notes from the corner into which i backed myself

Posted: August 18, 2018 in Uncategorized

When I last checked in, I was just about a week past my doctor handing me my new mandatory “let’s reset your acid levels” diet to try and head off as much of this gastric reflux thing as possible.  I’m now almost 60 days into following that pattern.

It’s been a ride.  I’m not gonna lie – at one point I sat at my kitchen table, looking out at my gardens and just weeping.  For real.  Fresh tomatoes just about to come on, and I can’t have them – what?!  Leeks thriving, and I can’t have even a little bit – how is THAT okay?  Lemon balm and lemongrass both getting big and beautiful, and I have no idea how they fit into the “acid profile” at all, and don’t even know who to ask?  UGH.  These things were even harder emotionally for me than the business of avoiding sweets, oils and other fats, and spicy foods.  So that one afternoon, home alone and free to feel, I just bawled.

It’s not like a death sentence or something.  Even with all the foods I CAN’T have, there are a ton of really nice things I CAN.  Being both a foodie and a pretty good cook, it’s not hard for me to come up with foods I love eating.  The adjustment is in not focusing on how many things are now forbidden.

The real battle with myself, where I finally had to make a full-on attitude decision, was while I was serving at the camp for foster kids we do every year.  The place we go has phenomenal cooks who make fantastic food every day.  It’s pretty friendly to alternative diets.  You can request gluten-free or vegetarian, and they can make that happen.  But when I presented my list of don’ts, I was quickly told they probably couldn’t accommodate that, really.  So I made a plan.  In addition to my collection of Very Healthy Snacks I’d be having while everyone else went crazy on candy, I threw in a few items that I planned to use to supplement their pretty consistent salad bar.  It seemed like it wouldn’t be that hard.

Oh man.  Did I ever meet the furthest end of my whiny, self-centered inner child.  It turned out that at most meals, I could only eat maybe one thing, which wasn’t so bad when it was oatmeal, but felt pretty rotten when it was iceberg lettuce.  I had one heck of an inner meltdown for a few days there, feeling at every meal like I had been forcibly removed from the human race.  Emotions are so dumb sometimes.

But you know what?  I never went hungry.  I repurposed some of the snack stuff to be parts of meals instead, and really I ate beautiful, incredibly healthy, nutritious, physically sustaining stuff EVERY SINGLE TIME.  There was really nothing to whine about – it was just “my flesh” screaming and pitching a fit that I couldn’t have what everyone else was having.

By the end of camp, the fight was done fought and I was past my raging resentment and pathetic pity party.  This is just where I am.  While it might be partly due to genetic predisposition, I can point pretty easily to ways I also worked myself into the corner where I currently now have to live.  I can be bitter and whiny and pout about it, or I can just deal with life as it is, and decide to be happy.  It was a bit of a fight to get here (and:  I DID WHINE), but I’m at “decide to be happy” status on it now.

And then after camp, I really felt like the Lord was leading me to finally really listen to a thing my pastor has been doing and talking about for, like, I don’t know…a year or something:  intermittent fasting.  He’s one of those “life hack” guys and is always trying the next good idea for living better, and he has talked quite a bit about this one.  Every time he has talked, I have done the mental equivalent of sticking my fingers in my ears and yelling LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU.

Who wants to fast?  I mean, like, I do it sometimes for spiritual reasons, but yo, IT’S UNCOMFORTABLE.  I don’t like uncomfortable.  I LIKE FOOD.  A LOT.

So I ignored him to the max, but then I had a few days where I heard about intermittent fasting everywhere I turned, so I stopped, sighed, and listened.  And really felt like God was pointing that direction and smiling patiently at me.

So I started.

Here’s what it is, as I practice it (I’ve heard other interpretations, but this is mine):  I choose an 8-hour window during every 24 -hour period, and that’s the only time I can eat.  Just during those 8 hours.  The other 16, I can drink as much water as I want, but no other eats or drinks.  The way that works best for my schedule is I basically eat a light breakfast, and then a mid-morning snack that is really more like “second breakfast” (my favorite hobbit thing!), and then lunch.  Since breakfast is at 7 AM, I can have an afternoon snack as long as I’m done before 3, but honestly, I almost never do.  I just stop eating after lunch.

This accomplishes some things that I know about (and probably more that I don’t):

  1. It automatically reduces the number of calories I eat – I’d have to work HARD to get as many calories in during a 6-8 hour period as I’ve traditionally gotten in during my usual 12-hour eating window.
  2. (My pastor told me this one.)  It allows my entire digestive system to take a real break from the work of digesting, for 2/3 of my hours.  This leaves room for healing (PLEASE LET MY GRD HEAL!!) and room for burning fat, as well as energy surplus that can be diverted to other body systems.
  3. It helps tame the tiger that is my unstoppable appetite.

There are some really surprising things about eating this way.

First of all, it’s not hard at ALL.  I mean, I don’t even CARE about supper.  While some of that is surely because I’ve almost completely eliminated processed sugar and processed carbs, I also feel like my body just kind of jumped on board and knows:  digestion is off duty now until morning.  No need to produce appetite.  I’m not hungry, I’m not craving, I don’t even care if others eat in front of me.  I just don’t care.  Maybe that wouldn’t be weird for you, but it’s INCREDIBLY strange for me, based on the way my body has always worked.  Once in awhile I start to want food during that time, but generally when I do I stop and listen to my body and realize:  I’m not hungry.  I just want to taste good food.  Did I mention how much I like food?!  It’s not so hard to say no, once I realize there is no hunger happening.

Secondly:  energy.  On day 3 of this way of eating, I got an extreme energy boost.  Before that, the fatigue that I had fought so hard to heal from had been creeping back, bit by bit…I had started falling asleep at my desk sometimes even when very busy and very interested in what I was doing, and I had just been feeling too tired for anything for awhile.  That was all very bad news, since it’s not really in my budget for me to go back on all of those amazing supplements that worked such miracles in my body.  But it seems that intermittent fasting (which costs zero) is doing the same thing.  I’m about 200% perkier in the morning than I was.  I’m not sleepy in the afternoons.  I still have plenty of energy when I get home after work to keep on getting stuff done.  My pastor said he got so much more energy that he had trouble sleeping for a bit…that’s not the case for me, but it’s a pretty radical improvement.

Less surprisingly, I’m losing weight.  I’m not weighing, and I won’t be, so I don’t know how much, but it is at changing-clothing-sizes level at this point.  That is not the objective (I’m beyond done on the “how can I lose weight” train) but it’s a nice side benefit.  And hey, losing weight is one of the first bits of advice given for dealing with GRD, so there’s that.

So tonight at my daughter’s house, I watched everyone else eat pizza and didn’t give a hoot.  Didn’t mind the fasting, didn’t care overly much that pizza is on my “hell no” list.  Just enjoyed the company, drank my water, and reveled that this should be so painless.

I told my pastor that when I started this, my plan had been that I would do intermittent fasting during the week, and on the weekends I would do what I want (well, relatively speaking…the GRD diet really does not permit “what I want!”)  But what I’ve found is that on the weekends, what I want is to feel as good as intermittent fasting makes me feel.  So thus far I’m sticking with it.  I’m sure there will come occasions when I need to eat dinner to be social somewhere, and I’ll figure that out when I get there.

For now, this thing is working.  I had to share, because I know I’m not the only GRD sufferer out there by far.  Maybe something I’ve shared here will be useful to you…even if it’s just the reminder that YOU CAN BE CONTENT, even when backed into a corner, even if it takes a bit of a battle to get there.

It’s possible.

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