Week One Down and Food Without Emotion

I’m about to wrap up my first week on my new wheat free/dairy free life. I’ve decided to do a total elimination of anything that registered red (above .2) on the IgG scale for the first month. I’ll start challenging in foods between .2 and .25 at that point. My doctor said values over .25 were significant so those foods are going to be a no go for a longer while.

It’s been more challenging mentally than anything I think. Now that I can’t have cheese pizza, all I want is cheese pizza. Know what I mean? In reality, there is no reason the lack of wheat or dairy should hold me back at all. I just have to stop pouting about it. Now, avoiding the dozen other foods on the list for the next month…errrrr, that agitates me already. I was in the parking lot of Juice Shop this afternoon, cash in hand, stepped out of my car, and then stopped. There was no point. I can’t eat banana for the next month. I never did get dairy in my smoothies here anyway, but without banana, it would be really thin and I don’t like that. I planned Tamle Casserole for dinner one night, even asking around about making cornbread without buttermilk…but wait, salsa is a primary ingredient. I can’t eat tomato for the next month. I wanted to pick up a KIND bar to snack on during a long meeting I have tomorrow where they serve snacks. I stood and read ingredients for-ev-er looking for one without almonds or cashews. Almonds rated over .25 and cashews are out for the next month. I settled on a blueberry one and will ignore that cashews are very low on the list of ingredients. (I’ve already decided that banana, tomato, and lettuce will be the first 3 foods I challenge back into my diet.)

My gut has felt much better. I had one incidence of burping and indigestion on Friday. I’ve kept a food diary, and will continue to do so. My suspicion is that it was my snack that morning that did it: a homemade trail mix (pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, raisins, and 2 dates). I will have to challenge each of these separately I guess. Pumpkin, sunflower, date, and grapes are all under the .2 mark on the IgG scale, so I’m not sure. Who knows. The bout of illness I had on Friday was less than what I have experienced in the past and didn’t last as long, so that is a definite victory. I have also slept immensely better in the last week than I have in a very long time, something I wasn’t expecting from this diet change but I have nothing else to which I can attribute it. I only pray that this keeps up. Insomnia was a significant problem for me. However, what has not improved, and I dare say has gotten worse, is constipation. Dr. Google says that this can be a side effect of a GF diet. Sigh. I may have to call my doctor on this one. I already had this problem, I really can’t stand to let it get worse.

On a completely separate note, I want to express the delight I have over living alone. It is quiet. Things are just the way *I* want them. Only the food I CAN eat is in the house. Did I mention that it’s quiet? With that said, there are times when I feel like I would enjoy having someone to cook for, or at least someone to converse with while I cooked. That seems to be the time I notice the emptiness of my living alone. I dirty up an entire kitchen, make a meal, set the table, and it’s just me. I say this not for sympathy, pity, and certainly not for anyone to feel the need to invite themselves over for dinner. Food and emotions were so tied together for me, as they are for so many people. Somewhere along the line I lost the desire or ability to eat when I am stressed/sad/angry/hurt/whatever. Now during those times, the thought of food literally turns my stomach. I have trouble relating anymore to people who say they find sooooooo much pleasure in food. I don’t understand. It simply does not register with me as something that is suppose to draw a level of excitement or happiness. It’s something you do so you don’t die.  So when food and eating and cooking become a life chore and activity, where does that leave emotion?

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Cold Oatmeal Isn’t As Bad As It Sounds

Day One of Wheat Free/Dairy Free life and month long detox.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a morning person. I just need some space in the morning to get myself together before I am functional and ready to face the world. I have a tendency to sleep late. I like breakfast; I need breakfast (and soon after rising). However, I don’t like to cook breakfast, especially not when I have to hurry to be somewhere…like work.

For years I relied on cereal or sandwiches or fast food. In my real food switch I have come to love and adore plain yogurt. Especially with my homemade granola. Especially for breakfast. It is quick, easy, and ooh.soo.gooood. Alas, yogurt and I have had to part ways. I’ve tried soy yogurt and coconut yogurt and may have those on occasion. I think the big lesson I need to learn is not to have the same.freakin.thing.every.morning. Variety is good, right?

Enter Overnight Oats.

So good I ate half of it before this picture was taken. Note the digestive enzymes in the background.

So good I ate half of it before this picture was taken. Note the digestive enzymes in the background.

Frankly, the thought of cold oatmeal grossed me out. I mean, ew? I barely like the stuff hot, but cold? G-R-O-S-S. I scanned blog after blog last night looking at overnight oats. I was heartened to see that almost every one I read said they felt the same way I did. Everyone was initially skeptical but was won over with the first bowl. I figured what the heck. If it was super gross, I’d toss it out and have grits.

In my little bowl (don’t be fooled, you don’t have to have a mason jar, I used a small bowl):

1/3 cup oats
1/3 rice milk (plus an extra splash)
6 or 8 frozen raspberries and blueberries
In the morning I drizzled on just a touch of honey, because honey makes everything better.

 

 

I have to say, I really liked it. Cold oats were good. Tomorrow I might try 1/2 cup of oats and a 1/2 cup of rice milk. I was hungry mid morning. I could see this being a good thing. I could add lots of things to this. Peanut butter would be good, especially Trader Joe’s PB that’s already on the runny side. Mmmm.

I was really worried about what I would do about breakfasts. This will go in the rotation for sure. Now that summer is quickly approaching I will go back to having smoothies too. What can I thicken smoothies with other than yogurt? I can’t have banana for another month either. Banana will be in the top 3 to be challenged back into my diet (along with tomatoes and maybe lettuce).

IgG Allergy Testing and Coming to Terms with Major Diet Change

I sat down with my new Integrative Medicine Doctor this morning to review the results of my IgG allergy test from a month ago. He had warned me at the previous visit that his suspicion was that dairy was a big part of my problem and probably wheat too.

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All that red? Yeah…that’s the foods I’m suppose to avoid now. The fabulous news is that I only had one number that was super high. Bad news: it’s my favorite food: yogurt. All of my individual dairy items are red (cheddar cheese, swiss cheese, cottage cheese, cow’s milk, casein, whey) but yogurt takes the cake at a reaction of .89. Anything over .20 is red and my doctor said really to avoid the foods over .25 for at least the next 3 months.

Oddly enough, the number two offender on the list is brussel sprouts. Really? Ok, that’s easy enough to avoid. They never were my favorite veggie, I only ate them for variety. Other veggies I will be bidding bon voyage to: green peas, cranberries, radishes, and squash. There is a large group that fall between .20 and .25 for me and I might cut them out totally, but may sneak a serving here or there for variety: asparagus, banana, carrot, cauliflower, celery (ick!), cucumber, lettuce, tomato, watermelon,  cherries (ick!), and lime. Thankfully many great summer fruits are all A-OK: peach, apricot, strawberry, blackberry, plum, and pear. Blueberries are not listed, so I may tread lightly with those. Lemons are also ok. Stoked about that!

Giving up dairy will not be that hard. I will mourn the loss of my morning yogurt. I will miss the occasional piece of cheese, but if I get to really wanting it, I can get Diaya. My dad has been dairy free since before I was born, it’s way of life for him. It will be a minor mindset change (and some breakfast rearranging 🙂 )

Now for the harder parts. Wheat and gluten ride the fence for me at .224 and .226 respectively. The doctor said I didn’t have to give up wheat; he did say he was surprised that my number was this low. He strongly urged me to give up wheat. I know I should. I really should. I will read Wheat Belly. Maybe I will make myself buy it this weekend for the extra incentive. I’m intimidated by having to learn to bake all over again. I have so much wheat based food here! I have an unopened loaf of Ezekiel Bread in my fridge. I can’t throw that out!! I have pounds of flour (AP, white whole wheat, regular whole wheat), not to mention a loaf of banana bread on the counter and whole wheat muffins in the freezer. It just overwhelms me to think about where to start.

To add insult to injury: no more almonds. At .291 It’s got to go for at least the next 3 months. This is a favorite snack and the only milk I drink. Now I need to investigate new milk again. I don’t drink much, but it is good to have occasionally. Rice? Hemp? Back to soy? I love nuts to snack on in general, but as of now, no more almonds, cashews, walnuts, or pistachios. Must rethink snacking too. Even though peanuts cross the line at .204 doc said I’d be ok to keep eating those. I think I’ll moderate my intake though.

Not to make this the longest blog post ever, but isn’t it weird that vanilla bean ranked pretty high too? Crazy!

I think my plan for now is to finish off the perishable dairy items in my fridge this weekend, and be dairy free by Monday morning. I’ll think about the wheat and nuts. I’d do about anything to feel better all.the.time about now.

Fitness Goal Met

This week I accomplished a goal I never thought possible.

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I finished a 5k.

I won’t say I ran a 5k because I didn’t run it all. I ran more than I walked, but not every step. I never, ever, ever thought I would run anything, let alone a 5k and I did run probably 2/3 of it. Maybe I even ran a little more. It wasn’t the fastest time in the bunch, but it wasn’t the slowest either. It was the fastest I’ve ever done, and I beat the goal I set for myself by 3 minutes. I am pleased.

Not only did I finish this 5k, I trained for this 5k. I started training about 10 weeks ahead of time. I made a plan, and I stuck to it. It sucked at times. I realized that my body is in pretty crappy shape for running. I may be in the gym 4 days a week lifting weights and doing cardio, but my joints were not prepared for pounding the pavement (or treadmill).

Even when I hurt myself I stuck it out and got back on the treadmill and got back at it. A few days of rest and back to the grind.  I maybe wasn’t able to make it the full 5k running, but I walked it out each time. It certainly was a new kind of experience for my body to train for an endurance event rather than the burst of energy expenditure of weight lifting.

The Color Run was the perfect first experience at a 5k. There’s a reason they call it the Happiest 5k on the Planet. You can’t NOT have fun doing this.

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And I can’t end this entry without saying a big thank you to my BFF Kim for nudging me along into this. I would never have believed fitness could be this much fun.

Life Without Qualifications

“8 months sober”
-today’s facebook status

I started to qualify that with something else. I started to say something like “8 months sober. I know that’s not much, but it’s a start” or “8 months sober. I know a lot of people will see this as condescending, but I really don’t care if you drink.” Then I realized something. I don’t have to qualify my life (or my facebook status updates) for anyone. If someone wants to judge me for today’s post, than that is their problem not mine. Sure, there are other people with worse problems. Sure, there are people who will think I am being holier-than-thou about alcohol. I don’t really care. Life is what it is, straight forward. There is nothing to read into that sentence, no inference to be made, no hidden agenda, no passive aggressive message, no code words. It means what it says. It has been 8 months since I had alcohol. Anyone who tries to read more into that than is there is the one with a problem, not me. This must be what it is like to stop denigrating myself. It’s my life and I don’t have to qualify it as anything else. What an interesting concept.

Coloring on the Blank Pages of Life

When I was little I liked coloring books. Know why? Because the “art” was already laid out for you. All I had to do was pick up my crayon and color inside the lines and I had an instant masterpiece. There wasn’t any creativity or real talent involved, just fill in the blanks. Even better was color by number because those told you what colors went in what areas so it was guaranteed to come out looking just perfect. No surprise that I am still a “rule follower” personality type, huh?

I’ve come to realize that for the first time in my whole damn life I’m coloring on a blank page. And it scares the shit out of me.
Life is suppose to follow the plan:
*graduate high school…check
*go to college…check
*graduate said college…check
*get married…check
*get a Master’s Degree…check
*get a good job..check
*buy a house and get a dog…check
*have a baby and live happily ever after…oops.
The plan derailed. No mention of my big fat divorce in that plan.

My coloring book life had a misprint, but I feel like I picked the pages up and stuck them back together as best as I could at that point. I started a new book and a new outlook. This book looked a little more like connect the dots then color by number, but I was learning to be ok with that. I’ve never been one to accept change easily (and that my friends is the understatement of the year) but I had a rough idea of where I was going and I just had to work a little harder to make the picture appear.

Now that there are no more dots to connect and no more pictures to color I’m left with blank pages in my coloring book. For the first time in all of my 30 years I have no clue where I am going or what I am doing. I have a degree and a job. I have the most supportive parents on the planet. But otherwise it’s page after page after page of blank paper. I have no guidelines on where to go. A lot of people would find this really exciting, a “choose your own adventure” situation, to continue this terrible metaphor. Me? I’m scared out of my mind. I feel lost without a plan. I will let go of the anger and bitterness and resentment of not being able to connect all of those dots when I thought I was remaking my coloring book. It gets a little easier as the days pass. But the emotion looming is just the simple fear of the unknown on all those blank pages. I’m not one to travel without a map, and life is a pretty big adventure to tackle without an itinerary.

Getting By

Put on your happy face
Fake it til you make it
Grin and bear it

None of these stupid slogans work. The concept of “presenteeism” isn’t new in the literature regarding people with mental illness in the workplace. It’s the idea that millions of people with depression or bipolar disorder or any number of other mental illnesses get up everyday and tell themselves one those same stupid slogans, go to work and/or about their reglar lives like nothing is wrong. However, behind closed doors they are likely a wreck. This is a concept I know all too well. And it sucks. Why do it? Why pretend like everything is ok when in reality you feel like garbage? The answer to this is as varied as the people of who do it. Depression isn’t going to pay my bills, and a minimum level of pleasantness is required to keep my job, so 5 days a week I attempt to master that first stupid slogan. Depression isn’t going to walk my dog or clean up if he makes a mess in the house, so everyday I do that third stupid slogan.

I doubt anyone would argue that there is still a huge stigma surrounding mental illness. I would venture to guess that many people who are just getting by are doing so because they don’t want anyone else to know the truth. Or, others have known the truth before and haven’t handled it well. It’s really hard to have your symptoms dismissed or laughed at by people you thought you could trust.

If I had a nickel for every time I heard someone say “it will be ok, cheer up” I would be f’n rich. Give me a damn break. Recovering from and dealing with depression isn’t about cheering up. Everyone gets sad sometimes. Many people will experience a depressive episode at some point during their lifetime. But for people who have an ongoing or recurring battle with this disease, telling them to cheer up is downright insulting. I a comparison once that said that sadness is to depression what a head cold is to cancer. It’s not easy to get over, can require multiple avenues of treatment, and can be fatal for some.

I had forgotten how much energy it takes to take a shower. I woke up around 9 this morning thinking I needed to get up so I don’t waste my day. Suddenly it was 4 in the afternoon and I hadn’t done anything. I can sit here and think of 20 things that I should do or might like to do, but can’t begin to make myself do them. I’ve watched more TV in the last 2 weeks than I have in the last 3 months because it doesn’t require thought or action. I can’t focus long enough to read.

I know that most people will say that I’m taking this way too seriously and I need to just get up and move on. Please don’t trivialize me that way. I can’t begin to explain why this is so hard. This was not a teenage love affair gone bad. Yes, I over-invested in this emotionally. I think anyone would have been pretty invested to someone they were talking about marrying within the next few years. And he was the one gung-ho about getting married BTW. My only picture for how my future looked just moved into the past tense. I knew where I was going and why I was doing everything I was doing. I was doing it to move forward to make a new life with the man that I loved so we could make a family. Now nothing. Now I have zero idea of what I doing anything for. Why bother? Get up, go to work at a job that’s just ok, to come home and exercise (the one thing I enjoy I guess but takes an act of Congress to convince me to go every night), and go to bed. I feel like my whole life went from above average to “meets minimum standards.”

You have so much to be happy about.
You should be thankful for all you have.
People are a lot worse off than you are.

I will not disagree in the least with these statements, but these are all arguments used by people who have never been depressed and don’t have the first clue what it’s like. I do have quite a lot to be thankful for and happy about. I am grateful for that. I am especially thankful for my dog and cat right now who have been the best companions anyone could ask for. And yes, there are people so, so, so much worse off than me, who have much better reasons to be depressed. I know people in the last year who have been through real tragedy, and I am so sorry for them. How I feel doesn’t for one iota diminish the pain or suffering of any other person who is also hurting, no matter the reason. And we are all hurting over something. Each person’s pain is real to that person, no one is able to judge or condemn someone for feelings for any reason, including because someone else is hurting worse.

I know this has been a rather rambling post. I know that it is not along the lines this blog was started over. For these things I apologize. I do not apologize for having the f’n courage to say that I have dealt with depression for most of my life, and it does suck. Sometimes it sucks worse than others and right now is a way suckier time. If you are also having a sucky time, please get help.

National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) Helpline 1 800 950 NAMI (6264) can help you find someone locally.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1 800 273 TALK (8255)