And Then, You’re There

Maybe a milestone is easy for me to miss, which seems contradictory, as I hold it in high regard, a true moment of significant development. Yet, such a moment did occur this past Thursday but it was not until Black Friday that I noticed.

Like many Americans who gave thanks this past week, I have food allergies/sensitivities that require some adjustment to the traditional Thanksgiving turkey meal: stuffing made with gluten/yeast free bread, organic apples and freshly ground sausage; organic sweet potatoes, green beans, and cranberries; no salt, no refined sugar.

When I woke up on Black Friday feeling not only fine but wonderful, I became suspicious. I had been careful with my meal preparation and ingredients yet I anticipated a bit of a reaction to the amount of carbohydrates I had consumed. There was none. 

Thus, it may have dawned as a Black Friday like any other–I am not given to participating in the holiday season gift frenzy—but it became  the day I realized that 26 months of fastidious eating habits had finally returned my digestive system to a state it has not known in decades: harmony.

When I first began eating gluten, yeast, dairy, soy, and sugar-free in August, 2010, I learned as I ate, which I soon discovered meant being precise in my eating and foregoing a lifelong habit of eating to please any particular craving that appeared. On Black Friday, 2012, I reaped the rewards of overcoming carbohydrate cravings, giving myself and my taste buds a new life.

New life is not really an exaggeration for I left behind all I had known—my well-worn, conditioned ways of living–for the freedom of the unknown–shed of past and future in favor of the present—a path that unfolds only moment by moment. Here, I trust my heart over my head–there isn’t room or need for any baggage–an open heart travels light.

In the early days, there are sugar cravings in as many forms as there are thoughts: a very dry, vodka martini shaken so hard that slivers of ice float on its surface evaporates into a cheese-dripping, twice-baked potato melting into a milk chocolate fondue for pound cake and strawberries. They are mirage, part and parcel of the past, ultimately powerless in the realm of the present.

In 26 months, the past has had its way with me. Sometimes, rather than giving into the image, I tried a “substitute,” seeking sugar in all the wrong places, always sorry the next morning and often, sooner. The taste of sugar always seemed just beyond me until I stopped reaching into the past. The last time I ate ice cream, I felt as if I were eating raw sugar from a sugar bowl. For the rest of the day, I could not brush my teeth enough, and the next morning, I had a hangover.


So, being able to eat apples, bread stuffing, cranberries, and sweet potatoes in one meal without an immediate or delayed reaction is a milestone. And, I have continued to enjoy Thanksgiving leftovers without any reaction, without any weight increase. In fact, for over a year, I have maintained a 50+ pound weight loss and for the last six months, my total loss has stayed right at 68-69 pounds.

My constant companion on this path has been steady weight loss, from the first day 26 months ago. Of course, my forays into the dark side of sugar always resulted in some kind of temporary weight gain but for the first time in my life, losing weight was not an effort.

My exercise is modest–mostly walking–although yoga is now playing a more active role. And while I would not have thought it possible, I truly enjoy eating a varied regimen of green, leafy and low carbohydrate vegetables, a few legumes, nuts/nut butters, infrequent fish/poultry, almond milk and now, some fruit.

Most of the digestive system resources are quite imprecise on how long it may take to return to what I call digestive harmony. Occasionally, however, I found this general guideline: it takes one month for every year the digestive system has been out of balance. In my case, 26 years of digestive disharmony is plausible, but more than anything, it is baggage from the past best left leaning against the Black Friday milestone. Soon, none of it will even be a thought.

19 thoughts on “And Then, You’re There

  1. I have been reading a book called ‘Proust was a Neuroscientist’ about how different ‘artists’ have been proven correct by recent scientific discoveries. There is a chapter on Escoffier, the French chef, and a Japanese scientist working with taste and if I remember correctly it is kind of saying we can reprogramme our brains via our taste buds by changing our eating habits. Interesting stuff anyway! It is amazing how important our diet is to our well being. Love the Wyoming photos and glad you enjoyed Thanksgiving – we seemed to get more on it here this year too!!

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    1. Great minds reading alike, Diana, as I have placed a hold on Lehrer’s book at my local library. Can’t remember where I ran across it of late, perhaps your or Sigrun’s blog?. From my understanding, there is some serious scientific consideration of our changing our physiology at the cellular level as you say as well as through consciousness, the latter an obvious interest of mine. My own experience tells me that diet and consciousness can affect a significant change at any age.

      Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve are my two favorite holidays, as for me, they are similar, although that would not be a common American opinion. I see them as a time of gratitude for and wonder at life. Not a surprise to you at all, I am sure. Have often wondered what you all make of our time of Thanksgiving.

      Karen

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  2. Another fantastic post, Karen! I find this so interesting especially because I had a very similar reaction to salt. Growing up in NJ, Pork Roll sandwiches for breakfast was the food vice of choice; part of a widespread epidemic of bad eating trends. Fast forward a number of years and I met my friend, Tom, a clinical nutritionist who taught me about proper eating habits. At the time heart health and lowering sodium intake were becoming all the rage so obviously my beloved pork roll was at the top of the “to go” list. Like you, I missed it at first and had all the cravings, etc. About a year later I was visiting my parents for Christmas and my mother cooked up a big batch of pork roll; of course I dove right in! Wouldn’t you know, I spit it right out because I couldn’t stand the taste; it was as if I was eating a block of salt dipped in fat. I’m so happy to hear your body has adjusted to your new regimen and you are reaping the benefits; interesting fact about the amount of time it takes the body to return to a balanced state. Kudos to you on the return to health and the fantastic weight loss, it sounds like your physiology has adjusted itself because you’re giving your body just what it needs. Your journey continues to be an inspiration and I’m certain your honesty and disclosure are helping others traveling their own paths. I love the first photo, was that taken in Wyoming? Gorgeous.

    Stephanie

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    1. The first photo is from Wind River Canyon in Wyoming, a magnificent drive, as you can imagine; the canyon is quite the geological milestone in its own right. Actually all of Wyoming is quite a geological paradise, untouched by most standards, as it is a harsh climate.

      Good for you and salt, something I did as well, years ago. What you describe is exactly what I feel when I eat out as I no longer cook with salt. I’ve discovered so many interesting spices, as I am sure you have. From reading your blog, http://www.chucklespace.com, I can imagine your parents’ reaction….

      I do hope that people find this type of post helpful for that is its purpose. Thanks for mentioning it.
      Karen

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    1. Hi, Ryan!

      This is one regimen where weight loss is a constant encouragement, and I mean that sincerely. Many would say that it is because there is so little to eat, which I believed for a while, but I discovered that when I gave my body what it needed to recover, weight loss was quite effortless. I finally learned that exercise has very little to do with weight loss. Thanks for stopping by.
      Karen

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  3. I celebrate with you, Karen! What I didn’t anticipate is how the changes would make me feel about fruit. Apples are magnificent. “Little Cuties” are a gourmet treat. And pineapple? Yum. Rather than feeling deprived, I appreciate food more than before. In my old way of eating, I used to joke that my version of the food pyramid was inverted, but now that insatiable appetite for sugar is gone. Freedom!

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    1. In every aspect it is freeing, just as you say, Deb. Probably what amazed me most is the effect upon my brain. Any time sugar crept into my system it was as if I was inducing brain fog, which would last for days. Of course, my entire system was on overload but it seemed to take my brain the longest to recover, which may be saying more about me than I should!

      Always enjoy your thoughtful comments, Deb, and am so glad that we are sugar-free sisters. Good for you, Deb!

      Karen

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  4. Thank you, Karen, for sharing your journey. Minimizing the use of sugar is an ongoing battle for me; your post shows it’s actually possible. I would say you found a new and rather wonderful way to celebrate Black Friday!

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    1. Yes, Beth, there is a sugar-free land that is bountiful; it really does exist, I promise you. I suspect that from now on, Black Friday will bring a bit of a smile. Hope you enjoyed Africa; am looking forward to reading about your trip.
      Karen

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