Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Elimination Diet Wrap Up, Part 1

I disappeared this last week - into work, into studying for organic chemistry, into occasional bouts of self-pity, and into a baking frenzy. After my success making sugar and dairy free banana muffins, I was determined to try my hand at pumpkin bread. What followed were many nights of baking that have yet to produce a bread good enough to post. Good enough to eat, yes. But would I stake my reputation on any of the recipes? Definitely not. I'll keep trying though. Until...well, until I come up with a great recipe or get really tired of pumpkin. Whichever happens first.

In the meantime, I owe you all a post and a wrap-up of my elimination diet. I've been avoiding writing this because I wasn't sure how much to share. I've seen so many bloggers writing about how wonderful they felt on the elimination diet, and I wanted to be able to write a triumphant final post about everything I've learned and how much better I feel now. Unfortunately I can't exactly do that. While I think the elimination diet is a great idea, and most likely will do a modified version again at some point, there was something I didn't take into account when I started this plan: I'm a former binge eater. If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know how I've struggled with bingeing for years. And it's taken me years to get to a moderate and healthy place with food. Because I was feeling so good about food before I started the elimination diet, I thought I would handle it fine. The truth is, while I did learn a lot about how my body handles different foods, restricting my eating so much set me up for a major rebound. Perhaps this would not have happened if I were not so stressed, but I also chose a rather silly time to do a major diet overhaul. I'm working, taking classes, and applying to grad school. So of course being the perfectionist that I am, I decide now's the time to start a healthy diet plan that requires even more time in the kitchen. Uh huh... You see where I'm going here, right?

People who binge tend to think in black and white when it comes to food. And for years, that was exactly how I thought. I was either perfect or ate everything in sight. Letting go of bingeing has meant letting go of my idea that I had to eat perfectly all the time. Most of the time I eat healthy, but not all the time. And that's okay. But when I decided to follow the elimination diet, I felt I needed to be perfect. I think that the people around me could see what I couldn't. That in my quest to heal my body, I was only harming it more. I can't stress enough that this had nothing to do with the diet itself, which I still wholeheartedly endorse, but with the way I handled it. In needing to follow it perfectly, I set myself up for a fall, back into bingeing.

When I eventually added everything back in (except for gluten), I found I couldn't control my impulses. Whereas before I had been able to have sweets or cheese in the house without going overboard, I was suddenly incapable of stopping myself. I have to admit to you that for the last week, I've disappeared into bingeing as much as everything else I mentioned. And I haven't completely climbed out of the hole yet. I'm getting there, but it was a shock to find how quickly I went back to a place I haven't really been to in years. At least, not to this extent. The one thing that has saved me from completely disappearing into the hole is the same thing that helped me climb out of it years ago. I used to wallow in guilt when I binged. Which got me absolutely nowhere. Now, when I binge, I don't allow the guilt to linger. There's no point to it. How does it help to feel guilty? It certainly doesn't stop me from bingeing again. Instead, I take the binge as a gift, a learning opportunity. If I can figure out what happened, and why, and how I might handle the situation differently in the future, then I can move on with more confidence. So, this week, although I binged almost every day, I refused to wallow, and instead chose to learn. I had to relearn how important it is for me to eat steadily throughout the day. I had to let go of the desire to cook all my own meals, and buy frozen meals for nights when I was too tired. I had to learn to ask for help, something I've never done with much grace. Mostly, I had to let go of the idea that I can do everything. I can do everything, if I want to end up comatose on the floor.

So what's next? Continuing to reign myself back in and go back to healthy and moderate gluten-free eating. Continuing my quest for a sugar and dairy free pumpkin bread, as well as continuing to learn how to bake healthier in general. Continuing to eat deliciously healthy meals that I learned to cook while on the elimination diet, like the mung bean stir-fry I'll be sharing with you soon. And continuing to explore ways to find a balance with eating healthy and having a healthy relationship with food. Which, as we know, is not necessarily the same thing.

19 comments:

briogusto said...

Hi Iris,

I've been following your blog for a while now, but I don't think I've commented before (or at least not much). Having struggled with a bit of bingeing in my own past, I really felt a connection with you and your triumphs and struggles with food.

I am so sorry that the elimination diet took you down a path you didn't want to tread. However, I can completely understand how you would end up there. It sounds like a very challenging program and it's not surprising that your mind/body were putting up a fight. I'm really glad to hear that you are not beating yourself up over it - I have to agree that guilt is one of the worst parts of bingeing and that doing away with the guilt is one of the key steps in healing. I think it's great that you've shared your experiences so openly on the blogosphere. I'm sure that even doing that will take you great lengths in getting to where you want to be. I know I find that if I let others (ANYONE) know what my struggles are, I feel almost instantly liberated from them.

Anyway, (sorry about that huge rant!) I just want to let you know that I think you're an absolute inspiration. Keep doing what you're doing :)

D

Pure2raw twins said...

Elimination can be tough, and yes bringing food back in can be tough. I struggles with binge eating too, which is why I suffer from digestive issues. But slowly over time I have had to retrain how I look at food, but some days it is still hard to be perfect.
Thanks for sharing you story.

Jessica said...

Thank you for such an honest, truthful and heartfelt post. It's so easy to talk about the good - but often more important to talk about the real, I think. I think if we're honest, most of us are all dealing with some kind of food relationship issues, thank you for sharing with us.

Grace said...

SO proud of your insight and honesty with yourself and others.

Love you

-your sister (and biggest fan)

Betsy said...

Well done, Iris.

Alea said...

I would probably have had the same reaction to the elimination diet! I have found that there are a lot of wonderful diets that don't work for me. I don't do well with deprivation - plus I am extremely rebelious, so I don't do well with too many rules. :-)

Ariana Anderson said...

Thank you for your honesty. I know how you feel. The reason I have not done the elimination diet is because of my stress right now. I hope to do in the future when I am not so busy and stressed. I feel like I am still struggling with binging and at times fall back to my worst ways also. I think it happens the most when I am the most stressed.

Juanita said...

As a former binge comfort eater myself, I can relate to the feeling of shock when this beast rears it's ugly head just when you thought it was done and dusted.

These days, I am more commited to being healthier after seeing the effects of bowel cancer on my gran, so when life does occasionally leave me feeling overwhelmed, I try to limit the damage of eating for comfort rather than just sustenance to larger portions of healthier foods. I rationalise that at long as it isn't loads of processed foods, your body can handle it.

Balance will be restored, just you wait and see. Just be gentle on yourself. Eat that little bit more cheese or whatever, and in a week or so, you'll have had enough and then you'll move on. Just like the feedback loop in homeostasis :-)

gfe--gluten free easily said...

Thanks so much for sharing your experiences so honestly, Iris. It's helpful to so many. I agree with Alea. Usually if I'm put on a restrictive diet, I get very rebellious and start binge eating. I don't binge eat any other time ... except when I'm told I can't have this or that. Or that, I can only have a 8 nuts at a time. When nobody tells me I need to only eat 8 nuts, well, I actually eat about 8 nuts and I'm satisfied, but if someone (or the little voice in my head) tells me to limit myself, I do completely the opposite. I also think that old adage of "whatever you focus on expands" applies. If you take a comfortable, easy approach(and forgive yourself when necessary), things just seem to work out better. Hugs on getting through all you have on your plate--literally and figuratively, so to speak,

Shirley

Linda said...

Thanks so much for your honesty. I commend you for all your hard work and your sharing truely your experiences. I am sure your posts are gifts to many people. Handle yourself with the same grace I am sure you extend to your clients. There is so much freedom to be found in letting go of perfection.

Tasty Eats At Home said...

Iris, thanks for honestly sharing your troubles here with us. Many can relate - I can as well. I have troubles with going on super-restrictive diets either. Once I allow myself to be "done" with it - whether I was really done or else I just got fed up with it - I then allow myself to eat a massive amount of sweets. It's certainly not a healing way to eat. I am glad you are digging yourself out - I am also comforted in knowing that this isn't a phenomenon that only I deal with. Keep up the positive emotional space you're starting to put yourself in - and we're all here for you too!

Fayinagirl (means Free One) said...

Thank you for sharing so transparently about the struggles you've faced. Hang in there. You'll be able to get back in balance is you allow yourself some grace.

And, by all means, do not try to "do" everything. {{{hugs}}}

Maggie said...

Hey you! Check out my site for my Sunshine Award - right back at you :)

Katherine said...

I totally feel for you! I'm currently going through some interesting times because I recently added back food into my diet (rice, canola oil). It's so hard to not binge on the recipes that these two simple foods have added to my diet. My schedule is not as stressful as yours sounds, but I've made a bunch of big decisions this year (new house, new town, new jobs, new dogs, etc) to where I hear ya. I just take solace in the fact that I'll get bored of these foods in a month or so and then I'll be able to handle myself a little bit better. My weight will go up by a couple of pounds, but then it'll level off and go back down to normal. Until then, I'm taking an extra run/walk or two a week with my dogs, and watching lots of CSI, Little House on the Prairie, and MythBusters.

Jennifer L. said...

I can totally see how this diet would aggravate a tendency towards binge eating! I am on day 8 and am on your site frantically looking for that yummy apple pie because I need something sweet besides dried currants and figs! I made my daughter yummy oatmeal pancakes and they're in the fridge right now and it is so hard to avoid them around 3-4:00 when I seem to crave sweets. I'd like to just eat them all, like right now.

I am lucky that I am not dealing with a lot of other crazy things in my life right now. Doing this when I was in grad school would have been utter insanity. I would have fallen off the wagon and ended up a puddle of jello on the floor when dinner time rolled around. As is, if we leave the house for a whole morning, I feel like I need to bring food for a week. It's just not possible to cook like that and do anything else with a day.

Best wishes to you--things will level out! Learning about what nourishes our bodies is an ongoing journey--and as long as we listen to what our bodies are saying, it's a forgiving journey. Don't be too hard yourself! :-).

Iris said...

Jennifer, How are you feeling so far? I would love to hear more about how the diet's working for you! Did you make the apple pie?

Val said...

Wow. This is my first time visiting your blog, and I deal with similar issues. Thank you for your honesty and willingness to put it all out there.

Cynthia Patterson said...

Wow, thank you so much for sharing! While I don't have a history with binging, I was severely anorexic for a solid 4 years, and have found one of my most successful methods in recovering to be LETTING GO, which is essentially the opposite of the elimination diet. This post truly reflects one of my biggest fears of embarking on this journey - I'm an all or nothing, and a little nervous about getting swept away with this thing. This will help me be even more aware of my emotions and rigidity while doing it. Thank you!

Cynthia Patterson said...

Wow, thank you so much for sharing! While I don't have a history with binging, I was severely anorexic for a solid 4 years, and have found one of my most successful methods in recovering to be LETTING GO, which is essentially the opposite of the elimination diet. This post truly reflects one of my biggest fears of embarking on this journey - I'm an all or nothing, and a little nervous about getting swept away with this thing. This will help me be even more aware of my emotions and rigidity while doing it. Thank you!

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails