By Ben Smith:
Most of the time these articles have at least a little bit of substance. Whether informative, entertaining, or something that is weighing on my heart, I try to come up with something decent for all three of my readers. However, sometimes it’s difficult to keep churning out Pulitzer quality material each week and I’m left wondering what in the heck I’m gonna write about. It gets even harder once baseball season gets rolling and we are on the road. But, have no fear! This week, with a suggestion from my colleague, Eric Ebers, I’m going to give you the crappiest article I’ve ever written.
With hunting season in the rear-view mirror and baseball season in full swing, I’ve shifted gears entirely. No longer are the days where I can fill my stomach up with whatever I want and sit comfortably in a tree relaxing. Nope. Now the days are filled with quick meals, usually on the go, and a lot of moving around. Those of you that are close to me will understand where this is going. For those of you who are not close to me, let me give you a little rundown. I am not the healthiest eater. Sometimes I try, but odd hours and late nights on the road make it almost impossible to eat right. While that might not be a problem for many, for me it’s a killer.
For years now, I’ve struggled with a couple of gastrointestinal issues. As a kid, I drank milk with every single meal. Even in college, milk was my beverage of choice for breakfast and dinner. However, about the time that I turned 25 something changed. Every time that I’d eat or drink any kind of dairy products, I’d swell up like a balloon (not the Chinese kind) and spend the next few hours back and forth from the loo. Why oh why, Lord, did you choose milk of all things to make me feel like I’d been kicked in the gut by a mule? I’ve always been convinced that Rocky Road ice cream was a gift from the Creator, and now if I’m going to eat it, I have to clear my schedule for the next 10-12 hours. Side note: I still eat Rocky Road ice cream whenever I don’t have to be anywhere.
To make matters worse, it usually doesn’t take more than one road trip for all of our new players to figure out my unfortunate debilitation. The jokes are endless for the entirety of the season, especially from our other assistants (Coach Halford does not partake in these criticisms). To add insult to injury, almost every late night fast food meal ends with a round of ice cream. Whether, or not, I partake usually depends on where we are and how long it takes to get where we are going. Inside of about two hours and I’m good to go. Over that, and I begrudgingly pass.
Around the same time that my lactose intolerance began, I also developed irritable bowel syndrome. I’m not sure that this stuff is genetic or not, but I’m blaming my parents anyway. If you don’t know what IBS is, a quick Google search will show you enough that you’ll be glad that you don’t have it. Why am I telling you all of this? Two reasons: 1) I’m on a road trip and have to be very careful of what I eat; 2) If you are a fellow “gut sufferer”, I’m going to give you some tips on things to pack with you when hunting, on the road, or if you want to get through yard work without a potty break.
First tip: avoid large quantities of nuts. A can of lightly salted mixed nuts is hard to beat for a snack when hunting, fishing, or sitting around watching ballgames. However, if you gorge yourself on nuts, you’re going to pay for it later. Fruit is the same way. I’m not saying you can’t eat any of it, just don’t go crazy on it. These two snack staples should be taken in thoughtful moderation. The next thing to avoid is caffeine. Caffeine is absolutely killer to anyone with IBS. For me, it may be the only thing that sends me running for the John quicker than dairy. Avoid it like the plague. Drink water, and when you get tired of drinking water, drink more water. Fried foods and greasy pizza are also a couple of things to avoid. Luckily for me, this is the typical diet for a college baseball coach on the road a lot. You’d think that by eating all of this junk that I’d be as big as a house by the end of the season. Not me, I’ll lose 10-15 pounds during the season. It never fails. Before I go any further, we do eat some very good meals on the road, too. Sometimes it’s just not possible.
So, what can you eat? When on the road, I’ve found that bland is best. Imagine hospital food. Get a good mix of veggies and meat with as little seasoning as possible. I know that doesn’t sound like much fun, but neither does living in the bathroom. For snacks, I like to eat Nature Valley granola bars. Once again, take these in moderation. This is usually my breakfast and an afternoon snack. There are plenty of different varieties out there, but I like Oats and Honey best. I’ve found that they are easy on my gut and provide me with enough extra energy to get through a game or a long afternoon sit in the woods. Popcorn is also a good snack. Not the salty kind that’s loaded with butter, though. Popcorn isn’t going to give you much of a boost, but it will serve as a filler when you’re hungry.
On a serious note, if you notice that you’re having problems with your gut on the road, or in the woods, try a few of the things that I mentioned and see if it helps. I probably had lactose intolerance and IBS for a couple of years before we figured out what was going on with me. Coach Halford was convinced that I had West Nile. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case. Then again, maybe that would have been easier to deal with.