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Countering drug-induced constipation…

Posted Oct 25 2011 10:36am

I realise that for many people this is a distasteful subject. If that’s you, then spare a thought for those of us for whom this problem is purgatorial!


As regular readers may be aware, a side effect of my array of chronic illnesses is drug-induced constipation, the worst offenders being opioid analgesics, though others contribute to the problem, as does enforced inactivity.

The only solution to that problem, for many years, all else having failed,  has been beer, in sizeable quantities – a gallon or so is needed to break the log-jam, so to speak. Needless to say, that’s not doing me any good, especially as, now my heart is so comprehensively screwed, the sheer volume of fluid is a health hazard, causing my lungs to fill with fluid the following day or two. Not to put too fine a point on it, it could well be shortening even more what is an already foreshortened life-span. And, of course, these days it’s sodding expensive.

That, then, was partly behind my reversion to a wholefood vegetarian diet, one which has fallen out of favour of late in favour of a sort of dinner-party vegetarianism in which one has to peer very closely to find adequate nutrition, not least the protein content (important when, like me, you have just one meal a day). The other reason being the abysmal quality of the meat I could afford, by which I mean Sainsbury’s mid-range meat. Anyway, it’s a diet I happen to like, and one which, as we’ll see likes me. And my version isn’t the worthy but dull one – think Crank’s – but one which is highly flavoured and spiced.

Simultaneously with that, I began to take a tablespoon of crushed linseeds, in water, every day. Pretty nasty, like drinking sawdust, but necessary. I buy whole linseeds – Linusit Gold – blitz them in a blender, then store them in a jar in the fridge so they don’t go rancid.

So, I’m now almost a month in, and there’s one thing that has become apparent – I no longer need a gallon of beer to, er, motivate me, as it were, the benefit of all that dietary fibre (I also make bread which is 50% wholemeal, 100% being just too dull and heavy), making its presence well and truly felt.

I’ve said, previously, that around 5,000i.u. of vitamin D3 had a similar effect, which it did, but not for very long, and especially not after my need for analgesia had increased after my sojourn in hospital, in January.

For those of you with dark memories of the F-Plan diet in the 70s/80s, a wholefood veggie diet need be nothing like that – it can be – but it needn’t be. Mine is simply high in pulses, grains, and vegetables, the main grain component being the white and whole-grain wheat flour in my bread (or, in the case of the bread I’ll be making on Wednesday, whole-grain Emmer or possibly Kamut), and the occasional rice-based meal, to which I always add peas, for the fibre content, as I can’t abide brown rice (except as a well-disguised ingredient in things like veggie-burgers). Nor, god help us, can I stomach muesli, a substance more suited to surfacing driveways.

I also, at the moment, instead of sugary jam or high-fat cheese, being over-fond of both, I have a tub of home-made pease pudding in the fridge, which is excellent spread on bread or toast,** and peas are high in fibre – as indeed are most pulses and grains – similar spreads can be made with lentils, or chick peas (hummus). And as you’ll see from my last post, I’ve devised a recipe for a veggie sausage which, aside from being tasty, is also high in fibre.

**Or reheated and served with veggie sausages – not mine, yet, but Sainsbury’s which, weren’t actually too bad, though I’m sure I can do better .

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