16 At first this might seem like a stretch…connecting your bowel health to your relationships…but hear me out. By the end of this article you will wonder how you ever DID NOT make this connection! I have seen first hand how the internal health of your bowel can seriously impact your relationship with ALL of your loved ones – family, friends and significant others. Not everyone shares these experiences, but I am talking to those who have…like me. And if you personally have not shared these experiences, but know someone who is affected by a digestive disease or disorder, then I encourage you to listen up, and this might give you a little peek into our world. Now, everyone’s experience is different since we are all like snowflakes…no two are exactly the same. (Wish I could take credit for that, but I adopted it after hearing a fellow IBD patient express it.) Obviously this article is written from my perspective, and while I am sure many of you out there can relate, this is by no means an exhaustive list. Truly, eveything is connected, and everything begins with the bowel…Kind of poignant, isn’t it? It all begins with the end! #1 – Mood. After reading my newsletter for a while, you most likely know the effects that diet can have on your moods. Processed foods especially can wreak havoc on moods and emotions, creating a pendulum-like swing between highs and lows that can come with side-kicks such as hyperactivity and depression. Not to mention the other “wrenches in the system” that come with food colorings, dyes, preservatives, etc and then food allergies and intolerances. If your digestive system is compromised by illness or dis-ease, then you may be mood-swinging like Tarzan since your system is hyper-sensitive and either allergic or intolerant to many foods. The truth is that you are probably “technically” not allergic to certain foods, but rather the food particles are actually passing through the wall of your weakened digestive tract, causing an immune response…not fun and a much more complex topic. I will try to cover this in more detail in a later post so we can continue this month’s topic. This mood swinging can be a huge strain on any relationship, but can have catastrophic outcomes on those you live with because they will be witness to ALL of your mood swings. Now, we cannot expect those around us to keep up with our moods and “walk on eggshells” when around us. But perhaps being open to conversation is a place to start. If you are blessed enough for your loved ones to talk to you about it, the conversation can be an emotional one. The issue can bring up all the shortcomings we feel when we know something is “wrong” with us. And truthfully, we really do not know WHY we feel the way we do…sometimes we just feel like crudmuffins! *Now, I am not saying that a healthy bowel will eliminate ALL mood changes – nothing is a cure-all and in life we SHOULD naturally have higher and lower moments. Keeping things in perspective and having a spiritual practice here is a great help. However, making sure your digestive system is in tip-top shape will enable your body to absorb nutrients and keep you nourished, which can help to avoid nutrition-based mood swings. In addition, your body will be eliminating waste properly, which will reduce the amount of toxic build up in your body. TAKE AWAY LESSON OF THE DAY! If your body is toxic from a weakened digestive system, then everything is toxic…your thoughts, brain function, mental clarity, moods, emotions…everything! And this will show in your skin, hair, nails, energy levels, focus, etc only adding to the stress of the situation.

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#2 – Meal time. When sharing meals especially with those with which you live, it can be isolating when your diet has to be altered to keep your body healthy. From the viewpoint of those around you, it may look like you are being picky or trying to make them feel badly about their food decisions. After all on the outside you look totally healthy. Yet, every time you have to decline a food offer, and deal with the consequential “remarks”, it puts a small tear between you and those around you, making you feel more alone on your journey. SO, rather than be an inconvenience or offend someone, you eat what is available, and suffer in silence. Well, I have gone full circle here and yet I still face awkward situations where someone will try to pressure me to eat foods that my body just cannot tolerate, or they simply do not respect my dietary choices. So I am going to try to provide some words of wisdom here…YOU KNOW what is right for your body. And what is right for your body on one day, may not be right for your body on another day. You have the right to experiment and find the dietary choices that nourish and heal your body in exactly the way you want. Please, do not let anyone make you feel badly for your educated nutritional choices – meat-eating, vegan, cheese-aholic or dairy intolerant, carb-lover or gluten-free…that is their way of making themselves feel better, and they need to learn to keep their comments to themselves. *On a side-note, if you are feeling a bit lost when it comes to making the correct dietary choices for your body or moral standings, please contact me and I would be happy to help you navigate through your journey. Additionally, and this especially applies to couples and EVEN MORE SO to parents…if you and your significant other have to eat completely different diets for health reasons, your bodies energetically will be doing very different things. A meat eating man has a much different temperment than a vegan woman, and those two trying to gel and raise a child raises many potential conflicts. Again, this is not easy, but try your best to have all family members share at least some foods during your meals. This will help the whole family to gel better since everyone will be getting the same fuel and building blocks for their bodies. If you need suggestions, be sure your significant other is open to this process, and then contact me and I will gladly give you some recipes to start with!

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#3 – Intimacy. Just in time for Valentine’s Day! Nothing says sexy more than bringing that loving, snuggly time to a screaching halt for a bathroom break. If you are lucky enough to be in a loving relationship with someone who is understanding and compassionate, then give them a big hug and appreciate them! But what about all the single folks, navigating the dating scene with a flare up? Totally not fun. My words of advice (and you may not totally be on board or like them very much)…but I say start a deeply romantic affair with youSelf! This is NOT to be totally selfish, but rather to give you the time to focus on healing. Healing is not a passive process – it takes focus, energy and diligence…things that can often be disrupted by the “cloud-nine” effect of a new relationship! Also, this affair will help you fall in love with yourSelf all over again so that you can love and appreciate you EXACTLY as you are RIGHT NOW…If you can love yourSelf, then you will have no trouble at all finding someone else that will love you too! This is just the tip of the iceberg folks. When you really think about all the areas of your life that your bowel rears its head (HAHA! I just realized the true humor in that statement!) it affects so much more than we first think! When you feel bloated, constipated or are frequenting the powder room, your self-confidence and body image do not exactly sky rocket. This can literally infiltrate every aspect of your day…

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What will you choose to wear on a day when you feel like a balloon, filled with cement, ready to pop? How will your posture be when your stomach hurts? How will you treat people who get in your way as you run to the bathroom (again)? What will your response be when your partner gets “in the mood”? The outcome of any of these situations is not your nicest or empowering one…and rarely one that makes you feel sexy. Anyone who has spent any time with a baby can stand behind the next statement with even more gusto. A baby may be completely inconsolable one moment, yet as soon as they unload in their diaper, life is good! A few years ago, I had the honor of doing some Thai Yoga and digestion stimulating practices with my friends 6 month old baby for some constipation issues, and a shortly after her session, well you can guess…and life was good! All in all…a healthy pooper makes a happy person! So in honor of the Love Month, send a little love to your other end and I am sure it will return the favor. Simply thank your digestive system for all the work it does at each and every meal. Take a moment before you eat and prepare your body for food. Listen…Smell…Admire. After a meal, or at the end of the day, rest your palms on your abdomen and send “gratitude vibes” to your digestive system for its efforts throughout the day. A simple “Thank You” can go a long way. I hope this article provided comfort if you are someone with digestive distress. Please know you are not alone. On the other hand, if you are the loved one of someone with digestive issues, I hope this article provided insight to some of what they may be experiencing. The best thing you can do is open the space for conversation in a supporting, loving and non-judgemental environment.

Be well and live in love…