Is your poop normal? [Chances are…no] … Plus an easy-peasy lunch recipe

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Written By

Lauryn

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Expert Reviewed By

Dr. Lauryn Lax, OTD, MS

Dr. Lauryn, OTD, MS is a doctor of occupational therapy, clinical nutritionists and functional medicine expert with 25 years of clinical and personal experience in healing from complex chronic health issues and helping others do the same.

 

Whatisnormal

 

Is your poop normal?

 

The discussion of the bowels is definitely not a hot topic—or one that is often talked about over dinner, or in casual conversation amongst your friends.

 

I used to be really weirded out about this topic: poop.

 

You are not alone in any discomfort it may provoke.

 

However, the more I have learned about digestion, and partnered with people to feel better—inside and out (elimination patterns included), the more ‘normal’ it’s become.

 

So let’s get it out on the table: Poop. Poop. Poop.

 

Ok, good, cleared the air.

 

That being said, I’ll rephrase the question: Is your poop normal?

 

“I go about every other day.”

 

“I am going all the time—watery like.”

 

“It smells really bad.”

 

“I can’t go at all.”

 

Stool-Chart

 

The answers are vast as you can see.

 

Before diving any further into this topic though…let’s define ‘normal’…because it has also become apparent that for many, whatever their personal bowel habits are…are ‘normal’ to them.

 

I’ll go ahead and break the ice and get a little personable here. (Take one for the team). [And, a note: myth buster: girls do poop too]

 

Exhibit 1: For several years, I personally experienced a mix of loose watery stools a couple times per day, coupled with constipation extremely, dry, small hard stools that were super uncomfortable—sometimes both within the same day…and other times, one day would be super loose, and other days, super dry.

 

This became my ‘normal.’

 

My diet and lifestyle at the time looked something like this:

 

B001G8Y8U8_Vanilla

 

-4:45 a.m. Wake up, pee, brush teeth, brush hair, slap on makeup

 

-5 a.m. Rush out the door

 

-Swig back a whey concentrate protein shake on my way to the gym

 

-Stomach cramps, small loose watery stool

 

5 a.m.-7:30 a.m. Gym

 

-8 a.m. Breakfast: Another whey concentrate protein shake and handful of almonds

 

-Stomach cramps, small loose watery stool

 

-8:30 a.m.-Noon: Grad school

 

-Noon-1: Workout

 

-1 p.m. Lunch- Frozen turkey patty, broccoli, 1 2-quart Crystal Light

-Stomach felt constipated; slight headache, needed to ‘go’, but couldn’t go

 

-1:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m. More school

 

-5 p.m.-7:30 p.m. Gym

 

-7:30 p.m.: Swig another whey concentrate protein shake

 

-Stomach cramps, small loose watery stool

 

-Work on homework and studying

 

-9:30 p.m.: Dinner-Frozen turkey patty, zucchini, 1 2-quart pitcher Crystal Light

 

-Stomach felt constipated; slight headache, needed to ‘go’, but couldn’t go

 

10 p.m.-12 a.m.: More -Work on homework and studying

 

-Midnight Bedtime

 

Then…Wake up and do it ALL OVER AGAIN.

 

As you can see, I was ‘going’ quite frequently…odd, loose stools…coupled with some pretty uncomfortable constipation throughout the day.

 

The crazy thing is, now looking back on this, is that I was very disconnected with how I was feeling—and even asking the question ‘why’…or Is this normal?

 

Because, in the midst of my busy, hectic life, it WAS MY NORMAL.

 

Knowing what I know now…it was NOT normal.

 

And little did I know, at the time, is that what I was putting in my body, was directly affecting how I was feeling—and going.

 

For instance, every time I chugged my whey concentrate protein shake (with a laundry list of ingredients I could not pronounce)…I basically had the runs…and it hit me fast.

 

And every time I chugged my Aspartame-infused Crystal Light…I instantly felt stomach cramps and constipation come on right after.

 

Free-Crystal-Light-On-The-Go

 

Hello?

 

No light bulb…no light bulb, that is, until I was coached up in taking a look at my nutrition…and, while it was like pulling teeth to change some things (i.e. cut out the ‘tasty’ cheap weigh protein I was using upwards of three times per day, and the Crystal Light I was drinking like a fish)…The LIGHT BULB WENT OFF.

 

Off-And-On-Bulb

 

In addition, over the years, as my nutrition has improved and I began…

 

-Drinking water (pure, straight up water)- at least half my body weight in ounces

 

-Taking time to ‘try’ to go in the mornings (instead of rushing out the door)

 

-Taking a probiotic daily

 

-Sleeping more

 

-Stress less (grad school did a number on my stress levels; so I began to manage this with things outside of the classroom and studying all the time—like friendship time and fresh air)

 

…I began to feel, well…pretty AMAZING….and began going…daily (Halleluiah! Choirs of angels singing)

 

Like me, chances are, if you are not going daily…or you are going loose, watery stools frequently…or need to go—but can’t…it’s not normal either—

 

And more than likely, there’s a disconnect that you have between your lifestyle, your nutrition habits and your bowel movements.

 

For instance…

 

Unknown-8

 

Every time you consume cheese or ice cream, you’re doubled over in pain

 

-You too chug a protein shake after your workout (because it’s what you are ‘supposed to do’), only to be in the bathroom, or constipated, not long after

 

-You drink diet sodas as your primary liquid source, and your stools are infrequent and dry…

 

-Pasta or a Subway sandwich are tasty, but something funky is going on in your stomach after you eat them

 

-You love sushi or Chinese nights, but after about 2-3 rolls or a bowl of rice, you feel super bloated

 

-Quest Bars are very convenient. You eat at least one, maybe two, per day, but your digestion sucks. What gives?

 

Hint, hint: It may not be your digestion or bowels…it may be your food.

 

That being said, a few tweaks could actually make a whole lot of difference! (no extra supplements or medicines or doctor appointments or further discomfort needed).

 

Pop quiz: Do you know the ideal amount of bowel movements?

 

If you are eating a solid, balanced nutritious diet…up to 3 times per day (and I mean naturally people—no laxatives here!). Think about babies…or even dogs…they poop after they eat. It’s normal.

 

At the very least, the IDEAL amount of a bowel movement is at least once per day of HEALTHY stools.

 

Check out this chart to see what ‘passes’ as healthy stools:

 

Healthy StoolUnhealthy Stool
Medium to light brownStool that is hard to pass, painful, or requires straining
Smooth and soft, formed into one long shape and not a bunch of piecesHard lumps and pieces, or mushy and watery, or even pasty and difficult to clean off
About one to two inches in diameter and up to 18 inches longNarrow, pencil-like or ribbon-like stools: can indicate a bowel obstruction or tumor – or worst case, colon cancer; narrow stools on an infrequent basis are not so concerning, but if they persist, definitely warrant a call to your physician5
S-shaped, which comes from the shape of your lower intestine6Black, tarry stools or bright red stools may indicate bleeding in the GI tract; black stools can also come from certain medications, supplements or consuming black licorice; if you have black, tarry stools, it’s best to be evaluated by your healthcare provider
Quiet and gentle dive into the water…it should fall into the bowl with the slightest little “whoosh” sound – not a loud, wet cannonball splash that leaves your toosh in need of a showerWhite, pale or gray stools may indicate a lack of bile, which may suggest a serious problem (hepatitis, cirrhosis, pancreatic disorders, or possibly a blocked bile duct), so this warrants a call to your physician; antacids may also produce white stool
Natural smell, not repulsive (I’m not saying it will smell good)Yellow stools may indicate giardia infection, a gallbladder problem, or a condition known as Gilbert’s syndrome – if you see this, call your doctor
Uniform texturePresence of undigested food (more of a concern if accompanied by diarrhea, weight loss, or other changes in bowel habits)
Sinks slowlyFloaters or splashers
Increased mucus in stool: This can be associated with inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis, or even colon cancer, especially if accompanied by blood or abdominal pain

 

 

Wherever you fall on the spectrum…there is no time like the present to do a little re-evaluation with yourself, your nutrition and your lifestyle, and bring into question, if and what, may be contributing to your poor poop patterns.

 

I love problem solving and guiding people in feeling better all around.

 

There is HOPE!

 

Side note: A Word on Fiber:

 Fiber is all the rage right now. Like ‘added with protein’ or ‘added with vitamins’, look on any packaged cereal, bread, snack bar, pasta, even yogurt cup today, and you will find ‘added with fiber’ on a vast majority of these.

 

F1Y Peach-Strawberry 6-Pack.preview

 

Fiber IS wonderful—and necessary—for helping you pass normal stools.

 

However, these ‘added fiber’ ploys are, more than anything, great marketing schemes to sell you more foods that actually are typically pretty constipating (processed foods and trans fats). [for more background information on this, check this out: http://chriskresser.com/myths-and-truths-about-fiber].

 

Some easy ways to get in the fiber you need in your diet for healthy stools?

 

Try some of these:

 

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Green leafy veggies
  • Fruits with a peel-apples and pears
  • Berries and citrus fruits
  • Seeds and nuts
  • ‘Roughage’ foods, like Brussels sprouts and broccoli
  • Carrots, beets and other root veggies
  • Fiber-rich foods, along with some gut-healing, healthy gut-flora foods like fermented foods (veggies), bone broth, homemade fermented yogurt (made with raw grass-fed milk), and a probiotic

 

Here’s a hearty, fiber rich lunch, I like to call my ‘kitchen sink’ lunch:

 

Photo

Ingredients

Raw spinach-heaping handful

Brussels sprouts (roasted) or other green veggies of choice

Protein source of choice (Ground turkey/bison/chicken)

Diced cold sweet potato (I like Japanese, but any ok!)

½ avocado or 1-2 spoonfuls of coconut butter

2 tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar

 

Directions

Mix all ingredients together…and consume

Yummmmm.

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