Guess What? It Gets Harder

Just a personal note here today to say that if you are struggling with sticking to the diet you need to keep for health reasons, you’re not alone. Some days it’s easy, some days it’s harder. Summer party season is on and I’ve been so tempted! Winter holidays are full of temptations with all the focus on cookies, cakes, pies, and breads. On the face of it, summer would be easier for a strictly gluten-free GAPSter like me… after all, most things that go on the grill are naturally gluten-free and GAPS legal!

Out in the yard with homemade kombucha

Out in the yard with homemade kombucha

But that’s where the trouble comes in. At a birthday party there’s watermelon… safe treat for the kid who can’t have the cake, right? Go look at the cutting board. Yup… the bread knife was used to cut it on the same cutting board used for the bread. At a BBQ the steak and veggies smell and look amazing! But have gluten-containing marinades or spices been used? What about that grill? And the paella smells freakin’ increadible. But again, those seasonings from a glutened kitchen, and pre-made sausage is in it that could have gluten.

Sometimes it’s easy. I show up to the party and have a great time without giving it a second thought. Other times I realize I just can’t handle it, drive home in tears, and cook my own safe dinner in my messy kitchen, all alone.

I don’t notice symptoms from trace gluten immediately. But I know what happens to me in the long run. I lose my mind, in addition to all the physical problems that come back. My son gets sick within a couple hours and is knocked out for days.

People talk about the 80/20 rule… that you don’t have to stay on your diet all the time, that a bit of relaxation about it is healthy. I agree, for the most part. Sticking rigidly to a diet plan generally sets you up for failure. Giving yourself permission to choose any food you want can be a good strategy to stave off feelings of deprivation and get out of that success/failure mindset.

That’s how we treat GAPS now that we’re through the initial changes and feel mostly healed up. (Though it’s more of a 99.9/.1 rule for us in practice.) If I eat a few gluten-free corn chips at a party, have some (soy-sauce free!) sushi, or hey, bust into a pack of store bought gluten-free cookies, it’s not the end of the world. As long as it’s more of an every-couple-of-months thing rather than an every week or every day thing, I stay on track.

But I do have my hard line at the gluten – it’s just not worth the long term damage to my body and mind or the short term misery to take my chances. But the further away I am from how bad I felt, the harder it is to remember why I’m doing it. The longer it’s been since I was sick, physically and mentally, the more tempted I am by foods I used to love. The higher quality the food is, the easier it is to overlook potential cross-contamination issues.

Have you found it’s harder to stick to the plan now that you feel better? How do you remind yourself to stay on track?

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7 comments to Guess What? It Gets Harder

  • Melisa

    And that’s why I splurged on nice cheese and fresh fruit, neither of which ever touched a cutting board. Hopefully you were able to find something to eat!

  • This post hits home. I’ve been working hard just to be comfortable with the 80/20 rule instead of holding a hard line on everything. I’m trying to be okay with going to parties or having a craving and just enjoying something I wouldn’t usually eat before moving on with my life — not worrying or feeling guilty about it. In other words, I’m trying to have a NORMAL relationship with food. But I can’t do that with gluten. If I eat something sugary, maybe I’ll feel jittery for a while, but if I eat something with gluten, I can feel sick for a few days, and then I have to heal all over again. Trying to find a balance here is very challenging for me. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  • I’m strictly sticking with full GAPS foods. I find that I do better when I stay very low carb so for me a splurge that could set me back is eating fruit. My husband loves fruit and eats strawberries by the pound (he’ll eat four pounds in one sitting and then tell me “Don’t do that because it did xx to me” lol) so he buys a lot of fruit when it is in season (and on sale). This year the cherries have been succulent and I have been indulging myself and then I feel myself starting to become depressed and my sleep becomes affected. It is so hard to pull back and stop eating fruit! I attended a birthday party for a coworker recently and she asked me to bring two GAPS legal desserts. That’s all I could eat at the party. I am gluten-free but to my knowledge I don’t have a terrible reaction to exposure to it. Thanks for sharing this with us, Joy.

  • It is difficult – at times I feel like the Food Police. When we go to someone’s house for a get together, I try to sound nonchalant when asking the host how the food was prepared, but I’m not sure I always succeed. Sometimes it is so much easier just to bring my own food.
    Yes, it is tough. Thanks for the post.
    Theresa

    • Joy

      Exactly, Theresa. I usually pre-eat and bring something safe, then make sure I’m dished up first. But sometimes it just doesn’t work out to do that. The other day I ended up at a BBQ I hadn’t planned to go to. The guy cooking is a real chef and would probably have been able to answer questions to my satisfaction, but I just didn’t feel like being that girl with all the special needs that day.

  • Joy- I totally know what you mean, its so dang hard! More so for our kids, I think, with social pressures and all. I feel for my son who is dedicated to his diet and has to watch all the other kids “enjoying” their treats. Most of the time he is fine and sometimes he gets upset. I allow him to make the choice, if he wants to “splurge” as we call it, he can but he usually chooses not to because he doesn’t like the way he feels when he eats out-of-network foods (as we also say).

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