Thursday, March 29, 2012

Spring Cleaning

When I was first diagnosed with acid reflux (“GERD), many years ago, I was presented with a list of hopelessly unworkable instructions as “raise the head of your bed”- which is impossible when you sleep in a waterbed.  Equally hopeless was the admonition to “avoid coffee, chocolate, spicy foods, and wine.”  I told my doctor that THAT was impossible, too, “because those are the foods that make life worth living!”

I’m on a cleanse now, and, of course, none of those things are allowed.  I think back to that statement and wonder that I would ever have said such a thing.  Can foods really make life worth living?? Of course, that was a long time ago, before kids my kids were born, back when I was stressed-out career woman, and Friday night happy hour was the highlight of my week.

Fast forward a decade, when I was in the midst of one of the most stressful times of my life.  I had gained forty pounds in a short period of time because of the way I was dealing with (or not) all of the stress.  A friend suggested a cleanse, one as restrictive as the one I’m on now, and I was horrified.  I said it sounded “too mean,”  that such a cleanse sounded punishing, when I wanted nurturing  - and my concept of “nurturing” came in the form of comfort foods and wine. 
Fast forward a couple more years, after a couple of trips to Rapid Care because of stress issues, and I finally did my first serious cleanse.  It still felt ‘punishing,’ but also felt good to reconnect with some sense of discipline, to exercise some control over my own choices. 

I’ve done a few more cleanses since the first one, and each time it feels a little less ‘mean’ and more like the true nurturing I’ve been seeking all along.  Each time, I lose one more layer of attachment to food as comfort and entertainment and get one step closer to regaining a connection to food as sustenance and nutrition.
And yet I confess that my greatest temptations remain those very same foods that I once said “make life worth living.”  I don’t know if I will ever not want them at all.  I could make a meal of them right now, if I gave myself a chance.  And yet I know I have gained a lot of discipline and some fresh perspective. 

Appreciation fuels my resolve.  I’m not turning my back on all of the sweet treasures that life in this human form offers, but expanding my appreciation of them when I do indulge.  Rather than shoveling them in, without a thought, on a regular basis, I savor every bite on those rare occasions when I allow them. 
I’m also expanding my definition of the “sweet treasures” life has to offer to include kale chips, green smoothies, and sautéed Swiss chard.  I may never enjoy an herbal tea as much as a mocha latte, but I do know that some re-programming is happening.  It feels powerful to be able to make choices, rather than feeling helpless in the presence of a margarita or a donut.  Just don’t tell me to give up the waterbed because that is so not happening!