For so much of my life, eating was simply a means to an end. Eating for satisfaction, eating for comfort, and eating (or not eating) for some semblance of control. What these all had in common was how fleeting those 'ends' were. I would have a taste of satisfaction, comfort, or control before the void would reappear, seemingly deeper and more wanting than ever before. And beyond these emotional associations with food, there were also the physical associations. More often than not, eating would leave me in pain: stifling the urge to double over or curl into a ball from the cramps, migraines seething behind my eyes, and just wanting to be alone. So I would run towards food for comfort and security, only to immediately run away, scared and confused.
And that was my everyday for nearly three decades, running in circles.
So with May being Celiac Awareness Month, I remember that time in my life nearly five years ago when I began experimenting with moderating gluten in my diet. More than me discovering the diet, it honestly felt like the diet discovered me. I had been vaguely aware of it, particularly with my research on autism, but I had never thought that it would ever be relevant to my life. So when I started working at The Steeping Room, where eating gluten-free is far from unusual, I decided to give it a try. I mean, why not? It's just food, right?
And that's where I finally began to stop running in circles.
It certainly wasn't overnight, but as long as it took to learn all of those habits and associations with food over the course of my life, the unlearning happened in a fraction of the time. Leading up to that point, the pay-off of eating was becoming so infinitesimal that it barely registered in comparison to the pain and punishment of it all. So imagine my surprise when I suddenly began to feel genuine comfort and satisfaction that lasted beyond the final bite of food being swallowed. Could it be so simple that not eating something could make such a huge difference? And as the scale began to tip in the other direction, and the benefits of eating began to outshine the consequences and my body began to respond physically and mentally, the answer became undeniably clear. In eating gluten-free, I found a sense of empowerment that I had never felt with food, and I discovered joy beyond the senses of sight, smell, and taste.
And I found happiness.
More than just a means to an end, something to fill the space between here and there, I began to see how food could be a vital part of the beginning, the middle, the end, and everything before, in between, and after. Food is so much more than just something you order off a menu or take off of a shelf. It's about honoring the body, making choices that value lasting wellness over temporary gratification, and understanding that eating is not just about that moment, but also about the future. I eat well now, because I want to be well in the days, years, and decades to come. And I want to be well not only for me, but also for my family and friends and all the memories and moments we will share. And understanding that, food becomes beautiful in a completely new way.
Giving your body the food that will make it well and help it to thrive and evolve is one of the greatest gifts you can give. And seeing that so clearly, sometimes it's confusing, or even frustrating to me, when I see others turning away from that gift. But in those moments, I remind myself of where I used to be before I found this new path, and I remember the fear, the uncertainty, and the flickers of hope and faith barely glowing amidst the darkness.
But in darkness, we find the greatest opportunities to shine our light. Try not to be afraid of that. Believe that you truly deserve to be healthy, happy, and free, because you do. It is in that belief that the entire world can open up to you...if you want it to.
|From one life to another...|