Sunday, August 15, 2010

Health and self-knowledge

A month ago I gave myself a challenge. 30 days without consuming white flour, white sugar, or caffeine. This was a challenge, certainly, because it results in cutting out pretty much anything processed or pre-made (and our kitchen is still unfinished, which complicated matters!) However, as I've posted about previously, we've been heading towards a more whole/unprocessed foods lifestyle for awhile, so it wasn't as huge a step as it would be for the average American family.

Still, no chocolate! No ice cream! No donuts after church! No chocolate!!!

It was hard. And I chose to break my own rules a couple of times. But I learned so much about my body while doing it! I learned that the longer I go without any of those foods, the easier it is to keep saying no to them. As soon as I give in, I want to keep giving in. I learned that it is possible to re-train taste buds - the starbucks mochas that I used to love now taste unpleasantly sweet. I learned that white flour triggers cravings for white sugar, and vice versa. They really do seem to go together. When I do eat them, I feel "hungry" about an hour afterward, regardless of how much food I ate at the previous meal. It isn't quite the same thing as true "haven't eaten anything for five hours" hunger, though. The difference is subtle, but I know how it feels now and can recognize it. For a girl who used to be constantly frustrated by feeling "hungry" directly after meals, this self knowledge brings a wonderful feeling of power. I know the difference, and I can choose to act on that knowledge.

But why try such a crazy plan in the first place? Primarily because I was trying to find a solution to some health problems I've been having. Unreasonable fatigue was the biggest issue, along with various other symptoms that added up to what sounded like adrenal fatigue. Yes, I know that many doctors don't think such a thing exists. But the doctors I saw also told me that I was just fine/perfectly normal, which wasn't particularly helpful. :) In any case, cutting white sugar/white flour/caffeine was a suggestion that I found on multiple websites dedicated to this non-existent problem, and since no one will tell you that those things are good for you, I figured it couldn't hurt to try it. :)

I'm glad that I did. On top of the gift of better self-knowledge, I think that some of my symptoms are getting better. It remains to be seen how it works long-term, of course, but the fatigue seems to be lessening a bit. And as an added bonus, I lost 5.5 pounds, this while exercising less than I usually do. (While that may not sound like much, in context of the fact that it took me 9 months to lose 10lbs last year while working out intensely nearly every day, this is nothing short of incredible.)

So I think I'll continue. I don't like giving up sugary treats; I miss brownies dreadfully. But I like feeling better. I like eating, feeling full, and then feeling truly hungry hours later. I like not being quite so tired. I plan to choose to ignore my rules on occasion (if eating at someone's home, for example, or if I just really really really want to eat brownies) but I will do so knowing the results in advance, and weighing my choice carefully.


Amber said...

Good for you, Emily!!

I'm glad that this is making such a big difference for you. I hope it continues to bear good results for you as you continue with these sorts of diet changes.

I know I've found personally that I don't think I'm all that sensitive to white flour (or maybe I'm in denial there!), but white sugar, artificial sweeteners and caffeine are horrible for me. This summer I've finally found that the last artificial thing that tasted good to me (Raspberry Instant Tea) tastes like a strange chemical cocktail. It was amazing how long that hung on though...

I do find this sort of knowledge rather annoying at times though - and it is awfully hard to eat when I go anywhere! But at this point it is a lot easier to say no to junk because I know how bad it will make me feel.

Good for you in giving it a try!

Ma Torg said...

That is really awesome!

Alisha said...

Hi Emily! That sounds great! I'm excited for you. I'm thinking about doing the Green Smoothie Challenge in September.

Do you think you could share your recipe for your whole wheat bread? It sounds yummy and wholesome! Thanks!