I’m on a journey to heal myself through diet modification.
When I first learned of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), I immediately read Breaking the Vicious Cycle. Elaine’s book gave me the rules; for one to adhere to SCD, all you have to do is go through an introductory period, then the diet consists of meat, specific fruits and veggies, yogurt (and certain cheeses) and nuts. Simple, right? Really, that’s it.
I didn’t give it much thought. The science made sense to me. The rules were straightforward and in I jumped! (Of course, there are other great approaches like Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) for example.)
But I’ve come to realize that this simplicity is a double-edged sword.
Let me explain.
My journey on SCD has led me to a place where my health has drastically improved. I feel great, have tons of energy, my weight is normal again (thank the Lord) and have returned to a semi-normal workout schedule. Yogurt or nut butter (alone, or on bananas, or with almond flour pancakes) used to be my go-to snacks. They were yummy. I was happy. But while my body has been healing, my gut has informed me that it does not want to digest certain foods, like eggs, anything dairy, and large amounts of nuts (nut butters and nut flours). And I can’t rely on fruit when I want to grub because I’ve gotten fructose malabsorption and I don’t want it again!
The diet is a double-egded sword for me because – I flourish when I consume meat, specific veggies and small portions of fruit – but I can only eat meat, specific veggies and fruit. No more yogurt as my easy snack choice. And I certainly need to limit my consumption of nuts.
So, these goodies are off my list of acceptable food items and these mini-meals have become my downfall. I struggle with it everyday. Instead of noshing on yogurt, I must quiet the cravings for something, anything. Darn, it is hard, especially when I have time in my schedule (and I am not overly focused on something, like I was while studying for some licensing exams).
In battling the urge to snack, I realized something;
I devour treats in response to emotional triggers.
Some people believe that food is love. Others eat goodies as reward. My biggest emotional trigger is boredom. “Hmmm…” I say to myself, “do I want to escape my doldrums?”
My answer is always a resounding, “YES!!!” and I walk to the fridge to swipe a snack. And that bit of tastiness actually takes away that feeling for a few seconds.
Another reason I grab a bite is to buffer the transition from one activity to another. Do you understand what I mean? Like, I’ll be watching television, but it is time to take the dogs out. So I get up to walk them, but first I go by the kitchen and grab a muffin, stuff it in my mouth, then leave with the pooches. This is the pinnacle of mindless eating.
The only way to modify why I eat is to actually feel my emotions and then respond in ways other than eating.
UGH. It is tough. I don’t like feeling bored and I certainly enjoy a little bite of something when I get home from work. (Why do I feel like I’m on The Oprah Show?)
These are my strategies for dealing with the urge to snack (whatever the reason).
When I want a treat because of an emotional trigger, I stop a second. I try to identify the feeling. Then I acknowledge it and tell myself that I don’t need to put food into my mouth based on x, y or z emotion. I literally say to myself, “I am bored. That doesn’t mean I have to snack.”
It is hard to face the cold truth. It even harder to turn around and leave the kitchen without a decadent bite.
Another way I’ve dealt with the urge to nosh to ask myself, “Am I hungry enough to eat leftovers?” If the answer is yes, then sure, I’ll warm something up. Sometimes I find myself standing in my kitchen contemplating the leftovers are available for my consumption. A lot of times I leave empty-handed after this question, too.
I have also found that if I stay in the present and focus on the activity that I’m doing (or need to do), it will sometimes stop the incessant chatter in my brain, but only if I’m super-focused like a laser beam. This one doesn’t work very well for me most of the time, my urges are too basic, too built-in, too established.
My last strategy for dealing with actual hunger during non-meal times is to have savory snacks on hand, like beef jerky. This is a no-brainer. It quiets the urge and is substantial enough to take away any hunger-pangs. My only problem here is that I go through it too quickly.
These are my anti-snacking strategies and they have helped me confront my emotional triggers. They aren’t pretty. Diet modification requires a change in behavior and mindset. But you know, I’d rather grit my teeth and slug through personal choices and routines than be sick all of the time. And if I can deal with the double-edged sword, you can too.
xo, Theresa SCD Griddle