Saturday, March 10, 2007

Eating wheat is "naughty"?

I had an unexpected meeting in Bamenda on Monday and an unexpected trip to the field on Wednesday and never got around to posting last week.

The week:

Mon:    Yoga    50min.
Wed:    Run     5.04mi  46:49
Thu:    Run     7.08mi  1:05:46
Fri:    Run     3.09mi  30:20
Sun:    Run     12:05mi 1:58:26

I also did yoga a few times, but I didn't keep track.

The whole loving myself thing? Mostly the week was about eating wheat, and then forgiving myself for doing that. It was a "loving myself means letting myself be naughty" sort of thing. Why is eating wheat "naughty"? Because my body is pretty intolerant of it. So then I was led to reflect on what is *good* about eating wheat and what is *not really workable* about eating wheat.

Why eat wheat? It is easy. Bread, in particular, is there, requires no prep and it readily available here in Cameroon. Since pasta (another form of wheat) takes about the same amount of work as rice, it offers little or no temptation. But bread (in all its both sweet and savory forms) and cookies, well, it's really easy and available. Secondly, I like many of the things that go *on* bread. And I had a real craving for jam. What can you do with jam that does not involve bread? Not much. (Although, believe it or not, I have discovered that rice is also a pretty good transport vehicle for melted margerine and strawberry jam!). Thirdly, it's comfort food. Always has been. It's both cultural and familial.

But now, why *not* eat wheat? It makes my face and chest break out in acne. Second, it stops up my nose and sinuses and makes it hard to breath. Third, it clogs up my digestive and elmination systems. And the next two were things I just noticed during the weeklong wheat-eating binge and are quite compelling to me. Fourth, it makes me tired. Literally sleepy. Is it some sort of hypoglycemic reaction? Maybe. But I get 7-8 hours of sleep a night and live a much lower-stress life than any American and I was sleepy all the time last week. And fifth -- it doesn't fill me up, doesn't satisfy me and makes me keep eating and eating. This was a connection I never noticed before. I've seen this pattern before (the eating even when I *must* clearly be full or at least not in need of any more food), but I've never connected it to eating bread before. But after six months of eating virtually no bread, then eating it for a week, it became really obvious. The more bread I ate, the more I wanted to eat. It was weird. As if the bread had MSG in it or something. I would eat it and my taste buds would be pleased, but then they would just want *more*. And my stomach would not feel full -- until it felt *too* full.

Somehow, that last one is quite compelling. I don't like bread, or even convenience, enough to gain weight again. And the getting stuffed up thing is a really good immediate reminder because I can really feel it when I run. So, for the last several days I've "been good" and when I've thought about eating bread or a gateau or something, I notice that my taste buds try to convince me that it is a great idea, then I think about having trouble breathing and that is a downer, then I think of it making me want to just eat and eat and eat and my good sense kicks in and says, "nope, don't really wanna do that."

I'm hoping I can get to the point that I've just conditioned myself to find it so distasteful that it is no temptation -- I did this successfully with meat 30 years ago and dairy products 20 years ago and have never looked back.

And my conception of what it means to love myself has matured a little bit over the last week, I think.

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