Confessions of an EX-Gluten Junkie
I have just completed the stupidest, and perhaps, the most difficult experiment of my life. I am recovering and, hopefully, will never have to prove this truth to myself again. Why am I sharing this with you? Living and journeying on our Spiritual paths is not only about listening to the wisdom of the Universe and Mother Earth. It is also about
listening to and acting on our own internal wisdom. So here is my story - my confession - about learning the hard way.
Part One: A change in Lifestyle
Having known for years, (read-inner wisdom), that gluten was hard on my body, one day, I, without thinking about it, gave it up. It was fairly effortless. Spirit helped me. My occasional "slip" was what I consider minor - one or two bites of a hamburger bun before I discarded it and ate my hamburger bare naked.
I also unconsciously (at first) stopped eating processed sugar. That increased the amount of fruit I ate, and took me from milk chocolate to dark chocolate. And that caused me to eat less chocolate because a couple of bites satisfied me - or rather, I was over it. During this process, I realized I was eating more veggies, less salt and a even little less meat.
The result was extraordinary. I slept much better. I was happier, not that I was ever really unhappy. Those perpetually lurking projects were getting done. Noise and chaos weren't driving me
as crazy. I had more patience. Friends noticed that I had more energy.
The best and most important thing to me was the fact that I experienced far less pain in my body. My massage therapists commented on how much better my body responded and noted that my posture had dramatically improved.
I was feeling better than I had in years and was even thinking I could
enjoy a trip next year.
That's all terrific, right? Easy peasy- give up gluten and sugar and feel better. One plus one equals two. Well ... maybe.
The mind is tricky and resistance even more wily. Rather than giving credence to the inner wisdom that giving up gluten had been the direct cause and effect of my increased well-being, I told myself that it was a result of my diligent personal and spiritual work, more exercise and twice-a-day meditations.
Part Two: The Fall
One Saturday night after 21 days of living this new lifestyle and with greater and greater consciousness, I chose to eat 2 slices of pizza and a couple of small brownies made from regular GMO wheat and sugar.
OMG! The next day I was in my own private hell. My brain was fuzzy and spelling was impossible (thank goodness for spell check). My body was heavy and it was hard to move, let alone walk for any distance. I ached everywhere. I was anxious and tired at the same time. Now, that's a thrill!
My hot flashes were hotter and flashier! My hands were sweaty and I was running a fever. Finishing projects? Forget it. The only daily projects I could manage were to take a shower and nap, before and after the shower. I was miserable and felt like I had a cross between the flu and some feeling of being flat after running a marathon. (Not that I would know.)
Giant light bulb: What had I done? The bigger question: Why hadn't I seen the obvious?
In fact, I had been hearing the truth of my body for a long time. I did pay attention to most things, just not to gluten and sugar warnings and pleadings. I knew, but was paddling along that great river
d'Nile. I told myself that, surely, other things were at the foundation of my pain and exhaustion.
So what is the lesson? As important as listening to wisdom is
acting on that wisdom - simple, though difficult to apply. I proved that to myself in my experiment with gluten. Now, I couldn't wait to clear the toxins from my body and be free - again. And, also apply this to other parts of my life. Surely I was in denial somewhere else.
Part Three: The Epiphany
Most health gurus adhere to the 80/20 rule, 80% eating healthy and 20% not so much and it will all balance out. I was hitting that mark - I thought. When I did, I improved my quality of life. I have always eaten tons of veggies and have a yummy salad most days for lunch. Those choices most likely kept me going. And yet lingering Chronic Fatigue Syndrome would still rear its ugly head from time to time. Hmmm...
The beginning of my slide back into pain was usually an éclair. I was raised, as were many of you, that sugar was a treat. My mom came out of the depression when sugar was hard to come by. In a life committed to service to others first and with decreasing energy, the rare taste of sugar became my regular treat and quick energy. I told myself that my work made it necessary and that I deserved it. What could it hurt? I had to keep my energy up. As usual, I denied the obvious fact that this treat could have long term damaging effects.
And then there was wheat. Wheat is considered a staple and a comfort food. Again, in the consciousness of the depression, if you had wheat, you would never be hungry. I understand how the evolution of the economy, food, and my relationship to those have affected my choices. And I am "grateful" for my upbringing and the flour sack articles of clothing tucked lovingly away as a reminder of my mid-western stock and its abundance of creativity.
I treasure the memories and smell of fresh baked cookies, the first slice of banana cream pie and rich cinnamon rolls that came from my grandmothers' kitchens. Food was love and wheat and sugar were the best of that love.
Part Four: Free Again
Today is today and not my past. Today I am acting on my present inner wisdom and not my memories. Today I am happy to say that I am again gluten and sugar free. I am also going starch free for 28 days. I want to experience how it feels to be at the top of my game. I eagerly anticipate waking up in the morning pain free. I want to know how it feels to have the energy to do things after work; rather than needing to be perfectly still for 24 hours to regain some glimmer of energy. I can't wait for dry palms and not running fevers every day. And I now understand what all the activity is about in the world and want to participate.
Every day I ask my body what it wants to be healthy and happy. I eat foods that energize me, feed my brain and bring freedom of movement to my knees.
I am excited to use that amazing heritage of creativity along with a renewed energy to learn to cook a perfect pizza dough with almond flour and pancakes with quinoa along with the veggies and salad.
We are the most complex of creatures. Through this experiment, I have relearned another powerful truth:
Our emotional selves dictate a lot of our choices, consciously or not. I find that when I listen to the wisdom of my physical body and help it feel stronger and more grounded, my emotional body feels safer and therefore I make better choices. Consequently my mental body needs less caffeine, protein and sugar to sustain thought and work. Funny how this all fits together! One conscious step can bring a domino affect of miracles and joy.
I may be a slow learner, but I am very happy and excited to be a sixty something ex-gluten junkie.
I share my story to encourage you to listen and act upon your own wisdom. Listen to the truth (not the fear) of your heart and follow it.
May we all listen to the wisdom of our bodies! Who knows what magic it will bring?