As 2015 is wrapping up, I thought it would be a good time to evaluate. I don’t make resolutions, but I do think it’s a positive exercise to assess where you’ve been and look forward to what is coming. Looking back at 2015 there are a few things I learned (well, I have learned more than a few, but I don’t think you want to read about the Civil War or decimals right now):
- Don’t decide to jump all in to the autoimmune protocol (AIP) or other elimination diet right after Christmas when you have a birthday and a girls weekend coming up. The best laid plans, as they say. The power/draw of female bonding is strong. You (I mean me) simply cannot resist all the goodies for three days away from home and all responsibility. Such a time simply requires a little loosening of the reins. Especially when stretchy pants are the uniform of the weekend. And do you really want to forgo birthday cake? Since you can get a really good gluten free cake at Whole Foods, why not indulge? It’s only one day. Do not set yourself up to fail with unrealistic expectations.
So for me, strict AIP starts up Jan. 18th – for my daughter too. Her tummy problems have come back and we cannot figure it out. I don’t think I’ve talked about this on the blog before, so here’s the short story: she has had mysterious stomach pains on and off for a few years now. A stool study showed she had a parasite, which is known to cause these types of symptoms. We immediately put her on the autoimmune protocol and then treated the parasite with the appropriate antibiotic and she was better for months. Now the pain is back and just as random as before. It is heart-wrenching to watch your child suffer and have no way to make it go away. Another stool study is in order, which may be enlightening, but the elimination diet will be part of our plan as well, so we might as well all dive in together.
The positives of this are more recipe development for the blog and hopefully kicking my sugar cravings. I’ve definitely had a lot of treats this holiday season, all paleo mind you, but treats nonetheless and we are not supposed to consume a lot of sugar, no matter the source. I gave myself permission to do it and I don’t feel guilty about it at all, but I’m ready to move on. It’s just like the Christmas decorations: I love them. I’m anxious to get everything out, but I’m equally happy to put them away and have everything tidy and in it’s place again.
- I need more time to tell if a food has an effect on me when I add it back in. The three times I went through the elimination diet this year, I only waited three days between adding in new foods. I think that was too little time to really give my body a chance to react. This time I’ll try a week between introductions. And I’ll keep better notes. I always think I’ll remember exactly what I ate and when and how I felt afterward, but the fact is, I can’t remember the beginning of my sentence by the time I get to the end, so there is no way I can keep track of foods and symptoms without writing down every little thing. This is tedious, but it’s the only way. And I know myself well enough to know that all the apps that help you with this are not the way to go for me. I am an old-school paper and pencil girl.
- I need time for me. This doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with paleo, autoimmune disease or elimination diets, but it does have to do with mental health. This fall, the kids’ activities all involved me, which meant I was with them 24/7. This introvert can’t handle being with anyone 24/7. So this spring they’re signed up for two classes that will give them a morning without me and me a morning without them. Of course, I didn’t drop anything else. Just added this to all the other activities. But I’m counting on this little break giving me enough breathing room that all the other stuff will not push me over the edge. And if it turns out to be too much – for any of us – I’ll be a quitter. Sometimes you have to follow through and keep your commitment, but sometimes it really is ok to quit.
This leads me to some changes I’d like to make for 2016:
- I’m going to give myself more grace. As I think about how/when/to what extent I offer grace to others, I wonder why I don’t do the same for me. My house doesn’t have to be spotless at all times, I don’t have to have a good meal on the table for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week, I don’t have to exercise every day, I don’t have to be all the things to all people all the time. And I don’t have to feel guilty about it. Amen.
- I don’t want to be a wishy-washy autoimmune protocol-er. I want to do the elimination and reintroductions properly, figure out what I can eat on a regular basis, what I can eat occasionally without a setback and what can never touch these lips. And if it turns out that I can eat dairy, but never eggs, then I will accept that and move on. There’s no mourning these kinds of things. There is some real hurting in this world and I need to get over the food stuff and worry about things that really matter. I’m not saying that what we eat doesn’t matter. It absolutely does. I am a walking, breathing example of that, but it does not need to be all consuming. It’s only food. Look, I gave up coffee this year so I feel like I’m pretty invincible. Yes, I do have a cup now and then, but the important fact is that I am over the addiction and that is a powerful feeling. I think most coffee drinkers feel like they HAVE to have it OR ELSE. But that simply isn’t true. It’s only food. You can choose the carrots over the chips. You can choose the water over the coffee. It will be ok.
- I will not be judgmental or jealous of others’ food choices. I’ve just come back from a few days with my husband’s family. Meals here are simply something you have to get through to get to the dessert buffet. If I could eat anything my little heart desired, I would be heaping on the sugar and gluten like everyone else. But I can’t, so I eat the couple of things that I made which are safe for me and then mope on the inside. Why are they eating so much sugar? Why can’t I? Don’t they know gluten is the devil? Just because this paleo lifestyle is right for me and my family and is helping us to be healthier/control disease, it doesn’t mean that everyone in the world needs to be paleo. Some people can eat gluten without negative affects and, as unfair as that is, as much as it makes me want to stamp my feet and throw a tantrum sometimes, it’s reality so I might as well get over it and keep my eyes on my own plate.
- I’d like to fine tune my internet voice. I am very uncomfortable with self-promotion and recognition. I am not the person who likes to be the center of attention. So, what are you doing with a blog, you dummy? Well, I’m learning more and more to be in tune to the Holy Spirit, to hear Him and to obey and for whatever reason, I feel like this was a calling. Maybe the only reason I’m doing this is to help me. This is an outlet for sure. It was very therapeutic to write out that long health journey. It made me remember and it made me thankful. I know what Crohn’s disease does to a lot of people and I feel very, very blessed that I am walking around relatively unscathed. And I’m re-learning that I really enjoy writing. I don’t consider myself a great writer by a long stretch, but it is something that brings me life. I actually wrote a children’s story book for my kids, which I had almost completely forgotten about. So maybe I’ll add to that. In all of my free time.
About two days ago I had babies and it will just be a few breaths before they’re out of the house. Wait a second while I wipe the tears off my keyboard. I don’t want to wake up to an empty nest and find that I’ve lost myself. Homeschooling is tricky business that way. We are so fully invested in our kids’ lives, it’s hard to separate sometimes. But the separation will happen whether I’m ready for it or not. This blog is giving me a hobby, if nothing else. If something I say or a recipe I post has a positive impact on one other person, then all the better.
Wow, that turned out a lot longer than I had anticipated. Thanks for sitting down on the psychiatrist’s sofa with me for this little romp through my assessment of 2015 and goals for 2016.
Have you made resolutions? Have you looked back at the year or looked forward to the next with some objectives or lessons learned? Please share, if you feel so led. Or at least write these things down for yourself.
May your new year be blessed with all good things.