Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Reality of Changing How You Eat

I counsel people all the time on how to eat with their health in mind. Today, you get to hear about how I'm handling a change in diet.
I first discovered the nutritious life in college. I realized that eating certain foods made me feel more alive and vigorous, and I slowly cut out all the typical college foods that made me lethargic or sick. That was when I first fell in love with the science of nutrition. And that was not hard for me to stick to. I knew too much sugar made me feel bad, and that the wrong kinds of fats made me feel even worse. I did have some habits that took a while to shake, but I was young, so it really wasn't that hard. And I allowed myself to continue eating my very favorite foods, like pizza, within reason. Then, I started reading diet books and discovered that I needed a better balance of protein and good fats. That was pretty easy, too. Balancing every meal made me feel great. I was out running everyday and playing with friends well into the evening. It was easy.
The next time I had to change my diet significantly was when I was pregnant with my daughter. Now, how easy is it to think about that child when putting something in your mouth? Remarkably easy. When I imagined that peanut butter and jelly sandwich or blueberry cereal entering my baby's body, I felt good about it. I kept tabs on myself because I was accountable to a little person's pure little body. I led an incredibly healthy pregnancy and felt great about it. That may be one reason why she is so incredibly healthy....even though she won't touch a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or blueberries. Ever.
Then it got hard. My breastmilk was making my child sick. No one knows such pain as a mother who realizes that she is her child's demise, or at least that is the mother's perception. When my child got sick, my doctor suggested cutting out all tomato products, dairy products, and raw vegetables. Now I had cut out things before, but this? No yogurt? Cheese? Spaghetti? You've GOT to be kidding! But I did it...and it still didn't work. About the time I was about to give up just about everything in my diet except grilled plain chicken, the people around me convinced me to try a formula. My child and I felt much better, even though I was still beating myself up about it. And I quickly gained 5 pounds, which I lost with the guilt as I saw her grow happily.
And now, I am faced again with a change in my diet. And this time, I sympathise with all of those folks who try a diet to get healthier and give up all the foods they have been eating forever. This time, I am on a diet to balance the minerals in my body. I am out of balance for many reasons. To balance myself out, I am supposed to cut out all my favorites: nuts, dairy, soy, chocolate, sugar, all alcohol. The alcohol is pretty easy, and I don't eat that much of the chocolate and sugar. But giving up my daily walnuts, yogurt, cheese, soy milk, and soy bars is terribly difficult. As I walk through my daily life now, I see the struggles of all of those who had to change their diet for their health, and I see how easy it is to slip up. It's like telling someone NOT to think about a white bear. You're thinking about it now, right? And then it becomes obsessive. So, just as I am not supposed to eat those things, just the mear suggestion makes it incredibly difficult. And I have slipped up a little ...even on things I wouldn't normally slip up on, because of the suggestion of it! I wish there was a way to take something out of the diet without having to know what it is....hmmm. If there is a way to do that, someone clue me in.
Readers struggling with changing your eating habits, let's try to think positive about all the wonderful things this new plan has for us. For me, I will balance my body and thyroid (and metabolism) with a new plan.
I will keep you posted.

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