The hubs and I got food poisoning the week of Thanksgiving, and it really messed up our routine for the subsequent weeks. Not only did it discourage us from indulging in too much turkey, taters, and stuffing, it also interfered with work, household responsibilities, and social activities. We missed out on a lot the week of Thanksgiving; and the next week was dedicated to making up for lost time. During the week after, we had picked up so many bad habits from being sick and noticed that we still did not feel great. We are currently back on schedule, but the experience made me realize the severity of the illness.
Food poisoning is no joke. I feel horrible for people who can not afford to miss work due to illness or who do not have the proper tools to regain their health. Anyone – not just kids and elders – can become severely dehydrated during food poisoning, which can create life-threatening issues.
Hubs and I did not experience anything life-threatening, but it was still very unpleasant. Of course, I had to put together a synopsis of the event for entertainment purposes and to provide a heads-up for anyone who may experience food poisoning in the future.
This is basically what you can expect:
That feeling when you think you might throw up, but you are not really sure if you will (and you are not sure why you would) – this marks the beginning of the food poisoning experience.
The nausea is torturous. You try to suppress it, but eventually begin to wonder if you should just let yourself go; then, maybe, you will feel better. Throwing up is my least favorite sensation, so I tend to postpone it until it is no longer possible to control my internal organs.
The First Spew
You decide to let yourself go, or your body decides for you. Either way, the first spew unleashes the demons and essentially gives your body the go-ahead to make the next few days absolutely miserable for you. You feel better letting it all out, but you soon realize that the worst has just begun.
After the first spew, your senses are heightened. Every time your belly coos, you assume it is gesticulating that another spew is under way. You know it will happen again, you just do not know when; and that anticipation haunts you.
The cyclical onset, spew, and anticipation, can go on for hours and days. It is exhausting, dehydrating, debilitating, and degrading. You begin to lose your human appearance and more closely resemble the zombies in World War Z. You need to find that circuit in your mind – the last one still functioning – and take action before you waste away completely.
Ginger ale and saltine crackers are your best friends right now. You take a couple sips, a couple nibbles, wait, and repeat. Over time, you are able to take larger sips and larger bites, but at the risk of inundating your stomach with substances it has grown accustomed to rejecting. Eventually, you can keep food down, so you try eating heavier foods, like pizza. (Growing up, I always craved pizza after I was sick. It has since become a family custom.) The problem with eating, however, is that your gut flora is all jacked up, so your body tends to digest real food poorly, leaving you bloated, constipated, and very uncomfortable. You are happy that the nausea is gone, and you are ready to get back to your daily life, but now you need to get your body back to its normal operating state.
After experiencing food poisoning, I have a few tips that can make the adventure more manageable. These tips do not cure it per se, but they are ways to nurse yourself until the symptoms subside.
1. Pepto – This yucky pink stuff can temporarily ease nausea. It may not completely prevent you from spewing; however, it does coat your esophagus and makes future up-chucks less painful.
2. Ginger ale – Ginger is a natural remedy for any gastrointestinal issue, and the carbonation helps settle your tummy. Do not worry about the sugar content – you actually need some sugar during food poisoning for energy and to keep your brain functioning at a decent level. Try to find one with plain old sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. If that is not possible, do not fret. Your priority is to stay hydrated, so choose the best option you can find. If it feels too fizzy going down, you may find it more pleasant when it is warm. (When I was little, my mom used to warm up ginger ale in the microwave for about 30 seconds to cut the fizz and help it go down smoother.) Start with small sips here and there, then work your way up to larger sips.
3. Saltines – These simple crackers have just enough substance to make you feel like you are eating something, but they are easily digestible and usually stay down. They contain just a little bit of carbs to give your organs energy; and they contain salt that helps your body retain water. (Of course, if you are gluten-free, use your preferred alternative.) Start with a couple small nibbles, then wait. If you feel fine, eat some more nibbles. Do not rush this, though. If you rush eating, you run the risk of losing it all during your next spew.
4. Bad television – Now is the time to watch all those weird shows that you can not get your family to tune into. The hubs turned on Battlestar Gallactica, which I would not readily agree to during normal times. Turned out, we really liked the show, and it often distracted us from feeling miserable. Comedies make great sick shows. (When I was little, I used to watch I Love Lucy, Bewitched, and I Dream of Jeannie marathons. Good times.)
5. Gossip magazines and Pinterest – Basically, anything colorful and visual that can transport you to a different space and time is good. Hubs loves his entertainment and gossip magazines, and I am a Pinterest addict. Whenever Battlestar got too soap opera-ish, we turned our attention to trash talk and ways to make furniture out of cardboard boxes. Channeling your creative side helps energize you and can keep your mind sharp without feeling stressed.
Once the symptoms subside, your gut flora will likely be very imbalanced. Make sure you eat foods that promote good gut bacteria, like yogurt (preferably Greek, sugar-free), bananas, sauerkraut, and fiber-rich foods. Be sure to drink plenty of water to flush out the bugs in your belly. Stay away from foods that naturally make you bloated. Common culprits include: wheat (and anything that contains wheat), cow’s milk (this has different stuff in it than yogurt), and highly acidic foods and beverages (like coffee and alcohol). Choose high-fiber options, whole foods, and natural, sugar-free juices and teas. Once you get your belly back on track, you can return to your old bad habits. Just kidding! Keep eating the “recovery foods” and you will find that you feel better than you did before you became ill.
Got any stories or remedies? Please spare the gross details; but, do tell us your tricks to get over food poisoning fast!