How I miss the days when I had a stomach of steel (metaphorically speaking of course) and could eat pretty much anything, at any time, and in any quantities that I wished.
Those were the days… the joys of being a growing boy, with a healthy appetite and a metabolism to burn calories like an industrial grade furnace.
In looking back, I am grateful that I did take advantage of that period to enjoy a few all-you-can-eat buffets, which I cannot really do much anymore. Now, just a little too much food can have me immobilized on the couch like a tortoise flipped upside down on its shell, and then skipping the next meal or two.
Also, I am glad that when my stomach was pretty infallible, I was able to get a bit adventurous in going outside of the “meat and potatas” my Dad preferred as our nightly dishes, and to try out different cuisines when the opportunity presented itself.
But for some reason, as I got older, my stomach had its ups, downs and intolerances that have complicated things a bit.
In the 1990s I went through a period in which dairy gave me wicked headaches. Thankfully, that situation passed after a few years and I was able to gradually reintroduce dairy back into my diet. How or why that happened, we’ll never really know.
In the fall of 2005, my body started rejecting wheat products, which unfortunately, I still have to deal with today. I hold on to the hope that some day I might outgrow that one, but I am so used to navigating around wheat, it wouldn’t be a problem if that was never to be.
Despite their great nutritional value, it seems that seeds (of any kind) occasionally disagree with my lower digestive tract, given the thunder that might occur in my belly a few hours later. The specific conditions for when and why that might happen are still under investigation.
Similarly, an issue with onions snuck up on me slowly. I can still eat them, but they need to be very well cooked, well beyond the point of translucency. At the risk of sounding indelicate, consuming raw onions will earn me a seat in the “penalty box” that evening, in a room alone, with windows wide open and plenty of fresh air.
More recently, when consuming a carbonated beverage, even just plain club soda, it seemed like the decibel count from my stomach required increasing the TV’s volume to drown out the percolating sounds. However, after a couple of weeks off the menu, things are much quieter. I guess we’ll save the bubbles for very special occasions.
Ironically, even on a day when an entire day’s menu consists of healthy, natural foods with a history of being easily digestible, there are still times when the body reacts in ways that defy logic.
I suspect that sometimes it is not the food itself but something as simple as a bad night’s sleep, nervousness or stress can be the reason for my stomach to misbehave.
Regrettably, peaches have given me issues as well, but in a different way. On one occasion, I enthusiastically bit into a peach without knowing that it had an oddly shaped pit. The result was some expensive dental work to repair a damaged front tooth. Since then, peaches for me are peeled and sliced with the pit removed to avoid a repeat performance. Is it time to reserve a room at the nursing home yet?
In a similar story, I’ve had to cast aside gummy candies and jujubes, to my great sadness. After an experience involving the unplanned extraction of expensive dental work while chewing on a sticky candy, the cost and inconvenience of travelling from the country to my dentist in the city was enough of a deterrent to scratch them from the list.
I used to think that these were issues that my elders, one or two generations ahead of me, had to deal with. I didn’t get the memo advising that my generation was now eligible.
But when it comes to digestive issues, while on the one hand I could feel down about my inability to eat like a trash compactor as I was able to in my youth, I accept that this is just one of the realities of getting older. From the anecdotes I hear from some of my peer group, it seems that I am not alone.
There are times I start to think I should just cook the crap out of everything and puree the end result to ensure that my teeth and digestive tract encounter no issues, but that wouldn’t be fun, now would it?
So what happened to the digestive system of the growing boy who could eat anything and everything? I’ve stopped trying to figure it out. I’m just chalking it up to things not working as efficiently as they used to and coping by finding the irony, the humour, or both in the situation.
While on the one hand I could take these as a sign of old age and our bodies turning on us, I prefer to think that it is just Mother Nature playing with us and giving us a sample of her weird sense of humour.
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