Because I do.
And no, I'm not pregnant.
This started about a year ago, and has gotten progressively worse over time. At first it was just that I seemed to be in the bathroom every hour. I didn't think much of it because I drink a lot of water. Then it became every half hour. More recently I've had some bouts where I literally had to pee five minutes after going! Imagine trying to get a good night's sleep???
It didn't matter if I was drinking water or not. I could go hours without drinking but still have to use the bathroom. And it wasn't just the urge...every time I sat on the toilet, I swear I would pee a river!
Now I'll tell you. I've had bladder infections before, and this did not feel like a bladder infection. I don't even know how to describe it, except that it didn't feel normal.
When this first began, I went to the clinic at Bastyr and was given homeopathic yeast infection medication, which strangely helped. But then the symptoms came back full force after a weak period of eating sweets. After that it didn't seem to matter how I ate. The problem wouldn't go away.
Actually, let me rephrase that. It did matter how I ate. I couldn't get rid of the problem by eating a certain way. However, I did notice that eating certain foods would trigger those intense bouts of peeing every five minutes. For me those foods were things like peanuts, almonds, and definitely sugar.
My doctor has been wonderful and my headaches have been relatively nonexistent since seeing her as long as I'm avoiding a laundry list of foods. But I couldn't help but be frustrated that none of the supplements she gave me (and we tried many different ones...not exactly wonderful for my bank account...) made a difference.
After my last appointment, I was feeling quite defeated. I've pretty much given up on traditional doctors, and I was tired of spending money trying things that weren't working.
Then I had a breakthrough.
I was re-reading my copy of this book and in a moment of desperation decided to try the fast recommended in the book. The purpose of the fast is to regulate your blood sugar, but the author states that it should only be undertaken if you are insulin resistant, not if you're hypoglycemic. He also cautions that it should only be done with doctor supervision and that there are specific supplements your doctor should be helping you with. With all these yellow lights, I had never felt comfortable trying the fast.
That day I didn't care about taking precautions. I just wanted to be able to go to the grocery store without using their restroom twice in one shopping trip.
During the fast, you're supposed to drink a mix much like the master cleanse: water with grade B maple syrup and fresh lemon or lime juice. You have to drink every 15 minutes so that your blood sugar never drops. The author notes that you may have to pee often due to drinking so much.
The opposite happened to me. After a day, I began to notice that the uncomfortable feeling and constant urge to pee was diminishing. I was actually having to use the bathroom less rather than more!
Lightbulb moment. My bladder problem was related to my blood sugar.
I stayed on the fast for 3 days, during which I noticed that the one time I felt like I needed to pee more was when I forgot to drink every fifteen minutes and my blood sugar dropped.
This was when I began to make some connections. I had always felt like the bladder problem was worse when I was eating paleo, would get better if I caved and ate something super carby, but then would get worse again hours later. Now I realize it wasn't paleo that was the problem. I just wasn't doing it the right way for my body.
I realized I needed to stabilize my blood sugar levels, so I immediately began eating again the way I used to when I was at Jenny Craig, which is a plan that works well for diabetics.
I began limiting my starches (grains, sweet potatoes, etc.) and fruits to one serving (approximately half a cup) per meal. At Jenny Craig, I would do two servings per meal, but I suspected that might be too much for me right now. I made sure to include protein in each meal, and went back to eating every two to three hours. Snacks were a small amount of carbs with protein or healthy fats. Meals would be about half a cup of a starch or fruit, protein, fat and vegetables.
Within days I noticed a big difference.
Since I've begun eating this way, I have also been transitioning into doing the autoimmune paleo protocol. I've tried this before, but I'm now convinced that I wasn't doing it the way my body needed me to. Because I crave food less on paleo, I end up eating at irregular times, sometimes going all day without food. But now that I've realized that keeping my blood sugar steady is so important, I've continued to eat at regular intervals. I'm also including fruit, sweet potatoes, or winter squash more often than I did when I tried paleo before. I'm realizing that I need small amounts of carbs throughout the day to keep the bladder problem at bay. Not too many, not too few. Just a small amount. This seems to be working for me right now. At least in terms of my bladder.
I am always hesitant these days to post about how I'm eating and what is or isn't working. I know from experience that it seems to change a lot. I also don't want to lead anyone in the wrong direction because I truly believe our bodies are all different and that what's right for mine may not be right for yours. On the other hand, if you're dealing with the constant urge to urinate like I've been, then you are probably feeling as desperate and frustrated as I am. And so this post is a continuation of my desire for us all to share our struggles and our triumphs as we continue on this collective healing journey. With that being said, if you've found a different solution to this problem that works for you, please let us know in the comments so that we can all benefit from your experiences as well.
p.s. In case you haven't seen it, my fellow Jumbo (Tufts alumni), Isabel Foxen Duke, just put out an incredible free video training series for any of you who may be struggling with "feeling crazy around food." You know, like thinking about food and dieting all day long, only to end up with your fingers in a jar of peanut butter later that evening. She's onto something, and one of the few health professionals out there who are really making the connection between poor body image and emotional eating. I am a proud affiliate and big supporter of her work. You can check out her free video training series here.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and I am not trying to tell you that if you do as I do, your bladder problems will go away as well. If you have to pee all the time, please be smarter than I am and go see a doctor. Bladder infections can lead to kidney infections. And since I recently had a friend end up in the hospital because of this, I can tell you it's definitely serious! So anyway, I'm just sharing what's working for me these days. Consider it a story, not a prescription for your health.