SCD Diet OCD: Are You Chasing the Elusive “Perfect Poop”?

by Steven Wright

Jordan and I talk a lot about making sure you have a defined, reachable vision of what you want your health future to look like. We also talk often about the importance of journaling and tracking what we are experiencing on a daily and weekly basis.

Recently, we were talking about the Bristol Stool Chart and we were discussing our recent poops (everyone’s favorite topic). The topic came up that, with the Bristol Stool chart, there really isn’t one defined end point. And depending on which expert or doctor you talk with, you get a range or different answers about what the “perfect poop” is.

Back when we were both really sick, anything but diarrhea and horrible gas was feeling amazing. Then, we started feeling better and went through a period of obsessing over a perfect poop in order to make sure we weren’t messing the diet up. But over time, we have started to wonder if we weren’t chasing something that doesn’t exist.

So, how do people like you and me know when our digestion is at its best? Does everyone have the same end point? These are all questions that I think needed to be thoroughly pondered. If we just use a scale like the Bristol Stool chart to gauge our poops, then that automatically assumes that there is a definable perfect point that we are trying to achieve on that scale.

Many people will tell you that the range of perfect poops is in the 4 to 5 range on the Bristol Stool Chart. But when we’re taught over and over again that we need to have a very specific defined goal, what is the exact perfect poop… a 4.5?

According to our discussions so far, the above graph would be everyone’s end point or goal. To strive to get a 4.5 poop every day of the week… come on, really? Everyone’s the same? Is that even possible in the real world? And therein lies the problem with setting specific end point goals while using a scale.

Well then, let’s develop our own. What if we use math to help get a better measurement of the perfect poop? How about if we account for the real world and add up all our poops as scored on the chart and then divide by the number of days. If that number is 4.5, then we’ve reached the end of our health journey!

Wait, no….that’s not right either.

So, what are we going to do? We need a definable end point that tells us when we are “healed,” a way to measure that we are fixed… or so says the goal-setting process.

I think the answer lies in accepting that we live in a less than perfect world where our bodies will always be adapting and changing. Because of this, I think it is best to decide on qualifying rules that should be applied in conjunction with using the Bristol Stool chart. There are things out of our control that can change how our bodies are operating, like stress, environmental influences, and even lack of sleep.

For myself, I’ve adopted a range of the scale, with a qualifier that: if my poop comes out without any hard effort that it has the potential to be a perfect poop. Once that easily expelled feces is in the toilet and I see it and it matches the range of 3.5 to 5.5 then in my mind it’s a perfect poop.

Think about your body and decide what conditions define your “perfect poop.” Everyone is different, if you have been having severe diarrhea your criteria might just be that: if it doesn’t have any urgency and you can just go whenever you feel like it, it’s perfect. Write down what your overarching personal criteria is for a “perfect poop” and stick to it. The Bristol Stool chart is a very useful tool but make sure you make your own. Your body is going to vary day-to-day and obsessing about a 4.5 or 6 here and there is only going to make you crazy. Keep it simple and decide what really matters to you the most.

The bottom line is this: don’t obsess over the minutia! If you are feeling good and the poops are meeting your overall criteria, then enjoy it… that means you’re getting better. If you’re not meeting your criteria, then you might want to start looking at changing something because what you’re doing is not working. As human beings, we have to learn to accept variation in life and in our bodies. After years of being sick and finally starting to take control of my health, I know that the endless pursuit of the “perfect poop” can be a hard thing to let go of and learn to live with life’s variation.

-Steve

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About the author

Steven Wright Steve Wright is a health engineer and author. In 2009, he reached a breaking point when IBS took over his life and the doctors didn't know how to help. Since then, he has transformed his health and started SCDLifestyle.com to help others naturally heal stomach problems. You can check out his story here and find him on Google+, Facebook or Twitter.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Jordan Reasoner July 28, 2010 at 10:43 pm

I spent years having diarrhea, so my perfect poop criteria is simply this:

If I can hold it and go whenever I feel like it… and its not loose… it’s perfect!

Reply

Mike May 25, 2012 at 2:57 pm

What is the secret to dealing with the urgency. How do you hold on to it. its so frustrating! I’ve got pretty good form, hardly see any blood and go about 3-4 times a day but I still have very little warning and have to get to a toilet in the next couple of minutes. Any tips for dealing with the urgency and controlling things better. Sorting this would change my life!

Reply

Jordan Reasoner June 2, 2012 at 3:58 am

Hey Mike, I can relate, urgency was my big problem too. I was so freaked out all the time.

That is a subtle clue you might need to keep making some tweaks. Are you eating any of the four horsemen? http://scdlifestyle.com/2011/03/what-to-do-when-the-scd-diet-isnt-working/

In good health,

Jordan

Reply

Vibeke March 15, 2013 at 2:49 pm

I had great improvements to my stool during pregnancy and following SCD about 80%. After giving birth and now breastfeeding and getting little sleep I have had to go 100% SCD and started the intro diet again, because my stool went to a 6 again and had to go more frequently again to the toilet. Now I introduce a new vegetable, fruit or nut every 4 days and it is going pretty well. I have BM 1-3 times a day, usually 4-5 on the scale. I feel alot better than I ever have done before, but my stool is light brown (sometimes yellow) and floats on the water. What could be wrong? Or should I just calm down and think that if I follow the diet my body will eventually start absorbing fats better? Have you any experience with this? I have gallstones and FM, that’s all the doctors could find out. But that doesn’t explain why I really can’t eat grains and diary (I can eat the SCD diary. I make dry curd cottage cheese, kefir youghurt and fresh cream). I have tested negative to allergy/intollerance to dairy and gluten. Before giving giving birth I have followed the SCD diet for a year 80%, learning my way into it and stuck to it as my only hope to get rid of my digestive problems. The only thing that has seemed to work until now to actually cure me and not just stop the D, pain, tieredness, bloatedness. It has given me hope to become my old happy me again:)

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Ruth Ann August 26, 2013 at 11:06 pm

I have been doing well with the SCD, except I’m getting some kind of allergic reaction to some unknown substance. I have had this rash for 2 months now. I’ve been in Prednisone 3 times. It comes back by the end of every course. How do I figure out what it is? My food allergies keep changing. I reacted to arugula while on Prednisone. My PCP is baffled.

Reply

Steven Wright August 30, 2013 at 10:37 am

It’s possible that the prednisone has shut down most of your internal production of cortisol and you are now producing well below normal levels of cortisol so everytime you start to come off you see a major rise in all manner of inflammation markers.

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