A funny thing happened upon our return home. Friday morning, after a mostly restful sleep in my never-to-be-taken-for-granted-again king sized bed, I made coffee (as usual) and added a dollap of sugar free non dairy creamer (as usual). I drank most of the pot (as usual) and felt queasy. I didn't feel like eating, so I didn't. Before long it was time to go pick Kailyn up from the airport, so we left, and I ate a nutrition bar (chocolate mint . . . made for diabetics . . . probably not healthy at all!) on the way.
My stomach ached (I must be hungry), and once Kailyn was released from customs, I asked if she was hungry. She was (it was noon by then) and wanted to go to Panda Express. We all like that, so we stopped for lunch. I could only eat less than half of my meal (not usual) and brought the rest home for later. I drank a peach flavored green tea that was sugar free, but tasted sweet to me.
That afternoon, I napped off and on for several hours, feeling queasy the entire time. In between, Kailyn and I had gone to the grocery store and bought fresh veggies and several containers of flavored yogurt. I had planned to make a simple dinner of chicken, salad and potatoes (husband's request). I cooked, but didn't feel like eating (not usual), though eventually I pretty much forced myself to eat a few bites of chicken and potatoes (I didn't get the salad made). I assumed that I was suffering from travel fatigue and jet lag.
Saturday morning, I woke up fairly early - around 6 AM - and felt great! Refreshed! No queasiness! Slept well! Made a pot of coffee and poured a dollop of my sugar free non dairy creamer in. Within minutes, I felt queasy. Slow to get it, I drank several cups of coffee, feeling kind of nauseous the entire time. I made some oatmeal with fresh blueberries, added a little 1% milk, showered, started more laundry, then Kailyn and I headed out to CostCo and the Saturday Market. I bought a mocha freeze at CostCo, as it was getting warm outside, and as I sipped and drove, I was chatting with Kailyn about my stomach issues. Suddenly a thought occurred. For the past few years, I've thought I have a problem with dairy, although it seemed rather random. Sometimes I would be bothered; other times, not at all. For example, milk and ice cream have never bothered me, but yogurt did. In fact, I had quit eating yogurt for that reason. It's long puzzled me why not all dairy affects me, but I didn't ponder it long enough to figure it out.
This time though, I wondered why I had no problems with using hot milk in my coffee all over Europe, or having an occasional ice cream. I had been pleasantly surprised that I didn't have a single episode of GERD while traveling, as I fully had expected it due to late dinners. At home, I nearly always have GERD if I eat within three or four hours of going to bed, so I often eat between 5:30-6:30. While traveling, we never ate before 7:30 and I often was in bed within a couple hours after dinner, as I was exhausted! But, never once did I have GERD. What was different???
At first, Kailyn said maybe it was the constant walking and exercise. I think that helped. But, then I thought about the fact that while traveling, at least to my knowledge, I never ate anything that was "sugar free". And, suddenly I wondered, is it the sweetener used in sugar free products that messes with my stomach? We visited Saturday Market ~ bought a few more veggies, fresh hummus, a small bag of kettle corn and a nice bouquet of flowers, and headed home. My niece, Kelli, came over to visit and pick raspberries. We filled her in on our vacation and we talked about the sugar free idea.
I decided to do a little experiment. This morning, I went ahead and made coffee, but I heated up 1% milk to pour into it. No sugar free non dairy creamer . . . no tummy issues. Hm-m-m.
When I got hungry, I cooked my oatmeal, added blueberries and decided to try a little vanilla flavored "light" yogurt. I read on the container that it contained aspartame. I mixed 1/4 cup of the yogurt into my oatmeal. Within minutes, I was in the bathroom, with mild cramps. Of course, I did finish eating the oatmeal, (it's really hard for me to throw away food . . . especially those fresh blueberries!) and the cramps went away.
I think I may be onto something here. Ironically (or maybe devine intervention) I read an article in the Sunday magazine this morning about mood boosting super foods and I had typed up a list of these foods and thought I may try eating from that list for a few days and see if it helps my energy level. Then I looked up foods that speed up metabolism and low and behold, many of the same foods are on both lists.
For probably obvious reasons, coffee isn't included anywhere . . . but green tea is! Last summer, I had given up coffee for green tea, but once school started, I was right back to a caffeine and creamer fix. I'm nearly out of coffee anyway, so I will return to green tea only for awhile, as I still have a fair amount in the house.
Oatmeal is on the list, although blueberries aren't (and frankly I don't care as they are good for me and I know it!) and neither is dairy of any kind. Oh well, the only dairy I can't live without is what I put in my coffee, and, if I'm not drinking coffee, that's a moot point!
Kailyn and I are planning a hike after church today, so I'll get some exercise in. Tomorrow I'm heading back to the pool for water aerobics. I learned on vacation that I can do a lot of walking and stairs, even if my knee doesn't really want to, and it isn't going to hurt me! So, no more wimpy excuses for not exercising!
I didn't lose any weight while we were in Europe, but I didn't gain any, either. And, I ate really well! We never had a bad meal, anywhere we went. We had a lot of expensive meals . . . but that couldn't be helped! (I had to chuckle when we paid at Panda Express the other day, as the total for three of us was about what we paid for one meal abroad!)
Fortunately, much of what is on my "mood enhancing" food list I already have (I just haven't been eating any of it!). I'll need more of the fresh stuff, and this time of year, that part is easy and cheap.
I find it interesting that I'm having these food insights, and thinking about the chain of events leading up to these thoughts. I had fully expected that traveling abroad would have raised havoc with my intestines, and it didn't at all. Instead, returning home (and to former eating patterns) brought clearer ideas about how certain foods (though I can hardly call fake sugar a "food") affect me. What a bonus to add to the great European Adventure!