Thursday, February 25, 2010

Suffering - A Blessing in Disguise?

Yesterday I had lunch with a good friend who recently had his gall bladder removed. He's learning that while humans can survive without the little gall buggers, it takes some adjusting. High-fat, high-carb, and extra spicy foods are out for my friend, yet he doesn't always "remember" this until it's too late.

We soon started chuckling about how even though there are all kinds of things we know we shouldn't eat, we find a way off the hook. I, for example, really shouldn't eat wheat. Ever. No really, I shouldn't. I sneeze, I itch, I suffer. A lot. Yet when a neighbor blessed my front door with a moist, truffley chocolate cake...well...I cracked.

I rationalized that I'd just have a little bit and that I'd take the Co-op's Pancreatic Enzymes to aid my system in processing the irritant (they work wonders in this way). Unfortunately, the next morning I could still feel the effects. Enzymes help minimize the damage, but they're not miracle workers.

See, I have lots of ways of letting myself off the hook. I tell myself I'll just have a little; or that I've otherwise been really good about wheat that day; or that whatever I want surely can't have that much wheat; or that I'm really hungry and don't want to suffer a growling stomach all afternoon. I'm just so darn clever, but my rationalizations don't fool my body at all.

Dr. Rodier is often quoted saying of his patients, "They haven't suffered enough yet, they're not ready to change." And it's true. My friend didn't think too much about changing his wicked ways until his gall bladder complained enough to require surgery.

I'm not so different sometimes, I'm ashamed to admit. As soon as I feel my immune system struggling, it's amazing how easy it becomes to say no to the golden grain. Yet, when I'm feeling out of harm's way, my resolve suffers. I've heard the same confessions from others trying to be more healthy; whether it's wheat, sugar, bacon, alcohol, or some other something they shouldn't have, it's tough to be good.

If pure, unbridled willpower were all it took to change, the world would be a very different place. So where to turn instead? Here are a few ways I've discovered to support myself.

Personal Resolve: Getting clear that I actually want to stay away from wheat always helps a lot. Knowing that I "should" isn't enough. It's too easy to feel rebellious and reckless.

Network of Support: Telling the people in my life that I'm staying away from wheat works wonders. My father's widow (who serves pasta, sandwiches, and other temptations for big family dinners) said, "I didn't know you couldn't have wheat. That's all I've been feeding you!" I didn't want to inconvenience her, but turns out she was happy to be more accommodating. Confessing my wheat-free wish to friends helps, too. They help me shy away from choices I'll regret and suggest places to eat with lots of friendly options.

Keeping in Touch with the Body: When I pay attention, my body has so many ways of telling me what it likes and doesn't. The sneezing is obvious, but more subtle cues include having to pry my lifeless body out of bed in the morning, dry skin, puffiness, slight bloating, and itchy ears. Charming, huh? The truth is when I tune in, I don't even want wheat. I love it when my body feels good, but when I'm not so connected to feeling (good or bad) it's easy to tolerate a lot of these symptoms.

Keeping Friendly Choices Handy: I confess, I don't plan. I fly by the seat of my pants, much to my mother's horror. However, magically, when I keep the fridge stocked with friendly foods and don't pick restaurants I know will push my resolve, it's not hard at all to keep from sneezing.

So, when I suffer the itchies and sneezies, I take it as a reminder that I need to return to better practices like the ones above. I try not to scold myself, but instead look at how I can better support myself.

1 comment:

  1. wonderfully written... thanks for the reminders of ways we can choose to feel good nutritionally. Which in turn always spills out into the rest of my life, usually in pleasant ways.