Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Rethinking. Reevaluating. Reality check

"Trying to 'detox' with a warm mug of nuun..."

Since July I have been slightly obsessed with the idea of eating wheat free.  I dabbled with it for a few weeks, but then fully committed to a month without wheat in August.  It was a tricky proposition.  At the end of the month I ate a small serving of pasta.  I noticed no profound affect.  Even still, I wasn’t ready to return to my previous level of wheat consumption, so I continued with the wheat free experiment - and even stepped it up a bit by reducing how often I was eating other grains.  A few weeks later I chanced a taste of baklava at the Tulsa Greek Festival.  No reaction. I still had no strong indication that I have a physical reason to avoid wheat.  Mostly, it was just a nagging mental question of ‘I wonder if I should’.

This weekend I was pondering the grain issue again.  I began to wonder if it was even worth it.  Why should I be wheat free?  My weight hasn’t changed.  My bust/waist/hip measurements haven’t changed.  I’ve been wheat free for over three months - with nothing substantial to show for it.  I had already lost 30 pounds over a year ago, but I thought I’d at least see a noticeable change in my body composition.

This past month my husband and one of my sons joined my wheat fast.  I must say, it was delightful not to be the only abstainer in the house.  We were fully a half and half household - three wheat free - and three wheat eaters.  By week two, my husband was already talking about how he wanted a pasta meal on November 1st to break his wheat fast. 

I obliged. Last night, I made a batch of my favorite tomato sauce.  I also sautéed mushrooms, steamed fresh green beans, wilted spinach with garlic, baked meatballs --- and boiled the water for a big pot of pasta.  All the while, I was giving my husband a small rant on how I’ve had no positive affect from going wheat free.  “Over THREE WHOLE MONTHS and nothing!  I thought my last bit of fat layer would melt away! I thought I’d feel so much different!  I thought there would be more to go on, so I’d know it had been worth it!!”

Then we sat down to dinner.  And I ate.  Pasta.  For the first time in months.  My first thought was “this is not nearly as satisfying as the zucchini noodles I’ve been substituting on spaghetti night”, but I kept that thought to myself because the rest of my family was obviously happily enjoying their meal.  

About four bites in, I was already feeling full.  I had only taken a small portion of pasta, knowing I would go back for more if I was still hungry.  I ate a few more bites and then an achy, full feeling made me stop.  I felt like I had just finished a second plate of Thanksgiving dinner.  Stuffed.  From a one cup portion of linguine with tomato sauce.  Ugh! For the rest of the night I was holding my stomach.  I was in pain, not just bloated.  I haven’t had such a strong and immediate reaction to a meal in a very long time.  

Even though I had pasta about thirty days into my experiment, it didn't give the same reaction that a longer fast enabled.  I still can’t believe it.  I thought there wasn’t a strong reason (for me) to become what free.  I think I found my answer.  This morning my stomach still hurt, my head is groggy, my joints achy - like a mild flu.  

Not. Worth. It. 

I’ve eaten wheat my whole life. There was a season in my teens where I ate pasta with butter and parmesan every day.  I ate bread every day too.  I loved bread. I never would have guessed that it was creating a reaction in my body.  It took giving up the one food I ate the most to discover that it can no longer be my standby staple.  

As much as I hate feeling the way I did last night and this morning, the reaction brought me to a very important crossroads.  If I hadn’t made the choice to eat the pasta, I wouldn’t have known the answer to a question that’s been chewing on my brain for months. No book could have given me such a definitive answer. All my research was just conjecture until my body gave the final vote.  

My one small risk led to a place of clarity and resolve.  

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