Stomach aches, bloating and gas are one thing. Body aches, headaches, exhaustion after nine hours of sleep and ugly rashes on my face are another.
This weekend I returned home from a run discouraged by my lack of energy and starving because I had taken in very little calories the day before. This is due to all the foods I’ve stopped eating in the last several weeks in my attempt to eliminate all allergens from my body.
From 1997 to 2002 the number of peanut allergies has DOUBLED. One in seventeen children under the age of three will have a food allergy. There has been a 265% increase in rate of hospitalizations for food allergies. When your body sees a food allergy it sees something foreign and launches out an inflammatory response to get the allergens out of the body. My body has launched all kinds of wars and I’m hearing the message loud and clear. My hope is to reintroduce some of the foods I’ve removed one by one to see what my body likes and doesn’t like.
In the meantime, during my run all l could think about was what I was going to eat when I got home. The only thing I decided I could have was some left over chicken and sautéed peppers for BREAKFAST.
When I walked in the door I began crying to my husband (there may or may not have been a few gasping for air sobs involved). In those moments I wanted what most wives want in a situation like this. (Not a solution which many husbands mistakenly believe.) I just wanted my husband to say “I’m sorry. This must be so tough.” Fortunately, I was able to tell him just this after I caught my breath and after I had ceased drooling over his eggs, gluten free toast and peanut butter.
Not only did he say these things to me, but he said he would eliminate all the foods I’ve had to eliminate over the last several weeks. It was the most compassionate and supportive thing he could offer his wife. His emotional, rash ridden and flatulent prized possession. If that isn’t true love, I don’t know what is.
Truth be told, I just wish I didn’t love food almost as much as I love Ryan. My relationship with food over the years has been trying …and at times destructive. It is my Xanax when I need to relax, my cocaine when I need a pick me up, my reward when I have a great workout, my entertainment when I’m bored, my companion when I’m lonely and my comfort when I’m heartbroken.
In the last several weeks my body has told me loud and clear it is not happy with the choices I’ve been making. Because of this, I’ve had to change my relationship with food to simply be a source of sustenance. It sounds easy enough to someone who’s never had an unhealthy relationship with food, and I don’t expect everyone to understand just how difficult it is for someone like me. Just as I don’t understand how anyone can nibble on ONE cookie for an entire hour.
When you are addicted to food, or at least addicted to the feeling food gives you it is not only about changing your diet, it is about changing your behavior. It is learning how to have a healthy relationship with something that surrounds you everywhere you go. We would never surround a heroin addict with heroin and then expect them to work on their addiction.
Being overweight or having issues with food is not about laziness or lack of will power. It’s about so much more. It’s about sugar, as addictive as cocaine, being prevalent in everything we eat. It’s about the FDA legalizing production of certain foods not allowed in other countries. It’s about all the mixed messages we’ve received over the years regarding the best nutritional balance of foods. It’s about the ingrained messages we’ve held onto since we were children.
I will continue on this journey to discover what my body likes and doesn’t like. I may cry and feel defeated, but I will continue to try.
This battle is about understanding and identifying our individual relationship with food. Rewiring years and years of thoughts and behavior. Educating ourselves. Accepting it will continuously be an ongoing struggle. And always, always….strive for progress not perfection.