Successfully managing a “CF belly” really depends upon three things — input, processing and output. It’s that simple.
Prepare to feed/eat, have what you need to process (digest) what you’ve consumed and anticipate the outcome. Ways to make this easer include:
Plan ahead. Keeping yourself fed can be a lot of work and is time-consuming, whether you are feeling great or when you’re ill and disinterested in food.
- Plan your menus so you have what you need on hand and don’t have to play the “What’s for dinner?” game or wander aimlessly around the grocery store.
Many cooking websites provide creative ideas for menu planning, such as themes meals (Taco Night or No-Meat Mondays). Thinking ahead ensures more nutritious and satisfying options.
- Use a Crock-Pot®. For breakfast, overnight oatmeal is a hearty start to the day. If you find that you have more energy earlier in the day, make dinner in the Crock-Pot so that at 5 p.m. you don’t settle for pizza or fast food.
- Even if you are only cooking for one or two people, look for magazines and recipe books designed for smaller portions so food doesn’t go to waste. Or make a full portion and freeze part of it for when you’re not feeling up to cooking.
Carry a snack. You never know when you’re going to be held up or stuck somewhere. Easy-access snacks are very important for those with CF-related diabetes.
- Energy bars, crackers prefilled with peanut butter or cheese or a small plastic bag with favorite nuts or dried fruit are easy to carry in any weather. At home, string cheese or other precut cheeses make great grab-and-go snacks. Keep hard-boiled eggs in the fridge for a quick breakfast or snack.
Pour pills. Get your enzymes ready once a week rather than as needed. This is also a great way to monitor if you’ve taken them, because you may think you’re taking all your meds but could be missing a few.
- If necessary, use three or more pill cases (morning, afternoon, evening) and keep them where you will remember to take your meds — on the bedside table for morning, kitchen counter for evening, etc.
- For enzymes, pour what you think you need for the week in larger containers and keep them in accessible places (on the dinner table or in your pocketbook/book bag). Consider leaving a bottle at a relative’s or friend’s house or in your car’s glove compartment (providing it’s not too hot or cold).
- When brown-bagging it for lunch, include enzymes in the bag so no effort is needed to search for them.
Go to the bathroom before you leave. Don’t hold it! Inevitably, if you decide to wait, you’ll get caught in traffic or stuck on a subway or worse.
- If you are having a particularly “bad belly” day, think about your route ahead of time. If you are driving, prepare to stop at rest stops you know are clean. If you are in a big city, head for the public restrooms in hotel lobbies or upscale department stores.
- For privacy, find the family or handicap facilities; these are often self-contained units. If you wish, carry trial-size room deodorizers, now available for before and after!
Be proactive with probiotics. When on antibiotics, especially IV antibiotics, take acidophilus, yogurt or probiotics to help your body balance the good/bad bacteria.
Know your “normal” so that if your lifestyle or eating habits have changed, you can adjust enzymes to prevent diarrhea or take stool softeners to prevent constipation/obstruction and keep things moving.
Don’t strain. Use natural fiber, polyethylene glycol or a stool softener if you have any constipation. Beat it rather than wait to treat it!
At School or Work
If there are times when you are having more stomachaches or gas, you may want to spend some extra time in the bathroom. Some people like to keep a small can of air freshener with them to minimize the smell.
If you are having more stomach pain or gas than usual, call your CF care center for advice. You should never feel ill at ease about doing what you need to do to take care of yourself.
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