|"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.