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New Year’s Resolutions – Health Edition

Laura Cox
Ostomy Lifestyle Specialist | Shield HealthCare
01/06/16  4:24 PM PST
New Year's Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions 

New Year’s Resolutions are hard to keep. Doing something for 365 consecutive days or 52 consecutive weeks is a lot of commitment. I’d like to share some of my “Health” New Year’s Resolutions that I know are simple enough, measurable and not so big that it’s hard to stick to a huge change in lifestyle. Maybe some of these will resonate with you, or maybe you have some great health resolutions you’re doing that you’d like to share!

Track and increase hydration – Having an ostomy puts us at risk of dehydration. We’ve all heard the popular “eight cups of fluids a day,” but the Mayo Clinic recommends “thirteen cups a day for an average male and about nine cups a day for the average female.” You may need to increase your fluid intake further if you’re in a humid or high-altitude environment, engaging in strenuous activity, or are losing a lot of fluid due to diarrhea, vomiting, excessive sweating, etc. (my personal goal: 72 fluid ounces per day).

NOTE: I don’t count caffeinated drinks towards the amount of fluid consumed because caffeine is a natural diuretic, meaning it increases urine output, so it can contribute to dehydration. You don’t need to avoid caffeinated drinks (I’m addicted to coffee), but don’t drink eight cups of coffee and call it a well-hydrated day!

Incorporate more fruits and vegetables – Some people with ostomies have no issues digesting fruits and vegetables, but many fruits and veggies lead to blockages for me. Some people find that blockages can be avoided by cooking the produce until it’s mush, but even then, I have issues. I invested in a juicer and have been so happy to be able to taste fruits and veggies and give my body those needed nutrients (my personal goal: 1 juice with 2 fruits and 2 veggies per day)!

ADDED BONUS: Fruits and vegetables are water-rich foods, so while you’re getting the benefits of the nutrients, you’re also hydrating yourself!

Eat more regularly – 5 small meals a day are much more manageable than 3 large meals. I also find that I crash a lot less throughout the day if I eat more consistently (my personal goal: eat 5 small meals every day).

Eat less sugar – Sugar can make output watery and more frequent. This can contribute to losing fluid faster than normal. In general, I eat more sugar on a daily basis than I should. This doesn’t mean I’m going to cut sugar out completely, because I wouldn’t be able to sustain that way of life, but I’ll make a conscious effort to watch what I mindlessly snack on and opt for healthier options unless I want to treat myself (my personal goal: no more “daily desserts”).

Add naturally anti-inflammatory foods – I had a pouchoscopy (scope of my formed, but never used J-Pouch), which revealed that the very small part of my rectum left inside of me has active Ulcerative Colitis – this is nothing out of the ordinary, but I do get some symptoms (nothing like when I had my whole colon). I would love to never have to give myself another enema or suppository again, so I want to include anti-inflammatory foods to my diet. My GI has suggested resveratrol, ginger, turmeric, and decaffeinated green tea (my personal goal: incorporate ginger and turmeric into my juicing, drink 1 cup of green tea every day, drink more red wine – which has resveratrol in it…but also take a resveratrol supplement).

Find an activity that helps you decompress and start doing it three times a week – Stress weakens the immune system and is also just no fun! Find an activity or a couple activities that are easy to incorporate in your life! For me, this is exercising, but for you it could be meditating, reading a good book, cooking a delicious dinner, or a plethora of other activities. You can absolutely do this activity more than three times a week, but we want to start off with manageable goals that we know we’ll be able to squeeze into our lives. Also, feel free to switch up your de-stressing activity as you desire (my personal goal: practice yoga 3xs a week – for extra credit, in addition to yoga, go to the gym 2xs a week and meditate 3xs a week).

Get seven to eight hours of sleep per night – Sleep is imperative to our physiological and psychological healing. Don’t deprive yourself of your healing and resting time (my personal goal: don’t stay up for an extra hour playing games on my phone! Go to bed by 10:30pm every week night).

Get all vaccines up to date (including flu shot) – I had to go to the emergency room last month due to the flu and my inability to keep anything down to hydrate myself. Our bodies have been through surgeries, chronic illness, cancers and a deluge of other reasons why we have ended up with ostomies. Avoiding any extra unnecessary illness is a smart idea, especially since the flu has side effects that can further dehydrate you such as fever, vomiting and diarrhea (my personal goal: all vaccines and flu shots… status: DONE)!

Serving Medicare Ostomates Nationwide
My 89-year-old mother loves to swim but she has found that the pouch fills with water when she gets into the pool. What can we do to fix this?
Cathy
We recently had someone reach out to our Facebook community with a similar question, and several of our OstomyLife community members responded with their own advice.
 
Hopefully you and your mother will find their answers helpful ...


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