Green poop and no appetite?
May 27, 2011 5:08 PM   Subscribe

Green poop. Reduced appetite. Am I dying?

Male, mid 20s, just moved from Boston to NYC. Irregular sleep schedule, lots of stress. Eating 2 or fewer meals a day - yesterday I had only coffee and whiskey, though I'm not consuming a lot of either of those. When I do eat, diet isn't particularly irregular - about half homecooked meals, half restaurant. Not eating an unusual amount of dark green vegetables. The poop itself is very dark and softer than usual. I don't feel sick. Any idea on what's going on?
posted by modernserf to Health & Fitness (19 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Did you eat a dessert that may have had, say, food coloring in the frosting?
posted by dws at 5:11 PM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

My brother once got horrible food poisoning from an undercooked burger, and threw up so much in the course of a day that his puke turned dark green. Looked like pesto sauce. We couldn't figure out what he was throwing up, since surely he had already exhausted his stomach contents. Turned out it was bile. Yup, his body wanted so badly to puke that it had to resort to puking stuff out from his liver. Woo!

I'm not professionally qualified to say this, but if your poop is looking anything like my brother's puke, you might be pooping out bile. (Is that even possible? I don't know.)

You need to eat more. Force yourself to eat. And for chrissake, if you are aware that something's hinky with your digestive tract, cool it on the coffee and whiskey. Neither of those is going to help anything, especially on an empty stomach. So, you should try the eating thing. If it turns out that's not working out for you, go see a doctor. You'll get to poop in a jar and bring it in for analysis, and that's always fun.
posted by phunniemee at 5:15 PM on May 27, 2011

Try eating loads and loads of fibre - wholemeal bread, bran flakes, bananas, whatever.
posted by hnnrs at 5:17 PM on May 27, 2011

I am not a doctor, but from a basic human biology class, I remember (yes, my brain is like a sponge, why do you ask?) that bile starts off green and changes color as it does its job of processing fats. If your food passes through you relatively quickly, and the bile doesn't have time to, uh, process, your poo comes out green.

Dr Google brings me to the Mayo Clinic, which suggests the bile has not broken down completely. They don't seem to be worried about short term green stool. I am not even kidding, says too much fat.

You say, "When I do eat." Sounds to me like your body is not well regulated right now. I'd offer to bring you some soup, but I'm in Florida. Go find something bland and bulky and get yourself on the road to a better diet. It'll help with the stress. I promise.
posted by bilabial at 5:22 PM on May 27, 2011 [3 favorites]

Go to a deli and get some matzo ball soup. It'll cure what ails ya.
posted by yarly at 5:26 PM on May 27, 2011 [3 favorites]

Do you have diarrhea? I had green stool when I had the beginnings of my attack of ulcerative colitis - extreme diarrhea.
posted by Tullyogallaghan at 5:34 PM on May 27, 2011

Honestly: you managed to name about six things that mess with your digestion in less than a paragraph. Eat on a regular basis. Drink water. Cut out the alcohol and caffeine. If at that point you still have wacky stool, then worry about whether or not you're dying.
posted by SMPA at 5:36 PM on May 27, 2011 [21 favorites]

modernserf: "Eating 2 or fewer meals a day - yesterday I had only coffee and whiskey,"

That is not a meal, honey; those are beverages. "When I do eat" is not a healthy diet. Eat meals that include breakfast, pay attention to fiber and your poop will very likely sort itself out. Remember, your digestion is the ultimate example of "garbage in, garbage out."
posted by DarlingBri at 5:50 PM on May 27, 2011 [7 favorites]

Yup. Sounds like bile to me. A high fat meal (or higher than you're used to) can make your gallbladder barf up it's bile contents. The result is what I like to think of as "goose poops" - soft green stools that smell a little like the duck pond.

Think of the things you ate recently. If you've been skipping meals, and living off of carbohydrates, and suddenly polished off a plate of fries, you have your culprit right there.
posted by ladypants at 5:52 PM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you've been taking Pepto-Bismol, that can cause green stool. Sometimes, iron supplements do too.
posted by WasabiFlux at 6:00 PM on May 27, 2011

As most of us without gallbladders know, yep, green poop means too much bile going through you too quickly.

(And if you wake up in the middle of the night from crushing waves of pain emanating from your right side, that's probably a gallbladder attack.)
posted by desuetude at 6:01 PM on May 27, 2011

I had only coffee and whiskey.

Add cigarettes and cocaine, and you'll have covered a runway model's four food groups. Nthing others suggestions to establish a more regular eating schedule. Ideally, we would all live on home cooked natural unprocessed foods, but it's hard to make such a radical change all at once.

I can forget to eat when stressed, and I've found that keeping nutrition bars (I like the chocolate Zone or Luna bars) or almonds around is a good way to keep food on hand for the times when I'm to stressed to cook or even buy proper food. I also love the frozen meals from Trader Joes. You can even set a timer for yourself: "Oh, it's 4:00 and I haven't eaten lunch. Time for a nutrition bar."

I worked for a high powered professional who was pretty consistently cranky around 3pm. Eventually I realized that those were days when he hadn't eaten lunch - so I started suggesting lunch around 2pm. His mood improved enormously.
posted by ladypants at 6:02 PM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Start eating some yogurt for breakfast -- that may help get things a little more regular.
posted by I'm Brian and so's my wife! at 6:38 PM on May 27, 2011

Did you eat anything with blue or purple food dyes in the past few days?
posted by anaelith at 8:17 PM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

you're probably not dying. but you need food, real food. if you really can't choke anything down, try a couple of smoothies a day. puree a banana, frozen berries, and some yogurt together with some honey or sugar (you need the calories anyway). that will get some fiber and protein into you, and get your blood sugar up (it's easy to get into a death spiral of not eating if that's what stress does to you). if you're up for solids, try rice, cereal, oatmeal, potatoes, peanut butter sandwiches, bagel and cream cheese, mac and cheese, pasta--whatever you feel an appetite for. sometimes once you smell food you'll feel hungry.

instead of forcing yourself to eat three meals a day, try six small meals a day--a banana here, a yogurt there, a sandwich for lunch, etc. etc.

i'd also cut out the caffeine, because that exacerbate your anxiety and suppress your appetite further. step down to tea, or switch to decaf.
posted by thinkingwoman at 10:00 PM on May 27, 2011

I can forget to eat when stressed, and I've found that keeping nutrition bars

It's a very good idea to plan ahead if you know you tend to skip meals when stressed. Along with things like nutrition bars, I like to keep some easily-grabbed vegetables or fruits around— carrots, bananas, and apples are all really easy to grab on the way out the door, and then I have something healthy in me. Carrots especially are a good complement to the grease-starch-sugar diet that I otherwise end up on if I don't take time to eat.

(It's an even better idea to make a point of slowing down and taking care of yourself, but that's more of a lifetime discipline thing, I think, rather than something you can just do when your poop turns green.)
posted by hattifattener at 10:06 PM on May 27, 2011

I came here to say what anaelith says. Grape kool-aid caused this same fear in my household once. Those blue and purple dyes can make a big change for a few days.
posted by Brody's chum at 10:32 PM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

As most of us without gallbladders know, yep, green poop means too much bile going through you too quickly.

Yes, member of the club here. Although I'd eaten blueberry pie a day or so before the attack, so that was confusing. Blueberries will turn your stuff green also.

But if you are not eating blue (or blue-dyed) food, and your back hurts on the right side on a regular basis (I don't even mean the acute, five-alarm-fire attack) and the green poop continues, head to a doctor!
posted by jgirl at 6:00 AM on May 28, 2011

Have you eaten Lucky Charms recently? It turns my poop green from the food colouring.

And what everyone else said: start eating and drinking right. If it continues, see your doctor.

[Green poop: one of many things I never thought I'd be admitting to in public.]
posted by deborah at 4:22 PM on May 28, 2011

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