Okay, so I’m not crazy about this.

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So, I’ve been working on giving up gluten & wheat products, which in modern American society means that at least until I learn how to bake differently, I have to give up bread.

Dude. I love bread. In fact, let’s stop, because I don’t think I said that right.

I LOVE bread.

As I’ve said in the past, bread is my bad boyfriend, and I have many a Walk of Shame away from many a scale to back that up. Bread is warm, & crusty. It’s comfort food, it makes you feel better. Pizza really is just one of my favorite things in the world, possibly second only to really good lasagna.

For the most part, I don’t drink alcohol. I don’t do drugs. I don’t drink soda, I don’t crave cheesecake or mass amounts of ice cream, or really keep any junk food in my house. But I do love bread, in its many, many forms.

So as you might guess, giving up bread has been a little rough, and it really has taught me that carbs honestly are addictive. I would have days when I would literally just crave bread. It’s been a lovely little physiological battle — headaches as my body would have DTs wanting the chemical carbs, and then if I gave in & got the cookie or had the cornmeal/flour crust pizza for dinner*, eye aches and instant weight bloat as the rest of my body got mad at me for having had The Deadly Substance.
*This has been the only pizza I could have & not get as sick.

One of the things that I’ve been doing is keeping a food diary – just for me, just so I could get an idea of what I’m eating, what I’m doing, & seeing how it affects my weight, how I’m working out, etc.

From that, I’ve been noticing that when I eat wheat/gluten products, I literally have like, a wheat hangover. The thing is, I didn’t know this was happening until it stopped happening. Following the days when I managed to stay away from bread completely, I’m finding that my weight goes down, I have an easier time getting up in the mornings, and even my mood is better & brighter.

As time has gone by, I’m finding that my body is reacting this way not just to bread, but also to white rice, and, much to my dismay last Friday afternoon… mashed potatoes.
(I was so happy the day I realized that hey! I can eat potatoes! They have no gluten! But no no, my body proceeded to tell me in its own very special way for four hours afterwards… no, no that’s off the menu too. dammit!)

At first, I thought it was just me – as we go through life, you can develop allergies as well as create immunities, & this is simply the way that my body is reacting to things as my diet has naturally changed over the years simply by being in California.

Then this morning, I read this:
Are Carbs more Addictive than Cocaine?
(hat-tip to Jess & Jam for the link.)

Full disclosure, one of my favorite things in the world is the Broccoli Cheese Soup in a bread bowl at Panera. I was totally that person the article talks about.

Now, I’m not saying I’m 100% “Tru Fax, yo!” standing behind this article, but after the last three months or so, I will agree with the theory they present – that processed carbs are addictive & pretty much unnecessary for most diets. I think at this point I’m more sensitive than most people, less extreme in my body’ reaction than some others, but yes, I would have to say that the majority of the excess weight still on my body is from years of having been fed carbs & probably has been on my body since childhood.
We were raised on bagels & hot dogs & noodles & other staples of, well, let’s be honest – poor people food. Every so often when my mom was having a mood, we’d get elbow macaroni that’d been tossed in a pan with butter & breadcrumbs & that’d be dinner.

Looking back & knowing what I’ve learned since moving to Cali, I’m more than moderately horrified at the nutritional standards presented in our house when I was a kid.

At this point, I’d say that I’m about 90, 95% off of gluten/wheat/processed carbs & sugar. Every so often I’ll cave & grab a spinach-feta wrap & birthday cake donut for breakfast from Starbucks, add on a cookie from the Museum!Co cafe, or get the small pizza from Whole Foods when I get out of my evening workout & am RAVENOUS, & I’ll tell myself, “Oh, it’ll be fine, just this once.”

…and yeah, that doesn’t work.

A bit back, I wrote a piece on food addiction & trying to break the psychological habits of comfort food.
In it, I talked about how you have those moments when you sit in the grocery store & literally have a mental debate with youself as OldChildhoodYou tries to persuade Now!You that no, no, it’s all right, you can buy that, it’ll be fiiiine.

I thought of that this morning when I sat in my car in the Starbucks parking lot for ten minutes having the mental debate of my inner 5-yr old wanting a breakfast with bread, & the logical part of me talking myself through the fact that I had a perfectly good breakfast of chopped fruit, granola & yogurt sitting on the seat next to me to be eaten when I got into Museum!Co.
Thankfully, Logic!Me won, & I pulled onto the highway, still breadless.

For me, the hardest part is the prep work – not the cooking, I actually have discovered I rather like that. Rather, finding the time & energy to get it done, because it has to be done. Take a look around at the world — if you want just protein & veggies that haven’t been kind of violently cooked into submission, you really do have to bring your own. There’s very little that you can just pop in & pick up for dinner at a regular grocery store in that category which doesn’t consist of plain 75% iceberg lettuce*.
(*I’m not counting the Whole Foods salad bar in this – blessed, blessed, bastion of things I can eat on the nights I’m willing to pay the higher price to avoid having to cook.)

Today, I had breakfast & a cut up oranges for a snack already prepped, but since I woke up late this morning, no lunch made. Usually for me this means that I’ll go to the Museum!Co cafe & get a container of tuna salad & a chocolate chip cookie. Today, I walked away with two little containers of tuna salad & no cookie instead, telling myself that the double shot of protein was better than the bread for getting through cycle tonight. As silly as this might sound, for me that was friggin’ huge progress.

The thing that you don’t think about until you’re in it is how filling bread is. Because yes, bread is totally filling, so when you switch to primarily veggies & lean protein, which your body can process faster, you find yourself hungry a lot more often. And not like, a little hungry – like, hard-core Jurassic Park velociraptor, ravenous-style hungry.

I’m not gonna lie, I pretty much inhaled that first container of tuna salad & made myself put the second aside for about five minutes so my stomach had a chance to digest & I could eat the second with some semblance of dignity.

Sounds crazy, right? Stupid little moments like that sound totally insane, and you think that oh holy mother, there’s something like, mentally wrong with me… until you find out it’s not just you.

As of late, I keep seeing people talking about the process.

Not the shiny, you’ll-be-a-bajillion-pounds-skinnier, the-world-will-shine-in-a-rosy-hue, life-would-be-perfect & why-can’t-you-be-just-like-me infomercial-style results. That’s not the part being highlighted.

No, these are the crappy days – the realization that you have to change everything you’ve ever thought about how you eat, say goodbye to certain foods that have been a comfort when people weren’t, and change an entire aspect of your life. This is about coming clean to the fact that even though mentally you know the consequences would suck, there really are moments when your inner id would cheerfully club a baby seal for a Pepperoni Pizza Lean Pocket.

Over at Gluten-Free Girl & the Chef, Shauna is doing a series on what this transition entails and what she’s learned since she began the process, never thinking that six years later she’d have a husband, a child, and a career educating people about the problem that she didn’t know she had which almost killed her.

On a less structured level, I’ve been reading The Adventures of Jess & Jam, who are going full up paleo diet for a month, & running into a lot of the same issues I’ve had – withdrawls, energy bursts, simple operational issues in terms of how & when to eat & stick with what they’re supposed to be doing. If nothing else, watching Jess come off of coffee cold turkey has been kind of amusing.

I wish that there was some shiny, happy-go-lucky way to wrap this piece. A joke to make everything tied up in a pretty bow so that I wouldn’t want bread, or turned out to have been wheat-sensitive, or still have seven pounds to go before I’m back down to my pre-injury weight and another 13 pounds after that. I wish I could say that I don’t have the temptation to chuck it all, skip spinning, get a meat lasagna from Trader Joe’s & spend tonight watching episodes of Castle while snuggled on my couch with the puppies & taking comfort from meat, cheese, & pasta.

Instead, I’m going to wait another hour, then have my snack of sliced up oranges because when I was in San Diego last weekend I went to the Farmer’s market & bought a bag of blood oranges to mix in there for something different. After I get out of work, I’ll hop on the 405 S & head down to Venice & spend time with Gina as she runs our asses into the ground on bikes & then attempts to stretch us into calm in yoga. After I’ve changed out of my sopping wet sweaty clothes I’ll have a gluten-free protein bar & some oj on the drive home, which will include stopping at Target to get puppy food in a trip that will not involve the purchase of pizza for dinner. Instead I’ll have the chicken breast that’s defrosting for dinner tonight and set up my food for tomorrow, and head to bed, one more day without bread down, & a life lived better than that which came before to go.

’cause right now, that’s all I got, peoples. That’s the best I can offer.

Today’s sing along song?
Some pre-psychotic breakdown Britney. Both as a nod to my bad boyfriend, & also a motivator, because seriously? Giving up bread just might be worth the fuss if it means eventually I might have her abs.

Can’t stop the dream, people. Can’t stop the dream.

Music: Britney SpearsSlave for you – Britney Spears


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  • http://www.candlemarkandgleam.com Kate

    I’m trying really hard to cut back on carbs – bread, pasta, rice – and I’m mostly doing okay with it. I’m eating fewer sandwiches, and switching to wraps when possible and I’m eating less and less pasta, which is MY weakness. God, I love noodles. It’s a little easier to do in the summer, when I have my CSA every week and have to eat up all those leafy greens. But man, I hear you on the siren song of the carbs. It’s tough. But you’re doing really well with it, it sounds like, and hopefully I’ll be able to pull it off, too!

    • claris

      I had to work down to it. I just would pick one thing & phase it out at a time, even if it was going from DiGiorno pizza to the Whole Foods cornmeal pizza to nothing. As much as I joke about them, I really did have to just decide that I was not going to eat Lean Pockets or Pizza Bites anymore, single that out as a step of just not going to that aisle anymore, and leave them behind systematically.

      It’s hard, because I really do love pasta too, but I’m finding that by purposely trying to cook more simply &… cleaner, if you will, it’s working a lot better. Part of that is that I don’t actually cook as much… I’ve realized lately that a lot of what I make is mostly raw food because it’s more portable and honestly, vegetables taste better when they’re made simply. ‘least, that’s what I’m finding.

  • Megdalen

    What a timely post! I started the South Beach Diet again today. Baby’s done nursing, and I have severe sleep apnea, so no more excuses. Every time I start this diet, I lose like 20 pounds and then get pregnant. I swear I am not getting pregnant this time. But yes, the worst part for me is the carbs grief. Knowing that the comfort portion of the bread is lost to me. WAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And so I just had my big salad with pepper strips and falafel, and it was very tasty. Meh.

    • claris

      Meg:
      Okay, first step to losing weight – stop getting pregnant. You need to remind Mr. Meg that while you do indeed look hot, you’re about to hit the point where you’re not just having your kids, but possibly hitting up into my quota of kids, and I haven’t decided if I’m going to use that someday, so I’d like a little wiggle room left in the equation if I do. ;p~

      Things that I’ve found help to avoid bread – meat & hot liquids. I dunno about you, but really good meat can sometimes be better than bread. And while I love my tea (which I now sweeten using raw honey instead of white sugar whenever I can), the apple cider mix that they sell sometimes is the best thing in the history of ever, and if you get the no-sugar kind the calories go from 80 down to 15 per serving.

      But seriously, you should totally check out Gluten-free girl. Her world is kinda totally up your alley.

  • raithen

    so. seriously: Best. Pizza Crust. Super simple mix. add your own toppings. The cakes and stuff have sugar, and you need to watch for other ingredients that don’t work for you, obviously. But available in LA. And YUM! http://www.namastefoods.com/where-to-buy/store-locator.html

  • Erin

    I so feel you on this. I’m cutting out a lot of things for a different health issue, and damned if it’s not excruciating having that internal dialog every damn time. I’ve been dealing with it hardcore since January, and I’m STILL having that internal debate every day. I basically can’t eat out, as you’ve found, because I’m avoiding all animal products except seafood, as well as citrus, corn, soy, and cruciferous vegetables. I’m also trying to cut down on/cut out wheat/gluten. Ever tried to find something at a restaurant that’s free of dairy, soy, and corn? Yeah, so I can eat fish and fruit, pretty much. But every single day I’m confronted with “Oh god I’m STARVING, but if I eat this I will hurt.”

    Which is a lot of words, to say “word.”

    • claris

      I’ll see your “word” & raise you a “yes, what she said”.

      :)









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