Well, this will be a fun post to write! It's now about 2 months since I went back to eating whole foods. I resumed reading some paleo blogs and discussion sites a little over 2 weeks ago and I resumed posting thoughts on this blog at the very end of March. And today, I have suffered the first digestive upset not caused by wheat since April 2011.
So, what has been the impact of all this? Well, good and bad--what else did you expect?
Let's consider these things in temporal order:
My return to eating whole foods again fostered a dramatic improvement in my subjective health and energy. I did things differently this time.
In April 2011, for my first few weeks I ate a high-meat, high-fat, very-low-carb regimen. I then gradually introduced fruit with later additions of fermented foods and tubers.
This time, with a playfully coined label of "easygoing" paleo, I reverted immediately to the fully-rounded whole foods assortment I had most enjoyed in 2011-2012. During my first 2 weeks I had 2 social situations in which I ate a significant amount of sweets. At the first, I deliberately chose to take a sugary dessert--jello, mandarin orange segments and whipped cream topping. At and after that event, I hit the jello hard. At the second event, a buffet, I ate a pretty spartan paleo meal with 2 exceptions: a tall glass of Coke and a few bites of a breaded fried chicken wing. The Coke was wonderful, but I think the breaded wing bit me back a little.
Since then my general regimen has been to eat fruit and low-starch vegetables as desired, with main servings of meat and tubers on alternate days. About the only specific goal I have tried to follow is to average 6 teaspoons or less of sugars per day from my honey, fruit and whatever.
During the first few days that I resumed scanning paleo sites, I enjoyed checking out the recent topics and seeing which sites were about the same and which had changed in tone or opinions. The impact of the sites on my mental state was benign. I'm pretty comfortable with my approach to eating and whether I agree or disagree with other bloggers doesn't seem to affect my mental balance.
I also resumed reading and participating in 2 paleo discussion sites: the paleo sub on reddit.com and the question/answer forum on paleohacks.com
My reactions to the 2 discussion sites are different but, surprisingly, both have had a negative impact on my mental balance. In the case of the subreddit, I think I simply don't have a "pure" enough alignment with what their definition of paleo is. On paleohacks, I'm troubled by the amount of spam and the impulsive, anxious nature of many of the questions. I tried to respond to some of the latter, but I found myself stirring up the old conflicts and anxieties of my disordered past. <Step away from the edge!>
Resuming my participation in this blog has been a positive thing for me and a few of my recent posts actually were valuable to me this morning in an unintended way.
That's my segue to discuss today's digestive upset. I was quite surprised to wake up this morning with a bloated, gassy gut. Unlike my historical symptoms from wheat, there was no brain fog or GERD or head/chest congestion. Just the unhappy gut.
I walked my dogs and when we returned I used the bathroom. [warning: I'm about to get grossly specific so make your own best choices.]
The ensuing bowel movement was larger than my usual. It looked completely digested, but was the consitency of oatmeal which is definitely not my norm. After a brief period of relief, I noticed lower gut soreness and mild cramping and was back in the bathroom. This time, I had a very small movement with some gassy spatters.
Okay, another short period of relief followed by more soreness and somewhat more urgent cramping sent me back to the small room. To my considerable surprise, this third movement was about normal volume but consisted of at least half undigested food. The 2 most untouched items were sweet potato and chopped hazelnuts, which had been eaten on recent-but-separate days.
The bottom line there is that something I ate was apparently contaminated or beginning to spoil. It shut down my gut temporarily and some of my food was pushed through rather than being digested. I'm not assuming the guilty party was either the yam or the nuts--it could just as easily have been the the boiled shrimp or fresh pineapple I also ate on the days in question. Whatever the cause, my Superwoman cape is slightly tattered because this is the first time in 2 years that I've suffered any illness or GI distress not caused by wheat.
So, where does all this leave me?
1- I plan to continue eating mostly whole foods with occasional sugary treats. The only thing that will stop me from sweet indulgences is elevated blood sugar.
2- I will still read at least a few of the paleo sites listed on this blog's reading list, but I may prune that list and I plan to *stop* visiting the 2 discussion sites. It's just not worth risking my hard-earned and slowly-gained mental balance even if I know I could possibly serve as a resource for some anxious people. If I can't control my own anxiety, it's not feasible right now.
3- I won't change anything because of today's gut rebellion. If you are going to buy and eat fresh fruit, vegetables and meat and particularly if your budget forces you to shop at big-box supermarkets, you will occasionally bring home some uninvited guests. That beats the heck out of eating processed food-like items that are mildly toxic in their own right and have minimal nutritional value. After all, I used to have an unhappy gut every morning.
4- I will continue to share thoughts on this blog. I won't recommend any one way of eating other than to build your nutritional foundation around foods that have been processed as little as possible. After that, to each their own!
Next Day Update: LOL, my resolution to avoid the discussion sites isn't going so well. Curiosity is driving me back "to see if I have comments deserving responses." Yeah, right. Okay, so I'll probably keep visiting *but* I am doing better at avoiding threads that seem based on anxiety.
Yesterday after my gut calmed a bit I ate a baked potato, a baked sweet potato and a leftover piece of beef with garlic. Everything seemed to hit the spot except the garlic. My spirits are good but my lower gut is still a bit sore so I plan to avoid citrus, nuts and garlic today--mainly because the thought of eating any of them turns off my appetite.