Sigh, I’ve been going through a rough time mentally this past year, and this winter has been no relief despite it being warmer than previous winters. The Olympics were little distraction, as I highly prefer the Summer Olympics to the Winter Games, outside of curling and figure skating. Though, I caught some downhill action that was pretty fantastic.
While it’s one of the warmer winters, and I have been avoiding gluten, the moment gluten enters my body I come down with the emotional flu. That’s when it gets tough to keep going.
I have embraced the term “emotional flu” because it feels like the flu. It comes on gradually over a few hours, especially after even the slightest consumption of gluten, and takes a few weeks to exit my system. My skin finally heals, my body finally has an uptick in energy, and I feel like a regular person again.
Often, I’ve shared the physical symptoms of being “glutened” here, skin rashes, but that’s because there is a stigma to the emotional flu.
Some I know assume I went gluten free for weight-loss; nope I’m still the same weight (or heavier now). Others ask why do I need to go gluten-free when I haven’t been formally diagnosed and never had an issue before? For one thing, my elimination diet was all the proof I needed. For another, this emotional flu feeling and skin rashes have been an issue since puberty.
When you know something is better for you, and it has such massive effect on your body and mind, you do what you can to do what will be best for you. Knowing the emotional flu is just around the corner after consuming gluten is the primary driving factor in my avoidance.
Sure, eating gluten-free isn’t easy. Often life becomes more difficult because of it, but life is FAR more difficult when it is inside my body. I feel no emotional flu from being left out of food at events (especially when it’s free, boo hoo!), but I feel it immediately upon it entering my system. I wanted a free Panera bagel at an event last week, but my desire to feel my best always wins!
As the days are staying slightly warmer and the sun is up a little earlier and out a little later, I realize that my emotional flu wasn’t always directly tied to specific seasons all these years. Looking back, some of the best winters I’ve had were when I was running regularly, and eating super cleanly (in college); which meant I wasn’t consuming gluten just by chance. My old food diaries show I ate a lot of eggs, but not so much in the way of bread, or other gluten-containing items.
This winter started off rather well, but after being glutened by well-meaning people, I realized quickly how closely my emotional symptoms tie to what I put into my body. In the end, it has strengthened my resolve to put into my body what will nourish it without complicating life further.
Thinking more deeply about my relationship with my body, mind, and how food affects this relationship I’ve reflected on what is most important in life. Putting the best into my body will get the best out, and for this little guy, I want to give my best effort.
What is essential in life isn’t always about the money. Eating gluten-free has put a little more burden on our wallets with regards to the cost of food or making tons of new things at home, but the lessons I’ve learned along the way have been absolutely astounding.
I’ve learned how to cook without gluten and eggs in the past twelve months and it has opened up a world of other cuisines I would’ve never thought to prepare myself. I find myself buying rice noodles, learning about wok quality, and apparently fermenting up a storm in my kitchen. This past year wouldn’t have that storyline if I did not take the journey through the elimination diet.
In the end, I realize what is important in my life. My health is a growing priority, so I can then provide the best of me for my family. If that costs a little bit extra, so be it. If it takes me down a road of growth, even better. I will prevail despite the naysayers because that is what works best for my body and honestly, my mind.
The emotional flu will not get the best of me, despite it’s every effort to take over.