Tag Archives: grains

The Mindset Challenge

Okay. So a lot about making healthy lifestyle changes depends on a changed mindset. This is probably the number one reason people give up–their mindsets about their different circumstances as a result of their (new and improved good) choices are plopped in the “negative” category. I talked about one way of trying to counter this negative mindset in a previous article.

While my previous post addressing this issue was mostly about maintaining an attitude of “plenty”, this post will be about the perception of challenge. How difficult is this change? This is where many people will chime in and say something along the lines of, “This is probably one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do!”

Okay. Let’s stop right there. This is the point when you need to stop for a bit and dig deep. Is it difficult? That’s the question that needs to be answered thoroughly for us to move forward successfully. There are also a number of questions that should branch from this main one–“In what way is this difficult?,” “Are there different degrees of challenge that depend on changeable factors?”

Here are my thoughts on this. First and foremost, unrealistic expectations are your worst enemy when it comes to challenges. When you go into a situation telling yourself, “I got this!” or “This is definitely something I will achieve!” in the wrong tone, you might just end up disappointing yourself. Too much confidence with little awareness of what the challenge entails is setting yourself up for failure (of course, too little confidence is no good either).

That being said, I want to emphasize this–a change like this is NOT EASY. Don’t let others make it seem like it comes naturally and easily for the “right kind of people”. What happens is this. In the beginning, you are doing awesome and you’re pumped to finally be making great changes. You’re speeding! You’re cruising! You’re in full force! But then, you start to experience some difficulties and hiccups along the way… and you look around you and see others who aren’t (keep in mind that this is an illusion, as at every given point, there are successes and failures happening simultaneously). Then you ask yourself, “What is wrong with me? Why can ____ do it, but I can’t?” At that point, you’ll throw in the towel, saying, “Ah, this isn’t me. This just isn’t in the cards for me.” If you paint something as being easier than it really is, you will not be equipped with the mindset, approach, and support you will need to face your challenges, and you will resort to a perception of isolation (e.g., “I’m the only one who can’t get this right!”) or a fixed mindset (e.g., “Other people seem to be able to do this more easily, but people like me can’t really do it right.”) Let me just re-emphasize the illusion concept. While you are experiencing struggles (which is okay and completely normal!), you look around and throw a laser focus at all the successes happening around you. While this could be inspiring in some situations, it could also lead you to think you are the only one not getting it or that you are not fit for this. Here is the truth about the illusion. When you observe a seemingly seamless stream of successes, you are really witnessing bits and pieces of people’s best. What person will post negative things that happen? Some do, but this isn’t the norm. What ends up surfacing is a bunch of half-truths. Struggle is a part of any big change, but for some reason, people don’t like sharing these experiences quite as much, if at all. When you come across these struggles, embrace them and realize they are not a sign of weakness or “unfittness”. Don’t think that in order to be successful, you can not hit any bumps in the road. The key is gathering your toolkit of support and strategies and figuring a way to get back on the road so you can move forward.

Finally, I wanted to end with this note. Making significant dietary changes is very difficult at first–but it actually ends up making your life easier! You have to first learn what things you can and can not have (I recommend you focus on what you can have). From that point, you realize you have eliminated a lot of options. Having too many options can actually make things overwhelming. In a way, being able to eliminate a lot of items ultimately saves you time and decision-making capacity. The most difficult and time-consuming part is figuring out what you can have. Once you have chosen the safe players, you know your go-to routine. You know exactly where to go in the store, which items to pick out, what foods to make. Dishes will start out simple (don’t expect gourmet dishes every night starting out). But in time, you will increase your repertoire of food options. Changing your diet in the context of lifestyle change is like any other skill or area of expertise you acquire. It takes patience, commitment, and lots of practice, but the effort will pay off in time.


Making Mistakes

Today, I ate oatmeal, frozen yogurt, a rice cake, a banana, two sushi rolls, and a huge plate of pad thai. Looking at that list, most people would say my food choices were pretty harmless today.

I could take the assumed pass… or I could be completely honest with myself. I guess I’ll choose honesty. Here it goes…

It started out all wrong, from the very first bite. Minutes after eating my first delicious, warm bite of oatmeal, I started feeling light-headed… and before long, my gut started feeling clogged and queasy. My gut was so discontent, it squealed and rumbled in protest. Before I knew it, I was curled up in bed, under the blankets, with a full-blown head-ache and stomach pain. The worst part is this though. I knew this about oatmeal. I knew oatmeal had no intention of providing me with digestive comfort. In fact, I knew it would most likely leave me in pain. I have known this since 2009.

Back then, I had just stumbled upon food intolerances and avidly started using pulse tests to see how I reacted to certain foods. I vividly remember waking up one morning and lazily preparing to test a suspected culprit I had in mind. I sat sleepily at the kitchen table and tested my resting pulse (~75 b.p.m.) with a hot bowl of oatmeal in front of me. Soon enough, I was spooning the wholesome grains into my mouth, slowly and cautiously… feeling and waiting. At first, I felt that “warm” heavy feeling that would always languidly wash over me, a feeling I have always passed off as “comfort” and “nourishment”. But then I did my first pulse test at 5 minutes–my pulse had raced to a whopping 117 b.p.m., resting! I was floored! Alas, even with the evidence to support the sad news, I have been in denial for years. I did take some time off from my old, oaty friend. But, I keep coming back to give it chances, even after continuous confirmations that we just weren’t meant to be. I just keep hoping that someday that might change. So far, it hasn’t.

Friend or foe? Even when you dress it up oh-so-healthy, the truth still speaks through your gut.

As if breakfast woes weren’t disappointing enough, I begged my significant other for some frozen yogurt at Menchie’s. I tried to justify my decision by thinking “live cultures” in my head and by getting the “no sugar added” Grasshopper with only fruit toppings. But I knew better. And all that rice in the sushi rolls? Followed immediately by super saucy rice noodles, eggs, and scallions? Oh, what on Earth was I thinking?

I can tell you exactly what I was thinking. I was at the point of intense craving and desperation. The reason this began was because of poor planning on my part. A trip to the grocery store for AIP/low-FODMAP foods was overdue. And I overbooked myself, time-wise. I made time to go grocery shopping this morning, but instead of having time to eat the food I bought, I had to rush to an appointment with a rice cake and banana. Needless to say, that was not so satisfying. I was hungry. Very hungry.

Mistakes happen. But I have two thoughts I’m grappling with. How can I get back on track after such crushing failure? And how can I prevent things like this from happening again? I think I’ve already answered the second question, I just need to work on actually implementing it (it’s all about planning!)

As for getting back on track after failure… I believe I need to forgive myself and just pick myself up, dust myself off, wait for the aches and pains to subside, and move forward from here.

I keep coming across stories of people who have “lived without grains for 5 years,” or “don’t miss milk at all,” among other things. I don’t know how people get to this point where they no longer feel the desire to eat foods they once loved. How could I get to that point? Can I? And if so, how can I balance my schedule in a way that will help me plan so I can prevent caving in like I did today? I am working on the later question. As for the first, I don’t know if that goal is ultimately what I want to attain. I want to feel and be healthy. That is my main goal. And if I can attain that while still including more foods in my diet, by all means, I’m for that!

Luckily, a lot of GI diets are not ones that eliminate most foods forever. Some foods may have to be banned forever to prevent flare-ups, but for the most part, foods can be re-introduced in moderation after a certain amount of time has passed. For me, setting a 2-week goal is reasonable and reminds me that this period of restrictive eating is not forever. Sure, I will still have to control what I eat as I reintroduce foods, but it eases my mind to know I won’t have to choose from 10 foods to eat for the rest of my life. Focusing on the idea that I can only choose very few foods to eat for the rest of my days makes me want to splurge on all the things I want now and just give all this healthy-eating stuff up.

I wrote an earlier post about loving yourself. You can argue that allowing yourself to eat treats you crave is showing yourself love. But think about the parents that force their kids to eat healthy, study hard in school, follow safety rules, etc. And then think about parents that let their kids do whatever they want. Are the parents that give into their kids’ wants showing their kids more love than the parents who are strict and force their kids to make more thoughtful decisions about their futures? Of course, a kid always appreciates a treat here and there. But providing structure for your growing (and inexperienced) child so that s/he thrives completely is a decision you have to make as a parent. Think of your mind as the parent of your body. A body in an addictive state isn’t always going to know what’s best… On the other hand, a mind armed with knowledge and reason is fit to make the best long-term decisions for the future.