Tuesday, October 18, 2011

When 'cheating' becomes a way of life

So, I'm one of those people who, once we find something that works - like the way Paleo has kicked the ass of my rheumatoid arthritis symptoms - we stick with it.

Until, that is, we don't.

I am so ridiculously all or nothing that I could honestly say during the first seven or so months of switching to Paleo earlier this year that I had absolutely no desire to cheat. My improvement was so quick and so dramatic, my memory of sore hands and other joints so fresh, why would I cheat? Pizza? Chips? Absolutely not worth it, in my book. I felt great and wanted to continue to feel great. Those things were dead to me.

In fact, the whole concept of "cheating" irritated me. Who exactly are we cheating, I would muse to friends and family. Only ourselves. This works for me. I'm sticking with it.

Until, as I mentioned, I didn't. It started, as I've posted elsewhere, with a bout of food poisoning. I'm thinking I picked it up in San Francisco, while noshing at numerous odd bars with my daughter, but haven't been able to get confirmation. In fact, when I asked her if she'd suffered any ill effects, she said no, but pointed out that she wasn't the one eating chicken on a stick.

Yes, I did. Chicken on a very long, sharp, somewhat unwieldy stick. It was good. Especially with the sauvignon blanc. Probably not worth the weeks of not feeling right that followed, however.

And once you don't feel quite right, other things slip. I dallied with white rice. Nah. OK, how about commercially prepared applesauce and vats of almond butter? Good, but ... Not. Quite. Enough.

OK, how about ... chocolate? By this point, I had tested chocolate only once since February and found it didn't work well with my other paleo foods. I couldn't stick with just one high-cocoa content square, for one thing, and eating more just didn't make me feel that great.

In my not feeling quite right frame of mind, however, I had a thought: maybe Much Much More would do the trick, huh? Like entire bars of sea salt and almond chocolate. Or how about these awesome little natural food mounds bars I found with unsweetened coconut and uber dark chocolate? Sweet potato chips with who knows what additives? Chocolate coconut ice cream with tons of sugar? Yum, yum, and yum again.

By now I was so out of whack I couldn't tell what wasn't sitting well. I still never ventured into beans and grains, truly no desire to go there, but I started finding myself frequently driving to my favorite coffee place and ordering my old favorite cafe au lait. With Splenda.

And then I noticed something very strange: my hands began hurting. After the better part of a year of not hurting. It hurt to turn the handle of the door to my garage. Shifting gears hurt my thumb. Carrying things was harder, exercising was harder, just sitting and meditating with several joints throbbing was harder.

What had/have I done?

Well, to throw some compassion on the situation, I was/am human. And like most humans, I decided to venture beyond the bounds of the predictable. I feel good eating this one way, will I still feel good if I eat this other way? How about if I just dabble? How about if I dive face-first into a vat of sugar??

So, I got my answer. Big time. And a really sore thumb joint.

Tonight, dinner will be garlic-lemon halibut and steamed broccoli. Dessert will be a perfect honeycrisp apple. My remaining chocolate stash will be placed on the table in the break room at work tomorrow at 8 a.m. By 8:15 it will be gone.

It's great to be back on the paleo train. This lesson, at least, is learned.