I spent the holidays being a bad "herbie". I was surrounded by the temptation of sugary treats, and I succumbed. This is my confessional...but also, an attempt to remind myself of what happens when I am not eating optimally for my health.
For the past year, I have followed a plant-based, whole food diet. I would estimate that 90+% of the time I ate only plant-based (vegan) and minimally processed foods. I also avoided gluten. Here is what happened while I was adhering to this plan.
- I had energy!
- My IBS symptoms were gone or nearly unnoticeable
- I craved food like salads and grains... really!
- my skin looked clear and "glow-y"
- I felt mentally alert and my mood was good
But during the holiday season, I did not follow my eating plan. I have forgiven myself for this, but I learned a few things during this time of indulgence, and I want to put them down so that I can try to remember this experience for the future.
This is how my holidays went.
DH, who really wants his family to feel loved and spoiled at the holidays, started ordering "treats". I mean, excessively. Keep in mind that we are a small family. We do not have droves of holiday visitors. I begged him not to, but honestly, some of his actions in this department are really passive aggressive. The problem is, once the stuff is here, someone usually eats it. He spent way too much money, and provided us with very unhealthy excess. So let's just say there were far too many things for any family of five to consume. Since it was the holidays (which extended FAR too long!), I let myself indulge. And indulge is the right word.
If I had stopped with a small taste of something, it might have been OK. But I learned that the "one taste" was very detrimental to me. It opened the floodgates of eating the C.R.A.P. (Calorie Rich and Processed) to vast excess. Truly, it was like giving an alcoholic a "tiny little glass of wine... it wouldn't hurt, right?" But it does hurt. It starts the cycle of cravings.
What I learned about cravings is that they are powerful. I realized that none, truly none of these foods tasted nearly as good as I thought I remembered, yet I found it nearly impossible to stop eating them. They were right in front of me, and I just kept going. Day in, day out. As I continued, the way I felt got worse and worse.
- Instantly, I experienced abdominal bloating, cramps, and a rocket-fire return to IBS in full swing. (I won't be too graphic here, but it is not a pleasant thing)
- My energy was sapped. I felt (feel, as I haven't recovered yet) tired and lethargic
- I felt driven to eat all day, even though I was aware that I was not hungry.
- I had intermittent headaches, which is extremely unusual for me
- My skin is blotchy
- My clothes are uncomfortably tight-ish
- My cravings are practically uncontrollable - and when eating "clean", I have none
While I am going to put this behind me, I need to realize that I cannot allow myself to be influenced by outside forces. I like how I feel when I eat right. I don't like being overweight (and certainly don't want to return to being obese).
I've set some new goals for 2014, and I will attain them. I plan to start with a 3 day (or 5 day- not sure yet which) cleanse, and then back to strictly plants. My body will thank me.