Leg Cramps and Me

>> Sunday, July 27, 2008

So the other day for dinner I gave into temptation and ate from a place I hadn’t been to in quite awhile. I won’t name the place but it’s a stir-fry grill restaurant. You fill up a bowl with noodles and/or fresh prepared veggies and a choice of meat if you so desire. Their motto “all fresh ingredients...grilled in front of your very eyes!” And “Where the food is always healthy.” Yeah, well call me a fool! Even though I had been there a million times with no issues before last July (about the time we started going raw) I went a few days ago and paid the price. :(

This is my story…

I had stir-fry with hot chili sauce (mmm) and teriyaki sauce
I went home.
I ate it.

Now, I’ve had teriyaki meals from time to time. Not often but once in awhile I will for lunch. I’m always left quite parched, you know from all the SALT! Ugh! But aside from that all is usually well.

What was different this time? Let’s break it down:

I ate late
I ate too much
It had a lot of teriyaki sauce on it, maybe? I dunno.

The result?

I had the worst leg cramps in.the.world. Ever. Twice. In the same night. Fortunately, leg cramps for me happen so rarely these days but this time they hurt like nothing I’ve ever experienced except that one other time I had this particular type of leg cramp. The kind that seem to paralyze. It starts in my calf and goes to my foot (or feet in this case) where it flexes it so I can’t move it unless I try to with my hands. At one point as I was trying to manually stretch out my leg/foot it completely locked and turned into stone. I’m not exaggerating. My leg was rock solid.

Hubby tried helping by massaging my legs, stretching them and icing. He offered to run me a hot bath but I declined (I was afraid to have to move). Massaging did help but there were times the cramps would come back. GRRRRRRRRRRRRRR! Hubby then made me a special brew of a big glass of filtered water (approx 24 oz), a few generous shakes or more of cayenne (approx 1/4 tsp), raw agave (a TBS or a tiny bit more) and 6-7 shakes of Celtic sea salt (aka Doc Sam’s Fixer-Upper). Believe it or not this really helped! And it tasted yummy.

So after the second round of spasms died down we wondered why this happened. It had to be the teriyaki I ate. Here I was thinking it was pretty healthy with all the fresh veggies I had added, minus the teriyaki sauce but I’ve had T.sauce so many times before with no problem so why now?

Leg cramps can be caused by different things such as excess weight or overexertion of the muscles (FYI - if you get leg cramps more often for no apparent reason it could be a sign of a more serious problem which should be checked out). But a couple of other causes stood out that were most likely the culprits for me: dehydration and low potassium/electrolyte imbalance.

Dehydration is pretty obvious. I consumed a bunch of salt. Possibly
MSG in the teriyaki sauce, and never mind the fact it probably also contained HFCS (high fructose corn syrup), something I rarely have these days. I didn’t even think about how MSG is in just about everything you eat (in the SAD world) and if you click on that link I provided it also talks about how it’s disguised as other things. Anyway, dehydration. I ate this meal way too late in the evening to be able to drink enough water to help with anything. Oops, my bad.

Updated: the special water drink hubby mixed up for me that I mentioned a few paragraphs before helped me with my symptons. He added in the mineralized Celtic sea salt to replace the MSG and the cayenne acted as a vasodilator, which causes expansion of the blood vessels/capillaries.

Now with the other culprit, low potassium I’m not real sure if that was it or simply sodium being out of whack but it’s what I zeroed in on to get back on track. Figured it could at least help. Low potassium/electrolyte imbalance I’m sure is the same result as the dehydration issue. Salt. I had too much. MSG or not, salt consumed in large amounts can’t be good for you. My body was telling me loud and clear what a horrible crime I had committed.

The next day my legs weren’t sore from the cramping except for a little tightness in my left calf. I made sure to keep hydrating throughout the day and stretched. I also filled up on foods that would be good for me, that would help me with my potassium levels and keeping me hydrated so cucumber, papaya and bananas were on my list.

So I’ve learned how important is to be well-balanced and well-hydrated. If you’re interested in learning about which foods are high in potassium here is a

You know what the good news is from this whole experience? I didn’t gain an ounce! How’s that for cool? Ha ha! But after rehydrating and eating properly since then I’ve dropped 3.5 pounds. Uh, water retention ya think?

Now every time I drive past that old fave restaurant of mine my cat claws come out and I hiss. I won’t be eating there ever again. Lesson learned. I just can’t handle some things anymore. I have a strong feeling that I’ll be adding more to the list after the 100 days. Just no more leg cramps please.

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