There have been two main times in my life when I have decided to go gluten free.
I used a very different approach each time. In a nutshell, one was relatively painless, and the other was seriously stressful (and that’s putting it lightly).
The first time I decided to go gluten-free was about 5 years ago.
I was acting on advice from very qualified nutritionists that told me gluten was bad for me and cutting it out would make me lose weight.
If it came from good authority and would make me lose weight, say no more. I willed it out of my diet. And yes, that helped me drop weight like nobody’s business.
So I was happy.
Except I wasn’t.
I was restricting myself severely. Losing weight, absolutely.
But I was putting myself on lock-down. I was a miserable, emotional, mess.
I was constantly thinking things like “I can’t have that.” Looking at menus and asking myself “Is there anything here that I can eat?”
I would look at friends devouring sandwiches and think they were lucky that they could have that.
I was miserable. It was a prison inside my own mind.
I wanted more than anything to be ‘normal’.
At that time, normal meant being someone who could chow down on sourdough without worrying about repercussions.
I had lost myself in that intense focus on losing weight.
Sound dramatic? Very.
I’m not even sure I knew how dramatic I was being.
I just thought it was how I had to be.
Today, I’m also gluten-free.
I rarely have it. And if I do, it’s no biggie. I’m not hard on myself at all.
Those same nutritionists will still tell me that gluten is ‘bad’, but I’m not listening to them. I’m actually not even asking.
I don’t need to because I understand first hand what eating gluten feels like in my body. I know very specifically how it affects my body and my mood.
And I don’t like it.
Staying away from gluten is more of a gift to myself than any tasty sandwich will ever be.
Staying away from it is a personal choice, not a mandate from someone else.
A choice made to heal my body, not to just lose weight.
This time around, not eating gluten is completely different.
There is no misery in sight.
Playing around with what I eat and don’t eat isn’t really a huge deal at all.
It’s a matter of listening to my body and, if it doesn’t like something, I don’t eat it.
Why is this same action of changing what I eat so easy now, when it felt like misery before?
The main difference is that I did the work.
The emotional work and the thought work. I found out why I ate when I wasn’t hungry. I realized what I was projecting onto my food and what I was trying to control that I can’t. And I learned how to find love, trust and power from within myself.
Before, I looked for all of that in my food. And for a while I thought food really did hold that power to make me feel comforted and loved.
But when I started restricting access to certain foods it was brutal. Not only because of how I did it (I was so mean) but also because I saw it as taking away love and comfort to lose weight.
The most important difference is that I found a better reason why I wanted to change how I ate.
My top priority now is healing my body. Finding out what really nourishes me.
And when the focus is on healing, the approach is completely different.
Finding a good reason why you want to do something is so important. And, although it may come from a good authority, doing it because someone tells you to is rarely a good reason to do anything.
If you don’t completely believe in why you want it.
If your reason for doing it doesn’t come from deep within your soul.
It won’t stick.
Look at a big change you’re trying to make. Is it cutting out gluten or some other food? Is it starting an exercise program?
Whatever it is, ask yourself these questions:
-How do you speak to yourself about it? Are you kind, strict or inconsistent?
-What do you really think about what you’re trying to do? Is it insurmountable or doable?
-Who are you doing it for? Did someone tell you or do you think it’s what you have to do?
-Why are you doing it?
-How do you truly feel when you think about these answers?
If you feel discouraged, sad or any derivative of those feelings, do some more work and find a reason that you believe to your core.
Because the goal isn’t to get super focused on losing weight.
The goal is to make change easy and to get healthy for life.
For many of us, that means forgetting about the whole weight loss part of it and focusing on connecting with and healing our body, mind and spirit.
Do that, and the weight loss will follow.
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