I don’t feel well. There is a complaint in my stomach. It feels like I’m carrying a sack of gravel in a pouch above my naval. But I am not surprised. This happens to me wherever I eat too much of certain foods. Like the Big Texas Cinnamon Roll sitting on my desk right now.
I am lactose intolerant and gluten sensitive. I can consume both these things, but when I do, I pay a price. Gut ache. A bad night’s sleep. Not enough pain or disease to keep me from work or, more importantly, my ability to ride a bicycle. But enough pain to make me curse my decision to consume the things that cause me such discomfort.
I can hear your response to this (I hear it my head, in my own voice, all the time). “Just don’t eat the stuff that’s bad for you, stupid.” I know. It is that easy. But it’s also not that easy.
I often get into a rhythm of discipline around what I eat. I’ll have good weeks, months even, where I take in only high-quality food optimized for my sensitivities and nutritional needs.
During these heady forays into healthy eating, I drop weight, lean out in the face, and my belly realigns along a flatter plane. My blood pressure drops into enviable territory. After a couple of weeks, I start to feel so good in fact that the little voice in my head that convinced me to take this journey starts to allow the odd indiscretion. It swears I can handle it. It teases that maybe the sensitivities are now cured, that I can go back to the sweet and the creamy, the doughy and the fat-laden.
That self-destructive version of my inner voice is strong within me right now. During our pandemic quasi-quarantine, I make a mental plan every night that tomorrow will be the day I get back on track. Tomorrow I’ll start the day with a Paleo breakfast. I will eat salads, fish, and vegetables. I will drink tea and water. I will take my supplements.
Then the morning comes and before I even catch myself, I’m walking away from the taco truck with a sausage, egg, and cheese burrito wrapped in a brown paper bag alike contraband.
I know where the self-destructive voice in my head is getting its motivation. I feel stressed and anxious about the state of the world. I worry about my ability to protect myself and take care of my family. I worry about holding on my job and my business. I worry that the path I had built for my future has been upended, maybe even lost, in the cosmic card shuffle or the last few weeks.
But I also know that the voice comes in the name of habit and comfort. It may even be steering me to eating behavior that leads to pain because pain is the expression of my mental state. The voice is aligning my external sense with my inner discomfort.
I’m still going to eat that Big Texas Cinnamon Roll though.