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Friday, 7 December 2012

#32: Stomach for the Fight

When I was a kid, my diet was pretty open-plan. Mum & Dad fed me well and fairly healthily, as I recall. My two siblings, Charlotte and Mark, had issues with asthma and eczema as nippers, which followed them into adulthood. I, on the other hand, seemed to get away scot-free (whatever that actually means).

Fast forward to my mid-20’s, and what had gone around came a-knocking. I went from a fellow largely allergy-free (bar a mild bout of hay-fever each summer), to one afflicted by a series of stomach issues. Having a weakness for bread, milk and cheese in my teens had come back to haunt me.

Hardcore indigestion, bloating and stomach cramps were palmed away by doctors as IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). Or Indifferent Bull-Sh*t, as the acronym for that lame, wishy-washy diagnosis is also known. I knew there was more to it than that. There had to be.

After things came to a head in spectacular style during the 1999 London Marathon (see HC#24: Racing Dynamite), I sought the assistance of a specialist – a nutritionist – to try and get to the bottom of why my bottom so often felt like it was trying to force a Super Spice Me Chicken Vindaloo into submission, when all I’d eaten was a bowl of Rice Krispies.

The nutritionist in Charlton Kings, a suburb of Cheltenham (the English town perhaps most famous for its annual horse-racing festival) put me on an 'elimination diet', where I initially cut out all dairy, yeast, wheat, citrus and caffeine products – then reintroduced them, one-by-one, to see which caused my internal ‘metal’ detector to start bleeping.

Coming off that lot was tough. I was already a dedicated coffee (as well as tea) drinker at the time (aged 26), and had to endure a few throbbing withdrawal headaches. Dairy meant no cow’s milk, cheese or ice-cream (eggs were fine). Into the squad came soy milk, soy/goat’s cheese and soy ice-cream (though the latter was pretty gross, so I think I just froze soy yoghurt; pronounced: 'yog-'as-in-bog'-hurt’)...

To read the rest of this column, check out BC Johnny's upcoming book: Chilled Almonds.  

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