I recall my mother's dealing with this horrendous side effect. For some patients it's 'stuck' for others they can't hold it in before disaster strikes. This can be painful, embarrassing and distressing.
Depending on your medication, you may suffer either constipation or diarrhoea or both at different times of treatment, and each has its own set of concerns.
Constipation can be painful, you may tear the gentle skin are of the rectum making it unbearable to go to the toilet. On the other hand, if you suffer diarrhoea, you may find yourself unable to go out of the house for fear of making a mess in public. Believe me, I've helped patients on both sides of the spectrum.
Depending on the level of knowledge of your health practitioner, they may suggest something as simple (yet quiet complicated) like 'take fibre' or 'drink water', without considering the follow on effects of their advice.
Let's explore and discuss this further.
Fibre - In my experience, very few health practitioners understand the differences between the fibres that are available in our diet. I've done a great youtube video on this topic, and feel free to view it.
There are different types of fibre and they each have their own role to play. Soluble fibre softens the stools. Insoluble fibre provides bulk to the stool. There are other types but for the purpose of this blog and recipe, we'll just keep to these two.
If you're constipated, you'll want the fibre that SOFTENS the stools. People will often go for bran, whole grains, seeds and these are completely the opposite of what you want to consume if you suffer constipation. Those that suffer diarrhoea may end up eating more fruit and vegetables which will worsen their symptoms. As you can see, you must consume the right type of fibre for the desired effect. Otherwise you will exacerbate your condition.
Water - Oh gosh, if I had a penny for every time I heard a health professional suggest this. Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge advocate of water and believe we do need to consume enough for our body, however if you're suffering from lack of appetite or diarrhoea the last thing you will want to consume is water. Water will cut your appetite at a time you need the most nutrition. So, please be wary of consuming water if you suffer from low appetite.
How to resolve the issues? Here are my top tips
Consitpation - get the bulk of your fibre from SOLUBLE fibre. These include oats, barley, beans (think lima, black, kidney, chick peas), lentils, peas, chia seeds, Brussels sprouts, sweet potato, pears, figs, especially the dried ones, stone fruits like apricots, nectarines and mangoes and flaxseeds. The addition of INSOLUBLE fibre in the form of fruits and vegetables is also ideal. These include fruits with skin on, green beans, rice, pasta and potatoes.
Ideas - have a chia drink 2 times a day (recipe below), have a bowl of fruit from the list above, have a couple of dried figs as a snack, instead of pasta or potatoes with dinner, try beans, barley or lentils.
Diarrhoea - get the bulk of your fibre from soluble fibre whilst limiting the insoluble fibre. Avoid nuts, seeds and green beans, whole wheat products, brown rice, broccoli, cucumbers, lettuce, Soluble fibre absorbs excess fluid in the bowel and can firm up a loose stool. Choose from the list above, but remember if you're going to have fruit, avoid stones fruits and always peel the skin off the pear and apples.
Ideas - enjoy a chia seeds in your porridge, a peeled piece of fruit as a snack, instead of a meat dish consider having white rice with some cooked kidney beans flavoured to your liking.
Fibre Supplements - there may be times your health practitioner suggests a fibre supplement, but do remember that they can make you feel full, and don't contain any other nutritional value. Try food first, always.
Super Easy Chia Seed Drink
Once you realise how easy this is, you'll make it in advance and have it every day. In our house, my children have a few spoons with their breakfast, because they love the taste and it keeps them full, is loaded with fibre and omega fats. My husband has it as a filler in his smoothie or açai bowl. I have it as a sweet treat in the evening to keep me from snacking, because I'm a real snacker!
You will need
1 Can Organic Coconut Milk (preferably coconuts from Thailand as they have the nicest taste)
4 Tablespoons Chia seeds
1/2 can water
1 tight fitting lid container. I use glass jar with a secure lid as you will shake this around a couple of times and if your lid is dodgy, disaster strikes in your kitchen.
In the jar/container, place the ingredients then tighten the lid and shake vigorously. Pop in the fridge for an hour. Shake again, and if necessary open the jar and use a spoon to mix thoroughly. Leave for 4 hours or overnight and then consume over the next 2-3 days. Admittedly, this doesn't last more than a day in our house.
To sweeten this up, use maple syrup, stevia, honey, rice syrup, fruit puree, and then for extra oomph, add MCT oil or collagen powder to up the protein content.
Melt through some high quality dark chocolate or add mango pieces with cinnamon. YUM