Poo, shit, crap, bowels, wind, farting, cramps, how often do we go?, stool shape, size, colour, consistency…how often do we talk about our bowel habits with others?
Do you? When was the last time? Do you talk to your other half? If you don’t you should.
It’s Bowel Cancer Awareness month at the moment and getting in tune with yours and those close to yous bowel habits could save your life. Any change in bowel habits should be checked with your GP and especially any of these symptoms:
- Bleeding from your bottom and/or blood in your poo
- A persistent and unexplained change in bowel habit
- Unexplained weight loss
- Extreme tiredness for no obvious reason
- A pain or lump in your tummy
My inspiration for this post came from the lovely Emma from Island Living who is in the middle of her second round of chemotherapy for bowel cancer. She’s dealing with this diagnosis in a way that inspires so many; humour, bravery and what’s even more amazing, is she is sharing her journey and so passionate about making others aware of the disease and what to look for. Bowel cancer is NOT just a disease of older people and keeping an eye on our tummies and knowing what is normal is so important.
Both hubby and I have family members who have had bowel cancer too, so being aware is vital.
As a dietitian talking about poo comes with the job. Bowel habits can be indicative of a dietary issue and we make changes to treatment plans and advice, based on what is normal for people. We often get people to keep food and symptom diaries, where we want every detail to look for links with diet. We may need to recommend medications or changes in what is already prescribed, depending on bowels and gut symptoms.
I’ve written before about trying to get enough fibre in your diet to help with bowel health before and it is something, as dietitians we also assess in people. Too little or too much can affect people in different ways.
The Bristol stool chart is a commonly used document and there is definitely no hiding away from runny poop there. It is a way of categorising stools and potentially assessing bowel issues.
In my house therefore, poo is discussed quite regularly. I’d say I’m pretty in the know about what upsets both my hubby and I. Stress and anxiety can cause havoc. My hubby cannot consume much alcohol anymore, unless he wants a week of diarrhoea. I can’t eat lots of cereal, especially muesli and granola, which I love, without bloating, wind and a change in bowel habits. We have a lot of poo jokes and hubby is very proud of the size of his sometimes. Yes, I’m serious.
The thing is we KNOW these things about each other. We are comfy to talk about this. And if I thought my hubby wasn’t right, I’d send him to the doctors. Even the gremlin is aware about eating plenty of fruit and veg, cereals and granary bread to help her poo. She knows if she eats too much junk at a party or special occasion she gets ‘messy poos’. She five but already she’s pretty in tune with her gut!! And why not? We need to get to know our bodies and how they work for us.
If any of you reading this are parents, you are either in thick of the baby and young children stages or will have the memories. How often did you talk about your child’s poo? Me? All the time. Baby poo was a great topic of discussion with my Mum friends. We’d discuss the sweet smell of a breastfed baby’s poo and how that changes as they start on solids. I’d know how many days a friend’s baby had been constipated for and the many ways to try and relieve it. It just seemed so normal and no one feared a discussion at all. We wanted that reassurance!
So why not us too?
It shouldn’t be taboo.
So talk about shit! Don’t be coy with your other half. It’s not gross. It’s a biologically normal bodily function. The time for tutting and shying away is over with.
These discussions could just save your life.
If you want to follow Emma’s journal on Instagram and I would! Here is her profile!