It’s now been approximately five months since I began this round of the ACD, and, over this time, I’ve slowly been coming to the realization that, well, it’s not likely to end any time soon.
As I may have mentioned before, the last time I pursued this regimen, it took two years to eradicate the yeastie beasties. Why so long, when for most people, six months is more than adequate? I’m just lucky, I guess. (Either that, or those childhood PB and chocolate milk breakfasts, teenaged May West and coffee-with-Coffee Mate breakfasts, 20s-era birthday cake and oatmeal cookie breakfasts, and 30s-decade Weight Watchers mousse and Diet Pepsi breakfasts really weren’t that healthy, after all. Seriously, I couldn’t have done worse had I walked into a pesticide factory and started downing beakers of random chemicals). When it comes to eating foods that nourish and strengthen my body, it seems I still hadn’t quite learned my lesson.
While I was able, eventually, to reintroduce gluten and sweeteners to my diet last time (and my naturopath assues me that will happen again, even this time), I fear that eventually, as with any addict reintroduced to a source of the addiction, I began to abuse the privilege. When I last went off the diet, rather than enjoy an abundance of fresh-fruit based desserts or an occasional (ie, less often than 5 times a day) sweet indulgence, I went the whole tofu and chowed down on a daily injection of chocolate, chocolate, and chocolate (in fact, I even considered changing the name of this blog to reflect that fact). And while I still dearly love desserts, even healthy ones (heck, I just wrote a whole cookbook devoted to them!), like any addict, I really have no self control when it comes to my trigger foods.
[What I should have eaten more often: fresh and fruity sorbet. . . and even easy to make!]
I mean, have you ever heard of an alcoholic who can stop at just one drink? I think Denis Leary’s character, Tommy Gavin, a firefighter who can’t seem to avoid getting sauced, is a prime example of the principle:
Week One: “I’m handling it. It’s just one drink.”
Week Two: “I’m handling it. I’m only having one a night.”
Week Three: “I’m handling it. I only drink when I feel like it, but so what if that’s all day? I can stop any time.”
Week Four: “Muh habble it. Dwnn tuh meh naw drkkeng drurving!” (Please do not adjust your set. Comprehensible dialogue will return once he sleeps off the inevitable hangover).
And so, dear readers, I’ve finally decided to just accept my own shorcomings as well as my current situation (after all, self acceptance is the first part of healing, right?). I’m determined to embrace the ACD, limitations and all. If I have to stay on it for a year, so be it. If I have to stay on it for life, well–I won’t be happy, but I can live with it (and I wasn’t living too well without it, come to think of it). It’s not as if I’m malnourished, or even that I dislike the foods I’m consuming; and I’d never share a recipe on the blog that I didn’t think was appealing to anyone’s taste buds, special diet or not. It’s just that I miss baking. I really, really miss baking. And I miss eating what I bake.
Still, given the choice, I’d rather continue to see my health improve (about 85% there at the moment) and continue to see my weight decrease, than eat chocolate every day. Besides, I’m learning to think of the ACD as just another culinary challenge: it’s time to begin creating delicious gluten-free, maybe even grain-free, stevia-sweetened desserts for a while. Let the kitchen games resume!
As I mused about the situation, I was reminded of two experts whom I admire and respect, albeit from two completely divergent fields.
The first is Geneen Roth, acclaimed author of When Food is Love and a regular columnist in Good Housekeeping magazine. When the HH and I relaxed up north this past weekend, I brought a slew of magazines to peruse by the pool, and came across Roth’s latest column, entitled, “Reality Bites.” She wrote about how she’d recently been diagnosed with allergies to both milk and chocolate–two of her very favorite foods.
At first, Roth rebelled against the diagnosis, thinking, “I refuse to give up the foods I love.” Eventually, she came round to the reality of the situation, stating, “It’s hard enough to have. . . allergies. But when you can’t stop thinking about how much you hate the fact that you have to spend your time doing what you need to do, you double the difficulty.” Well, I reasoned, I have quite enough difficulties in all the other areas of my life at the moment, thank you very much; I’d hate to convert eating into yet anohter hardship as well.
The second expert I thought about was Jon Kabat Zinn, who penned Wherever You Go, There You Are and Full Catastrophe Living. To Zinn, a champion of, and pioneer in, stress reduction and mindfulness meditation, living in the moment and appreciating the here and now is paramount to a happy life. Again, I couldn’t help but think, “Look at all the other wonderful things in my life right now–a secure job in these crazy economic times; a (rather appealing) roof over my head; a loving HH; long-term, close friendships; and two of the most adorable canine kids I’ve ever encountered (okay, I may be a tad biased on the canine thing).
["What do you mean, 'a tad biased,' Mum? We're crushed."]
The point is, I decided it’s time to focus on the positives in my life rather than the deficiencies. I may even resume the practise of keeping a gratitude journal (in which you enumerate at least 5 good things that occurred each day, every day. Over time, believe it or not, your mood is elevated just by focusing on such things.). It’s much more productive, and healthy, to maintain a focus on what’s good in life instead of the list of foods I have to give up for a while.
Roth said it beautifully when she wrote, “Giving up certain foods doesn’t mean giving up what you want to feel when you eat them. Staying away from sweets doesn’t mean that you need to deprive yourself of sweetness or comfort or joy.”
And so, I will continue to forge ahead with the blog in this new direction and hope all of you who’ve been reading for a while will stick with me, even though my recipes will be geared toward more gluten-free and low sweetener recipes for a time. And to all the new readers who’ve found my blog by searching for anti-candida recipes or allergen free foods, welcome! The gluten and natural sweeteners will return eventually.
But for now, I hope you’ll all join me on this often challenging, necessarily innovative, and naturally sweetened healing path.
“Mum, don’t worry about not eating sweeteners–we do it all the time, and our food still tastes great! Then again, we eat poo.”