You know when keeping a food log sucks? When you get to the end of a day and realize it looks like this:
Breakfast: Sugary cereal
Snack: ~1/3 jar of Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter
Lunch: Half a bag of tortilla chips with salsa and hummus
Snack #2: Gluten-free cookies
Dinner: Frozen premade Indian dinner, peanut brittle
You know when it sucks worse? When you’ve had a week of days that look like this:
Breakfast: Unsweetened whole-grain hot cereal with flax and almond milk
Lunch: Sweet potatoes, pinto beans, carrot sticks
Snacks: Reasonable portions of nuts, fruit and vegetables
Dinner: Tempeh, apple, and onion stir fry with brown rice and spinach
Exercise: Lots of walking, plus 45 minutes on the elliptical
. . . but you still feel like crap.
Amirite? I know my paleo friends are just waiting to pounce on that second entry, much as their ancestors descended upon prey in the savanna. There are at least as many different definitions of an ideal diet as there are calories in a third of a jar of peanut butter. My own sense that a whole-foods, plant-based diet should make me feel healthy is shored up largely by dogma and selective reading. Still, at the end of most days, I feel I’ve made pretty good food choices. But does it make a difference? My answer is in black (or blue, depending on pen color) and white.
When other people go on and on about how great their unprocessed veg*n diets make them feel, I often struggle with the urge to hurl butternut squash at their heads. I know intestinal healing comes first, and I’m sure an overall healthy diet is probably working invisible heart-protective magic, yadda yadda, but I can’t help but wonder: What’s the point of eating well if an unhealthy gluten-free diet and a healthy gluten-free diet leave me feeling exactly the same? For that matter, what’s the point of eating a healthy or unhealthy gluten-free diet if I feel worse on average than I felt when I was eating gluten? Why bother doing it right if I’ll still feel wrong?
When I start asking myself this kind of question, that’s when I know it’s time to call in the big dogma. Six months to two years to feel better on a gluten-free diet, I remind myself, mantralike.
Six months to two years. That’s a lot of days worth of food logs. Might as well make them good ones . . . well, most of them, anyway.
Yeah, the first year is hard. Try not to get too bummed if you don’t feel like a new person right now. And if you want a gluten-free cookie, eat it. The emotional part of this is just as important as the physical:)
Thanks, Alissa. You’re right about that. I think I will let myself have gluten-free cookies sometimes but preferably not for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 🙂
Well, one of the “benefits” of food restrictions — celiac or allergies — is that, for the most part, you can’t eat too unhealthily all the time. It’s too damned expensive.
What burns me most, personally, are all the times I stock up the fridge with really good produce and then end up sick, eating rice cakes and tea for most of the week, and throwing things out.
Yes, that’s a bummer! I have been mulling over the idea that corn or buckwheat could be causing me issues and wondering if I should toss my “mighty tasty” cereal and tortillas. I think I’m going to hold off for now and hope things get better before adding extra restrictions, though.
Hi Molly, Your first journal entry reminds me of how I used to eat when I was in my twenties (prior to diagnosis, so with gluten containing foods instead). It took me at least 6 months to feel like I had healed…I know that it seems like a long time to you now, but when you look back it will seem to have flown by. But that doesn’t really help you now, does it?
It does help. At least, it helps a lot more than, “I felt better right away! Heavens opened and angels sang! A miracle!” 🙂 So thank you.
Molly, I’ve dealt with food sensitivities head on for 15 years.
It’s taken a lot of therapy and self reflection to be gentle to myself and not let the storyteller in your head rule the hear and now, thinking about whatever.
You don’t have to be happy that you feel this way, but I suggest you learn to not be self aggressive about not feeling great and diet choices.
Truly Coping well with however you feel matters.
On the diet front, the best I feel after not feeling well is detoxing with milk thistle or NAC. Even the occasional alkaseltzer gold.
Thanks for the advice, Mike! Well said and I’ll definitely take it into account.
No pouncing–I promise. I honestly don’t know how anyone can be a vegetarian–except for all the really great veg and fruit… Just remember what I’ve said on my own blog: If you don’t feel good, and you don’t like your food, you will not be able to sustain the lifestyle.
Seriously, that goes for all of us. I just read the comments of a woman on my blog who is, like myself, going through the leptin reset and because this doctor who created this protocol said that “one oyster is better than any grass fed meat” she has decided to eat oysters even though she hates the shit out of them. In my opinion, that’s crazy and the leptin reset is hard enough without having to make it all the more difficult by eating something you despise.
Now, I don’t get the impression that you despise your food, but rather you are becoming frustrated because you aren’t feeling better and that you aren’t exactly in love with your food.
Please, correct me if I’m wrong in these assumptions–I can take it.
So, since I am not a diet expert and I am a firm believer in doing what works for you, then you should listen to those who follow the same type of diet you do and if they say it takes a year or more to start feeling better, then you just need to tough it out until you do start to feel better. I sincerely hope you do. I, for one, would be backed up forever if I ate all those grains and legumes, though, hahahahahaha…
Stay strong, don’t cheat, and remember to keep laughing.
I actually do enjoy vegetarian food a lot (and think that it opens up a lot of space for innovative cooking) but I also eat vegetarian in part out of concerns for health…which makes it depressing when it doesn’t lend me the kind of insta-vitality that some others talk about. When I first got sick I tried an ultra-low-FODMAP diet with very few grains and no beans, but with meat, which I had mostly been avoiding till then. I pretty much ate chicken/pork, spinach, dry Cheerios, and white rice for something like four months. It was miserable AND didn’t make me feel better. So my menu is a lot nicer than that these days.
Thanks for your advice! I’m hoping that I’ll eventually heal and be able to make tweaks to my diet at that point if necessary. In the meantime I guess I’ll just keep truckin!
Molly, it is so frustrating that it takes so long to feel better. Our bodies suffer so much damage from celiac, and every little crumb sets us back. I too understand your frustration when you eat right and don’t feel better. Other autoimmune diseases can factor into the feeling like crap as well. I developed Hashimoto’s thyroiditis last year (2 years after Celiac diagnosis) and until it was diagnosed I was back to feeling about like I did prior to my celiac diagnosis. With all the related autoimmune diseases, you might end up battling some of those as well that make you feel worse.
I too get your frustration when you get feedback or criticism from others that might look at your food log or diet and give their two cents. I’ve examined my diet many a time as a migraine sufferer. Everyone always asks me, is chocolate causing them? Thank God, no! Honestly some of the times I’ve felt the best is immediately after consuming 2 of the best homemade gf chocolate cupcakes.
Umm, why did I go there again? Hmmm, brain fog is awesome. I think my point was to hang in there, it might get better, or it might not and you have to figure out what else is bugging you, and um, don’t give up your favorite things (except gluten) so that you are miserable. How’s that for advice? 😉
It’s good advice! Thank you. I’ve thought about the related autoimmune diseases, too, and I’m just hoping for the best right now…sorry to hear about Hashimoto’s. Is that controlled by medication?
I’m glad you’re able to eat chocolate cupcakes without trouble! 🙂
Yes, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is controlled by taking thyroid medicine. The challenge is getting to the right dosage. Still working on that…