Well, my body decided to go out of my Fulbright grant with a bang. I’ve been sick off and on for the past few weeks, but I brushed it off as the stress and business of life. Friday was supposed to be my last day of classes at UPTC, but my digestive system decided that was not to be. Thursday I woke up at 5AM with a stomachache from hell, and I more or less could not get out of bed until Thursday night. I spent Friday morning sleeping (instead of in class) and ended up missing a surprise party students had planned for me. By Friday evening, I was able to eat a small bowl of gluten free rice pasta with salt and a tiny bit of olive oil after almost two days of not eating. I am going to try to eat something other than pasta tonight.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time this has happened to me since moving here. I have had similar symptoms (although not always as severe) four times before. Also, I have a hard time getting sufficient calories here at times because I cannot eat gluten and do not like to eat a lot of meat. So, I’ve lost some weight. I’ve probably lost about 10-15 pounds (4-7 kg) in the last year. It’s not much, but it is enough to be noticeable and solicit comments (or such was my experience when I went home in December). The bright side is that I am still at a healthy weight, and I can still wear the clothing I bought in December – thank goodness!
That being said, I get kind of frustrated when people compliment me on my weight loss. First of all, it brings me horrible flashbacks of crying in bed from stomach cramps. Secondly, I was at a healthy weight before, and I don’t think this weight loss process has been in the least bit healthy. Not eating processed gluten free pizza isn’t a bad thing, but bacterial infections are never a recommended method of getting a trimmer figure. I know that “skinnier is prettier”, and societal norms state that you are supposed to compliment me on my new figure, but I am warning you now. I may or may not go into graphic details of how this weight loss came about. I can only stand so many similar comments before I get grumpy.
People commenting on my weight loss just reminds me of how unhealthy it is to starve yourself and/or purge your body of the nutrients you consume. That’s what my weight loss has been. I will probably gain it all back after a summer in the USA, and I will be perfectly happy with that because I will be eating healthy and exercising regularly. Whatever weight I gain will still be within the range of healthy. I will be fine if the weight stays off too, as long as it’s not because I continue to get what is basically a week long bout of food poisoning every few months.
Note: I think that most of my problems with bacteria here do not reflect upon the quality of food or water in Colombia. I think they are instead a reflection of my own underlying health or lack thereof (I had celiac disease for years and didn’t know it). Most foreigners that I know here have not been sick. Some have even lost weight because they are eating healthier.