Friday, March 9, 2012

On Going Without

I find myself in an odd (for me) dietary situation: going without desserts, candy and wheat products.

It all started in January when our church decided to do a corporate fast to pray for some big upcoming decisions (including hiring a replacement for our Senior Pastor, who is leaving this summer. Remind me to write a post about how much I can't believe we're losing him!). Anyhow, I knew right away that I needed to give up sweets, because I really have a hard time with self control in that area. 

It's not hard to see why: Since about Thanksgiving of 2008, I have not had to discipline my eating habits at all. I got blessed with my mother's great pregnancy genes, meaning: I don't really get sick when I'm pregnant. But I do get really hungry. And I can eat whatever I want, whenever I want, because nursing takes the weight off so fast it would make your head spin. Seriously. With both of my kids, I've been back at my pre-pregnancy weight minus ten pounds before they were six months old. Without any effort on my part at all. 

Don't hate me. :) 

But here's the problem: I can't handle that kind of freedom. It makes me have really bad habits. Which I found out the hard way when I weaned Lorien and immediately gained 15 pounds. 

I learned in college that one of the reasons for the spiritual discipline of fasting is to grow the spiritual fruit of self-control. So when the opportunity to fast came up, I knew exactly where I needed that growth the most. 

I cut out sweet things pretty hard core. Even juice at breakfast. It was good for me. But the one-week fast wasn't long enough to really change my habits. So when Lent came around, I knew I needed to do it again for the whole 40 days. (Except for birthday week, which is next week.)

And here's the complicating factor: We have suspected for weeks that Josiah has an allergy issue. (I won't say why we suspected this, except that it has to do with poop.) Since he is still exclusively nursing, his doctor encouraged me to try eliminating common allergens from my diet to see if it would make a difference. 

I started with dairy. No change. Then corn. No change. Then I had to psych myself up to eliminate wheat, because I knew that would be really hard for me. (I looooovvvee baked goods!) but once I gave up desserts for Lent, I figured I might as well go the whole way and try the wheat-free experiment too. 

Wouldn't you know it? He started sleeping through the night immediately. And the digestive evidence changed as well. 

Darn. We found the answer, and it wasn't what I wanted to hear. 

So that is the story of how I ended up sweets-deprived and more or less gluten free at the same time. (I will admit that I have bent a little on the sweets and will sometimes have sweet breakfast foods, just to help me make up for the major loss of wheat in my diet. But still no desserts or candy.)

Here are a few thoughts, in no particular order, on what I am learning so far: 

1) It is much easier to give something up for my kids than for myself. Lorien had dairy issues. Josiah has wheat issues. It has been surprisingly easy to give things up when it's their comfort at stake rather than my own. 

2) I am much better at fasting than I am at praying. Fasting is supposed to mean removing something meaningful in order to better Focus on prayer. I can be really disciplined at the fasting part, but still not get my mind focused on prayer. This is definitely something I want to grow in over the rest of Lent. 

3) Very practically, the no-wheat thing means I am learning to cook gluten-free, which means I can better serve my mother-in-law, who has been low-gluten for several years. That makes me glad. Over those years, GF often felt overwhelming to me, and I didn't have many tricks up my sleeve for meals that fit that bill. Now that I have to learn to cook this way, I am finding it less overwhelming, so that's exciting. 

That's what I know for now. Looks like the no-wheat thing will probably last at least 6 more months. And it will be interesting to see what else I learn from the Lenten fast between now and Easter.


  1. I feel your pain. LMS and I both have celiac and the resulting intestinal damage makes it very difficult to digest a lot of foods. Eliminating foods and re-learning how to cook was definitely overwhelming at first, but it does get easier! Finally feeling better is definitely worth the hassle. Good luck!

    1. Good to see you here! (Even though it's been a while since you commented.) Thanks for the encouragement! I hope that all is well with you.

  2. I need to try eliminating with Raya, starting with dairy and/or wheat, but I've been pushing this off. Since Micah can't have dairy/eggs/nuts, we eat a lot of gluten and I dread having to go back off of dairy myself strictly speaking. But I need to do it. Thanks for the little push!

    1. I know! I have been really glad that we've only needed to deal with one allergy item at a time. Multiples makes it hard, but you're right--getting started is the hardest part. You can do it!

  3. I find, too, that "I can be really disciplined at the fasting part, but still not get my mind focused on prayer." Once I'd fasted often enough that I got used to it, I discovered that it took more effort to remind myself that fasting is always "fasting and prayer." Yes, fasting makes me feel like my prayers are more direct, honest, thought-thru, and heartfelt -- but fasting without remembering to pray, without making time to pray, is just a dumb diet.

    Last time I fasted, namely Good Friday, I told myself I'd pray for a bit every hour on the hour, and I printed out some prayers to read. I didn't quite make that -- it was more like every few hours -- but it helped.

    Do you think you grew in that as Lent went on?

  4. "Do you think you grew in that as Lent went on?" Next post will be about that. Hopefully this weekend.