is believed that many of these genes play a role in the immune system.

stoma ileostomy bag woman junk food ulcerative colitis crowns ibd

Environmental factors

Where and how you live also seems to affect your chances of developing ulcerative colitis, suggesting that environmental factors are important.

For example, the condition is more common in urban areas of northern parts of Western Europe and America.

Various environmental factors that may be linked to ulcerative colitis have been studied, including air pollution and certain diets, but no factors have so far been identified.

 

I have had Ulcerative Colitis for ten years and so this blog revolves around my experiences, I know a lot more about Ulcerative Colitis than I do Crohns Disease but the plight of anyone with IBD is so important.  Apologies to any Crohnies who feel I am biased towards UC, I just don’t know as much and have no personal experience of Crohns.  I hope you read this knowing that I support Crohns and Colitis awareness and only talk about UC more as it is what I know.

Leading a report by putting the blame on patients is unfair, damaging and really upsetting to the hundreds of thousands of people with IBD in the UK.  Diet “may” be linked to IBD in some way, but as the NHS website says so could air pollution! Yet we don’t see reports blaming the environment.

Putting the blame on the patient leads to a public shaming of patients, it is bad enough to have to deal with a disease that causes pain, bleeding, diarrhoea, fatigue.  Having to take multiple drugs that each have their own set of side effects, facing many surgeries and possible death! But to then make the patient feel that it is their fault is heart breaking.

The report also says “there is no cure but many patients learn to manage the symptoms, often by altering their diet.” – I would argue this point too.  Patients HAVE to learn to manage their LIFELONG INCURABLE disease through medication.  A flare up CANNOT be controlled by diet alone.  During a flare I have always been advised to eat a low fibre/low residue diet.  A low residue diet involves avoiding roughage (insoluble fibre) that your body struggles to break down. Roughage is found in skins, pips, seeds, whole grain cereals, nuts and raw fruit and vegetables.

stoma ileostomy bag woman junk food ulcerative colitis crowns ibd

This makes it very difficult to have a normal healthy diet as you have to avoid a lot of fruit and veg and are encouraged to eat only white bread/pasta/rice.

Perhaps the rise in the number of patients could be to do with patients with IBD being a lot more open about the illness, blogs like mine and many other fantastic IBD blogs are demystifying the disease and perhaps this is making it less taboo so people having symptoms are more likely to go to the doctor?

There are many unknowns about IBD and I welcome any debate and discussion but blaming the victim by putting this onto junk food is unhelpful and damaging to all the people who are currently working so hard to raise awareness and provide support.

 

Love Sam x

 

*UPDATE* I got this response from @BBCnewsbeat on twitter…

newsbeat twitter junk food ibd

newsbeat twitter junk food ibd

newsbeat twitter junk food ibd

newsbeat twitter junk food ibd

 

 

 

 

 

 

Losing weight

With my pouch surgery coming up in the next month or so, my consultant has asked me to try and lose some weight. Since January I’ve lost 12lbs and so I’m doing quite well but seem to have plateaued.

He has asked me to try to lose another 6 or 7 lbs as people carrying less weight have fewer problems and a better recovery than those who are heavier.

My problem is that because of the hernia I’m really struggling to do any physical exercise. I’ve stopped swimming because I’m scared of my hernia twisting and ending up not being able to get out and dressed as when this happens it’s agony and I’ve also stopped going to the gym.

My plan is to walk the dog every day, I can’t go fast but it’s better than nothing! I also struggle with some fruits and veg with my stoma but I’m going to try and just cut out all the sweet stuff and watch my portion sizes.

I really feel the pressure to lose this weight, I’m so scared of the next surgery and if I end up having any complications I know Ill blame myself if I don’t lose it.

So if anyone has any suggestions or tips for someone with a stoma and hernia to lose half a stone in a month they will be gratefully received.

Sam x

Weight loss for surgery

At my surgical appointment this week it was suggested that I should lose some weight to increase my chances of my pouch surgery going well.

Since the birth of my kids I gained a lot of weight and then have yo yo-ed since then. I’ll lose weight during flares then gain it back. Last year I had months of steroids which caused me to gain a lot and surgery where I lost weight. Then during my recovery where I couldn’t do much physical exercise and being unable to eat much fruit or veg but encouraged to eat white bread, pasta and rice I then gained more!

I have been looking at my weight since January and I have lost 10 lbs, but I know I’m still probably two and a half stone overweight.  My BMI is currently 28 which puts me near the top end of overweight.  Ill be honest, it doesn’t bother me massively, I like the way I look, I know Im not stick thin but I think I look fucking good! (and Im SO modest!) But I do want to be fitter, healthier and stronger.

stoma ileostomy photo shoot woman beauty

The doc was really nice about it and was simply telling me how to increase my chances of a better outcome.  I know a lot of crohnies really struggle with being underweight but for me it’s the other way.

So I need to get on it, it feels very much like when I stopped smoking.  I liked smoking, I know that sounds bad and isn’t the right thing to say these days, but I did like it.  I knew it was bad for me and I knew that Timm and the kids hated me smoking but I never really wanted to stop.  Then my consultant told me that I was five times more likely to have a flare up of ulcerative colitis if I was a smoker.  I quit that day.

Id been a smoker for 15 year and I just stopped. I felt that if I continued smoking after Id been told this and then had a flare up, that it would be my own fault.  Every time I put a cigarette to my lips I thought about how sick I was during a flare up, I thought about being on medication and having to stay in hospital and funnily enough, it made me not want to have that smoke!

I feel the same now, I know that by my BMI I am overweight, I know that my health could be better and I could be fitter if I lost some weight.  I have dieted over the years and never really got on top of it.  Ill lose a stone or two and then slowly gain it back.  Also whilst I was ill, my weight just didn’t seem like a priority. But now I feel that if I don’t lose weight and something goes wrong with the surgery or my recovery, that it will be my own fault.  I feel that I have to do this now to give myself the best chances of an easy recovery.

I know it isn’t as simple as that and that complications can arise whatever your weight, but now I have heard it, I feel its something I must do.  It feels easier to say no to that slice of cake or takeaway because the fear of surgery going wrong is far higher than my desire to eat fatty foods or chocolate and sweets. I have six months to lose the weight, so Im just getting back on the healthy eating, going to the gym and getting more exercise.  Wish me luck! getting fit after surgery

I think a lot of this has to do with control too, I have little control over what happens with my body at the moment, the surgery isn’t what I planned for my life but I need to have it and so it is out of my hands.  I can’t control the disease or treatment, but I can control how I treat my body, what fuel it gets and how I exercise and so that is what Ill do.

I need to know I am going into the surgery match fit and so if that means cutting out the cake and hitting the gym hard, that is what Im going to do.

Sam xx

Cure for sleepless nights with an ileostomy

Remember when I blogged about my lack of sleep? I’ve been waking once or twice a night for the last six months since my surgery to empty my bag.

It was starting to really get to me and I was struggling to deal with getting up in the mornings.

Well I have cracked it! It seems it was all about the fizzy drinks!!

I have cut carbonated drinks almost completely out of my diet and for the last 6 nights I have slept through. I think the fizz was causing gas which filled my bag and made me feel like I needed to get up and empty.

I feel like I’ve won the lottery!!! It’s such a great feeling to sleep all the way through the night, I’d forgotten just how much it is needed!

so bad ass sam cleasby ileostomy ulcerative colitis ibd awareness body image self esteem

I was told post surgery to avoid fizzy drinks but as I healed I drifted back into drinking coke or lemonade. I’ve reverted back to water, squash or juice and it really has solved the sleep problems completely.

I know things aren’t the same for all ostomates, it really is a case of trial and error.  The best advice I had regarding diet was just because something doesn’t agree with you doesn’t mean it won’t forever, give it a few weeks and try again.  In the early days I just couldn’t manage onions, but now they cause no problems.

But for now fizzy drinks are all a no no and Im ok with that as I am finally sleeping!

Love Sam xx

Ileostomy Diet

I thought Id do a post about diet, as it’s one of the questions I get asked a lot… What can you eat?

In the long term, Im advised that I’ll be able to eat what I like within reason.  That I will find my way with foods that agree with me and foods that don’t.  The ones that don’t will be things that cause excess gas, blockages and stomach pain.

In the short term I have been advised to keep a very low fibre diet.  All the things I *think* are good for my body seem to not be right now.  The doctors say its a good idea to eat a low-fibre diet for the first few months after your operation. This is because the surgery causes your bowels to swell, making digesting fibre difficult.  Once the swelling has subsided (usually after eight weeks) you can resume a normal diet.  It is advised to avoid any foods that may cause stoma obstruction including fibrous meats, vegetables like corn, cabbage, celery, green peppers and peas; and fruit skins and seeds, nuts, dried fruits and popcorn.

diet funny ecard

The following foods are generally allowed on a low-fiber diet:

  • Enriched white bread or rolls without seeds
  • White rice, plain white pasta, noodles and macaroni
  • Crackers
  • Refined cereals such as Cream of Wheat
  • Pancakes or waffles made from white refined flour
  • Most canned or cooked fruits without skins, seeds or membranes
  • Fruit and vegetable juice with little or no pulp, fruit-flavored drinks and flavored waters
  • Canned or well-cooked vegetables without seeds, hulls or skins, such as carrots, potatoes and tomatoes
  • Tender meat, poultry and fish
  • Eggs
  • Tofu
  • Creamy peanut butter — up to 2 tablespoons a day
  • Milk and foods made from milk, such as yogurt, pudding, ice cream, cheeses and sour cream — up to 2 cups a day, including any used in cooking
  • Butter, margarine, oils and salad dressings without seeds
  • Desserts with no whole grains, seeds, nuts, raisins or coconut

On a low fibre diet you should avoid the following foods:

  • Whole-wheat or whole-grain breads, cereals and pasta
  • Brown or wild rice and other whole grains such as oats, kasha, barley, quinoa
  • Dried fruits and prune juice
  • Raw fruit, including those with seeds, skin or membranes, such as berries
  • Raw or undercooked vegetables, including corn
  • Dried beans, peas and lentils
  • Seeds and nuts, and foods containing them
  • Coconut
  • Popcorn

One of the biggies with an ileostomy is keeping hydrated.  The large bowel takes liquid out of our foods, so in removing it, you remove a good chunk of the water our bodies need.  I have found that Im constantly thirsty and Im drinking pints and pints of squash.  I find water just goes straight through me, but adding the squash keeps it in longer.  High outputs from an internal pouch or stoma run a real risk of dehydration due to water and salt losses.  Aim for at least 8-10 cups of fluid per day, and increase this if losses are high.

If you have diarrhoea you need to ensure you are replacing both the fluids and the salts.  Over the counter remedies should be kept to hand or you can make an electrolyte mix.  I found this recipe online…

Glucose 20g

Sodium Chloride 31⁄2g

Sodium Bicarbonate 21⁄2g

Made up to one litre with tap water

You can buy the powders from any pharmacy and some supermarkets. Sodium Chloride is table salt which you may have in your home already. Sodium Bicarbonate is also known as Bicarbonate of Soda.

A good tip from my stoma nurse for dehydration is to keep some ready salted crisps in the house.  If you have a high output and are worrying about being dehydrated a packet of crisps and a sweet drink can be an instant help till you can get some Dialryte or Electrolyte mix!

Just been reminded by my sister in law of another tip! Apparently if you have diarrhoea, you can help ‘stop up’ your output by eating 30 marshmallows!! That was in the info book they gave me in hospital – I don’t know why I find it so funny but I do…

Another problem is salt.  The bowel takes the salt we need from our food, so in the first few weeks you can safely add a bit more salt to your food to ensure you are getting enough.

As always, if you are reading this and looking for advice, the best place to go is your own doctor or stoma nurse.    The information here is what I have gleaned from my health professionals and the wonder of the tinternet!

Love Sam xx