I am more than 2/3 through the required 30 days on this elimination diet called the Autoimmune Protocol. My endocrinologist had recommended "30 days minimum, 60 is even better" and a week into AIP I was counting the days until my "sentence" was up so I could start adding things back in: coffee, nuts, tomatoes, chocolate! It felt like an eternity away until I could slowly reintroduce these foods, one at a time, with several days in between. It was hard for me to NOT eat the foods I enjoy the most, but I have been doing it strictly because it is what my doctor recommended for my health.
But lately, as I look down the road to when my 30 days is up, I have mixed feelings about this whole thing.
Excitement: I have missed being able to enjoy the simplest of things, like meats others have prepared (because I do not know what spices are in them), deviled eggs, yogurt, walnuts, a square of dark chocolate in the evenings. How nice will it be to have that cup of black decaf again in the mornings instead of sitting with a glass of water while I read the news!
Fear: Am I doing something wrong? Is it too soon to add things back in? Will I go off the rails when I get a taste of chocolate or cheese? Will my body *really* let me know which foods are good for it or not? What if I start adding things back and gaining weight? Will this truly benefit me in the long run? What if my body reacts to *everything* and I can never have coffee or nuts or paprika again?
My solution to these concerns is that I am going to take this very slowly. No rule says I *have* to start adding things back after 30 days or even 60 days, and I don't have to add things back every few days either. I can try adding back something that I really miss and that would make life easier, like eggs, and then not try anything else new for a week or two. No rush, and taking it slow will, I think, give me clearer results and less anxiety.
Yes, I have anxiety about food. Always have... except when I was bingeing with abandon. That's probably a topic for another day. But eating on AIP has calmed not only my body (inflammation) but also my emotions about food, because there is very little to choose from... in fact there are no big choices at all. My biggest choice on this diet is "what vegetable should I have with lunch?" or "what meat should I have for dinner?" Not exactly anxiety-inducing. It's a very calming way to eat, and I like that.
Sometimes I do worry what will become of me in the long run. While I don't binge anymore, I *still* miss junk food. All these years, losing 100+ pounds and gaining most of it back, and now re-losing, I have never fully lost the desire to eat things like chips and cookies. Well, I take that back. There were some nice long stretches when I was doing strict Medifast when I totally lost the cravings and desires for that stuff. I could see it, be near it, and not even want it. I still don't get the seeming "magic" of that. I know it isn't actually magic... but now, looking back, it was like a magical time and I wish I could capture it again. Most of the time I don't think about junk nowadays. I just eat my AIP foods and go on and don't have cravings or dream of food. But, as my trip to the fair last month proved, I still get a little overwhelmed with food desire when I am directly exposed to other people eating those things. It happened two other times recently when I was invited to parties at other people's houses. One was a potluck There was pizza and lasagna and a ton of desserts. I ate some chicken before I went, brought fresh steamed vegetables and had those at the party along with raw veggie sticks, and was okay. However I had a few moments when I was staring at the other food and wanting it, wishing for it, having thoughts of "I cannot believe I am on this diet NOW when I could have access to all this great food!" and feeling a little sorry for myself. But I got over it, we all finished eating and enjoyed the rest of the party. Another event had a huge table of snack foods of every kind, with about ten kinds of chips, lots of dips and spreads, popcorn, plates of cookies and crackers and candy, and homemade lemonade. I was quite thankful that they also had baby carrots, watermelon, and water to drink and I had those. But at one point, seeing all the people eating potato chips about sent me over the edge. All I could think about was when I would be able to eat some chips again. I'll note, that thought and feeling only lasted about 90 seconds and then I snapped out of it and put my focus on things other than the food. But it still scares me a little.
There have been times over the past few months when something inside me kept urging me to go to McDonald's for a Big Mac... my ultimate binge food. I have not eaten at nor gone near a McDonald's since the fly incident in 2009. I swore I would never go there again. It's my line in the sand. I can't go there. I lost all desire to go there. And yet earlier this year my brain was urging me to go there. I resisted, but those inner urgings to eat, eat, eat junk and fast food are still there, under the surface. And they scare me. Part of me still really wants to go buy a box of ice cream bars and eat them all at once, or buy pizzas and candy bars and eat them til I am stuffed. It's not in the forefront of my mind, but lurks there under the surface and sneaks out every once in awhile. I sometimes feel like there's a shadow in the corner, a monster in the closet, and I am just trying to ignore it and hope it goes away. I am working with my counselor on this stuff. The food thoughts bother me a lot less than they used to, but I don't want to get complacent and have this stuff spring out at me during a time of high stress. Better to shine some light on it now.
Today's breakfast was a mug of hot English Breakfast tea with a bit of honey and a nice big spoonful of coconut milk. Delicious! Will be biking later today, maybe a swim too, and having some pastured bacon with cantaloupe and spinach for lunch. Dinner will be... a potluck at a party. I think I'll make an AIP-friendly coleslaw (no mayo) with chunks of chicken breast in it so I have a complete meal at the party.
Hope you all are enjoying your summer!