Elimination diet: first week
I’ve done a pretty good job of cutting out the potential causes of digestive alarm, but…there have been a couple slip ups. Mostly involving decaf coffee and diary substitutes. (Starbucks – why do you only have soy? Why?) However, since discovering the outrageous goodness of almond-milk decaf lattes (really good ones available at 49th parallel, Whole Foods, Bica, and Gene’s), I feel that I can overcome nearly anything. That is, except letting go of decaf coffee entirely.
Another Achilles heel? Popcorn. I am a crunchy, crunch finger food-lovin’ fan. But corn is a no-go (even dry popped and organic), so instead I will satiate my crunch needs forthwith on rice cakes.
While eliminating many of the comfort foods from my diet is a physical challenge (read on, friends, read on), the really interesting part of this process is psychological. It’s become very entertaining to watch my mind find excellent excuses for satiation:
- “But I deserve a coffee!”
- “Surely a little won’t hurt.”
- “It’s just rude not to toast with real champagne!”
- “But popcorn is healthy!”
- “They’ll think I’m so weird for not drinking!” (It is so much fun to make others responsible for my decisions.)
Truly, a major reason that I’m doing this elimination process is to withstand the strident compulsions of my mind. By changing the way I eat, I am beginning to change my identity as an eater. I am not interested in being on a temporary diet that will have me yo-yoing between being “good” and “bad.” Rather, I’d love to set up eating habits (and an identity) that will best support my functionality, wellness, and happiness as a human being. Going a bit to an extreme through this elimination diet helps me to confront the harpy voices in my head and settle into the discomfort of not appeasing my mind’s every whim. Getting comfortable with discomfort opens a world of possibilities and helps us to make good choices that are inconvenient.
…Even though I’m not giving up decaf coffee.
Yes, I see the irony. But baby steps, okay?
Symptom #1: Fatigue
So, I’ve been absolutely exhausted. Waking up in the mornings has been a muddy slog. The first four days of last week were characterized by dullness and headaches – symptoms almost certainly caused by caffeine withdrawal. And not only do I want to sleep, but my muscles feel physically tired as well. Attempting to get exercise has been pretty hilarious. I consider it a triumph if I just make it to class and do the minimum. And I’m sore! It’s as if my body is saying, “Slow down there, sister!” So yes, body, I’m listening. Slowing down as ordered.
The last time I withdrew from caffeine I experienced a similar torpor. It’s as if going off caffeine suddenly exposed my underlying extant exhaustion.
These unpleasant side affects raises the question: well, why quit caffeine anyway? If drinking caffeine gives me a happy high that makes the world seem grand, why forgo that experience? Is it that bad for you?
Well, for me, even though the highs feel great, the troughs of a caffeine crash are so brutal that I lose a sense of the difference between real and chemical fatigue. I also have a hard time with moderation. My little rat brain thinks: if one cup is good, surely four will be amazing!
For me, caffeine is like a bad, bad boyfriend. When he’s there, he feels sooooo good…and when he’s gone it feels sooooooo bad. Until I get over that cheating motherf*cker.
A secondary word for the week: bloating! Damn, but those veggies know how to turn me into a puff-monster. With a little pooching, I can seriously look as if I’m in my second trimester. I think the problem will be ameliorated by the deliberate addition of fish into my diet, rather than trying to source my protein exclusively from vegetables.
Other symptoms? I’ve also had a lovely breakout on my face. I’m told this could be related.
So: tomorrow begins the…ah, “no-cheating-whatsoever!” portion of the elimination diet.
Well, truthfully, I will do my best, I’m also going to be okay with occasional slip up’s.
Otherwise I’ll accidentally eat soy, give up the ghost, and eat a cake.