QUITTING

All my life I’ve been busy quitting things and so I have become a self-proclaimed quitting expert ; ) Alcohol was the first to go. Alcohol was easy for me, it was not an addiction. The fact that I had given up alcohol was harder to accept for those around me than it was for me. I didn’t yet have that insight at the time, but me giving it up alcohol confronted the people around me with their drinking behavior and the fact that they needed it to have fun. 

Then it was time for the cigarette to go. It felt necessary and inevitable, but also as if it was imposed on me. At that point in my life, because of my Crohn’s disease, I only dared smoke near a toilet, in fear that if there was no toilet nearby I would shit my pants. Funny isn’t it, addiction? You know it’s not right, you feel it’s not right, and yet you use any excuse in the book to keep on doing it even when it’s uncomfortable. Smoking was so much more than just lurking on the cigarette; it was also my security blanket, my emotional support stick, and my diet supporter. The cigarette reflected the misfortune in my life and represented pain, a lack of self confidence and discomfort. I gave up smoking four times before it was permanent. 

Lactose was next. It was actually a sort of similar story to the cigarette. I couldn’t eat lactose without my intestines exploding. But ice cream, fresh bread and butter…. Let’s just say it hurt my heart. When I seriously started looking into it, I was surprised about the amount of products in the supermarket that incredibly contain lactose. Products such as dried sausage, chips, and almost anything in powder form. When I started paying attention to this and removed these products from my eating habit, I was immediately a lot less bloated, the farting stopped and my stool took a normal shape. Do you also suffer from bloating or fart a lot? Go without lactose for a week and see what happens, or doesn´t….. 

After giving up lactose, it was gluten’s turn. Lactose was easy compared to gluten. The hardest gluten filled product to give up was bread. The smell, the color, the structure of freshly baked sourdough bread oooooo my god it’s the best thing in the world. And gluten-free bread shouldn’t carry the bread label as far as I’m concerned. 

But not only that, let me extend it to white flour and everything that is made with white flour. The way you are full after eating those products, feels different from when you’re full of vegetables. If you’ve ever been on a low-carb diet, you know what I’m talking about. I was rather attached to feeling ‘gluten-full’. To distance myself from this, I often asked myself the following question: Am I really hungry? Or do I feel like filling an ‘empty’ feeling?

When you say you’re hungry and I offer you a cucumber but you don’t want the cucumber; are you really hungry? If you were really hungry wouldn’t you eat whatever I gave you? Is there an empty feeling you want to fill? Do you feel alone, tired, sad? If that’s what you want to fill then cucumber won’t do the trick. In short, you are not hungry; you want to fill something up. This is not a physical thing, this is a mental thing. 

In addition to the mental part, I later discovered that in my case it was not just about gluten but about grains. There is a specific list of grains that I tolerate well and to complete this list, I have conducted years of research. I first excluded all grains and then added them one by one to see how my body reacts. I learned that this is different for everyone. It is not about banishing an entire food group. In order to make the right change, you need to look at yourself and at how your unique body responds. 

Then I finally gave up the hardest one for me; sugar. I started with white sugar and everything made with it. Step one was to only eat sugary products outside the house. It was rather difficult but I was determined and also gave up store-bought sweets; if I felt like cake, chocolate, candy, I would make it myself. But with both these choices I often used self-sabotage. Before, I never used to have cake or pie of pastry with my coffee when I went out, but now I did because it was only allowed outside the house or I would have to make it myself. And I quickly developed recipes for sweets that I could keep in the freezer so that I always had something on hand. At the end I was still consuming rather a lot of the addictive ingredient, so I had to admit this didn’t work. Then cold turkey, all sugar had to go. Back then sugar still meant white sugar; I did eat honey, maple syrup and other alternatives. But I found out pretty quickly that sugar is sugar, in whatever form it comes, and I gave up ALL. 

Now after all that quitting I can say that it was a metal thing, above everything else. And mentally I gradually shifted focus. At the start of quitting things, I felt as if it was being imposed on me, but now it is my choice. I can eat anything I want, there is no right or wrong. I choose to eat what makes me feel good. I choose my health and happiness.

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