Thursday, February 28, 2013

How to recover from acute food poisoning

Sorry for the lack of posts the past two weeks, but I've been cramming for a microbiology test. I've spent the past few weeks learning about all the founding fathers of microbiology and their work with bacteria, viruses, and other microbes. Not long after I read about the advances made in health outcomes resulting from research in food spoilage, food safety, and food production, I got a bout of food poisoning. When I brought it up to some of my classmates, there were jokes all over about isolating me to pin down the bacteria that caused my downfall. Funny, except I was unable to eat anything substantial the few days leading up to my exam, which really worried me because I know I am extremely sensitive to my blood sugar levels. So, this is what happened and this is what I did...

Day 1: I woke up okay, had a few sips of cafe au lait and headed to class. I wasn't feeling too hot and thought maybe the caffeine was too strong for my stomach, so I slowly ate a banana. About twenty minutes after that, I moved briskly to the bathroom, but held down the gag reflex because I really did not feel like puking in a public bathroom on campus. I spent a good amount time considering morning sickness, but that's another story. So I went home between classes to take a nap, and I had one more banana before heading to my afternoon class. But on the train, I got so nauseous that I had to step out and look for a bathroom. I couldn't find one, but being on a non-moving platform definitely helped, and I finished class feeling pretty crappy. By night time I realized I only ate 2 small bananas the entire day, so even though I wasn't hungry, I heated up a quarter cup of pasta shells in 6oz of clear winter melon and papaya soup. Three minutes after I finished eating, I ran to my toilet and everything came up and out in liquid form. Even the bananas. It was very unpleasant to say the least. I gargled some salt water, mixed 2 tablespoons of honey in a bottle of water, and slept with that next to me in case I got thirsty in the middle of the night. 

Note: Question I kept on getting? What did I eat the night before. I went out to dinner with Michael, who shared exactly what I had from the same plates, so I have no idea. It could have been the beet salad or the medium rare burger, but I will never know. 

Day 2:

Now that I had a better idea of what was wrong with me, I knew I had to probably lay off solid and complex foods until my stomach was feeling better. Surprisingly, I was still not hungry, but I knew I couldn't just drink water because I could become dehydrated. So to stay awake and functioning, I had 16oz of water with 2-3tbs of honey during the morning, a 32oz bottle of fruit punch Gatorade (on sale at CVS, woot woot!), and 3tbs of congee* (porridge) made with 1/4 cup of uncooked rice. 

Summary: Must stay hydrated. Must maintain electrolyte balance. 

Day 3:

I woke up feeling great, but was still wary of jumping into real food immediately. I started the day off with 3 more tablespoons of congee* and headed off to the library with a 24oz of jasmine tea and a Vitamin Water. Because I did not have any sodium that morning, I added 3/4 tsp of salt to the Vitamin Water, just in case I needed the sodium for my action potentials. Keep in mind that unless you're exercising profusely, you probably do not need to add extra sodium to your sports drinks and definitely veer away from using excessive amounts of sodium in food and food preparation. 

When I got home after my test, I introduced some soft tofu into my diet, but my tummy made some grumbly noises, so I went out and got a Vita Coco and the amazing tasting Rain Berry Gatorade. I love coconut water, but unfortunately my local CVS didn't have a plain one, so I had to settle for the peach and mango. Since I've been calorie deficient anyways, the extra calories here didn't worry me as much. As a sports drink, coconut water is probably adequate, but not necessarily if you're marathon training. The low sodium just does not compensate for the amount of sweat you lose. Also, I recently discovered you can get as much potassium from coconut water as you can from a glass of Tropicana orange juice. Just saying. 

That night I had previously arranged to get dinner with Doug, but I was of course unable to really eat anything, so I watched him gobble down a giant chicken sandwich and a slice of pizza. So in addition to my Gatorade, I decided to try 3tbs of plain yogurt and a banana with 1/2tbs of peanut butter. It was so exciting eating something that was not 90% liquid! Watching Doug eat really made me miss eating normal foods and not having Vitamin Water with salt as a meal. 

Day 4:
For anyone who cares, might be TMI, but I finally had solid stools. Perhaps I have to thank Doug and his recommended yogurt for the probiotics, but I think it's finally over! Going to slowly ease back into solid foods the rest of the day. Probably expect a total intake of 300-600 calories from solid foods and 300 from liquids. Not the best time, but I have been surprisingly energetic, and I can't WAIT to start eating like a normal person again!

*Congee is a great way to get carbohydrates into your body. At first, I didn't even have the actual grains that were boiled down in the water. I just had the starchy water. Because congee is simmered for so long, the sugars start to break down. It has a sweet starchy taste and usually pairs well with pickled vegetables, which I had to omit during this time period.

白粥 White Congee (plain rice porridge)
(makes 8oz)
1/4 cup uncooked long grain rice
2 cups of water

1. Let the rice simmer in the water for two hours or until desired consistency. Make sure it does not boil over by checking every 15-30 minutes.
2. Serve plain or feel free to add pickled vegetables or any leftover into it.

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