Friday, June 14, 2013

Restored to Health: Oatmeal, to eat or not to eat?

That is my question.

For over a year now I have regularly enjoyed a bowl of Overnight Oats or sometimes they're called Refrigerator Oats. By any name, they are oatmeal soaked in a liquid, with toppings added. There are many variations, some including yogurt, seeds, nuts, nut butters, and of course fruit. My personal choice has usually been almond milk, no yogurt (makes it too slimy for my taste), walnut, banana, some kind of berry, and almond or peanut butter.
However. In the past I've noticed that after eating oatmeal my stomach would feel very, very full (as in, I wouldn't need to eat until dinner time), I would need to go to the bathroom, or my stomach would cramp a little. I think I've gotten so used to digestive pain throughout the years that I just endure it and move on. 

But now I'm questioning everything. Many years ago I was told I had mild IBS. I now know from research that IBS, GERD, and anxiety/depression are all three often related. I've been gradually moving toward a more gluten free lifestyle to help with the GERD and the word on oatmeal is that although standard oats are in theory gluten free, they are often cross-contaminated and therefore not truly gluten free. Apparently there are guaranteed gluten-free varieties of oats out there, but I've never had them. Mine are usually store brand.

This is leading me to wonder if the mild IBS is causing my body to not like the oatmeal. This morning, when I was still in the middle of eating my oatmeal, my stomach intensely cramped and I had to run to the bathroom. Not a pretty picture, but this is the kind of thing I want to stop experiencing.

To make things really interesting, I've also read several articles claiming that oatmeal is used as a natural aid for anxiety/depression - which makes me want to eat it!

I think the bottom line is to eat what works for you. Not to get too postmodern in my theories of eating, but I think when it comes to feeling good, there are no hard and fast rules. My main goal is to be healthy and feel my best. If oats are detracting from my achievement of that goal, they're no longer invited to the party.

I do still have about half a container of oats in my pantry though. To be honest, because I'm on a tight budget, I'll probably finish them, but after that I think I'll go back to my always-feel-great breakfast: eggs! 
Maybe in the future I will experiment with some truly gluten-free oats or some steel-cut oats or some sort of oat alternative. Really, they're just a vehicle for fruit, nuts, and nut butter! Mmmm.
What has your experience with oatmeal been like?

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