Self-Care Challenge: Garbage In, Garbage Out

April 2, 2019

If memory serves me correctly, the phrase garbage in, garbage out refers to the quality of computer programming. But it can also be applied to how we eat. Think about it. You’ve heard we are what we eat, but…our poop definitely reflects what we eat. Indeed!

Okay, I crossed that line. I talked about poop. Since we now have poop emoji maybe the discussion is not as profane as it was when I was growing up.

I can’t remember ever being asked by a doctor about my poop/defecation/elimination routine. If you had diarrhea, you talked about it but it was not an in-depth conversation regarding the size, shape, and color of it.

In the mid-90s, when I first went to an acupuncture clinic, there was deep talk about some deep shit (ha!). Until that point I’d not really shared anything about my daily multiple bowel movements. I assumed I had IBS which every other woman I knew seemed to have. But the acupuncture practitioner spent time listening to what my diet consisted of – both food and beverages. She seized on my large glass of fresh organic orange juice each morning.

Even though I started eating a vegetarian diet in college, I still had some GI issues. Once I gave up the daily juice (huge blast of sugar in my system) and the inexpensive veggie restaurant meals, my GI system got some welcome relief. I became the TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) poster child for the perfect one poop a day.

Another eye opener for me happened just a few years ago at a Stanford University Neuromuscular Patient Conference. A young charismatic gastroenterologist introduced the Bristol Stool Chart to us. She reviewed how to use it and gave it her MD blessing. Finally, there was a language to use to talk about poop and not feel juvenile.

Health Storylines Stool Diary Tool

The Health Storylines app has a Stool Diary feature that uses the Bristol Stool Chart to help you maintain a record of your elimination (or poop!). Now, why would you want to do this?

Lots of reasons. The first that comes to mind is to use it along with the Food Diary so you have a better understanding of what you eat and how your system responds. Garbage in, garbage out.

The second reason is cautionary. Just today I was reading an article, “How to Lower Your Risk of Cancer” in the April 2019 issue of Nutrition Action Healthletter. Warning signs for colon and rectum cancer include diarrhea or constipation and bright red or very dark blood in your stool. Warning signs for esophagus cancer include black stools.

If you listened to an early podcast episode about a friend who battled colon cancer, you’ll recall she ignored some early signs of blood in her stool. Your body often sends you messages that you should be mindful of. Keeping track of what you eat and how your system responds is a good way to keep that conversation going.

6 comments on “Self-Care Challenge: Garbage In, Garbage Out

  1. I remember a book my kids read at a friends house “Everybody Poops”. I have microscopic colitis and celiac disease. I can relate to your GI issues. I learned about the Bristol stool scale when one of my grandkids had bowel problems a few years ago. I think I’ve learned more about poop in the last 2 years than I did in all my years of changing my kids baby diapers.

    • Leslie Apr 8, 2019

      I love that book! Live and learn, Laurie. 😉

  2. I love your podcast and have subscribed. I don’t miss one. This poop chart is useful. I am all in. Thank you, Verla

    • Leslie Apr 9, 2019

      Thanks Verla! Who knew that a poop chart could kick off good conversation? 😉

  3. Keeping a food diary is an excellent idea and can show many eating trends that can be effecting us. This topic is certainly one that many of us with chronic illness must deal with. Since I have Lymphocytic Colitis it’s definitely not new to me. lol. Great article!

Glass Half Full with Leslie Krongold, Ed.D. © 2018