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domesticactivist

Intersection Of Diet & A Healthy Relationship With Food

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I've been thinking on this for a while and am curious about what other people think. It seems to me that the healthiest kind of relationship to have with food is one without guilt. I really think the Healthy At Every Size people are on to something very key. Up until we went gluten-free and then started GAPS I was very comfortable with food. I didn't worry about calories or things being bad for me, or feel any guilt, shame, or shoulds. Now that I have all these restrictions, I've found my relationship to food becoming less healthy while my body and mind get healthier otherwise. The things I mention in the post below are things I never did before: obsessing about a food, secret eating, emotional eating.

Anyway, here is my latest blog post. I'm interested in how others have handled their changing relationship to food. (The blog is linked from my profile, all the links are stripped out of this version):

Confession

Posted on September 9, 2011 by Joy

When our family started the GAPS diet, we had the best of intentions. We cleaned from top to bottom getting rid of all gluten, and then we got rid of everything we could think of that didn

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Well... I am overweight but that wasn't always so. As a child and teen I was pin thin. To the point where people accused me of being anorexic.

I grew up in a very mixed home. My mom was big on the health foods and my dad was big on the junk foods. He would bring them home in large quantities. But mostly I guess we ate a healthy diet.

I became vegetarian as a teen and for the most part ate that diet for many years. I wasn't totally strict about it. For instance if I was sick, I might have chicken broth. And I didn't worry about eating rice at a Mexican restauarant that might have chicken or beef broth in it. And if there were literally no vegetarian options at a restaurant aside from a dinner salad, I might eat meat. But really most of my meals and especially at home were vegetarian.

So now I am an overweight diabetic with gastroparesis and food allergies. So now I try not to bring stuff into the house that I shouldn't eat. Yes, I do buy some candy. I try not to buy anything I might really tempted to overeat. I should say that I am not a big sweets eater. Never liked cake or ice cream and don't like most cookies. So not a temptation for me.

I usually don't feel guilty about food because I have such a limited diet for many reasons. I eat what I am supposed to and that is that. Yes, once in a while I will eat between meals and eat more carbs than I should. But I don't stress over it. It happens. I know.

Daughter now has to go on a low carb diet. We went through the house and got rid of anything that might tempt her that she shouldn't be eating. I did let her keep a package of Skittles and said she could have 10 at a time. We do still have a frozen gluten-free pizza and a few other frozen things like lasagna and stuffed shells. Also some rice and pasta in the house. We just have to eat them in small portions now. And eat more salad.

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Your description of knowing those chocolate chips were stashed away...that if you just ate one, or a few it wouldn't hurt..nobody would know, sounds very much like the struggle an alcoholic or person with a drug addiction goes through.

Sugar affects the brain. It tickles the brain's pleasure responses. It wants to feel "happy" and will make you crave it. It will tell you it's ok...just have a little.

I put myself in the same camp. I crave sweets and used to crave baked goods. They were easy to grab and they gave my brain it's "fix". When I told my sister I had to go gluten-free she told me there's no way I could do it because of my habit of grabbing cookies etc.

Currently I'm getting a reaction to soy. We have several things in the house with soy in them. The one that keeps my brain trying to rationalize trying it is chocolate, especially when I see my hubby munching away on Snickers candy bars. I have a silent arguement going on in my head when I open a drawer or the freezer and see chocolate!

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I do have an eating disorder history, so I approach all of this with a little fear. For years my life was governed by rules about food and restrictions I placed on myself that were not healthy and did not make me feel good. Now that I'm finally in a place where I am more relaxed and healthy about my relationship to food, it's hard to have to put restrictions back into place. So far the gluten one is mostly OK. I feel better enough that it's worth it, even when I'm feeling sad/mad/whatever in certain situations. It's not doing crazy things to my brain or self image yet. I'm relying a little more heavily on chocolate than I'd like to be, but since bread and chocolate were my two favorite things, that's probably somewhat normal. However, I think I'm starting to have more issues with dairy. Or something. I should probably do some elimination to try to figure some things out. I just can't make myself do it yet. I'm afraid of going back to crazy ways of thinking. I don't WANT to have to give something else up. I worry that people will think that all of this is just a return of my eating disorder behavior, especially since I was losing weight again before figuring out the gluten problem.

It's all a big tangle in my head, and I wish that the things I need to do to make my body healthier didn't have to shake up the tenuous healthy relationship I'd established with food.

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Sugar has always been my biggest challenge, the withdrawals when we first started GAPS affected me like no one else in the family. There had been weeks where I literally thought about sugar every 30 seconds

That was like reading something I might have written, yikes! I still remember when the idea of tasting sugar was, as you said, literally on the brain at least a couple times a minute. Thought of it, wanted the taste in my mouth even if I was nauseous. I remember dreaming about it for days and days.

And I'm so glad you mentioned the fruit - I couldn't have any fruit for quite a while, and only in the last couple of months have there been a few that I've really introduced into the diet again. And I've been having wild sugar cravings since then, when I haven't for quite a while. How interesting.

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I was like that once upon a time. I was addicted to marshmellows and M&Ms <_< Kid you not i'd go through a bag of them once every two days or so.

Then i started to get sick and i had to eleminate them and... well... i became afraid of them (and you can see where this is going right?)... that broke that habit really quick.

Needless to say, i'm still afraid of many many foods (anything from grapes to greenbeans). Not very healthy i know, but i'm slowly adding back (recently i've been working with grapes, so far so good).

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There's a blog called Eat the Damn Cake that you should really pop over to and add a comment. She recently did a brief mention of orthorexia (a potential new "disorder" that has not been formally established). It's a little worrisome, but there are people who could probably use a diagnosis so they can receive some support.

Okay, so my actual thoughts are:

1) It's a little too dangerous to set yourself up for total perfection. You need something you can "cheat" on SAFELY once in a while. Maybe it's a perfectly ripe fig, or incredible carrot fritters, or coconut chews; chocolate chips aren't working so well. It doesn't need to be based on sugar; I love blanched cauliflower with a passion and feel similarly about fennel. Either of those work really well for a treat for me, and I splurge on them if I'm feeling in need of something to lift me out of my normal habits. (I also eat chocolate.)

2) Paying attention to new cravings is very important. It might be emotional eating, but it's also important to look at whether there is a physiological basis. I volunteer to teach community nutrition classes, and every now and then I have a class where it's appropriate to ask about cravings during pregnancy (I generally focus on pica, like ice, or cornstach) as a way to introduce your body needing nutrients and that it can express needs in odd ways. Good questions to ask include:

-recent diet changes

-possible nutrient deficiencies

-possible gluten exposure (post trace exposure I want to eat everything in sight... until the next morning... and tend to be more munchy for a few days afterwards, probably to make up for undigested calories)

-demands such as heavy exercise, major shifts in temperature, pregnancy, lactation, etc

3) Obssession with anything can be problematic. But, our lives require a certain amount of obssession in order to stay healthy, so it's a hard line to walk if you have a history or a situation that may promote unhealthy behavoir. Keeping an eye on it and seeking professional help if you're questioning your thoughts or actions is always a good idea.

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Unfortunately, because we have to thinkabout food all the time, I think that sets us up for a disordered relationship to food. Ideally, people ought to simply eat something nutritious and satisfying when they are hungry, then forget about food until they are hungry again. And for us that isn't possible. I know I have more cravings, and do more bingeing on the foods I can eat than I used to. All the planning ahead, and worrying over whether food will be available and safe makes me feel like stuffing myself when I can!

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