It’s cold and snowy today, one of the first snowy days of this season, and I am on day three of a head cold. It’s a good day to cocoon, sip echinacea tea, and accomplish small chores that make a big difference, like washing the linens.
I went to bed last night with a strong conviction that it’s time for a change.
My daughter is going through something right now. The divine Miss D is throwing fits left right and center over… nothing. Well, it looks like nothing to us. I try not to belittle her feelings and remember that it is something important to her. But it is still baffling and frustrating. Yesterday she cried and cried because I couldn’t make her braided pigtails any longer. (Despite her beliefs, I don’t possess that kind of magic.) The day before, it was a screaming, crying fit because I dared serve her homemade macaroni and cheese instead of the stuff that comes in the box.
There have been a lot of little fits like that over food lately. She always wants a “snack” instead of a meal, which is usually something sweet and carby from her snack box — whether that means a long-hoarded piece of Halloween candy or something slightly healthier like freeze-dried apple slices. She’s also avoiding vegetables more now than ever before. Both are habits I’d like to nip in the bud.
And, while it’s easy to focus on what I want to change about her, I am in at least as much a need for a change.
What I don’t eat (right now).
My therapist and I have been working around the fact that I am an abstainer. She doesn’t use that word, but it’s one I discovered on Gretchin Reuben’s blog. There are moderators, those who can have a single bite of cheesecake and be satiated, and abstainers, who find it easier to avoid the cheesecake altogether than to go back after that first bite.
And, as I discovered during my month doing the Whole 30 program, I am an abstainer.
It really burns my biscuits, but there you go.
I don’t want to be an abstainer, but moderation is as hard for me as abstinence would be for someone else.
So Amy has suggested I have a list of foods I eat and foods I don’t eat. And I have resisted this terribly. The idea that a homemade chocolate chip cookie would be on the “foods I don’t eat” list, because they tend to be a binge food for me, is anathema.
It makes me want to punch something.
We even added the qualifier, “Things I Don’t Eat Right Now,” and it’s only slightly more palatable.
And yet, I know she’s right. (Hate that.)
I need to commit to a list.
Defining my list.
The other big problem with this exercise is that I don’t know what should go on my list of foods I don’t eat.
Crackers, candy, cookies — definitely.
But then what?
White flour? White sugar? All grains? All sugars? Industrially produced oils? Soy? Meat?
The problem (again one that Amy helped me identify) is that I have way too much information, and no way of determining what is right for me.
Enter my mom.
Tomorrow, my mom will go in for a blood test to confirm her doctor’s diagnosis of celiac disease. It’s pretty certain that she has it, and if she has it, Devyn and I are more likely to have it as well:
Celiac disease affects 1 in 133 Americans. The disease occurs in genetically predisposed individuals. That means if someone in your family has been diagnosed with celiac disease, you are at an increased risk for the disease.
1 in 22 first-degree family members (parent, child, sibling) and 1 in 39 second-degree family members (aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, grandparent, grandchild and half-sibling) are at risk for celiac disease. Your risk may double if your brother or sister has celiac disease. Source
I don’t think I particularly have any symptoms, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a sensitivity. It could be latent, waiting to spring on me. And it’s possible that I could be protecting Devyn from future health problems by limiting her exposure to gluten now.
Completely unrelatedly, I’ve also been reading about the Weston Price diet and the nourishing traditions kitchens and recipes. One major component of these diets is that they rely on soaked and fermented grains:
One study found that when a sourdough bread was made with wheat (and other non gluten flours) that it broke down the responsible reactors in wheat so that of the 17 celiac testers, none had reactions (though they did react to yeasted bread). They concluded that fermentation was a “novel” tool (though I think it’s really an old fashioned tool!) for decreasing gluten intolerance. [iv]
All signs are pointing to the fact that I need to learn to avoid gluten. I also know that avoiding refined sugar will help me battle my sugar cravings.
So it seems that those two are going to be at the top of my “Foods I Don’t Eat (Right Now)” list.
The best time to start…
…is now. I learned from years of Weight Watchers that waiting until Monday, or the first of the month, or the first of the year is just a delaying tactic. The only time to start is now.
So I’m starting now. (Luckily, it’s Monday.)
Is it crazy to start this right before Christmas? Maybe. But all my Christmas parties are behind us, except for one I’m throwing Christmas Eve — where I can control the food, for the most part.
I’ve never been very good at keeping resolutions.
Making them? Absolutely. All the time. Keeping them… Not so much.
But I want to. I’m ready. I’m ready to stop feeling so mad at myself all the time. I’m ready to change my habits and feel better about it.
I watched an interview with Pema Chödrön and Oprah yesterday, and she said that self-improvement is a myth; we cannot improve ourselves, only get closer to our true selves (which are already perfect).
I’ll have to remember to tell Amy that she and Pema agree that I’m perfect.
Last week, when I went to therapy, I told Amy that I felt good and that was scary. She told me that I was pretty damned mean to myself all the time and I should cut that out.
And then I had a dream.
I dreamed I was a bridesmaid in a big Catholic wedding, for a bride I didn’t know, and as we got ready, I realized that the bride just had me there to make fun of me and humiliate me — telling me I had to go down the aisle on my knees, and all the wedding party doing a flash mob dance I didn’t know about. So I left, went out of the church, and hailed a cab in the rain. And I think, at some point, I realized my dress was on backwards because they told me the zip went in front.
And my friend Allison pointed out that everyone in dreams is some aspect of yourself, so basically I was being really mean to myself.
But in the dream, I was also done with it. I walked away. I got out of the bad situation.
And hey, if dream-me can do it, so can real me.
It’s time to make a change. I’m not going to rush exactly what that change will look like at every level, but I am going to keep thinking about it. Keep working on it.
And I’m excited to see what I become.