“The Wagon”

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covered-wagon1*Image credit: Google images


I ate some ice cream yesterday. I ate it with some of
THIS amazing Dark Chocolate Mint Truffle Cake. While I was eating it, I thought, “Well, I guess I fell off the wagon.” And then I thought, “What wagon? Is this a wagon that I want to be on? If so, why?” Most of my teenage years and adult life have been wrapped in a love-hate relationship with sugar. I love it. Like in a “I can’t live without you” sort of way. And then I hate myself for it. But, after going “Paleo” over 3 years ago, I found I could go long periods of time without eating it. It’s just that as soon as I chose to indulge in some, I would be sucked into the vacuum of over-consumption and would guiltily find myself trying to dig my way out of it. And then I would cut it out completely once again so that I would be back to where I wanted to be…safe on the wagon.

I obviously enjoy cooking and baking sweet treats. A large part of my blog is devoted to creating “cleaner” treats that I can enjoy without the nasty joint pain, depression or fatigue that goes along with sugar consumption. I don’t feel guilty and I honestly find joy in creating those goodies and eating them. No regrets.

And so I was thinking…I’m done with the wagon. The wagon creates a false sense of security and honestly sets me up for complete failure. Because I know I will eat sugar at certain times. There will be moments when I’m out with friends and really just want to enjoy the evening and have a freakin’ piece of cheesecake. And that’s ok. There is no bible for perfect eating. Thank goodness. I follow a much higher authority–one who knows my weaknesses, knows my failures, and still loves me despite them. And you know what? I think it’s ok to eat sugar sometimes. My grandpa is almost 99 years old. He’s still as sharp today as he was 50 years ago. Sure, it would be nice if he could trade in his body for a newer one, but his whole life has been about moderation. He doesn’t diet. He doesn’t avoid certain foods. He eats what he wants and knows the importance of balance.

That being said, I am a full believer in an {almost all} grain-free diet, with minimal dairy and very little refined sugars. I know how much better I feel when I eat “like a caveman” and that I have more energy, am more focused and in generally better health when I am eating that way. And I actually think it does my body good to do an occasional Whole30 to “reset” my system. But it’s ok to stray from the “norm”. I don’t need to whap (is that a word?) myself over the fingers with a ruler if I eat some ice cream now and then, or even if I eat a donut sometimes. I can eat it, move on, and enjoy the rest of my day. There is absolutely no positive purpose served by wallowing in what I perceive as my failures. And I’ve come to the realization that it’s not a failure if I indulge in something that’s not considered “Paleo” or “primal.” It. Is. OK!

So, I ate ice cream yesterday. And today, I ate leftover {Paleo-ish} truffle cake for breakfast. Yup. I did it. I’m not back on the wagon. I’m not “starting over.” And I won’t be tomorrow. I’m just living my life as I was yesterday, and the day before, and the day before. And I’m quite content with the fact that I eat junk that is actually probably not even really food, sometimes. I’ll live the bulk of my life eating good, whole foods, with minimal ingredients that are fresh off a vine or tree or bush (or even dirt). And I’ll live the other part being satisfied with the fact that I’m not a robot.

 

Breaking Bad Habits

Day 3 into the Whole30, and aside from a complete inability to sleep last night, things are going well. Of course, the after-dinner “quick, I need something sweet!” cravings hit about 3.5 seconds after finishing my meal. I kept going back to the fridge to see if something appropriate magically appeared. Why do we do that? Every time I looked in there, the carrots and apples still sat patiently in the produce drawer, the bacon still waited for someone to crisp it up gently…and nothing miraculous appeared.

I know it’s common to have the “after meal” sugar cravings. But I hate being a slave to my taste buds. Obviously I get some type of reward from eating sweet stuff after a meal as I feel completely content as soon as I indulge. So why not just eat a piece of fruit? Or chew a piece of gum? Or just suck on one little-bitty piece of hard candy? Because, my friends, all that does is perpetuate the addiction. And I hate being addicted. I hate feeling an out-of-control need to put something sweet on my tongue.

So, after dinner I ate some celery and almond butter (unsweetened, of course), and watched as my sugar cravings subsided. And I felt victorious.

Do you struggle with Dessert Demons? Check out this article on the Whole9 site. It’ll inspire you!

Our Journey to Healthful Eating

I’m a recovering Sugarholic. Yes, it’s true. Take a look at my innocent face and tell me that I don’t look like a girl who fights her sugar demons nearly every day. It’s been a lifelong struggle. Actually, I didn’t think it was a struggle until adulthood. I couldn’t have cared less when I was younger whether I ate Lucky Charms for breakfast, lunch, dinner and an evening snack. But after getting married at the ripe old age of 20, I started to think, “Hmmm…I should probably not stuff my face with sweets after every meal, party, or while watching the Food Network.” It was hard to be motivated to change, though, since I wasn’t struggling with my weight. I pretty much maintained the same weight since teenager-hood, with the exception of the all-to-familiar “freshman 15″ that came and went.

It wasn’t until Superman started experiencing worse symptoms (see the “All About My Zoo” tab at the top of the page) that I thought maybe I should make a change not for weight, but for health. But boy, oh boy, was I in for a challenge. I would go on “sugar fasts” every once in awhile, thinking that if I could just avoid sugar for a few weeks, I would be cured. I read all the books: “Sugar Shock,” “Suicide by Sugar, “Sugar Blues”…you name it, if it was about how to magically break my sugar habit, I read it. And they were all very inspiring. But for some reason, weeks or months later, that darn stuff would sneak it’s way back into my life like crack cocaine. And there I’d be…poor, frustrated, Shanti. Feeling helpless against my addiction.

This whole experience with Superman has ingrained in me the old cliches: “We only get one body,” “We should treat our bodies like temples,” “You are what you eat.” And I was what I ate. That poison (in addition to the fast food, processed junk and yummy baked treats I would always make) made me feel like a darn fog machine. My brain couldn’t focus. I felt like I had potential in there somewhere, but I couldn’t make my mind hold still long enough to really absorb anything. I would get headaches, muscle aches, and a nasty afternoon slump. I went to a doctor because my joints hurt so bad and was told I had osteoarthritis. But the doctor didn’t give me any cures, just told me to take Aleve. Yeah, thanks a bunch, Doc.

We’ve been eating a Paleo diet (Google it if it’s new to you) since November 2010. I started by cutting out dairy, at the recommendation of a holistic doctor who did weird, wacky evaluations to come to the conclusion that I was dairy “sensitive.” I was skeptical, but after 2 weeks off of any milk products, you know what happened? I woke up one morning, and didn’t feel any pain! My joints felt like a 32-year-old woman’s joints should feel…not painful. Shortly after that discovery, I switched our whole family to a no-grain, no-dairy, no-sugar diet. And another miracle happened. Our second oldest son, Josh, who had been on 5 different asthma and allergy medications since infancy, no longer need any medications! Not one. We went a whole season, for the first time in his life without a breath of asthma. No seasonal allergies. No Flonase. No midnight Albuterol treatments. It was amazing.

And so, I’m a full-on believer now. There is definitely, most definitely, something to the tainted effects of the American food supply. I buy organic produce pretty much always, and do everything I can to eat only things that are pretty much a “whole food.” Of course, our kids still go to birthday parties, there is still Halloween and going to Nana and Papa’s, but at home, we eat well. And it feels awesome.

Sixteen days ago, I decided I was ready to really “reset” my body. I started the Whole 30 program (Google it, man!), which is basically the exact same diet I already follow, but I am not allowed to use any sweeteners whatsoever. No honey, no agave…nada. You see, I can cut out refined sugar easy enough. And then I just replace it with “natural” sugars and I’m happy as a clam. Kind of. But I’m ready. For some reason, I am beginning to approach my relationship with sweets differently. I see food now as fuel, and I don’t really want to waste my intake on junk that’s just gonna make me feel like junk 20 minutes later.

Now, I have no idea what’s going to happen at the end of my 30 days. Initially I figured I would want to go to the Cheesecake Factory and order me some of that divine chocolatey cheesecake goodness that I absolutely love. But now? I’m thinking I don’t really want to. And to hear myself say that is like hearing my five children all together in a small room playing nicely…it’s a bit frightening, but oh so joyous and rewarding. So, 14 more days to go.