Monday, November 28, 2016

Without the Sugar

This is my first week "restricting" sugar (for the reasons I shared in my last post, this is non-triggering and complements my disordered eating recovery plan). There is no rule and no diet plan; this is a welcomed change that makes me feel good about my eating. The goal here is pain reduction and better health. I am now avoiding sugar in a way that contributes to joint health. For me, that means I am not getting obsessive and avoiding every food that has any form of sugar in any amount; it means I am avoiding the amounts of sugar that I feel are harmful to me and cause me pain. Generally if it's processed and it tastes sweet, that's too much for me.

Small amounts of sugar and large amounts of most fruits have always been fine for me. I can eat a bowl of cantaloupe or a banana or a couple of peaches and feel just fine.... no pain. I do feel a little shaky and weird if I eat much dried fruit or a large helping of pineapple or mango, so I will restrict those things but not other fruit. I have also always been able to eat a square or two of dark chocolate without any joint pain or blood sugar weirdness, so that is still something I'll enjoy. I've been fine with a teaspoon of honey or real maple syrup here and there. It's the mega-doses of refined sugar and the small doses of corn syrup that bother me the most. So I am staying away from sweets such as cookies, cakes, and candy now in general. But it's *not* a hard and fast rule that can never be broken. Choosing to have those foods, if I do so, will not send me into some kind of guilt-ridden state of shame. This is not a diet, or a rule, or even a goal.

For example, if I am offered cake, I am turning that down. I have a calmness about this because I know that if I really want it and consciously decide that the pain and health risks are "worth it" for any specific food item, I can still eat it and *not* feel guilty. Thus I may decide that a piece of some special treat, like a birthday cake my family made for me, is "worth it" and enjoy a piece. That is just fine! And if there is a sweet food I am really curious to try, I will have a bite. If it's not amazing, one bite is enough to satisfy and not want the rest. I have been doing this already at times. I have been able to eat a bite or one serving of sweets and not be triggered into a spiral of crazy food obsessions and wanting to eat more and more until I am in a food coma. That part of the disorder appears to be healed, or in remission.

This is the first step out of the "eat anything anytime" stage I have been in while calming the anxiety around disordered eating, quieting the compulsion. I think it was very important for me to get to a truly calm, accepting, okay-with-everything state before moving into *any* kind of restriction, even for reasons of pain or health, because the goal is to recover from disordered eating. Now that I am there, this change is feeling very non-triggering for me! I am happy to stay in this stage for as long as need be. Over time any food that is negatively affecting my health will also go into this health-restricted category with the same idea... that I will avoid what harms me and leave the door open to *choosing* any foods I want to lift the restriction on.

I know this probably sounds pretty wishy-washy to anyone who has never dealt with an eating disorder, but it's working for me. There's a fine line *emotionally* between making a set rule that "I will never have that" and making a choice that "I don't want that food in my life harming me, so I'll avoid it with few exceptions." The door HAS to stay open for choices, for me, in order to not get triggered into stressing about food, weight, and diet... which leads right back into disordered food thoughts. This is a gentle, flexible restriction... not a hard one.

My other choice for this week is to make sure I get out and walk every day. with the weather getting colder I have started to slack off in the walking department. I have to do something with the dogs every day but when it is cold, I sometimes just exercise them in my yard (with lots of ball and Frisbee throwing!) That's great exercise for them, but not for me. I feel better when I go for a walk so I will make sure I don't get lazy about it over the winter.

Since people do ask me to share menus, I'll share here. I don't post my food every day like I used to, because food is not the focus. But occasional menus give you an idea how I am eating right now.

Breakfast: coffee with 1 tsp blackstrap molasses and half & half, hard boiled egg
mid-day: coffee with sugar free caramel creamer
Lunch: homemade turkey soup with lots of veggies (no rice or pasta) and a slice of beer bread (made from scratch)
afternoon snack will probably be a Clementine and a string cheese
Dinner is going to be turkey tertrazzini from this recipe with more turkey and vegetables added and no bread crumbs. Maybe some baked acorn squash with this, with butter, salt and pepper.
If I have something at bedtime it will be a mug of hot milk with cinnamon and blackstrap molasses.

Hope you all are doing great, had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are enjoying the holiday spirit!


Roxanne said...

Great meal planning and strategy around sugar, Lynn! Our mindset really do change the way we act around food :)

Gina Loya said...

You sound so peaceful lately. Wonderfully encouraging. I am going to try warm milk with molasses and cinnimon, sounds delightfully comforting?

Lyn said...

Thanks Roxanne :)


I do feel peaceful! No drama. It's great! The milk with molasses and cinnamon is wonderful. It tastes like gingerbread. You can add a drop of vanilla, too. Blackstrap molasses is rich in minerals and has lots of health benefits :)

Anonymous said...

The change in your 'voice' is amazing. I have read you from the start and recall the desperate frenzy of binges you used to write about. The fact that you have accomplished calm around all foods is encouraging, I am sure, to all those with the same issues. I have always been average weight but I began reading your blog to try and understand a coworker who was in a binge recovery group. She was very vocal about wanting all of us to hide our foods and not bring "triggers" into the office. It seemed a bit much to expect an office of 15 people to adapt to her program, but we tried. I think your approach now makes more sense. By the way, she is still heavy and no longer on the program and is eating all those foods she tried to ban us from at work. I guess her approach did not work.

LHA said...

Lyn, the attitudes and actions regarding food that you have developed are exactly what I came to decide for myself a couple of years ago. I had been on all of the ups and downs that you experienced and then some before getting more sane about food. It is only food! It is not magical, it won't cure problems, it doesn't make you a bad person if you eat it, and no matter what you eat during a day it is still only one day. I do not have the same reaction to sugar that you have with the pain, but I don't feel as good when I am eating sugar and it definitely does increase my appetite. I have also discovered it has a very detrimental effect on my mood and I do suffer from a mood disorder. I have developed a different way of eating than you but we do have in common the idea that no food is off limits forever and if I choose to eat a piece of birthday cake or a Christmas cookie that is OKAY. I know for me these have to be rare occasions and I am fine with that. When I eat something that I can't have often, I REALLY enjoy it and I usually eat a large piece of it to boot! I am down 90+ pounds so this is working for me. Good luck on your journey and just remember if you do have a day now and then when your eating doesn't feel right to you, tomorrow is another day. It's all about adjusting as you go and finding the right combination of foods for you.

Michelle said...

Not judging, just curious, but what happened to the biking across America challenge? I'm sure you addressed it at some point, but I don't remember.

Lyn said...

Thanks Anon and LHA :)


It is on hold because it was contributing to my diet/weight mindset and obsessive thinking.