30 plus years ago Lynda Carter donned the trademark red cape and gold belt she wore as television’s Wonder Woman. Today Carter is using her voice and fame to encourage women with irritable bowel syndrome to step out of the shadows and to live a wonderful life.
Carter has plenty of firsthand experience with the disease. Her mother suffered with IBS that went misdiagnosed and untreated for years. “She suffered with symptoms of the disease like constipation, diarrhea, bloating and pain for nearly 20 years,” says Carter. “She began having symptoms in her early 40s and wasn’t diagnosed as having IBS until she was 60.”
One of the risk factors for IBS is a family history of the disease, and Carter says she follows in her mother’s digestive footsteps.
“I have food sensitivities and IBS, too.”
But that doesn’t stop her from continuing to act, a thriving second career as a country recording star, or enjoying time with her family
Here’s how she says she keeps her colon healthy and lives a wonderful life.
Keep Asking Questions
Carter says her mother suffered through the symptoms of IBS before it had ever been classified as a “real” disease. “In the beginning, there weren’t drugs to treat it, so she just went home and accepted what she was told. She didn’t ask questions as to ‘why’ she had such terrible pain, bloating, etc.
In fact, Carter’s mom was told it was all in her head!
“Thankfully, when I began having troubles about 10 years ago, I knew enough to know that I wasn’t crazy, or just stressed out. By then, I knew so many people suffer from it.”
So she prodded her doctor for all the information and best treatment available.
Since her mother’s IBS symptoms were originally attributed to her mood and mental state, Carter is emphatic that women not blame themselves, or think they’re crazy if their tummy is on the blink.
“It’s not normal to be in pain or to have constant constipation and diarrhea. It’s also not in your head.”
And that’s why Carter advocates talking to your doctor – or getting a second opinion if necessary.
“Don’t let your doctor tell you ‘it’s nothing’ if your gut is literally and figuratively telling you something different.”
Carter says she wishes she could convince her grown children, James, 23, and Jessica, 20, to kick carbonated colas to the curb. But she says that ain’t gonna happen anytime soon. “Being a college student, diet soda is a staple in my daughter’s life.”
But Carter says saying no to soda helps keep her tummy calm. “I think the carbonation fuels the bloating and gas that someone with any sort of digestive illness tends to have as a result of their disease.”
Forgo Fried Foods
“I am very careful to not eat a lot of fried foods.”
Not only are they bad for her waistline, Carter says they upset her digestive track, too.
“A few minutes with French fries isn’t worth a day or two of discomfort.”
Instead she pairs organic veggie sticks or whole wheat crackers with a sandwich and looks to baked fish or chicken instead of battered and deep fried.
Throw Out the Junk
“My body reacts so much more favorably to healthy food than it does to junk food,” says Carter. “Junk food can send me to the bathroom in a matter of minutes.”
Not to mention the fact that she says it’s not good for her weight.
“If I do eat junk, I’m hungry an hour later because I didn’t fuel my body, I merely feed my taste buds.”
So she says she sticks to lean meats, whole grains, fresh fruits and veggies.
“I’ll have a cheeseburger everyone once in a while because it tastes great, I’ll make it myself. I won’t get it from a drive-thru.”
You won’t find any processed cheese slices in Carter’s fridge. “I can’t digest American cheese slices. Processed foods like that don’t agree with me,” she says.
Ooey gooey, rich and cheesy foods trigger a flare up of symptoms so Carter says she tries to steer clear of cheese.
“I’ll have a little piece of really good quality cheese now and then, but for the most part, I don’t eat rich cheesy foods.”
Play Around in the Kitchen
Packaged foods like mac and cheese, frozen dinners and tubes of cookie dough aren’t allowed in Carter’s kitchen. But that doesn’t mean this woman doesn’t bake up wonderful treats!
“I love to make cookies, especially for my kids, but I make them from scratch to make sure I’m making them as healthy as possible.”
She uses organic ingredients and adds oats or whole-wheat flour in baked goods recipes whenever possible. “Getting the proper amount of fiber is essential to keeping my digestive system running along smoothly.”
Talk It Up
Carter admits IBS is not an easy thing to talk about. “When I first started talking about IBS, it was an uncomfortable, taboo topic because you’re mentioning bathroom habits,” she says.
And even though poop is extremely personal, Carter says it needs to be discussed.
“You need to talk about symptoms and family history of the disease with your doctor, as well as with your loved ones. That’s really the only way to know if it runs in your family and if you’re having the same symptoms as someone else. It’s also the only way your doctor is going to be able to treat you and get you on the road to a life not chained to the bathroom.”