Road Map to Recovery
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Okay, so I've been sick. Not just a little cold, but a serious Third World stomach bug the likes of which generally lay me out for a month (two weeks actively sick, two weeks of recovery to get my strength back). Right now I'm in week 2 and don't actually expect to go back to work until next week. Yes, I've been down this path before, more times than I'd like to admit. It's just a professional hazard and can't be avoided when you travel to Latin America as much as I do.
All right, enough whining. This blog isn't really about me being sick. Unfortunately, that is normal enough and I know how to deal with it. Not a big deal.
What I haven't figured out is how to transition from my stomach-bug induced eating habits back to my healthy lifestyle. Previous attempts at weight loss have been foiled by this problem more than once; it's a known trouble spot for me.
Yes, I realize this is possibly premature. But I'm trying to avoid two things here: 1. Letting myself slide off the wagon for any longer than absolutely necessary and 2. Gaining weight because I let my eating habits get sloppy after an illness. These two goals are closely linked. So I'm trying to formulate a plan that will help me make the transition as smoothly and healthily as possible. I welcome any suggestions/ideas you lovely Sparkers might have.
Right now I'm basically on a BRAT plus diet. Meaning: Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast (BRAT) plus white bread, turkey, chicken, and white pasta. Liquids include lots of water (duh), low-acidity fruit juice, clear sodas (Sprite and ginger ale greatly help settle my stomach), coffee with no creamer, tea, broth, and Pedialyte. Not exactly the world's healthiest diet but it's easy on my stomach and tends to stay down. That's the whole point right now.
The problem is that most of the things listed above are foods that I avoid or limit when I'm healthy. They're just not that nutritious and are too high in calories to fit into my usual calorie budget. They do right now because I'm barely eating and because I think stuff isn't necessarily sticking around long enough to be fully absorbed. Sorry - gross but true.
Soooo....how do I make the transition back to my normal, healthy diet? Without overloading my system and causing a relapse. I already made that mistake - yesterday. And it was the worst day I've had since I landed in a Panamanian hospital last week. I'm just not willing to do that again.
Here's my first shot at a plan. If anyone has experience with these things, I'd really appreciate your advice:
Step 1: Stick to BRAT plus until my stomach has been normal for 2 days. Stay home, sleep a lot, drink tons of liquids. And try to build up my strength a bit by playing balance games on the Wii Fit and doing the occasional household chore, as fatigue permits. Keep tracking food to make sure I'm not wildly exceeding my calorie budget, not that there's much chance of that.
Step 2: Start substituting whole grains for the processed grains mentioned above. Add in other easy-on-the-stomach fruits like peaches and watermelon. Branch out into pork and mild white fish. Start taking short, easy walks. Try going back to work. Don't push it - this is a relapse danger zone.
Step 3: After a few days' success on step 2, phase out high-calorie liquids. Try a cooked vegetable or two. Herbs and spices can come back in gradually. Build up to a 20-minute walk or 20 vigorous minutes on the Wii every day.
Step 4: Gradually go back to a normal, healthy lifestyle. Add in acidic and high-fiber foods one at a time to make sure I can tolerate them. Same goes for dairy. Increase walks to 30 minutes a day and start doing light cardio at the gym.
Step 5: Back to normal! Healthy eating habits, regular gym workouts, etc.
Having a plan feels good. Now I'm going to have to figure out how to track it; I suspect I'll have to do this in a journal separate from SP. SP just wasn't designed to cope with this. :)
Wish me luck!