What a beautifully euphemistic term ‘movement’ is… its very mention inspires a sense of something happening. It’s exciting. Possibly people getting together to stand up for what they believe in. Running out into the streets, furiously chanting ‘Down with buttons, to hell with zippers! WE-WANT VEL-CRO! WE-WANT VEL-CRO!’
But alas, euphemisms being what they are…
I’ve never been in a place where I’ve paid quite so much attention to the going-on’s of my colon and its colleagues. Believe me, it’s not due to lack of hobby, but from learned respect.
A good rule of thumb when it comes to your gastroinstestinal temperment (at least here in China) is to bank on the fact it will do the opposite of what you want. When Crammed into the window seat of a six hour bus journey will undoubtedly be the moment you begin to sound the part of a boiling cauldron, with steam to match; your blood instantly being replaced by pure, unfiltered anxiety. Likewise, should you be lounging around your apartment for a few days with nothing but time, your comfy Western-style toilet often begins to feel neglected – not for lack of you visiting it, just for lack of you giving it more purpose than a chair.
It’s a cruel world is all I can say. And China’s the crueler for it.
However, it has also provided me with ample opportunity to study the finer points to a healthy bowel, and in turn a richer, more fulfulling life. If you think that sounds a tad extreme you must never have been on a 15-minute hernia-inducing crunch with nothing to show for it but a good sweat and the threat of hemorrhoids. Nor have you seen to just what lengths you’ll grovel, even to people who don’t understand a word of what you’re saying, just to use a hygiene-less (and seat-less) toilet.
Some foods to eat when you’ve started to make like the Mighty Mississip’ are pretty wide ranging, as anything cooked has a constipative quality to it. Any steamed, baked, fried, or heated in any way meats, fish, grains or beans will block you up well. Bananas are also said to be good stuffing (please peel and eat them, this isn’t that kind of site). They are also good if you survive a bout of diarrhea, as they replace some of the nutrients your body has just evicted. Plain yogurt is another that will replace some missing essentials (namely bacterias you need for proper digestion). For those getting through a gut tearing round of diarrhea (namely Traveller’s Diarrhea) and not enjoying the look of a full on meal, stick with what is called the BRAT diet: Bananas, Rice, Applesauce and Toast.
Whereas raw apples and pears are good ‘rough’ fruits to eat if you need some motivation to get your colon cattle movin’. Generally speaking most uncooked, unrefined foods are a good group to steer towards if you’re having a slowness of sorts in your shorts. The other essential thing is consuming enough liquids. Dehydration will lead to constipation. Oh, and don’t deny that urge to purge – your colon’s sole purpose is to take any last useful things it can from the food you’ve eaten, including moisture. If you decided to hold in that need to go, you can cause your body to remove too much water and like the stools in McDonalds, it will be cemented in place.
Stay tuned for the next entry where I take you through how to give yourself an enema with a bendy straw and a juice box… just kidding, just kidding (trials are still being done).
But really, there isn’t a traveller out there that isn’t affected by the above two problems, so I hope that some of the advice comes in handy. For more info, check out the following links:
Food Causing Constipation
And for all you exercise nuts…
Who are the five most constipated men in the Old Testament?
1) Cain wasn’t Abel.
2) Moses went up onto the mountain and took two tablets.
3) King David sat on the throne for forty years.
4) Solomon – neither heaven nor Earth could move him.
5) Noah was at sea for forty days and forty nights and all he passed was water.