The last 18 months have been a very tumultuous one in terms of my health. Some people know that I was diagnosed with breast cancer in November of 2011, and all of a sudden my body was not my own. My body had betrayed me, and I really didn’t know what I could trust in terms of the signals that my body gave me. I had felt fine, or that current definition of fine, and my body had betrayed me. Throughout my treatment I became very sedentary and quite literally survived on apple sauce and toast; because that was the only thing I could manage.
I made it through treatment and had major gastrointestinal issues, compounded by the fact that I’d been having GI distress for about five years. But I didn’t care. Sounds weird maybe but I didn’t. I had beaten cancer. I was going to enjoy life culinarily and who gives a shit what happens about it. So for a few months I lived life, but did not listen to my body. I was still always exhausted so it was hard to know what the true signals of my body were. I could just manage an eight hour work day, and then I crawled home and laid in bed for the rest of the night. As someone with an admittedly large sweet tooth I had no sense of what to listen to, and indulged.
Around Christmas of 2012, I had an acute GI problem that sent me to the emergency room. That started me thinking about my diet a bit more. I started reading “It starts with food” and the scientific approach resonated with me. But I am stuborn. So I thought about it and didn’t do anything.
The paleo challenge came at the perfect time. I was mentally primed for some changes and willing to try it. Granted the last 6 weeks have been far from paleo perfect, but I did learn things about myself, my body and my relationship with food. Even with the coming on and off the “rails” I was able to notice internal differences between eating clean and not eating clean. So now at the very list I make the conscious decision to eat something that though my brain may say will taste good, but make me feel like crap after. So what pray tell did I learn?
First and for most you are actually gluten intolerant and will feel badly if you eat it. So don’t. You would have thought I would have figured this out sooner but I didn’t. I knew that certain things, bread and pasta made me feel gross. But having a sandwich didn’t bother me necessarily. So I basically ignored it. But in really making an effort to remove processed grains I realized in my slips that the feeling I had was because of the gluten. So it no longer became worth it to have a gluten item.
Second, keep a clean kitchen. This one also is pretty intuitive. But took some trial and error to realize how important it was. I am the first person to admit that I am inherently lazy. So I realized that if its not in the house I am not going to leave the house in search of a chocolate bar, or ice cream or whatever. So I can actually succeed if I maintain a clean house.
Third, cook as much as possible because the troubling days that I had during the challenge accord in part because I was out late and then had nothing to eat when I got home, so I resorted to the quickest form of calories I could find. This was likely something that wasn’t paleo. But if I have plenty of pre-cooked food, there is always the chance to microwave some chicken thighs and frozen spinach. Then I’m all set.
The final rule is if you’re going to step off the paleo wagon don’t bring it home with you. This is a pretty common dietary technique, but one I’d never really thought about. But it makes sense to me now. And I noticed it was easier to get back on the wagon if there was no leftovers from my slip up.
What does all this mean?
I have realized or re-realized I am not perfect. There has been a dietary improvement, and like everything in life there will continue to be improvements. Do I think that eating completely clean will work for me. No, it won’t. Will I avoid gluten for the rest of my life. You bet. I will continue to learn and grow in nutrition similarly to how I have grown in crossfit, or yoga. So what I know is where I’m at, at this moment. Where I’ll be in 6 months? Who knows.