Weighty Matters

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Emotional Impact of Carb/Sugar Abstaining

on March 2, 2016

Two days into the two weeks of no grains, no refined sugar phase.  I am relieved that I am not feeling hunger and am not “white-knuckling” to hang on between meals.  So far I haven’t experienced big physical cravings either.  Thank goodness I’ve avoided that horrible, “I need a piece of bread right now or it could get ugly!” feeling.

I believe the reason that I’m not having these negative reactions is because I’m still getting some healthier carbs and sweetness from beans, legumes, veggies and fruit.  Plus, there is something wonderful to the “mouth feel” of quality fats added to a meal.

Physically, things are going well.  However, my disease has three components – physical, mental/emotional, spiritual.  Last night, I started to go through some emotional reactions that were stronger than I would expect on a “normal” day.  In retrospect, the influencing activity was sort of silly, or maybe I just describe it as such now because I’m viewing it through a clearer lens.  Here’s what happened.

I had a very hectic day at work, then ran home to eat dinner and get to Tai Chi class.  Unfortunately, in my rush, I forgot to change footwear to the shoes that I usually wear when doing Tai Chi.  Believe it or not, shoes matter.  We do a lot of pivots and other steps and, depending on the floor surface, the amount of tread on the bottom of your footwear can really affect how well you can do the moves, keep balance, etc.

When I’m home or at the beach, I actually prefer to do Tai Chi in bare feet, but that was not an option on the floor where we hold class.  I also wasn’t wearing socks, or I would have just taken the shoes off.

Anyway… the tread of the shoes I was wearing did not glide smoothly so my pivots and turns were hampered.  The shoes weren’t as stable in design as the ones I normally wear which also affected my balance, particularly on my bad knee.  A class that I usually love with its calming, flowing movements turned into one challenging chore after another.

Maybe it was the lack of cooperation between shoes and floor or the fact that I started to stress about my less-fluid-than-normal execution of the moves, but my body began to stiffen up — particularly that bad, weaker knee.  This increased my frustration.

About two thirds into the class, I was an internal mess.  Cranky, bitchy, upset, pissed off at my physical limitations — all negative.  At the very end, on the last sequence of moves that we were practicing, my knee locked, the plates of bone that kiss each other rubbed just the wrong way and hurt a lot.  I couldn’t finish the moves and had to walk off the floor.

At that point I was so internally upset that all I wanted to do was get the hell out of class and go home to an ice pack and ibuprofen.  I had a hard time not blowing past people who were trying to talk to me — people whom I like and am friends with.  I know that the few sentences I uttered were abrupt.

I got out of the building, into my car, drove out of the parking lot and started to cry.  It was awful.  I didn’t keep crying the short drive home but was just in a miserable and sad mood at that point.  When I got to the house, I knew that I had to put in work prepping meals to eat today, and I was entitled to my evening dessert.  Honestly, I was a little afraid to be around food at that point for fear that I’d fall off the wagon and eat compulsively to try to make myself feel better.  Yes, I know that’s completely inappropriate thinking because compulsive eating really doesn’t ever make me feel better.  It’s one of the lies that my disease tells me.

Thankfully, I was still wearing the bracelet that I’ve designated as my helpful talisman for this endeavor.  (As suggested in the Always Hungry book.)  Before I opened the fridge door, I looked at the bracelet and tapped it.  I purposely tried to connect with my reasons for wanting to stay on program and remain abstinent.  That simply action – the tap and reconnect – helped me step back from the edge of overwhelming emotion.  I was able to take a few deep breaths, calm my thoughts and try to look at what was going on.  About then is when I realized that the swingy emotions could be a result of the cold turkey abstaining from processed carbs and refined sugar. Having the realization calmed me down a little more  I sat quietly for a few moments with an ice pack on my knee and worked on settling myself even further.  Before long I was no longer emotionally ricocheting and the desire to bury my feelings with food had eased.

I went into the kitchen and prepared my planned dessert and then sat down at the table and ate it slowly while savoring the taste, texture and mouth feel.  After that, I felt like I could tackle the food prep tasks and have everything ready for a good day today.  Before settling into watch some television later on, I wrote emails to the Tai Chi friends and apologized for rushing off, citing the knee pain and need to treat it.

By the time I went to bed, I was back on an even keel and got a good night’s sleep.

This was a valuable experience for me.   From the beginning of letting the emotional reactions rule to acknowledging the impulse to eat to working through the process without eating, all the way to bringing myself back down, I re-learned a valuable lesson.  No matter what, I can be stronger than the compulsion.  I don’t have to eat, no matter how strongly compelling the urge.

I also learned again that processed carbs and sugar can be addictive so getting away from them can wreak a little havoc.  However, that havoc is temporary.  It doesn’t, and won’t, control my life.

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2 responses to “Emotional Impact of Carb/Sugar Abstaining

  1. hoperoth says:

    I feel like eating too many carbs wreaks havoc on my emotions as well! Sometimes I get irrationally angry, and then I realize I just had a sugar spike and then a drop.

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