Many of the members who come to Bent On Better have struggled with achieving their ideal weight which often leads to a bad relationship with food and this was true with our guest for this episode, Mitch. Mitch has struggled with his weight since childhood, along with some gastrointestinal issues, he’s found that knowing what food to eat could either make or break his whole day. Join Mitch and Matt as they share their experience with getting the right nutrition to ensure the best quality of life.
Meet Mitch and His Wins
Mitch, 28, works in supply chain management and has been a member at Bent On Better since November of 2021. Recently, he had the biggest win in his life, which is that for the first time ever, he consistently made an effort and most frequently was able to come in and work out three times a week. In the months that he’s been in B.O.B., he had muscle gains that he was able to sustain, and even though it was hard to get here, over time, it became easier.
Struggles with Physical Fitness
Physical fitness wasn’t an area in which he had many wins, which is why it was a big deal for Mitch to stick to his routine and go from only doing a handful of pushups to now being able to do 20 pushups. As our Fitness Coach, Matt April would say, “going from zero to anything in fitness is a big step.”
Dealing with IBS
“Throughout my life, probably most of my childhood, at least like middle school and above, I’ve struggled with my weight. I still am overweight–medically obese, and that is something that I’ve struggled with most of my life. I’ve struggled with my relationship with food. I self-medicate with food. I look at it as comfort, as a source of pleasure, and it’s definitely an area where I have a lot of impulsivity, and that’s something that I struggle with my whole life.- Mitch
The road to fitness wasn’t a straight line, but it’s something that Mitch has put a lot of effort into. Right now, he’s pleased with where he’s at and hopes to never return to where he once was, which was when he had gastrointestinal issues.
Mitch’s battle with irritable bowel syndrome has been going on since he was diagnosed in 2017. For the first six months of his diagnosis, it felt like the worst times in his life. He didn’t know what to eat; he was spending a lot of time in the bathroom and was feeling a lot of physical, mental, and emotional discomforts. He didn’t have any confidence to go out; he was carrying counter medication wherever he went and had to visit doctors regularly for preventative screening, which other people in their 20s didn’t have to do. For years he didn’t feel like he was managing it. Of course, he’s made tweaks here and there, and he’s been living with it, but the trial and error felt like a rollercoaster ride.
It didn’t get any better when he tried the full elimination diet, wherein you eliminate major foods that are usually common allergens like dairy, wheat, legumes, eggs, and alcohol. At one point in 2017, he also had to stay home for weeks because his symptoms got so bad that he couldn’t even go to work. There was also a time wherein he was talking to a gastro specialist, and he was advised to go under a BRAT (Bananas, Rice, Apples, and Toast) diet, which did help 10% of his problem, but he was still suffering.
He admits that it took time for him to understand his triggers, and there are times wherein the said triggers would be something so minute but made a world of difference when he stopped taking them. Upon seeing a nutritionist, he was told to stay away from sugar and alcohol, as well as ingredients that ended with “tol” like sorbitol, xylitol, erythritol, etc. One of the common ways these ingredients will appear is in mints or gums, which Mitch used to have with him all the time.
In the process of Matt helping him to take certain food out of his diet, Mitch said, “well, what am I going to do with all my food?” To which Matt advised that they test it out, give it a few weeks, and they ended up putting all his banned food in the storage area– to which it is still there to this day.
Sweetened drinks, sodas, juices, and even artificial sweeteners were some of Mitch’s biggest triggers, along with dairy. One of the treatments for IBS is the low FODMAP (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols) diet, an acronym of food groups that can trigger Mitch’s condition or as he jokes, “I love dairy, my body doesn’t.”
How Mitch Managed His Gastro Problems
The road to recovery is no straight path, and even Mitch had to undergo many changes to manage his IBS. The most notable one would be increasing the amount of water he drinks. Before coming in at Bent On Better, he would have more sodas, juices, and even Red Bull, but nowadays, he accompanies all his meals with water. Matt personally recommends starting with 64 ounces of water in a day, that is non-negotiable. You should then proceed to build on it until you can drink half of your body weight or more. Another trigger that wasn’t as bad was caffeine. Mitch has replaced his morning coffee with water, especially since coffee is a known diuretic. He adds non-dairy creamer, and if it’s not sweet enough, he’ll usually throw in a packet of Stevia.
Mitch does want to warn people with IBS about how some Stevia distributors will put sugar and alcohol in some of their packets, so make sure to read your labels and get the regular version.
For people who struggle with gluten, be warned that dextrose, which is a common ingredient in some processed food, is actually derived from wheat. Even our coach Matt has issues with staying gluten- and dairy-free, especially with his sweet tooth and love for gummies that sometimes contain gluten.
To make your life easier, although we love processed food for its convenience, we suggest cutting them down and going back to basics by eating more macronutrient-rich foods. If we can choose 80% of food created by the earth and have the other 20% be processed, you can strike a good balance.
One of the ways Mitch makes his food his own is by adding at least one type of green vegetable to his breakfast. It doesn’t have to be fresh since he finds he spoils fresh produce often. A well-frozen brussel sprouts or snap peas have made a world of difference to his diet. It can be a simple breakfast of two hard-boiled eggs, a few turkey sausages, a small russet potato with any green vegetable, a big glass of water, or sometimes coffee– “do what works for you,” Mitch advises.
“I am one of those people who went from zero to something. I was from the couch, I didn’t really have any special diet wins or anything, so you can do it. And again, I didn’t have any successes in my life over years and years of trying. It’s never too late to start, and you can always make progress. The most important thing that Matt talks about and is absolutely true is that making small changes that you can repeat and you can hold yourself accountable to over time, that’s what makes the changes.”-Mitch
Make a few changes that you can incorporate and commit to that and see if you can sustain that over time.
“It’s not about what you do in a day. It’s about what you do in a week or a month.” If you’re just starting with making changes, it could be hard in the beginning, but they get easier over time. When it comes to nutrition, you may miss some of the food you’ve cut out but try it for a week and see how it feels, if it improves your well-being, and if you can get it for longer than that.
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